For me, the phrase 'intermittent fasting' conjures up feelings of hunger as I eagerly wait to have my first meal of the day at noon. It's a fasting diet that has grown in popularity as a way to lose weight. Whether you are doing the 16:8 method and fasting for 16 hours a day, or the "Eat, stop, eat" method where you fast for 24 hours during the week, the aim of intermittent fasting is to deprive your body of food for an extended period of time.
While some people see drastic results from the diet and drop a few kilos, partaking in intermittent fasting should not be a decision you make lightly, especially if you are a woman.
Let me explain...research into intermittent fasting is still in the early stages, and majority of research conducted on its benefits has been done with men and animals. Yep, not women. In fact, results of the human trials comparing the benefits for males and females found that fasting improved blood sugar control in men but not in women (cue red flags!) In fact, skipping or delaying a meal triggered a BIGGER stress response in women (even more red flags!!)
Unlike men, female hormones are incredibly vulnerable and extremely sensitive to change and external factors, such as diet, exercise, stress and fatigue. Our bodies hate extremes, so when we deprive our body of food for an extended period of time, such as intermittent fasting, it disrupts the balance of our hormones.
So, what's the big deal? When you start interfering with your hormones, you essentially start messing with your entire body and how it functions. Implementing a fasting diet can have negative impacts on your menstrual cycle, fertility, metabolism, weight regulation, energy, and regulation of your blood glucose levels - the list goes on! Some women even find fasting leads to weight gain, not weight loss.
So, before you implement an extreme diet into your regime, consult a health practitioner to see if it is the right fit for you, or if there is an alternative way for you to take control of your health. Often these health endeavours come from a place of good intention. However, they can do more harm than good. Remember to nurture and respect your body and provide it with the fuel it needs to make you amazing.
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