You’ve probably heard of fasting – or Intermittent Fasting. And although it has reached some popularity and success, it’s not necessarily the best diet for women. Why is that? Keep reading and find out the low down on intermittent fasting and why there is a better diet, aimed at the female metabolism that will burn fat and build muscle while also balancing out hormones!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
An Intermittent Fasting Diet cycles between a period of fasting and non-fasting. Fasting is refraining from food and drink for a period of time. This diet method does not have any complex rules; just abstain from food for a period of about 24 hours, which is considered the maximum amount of time required to result in fat burning. One fasting period every 3 to 5 days allows for about a 15 to 25 percent calorie reduction over a weeks time. The easy concept of this diet has lead to its popularity, but the ease of it’s use doesn’t mean it’s right for a you – especially if you are a woman.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Suck for Women?
Although the act of fasting can result in calorie restriction, and this can result in weight loss, when used frequently, the stress of calorie restriction can affect a women’s metabolism especially when compared to men.
Research has shown that fasting can negatively impact female hormones, causing dis-regulation and excess cortisol secretion. When cortisol is high, fat burning hormones and metabolism are slowed down, while hungry cravings increase. During intermittent fasting, instead of using fat as fuel during the fasting periods, your body will keep cortisol levels elevated while it should be tapering down, leading to the undesired effect of storing fat, instead of burning it off.
If you acutely stress the body it produces a brief surge of cortisol leading to increased energy, which can be beneficial, when used infrequently and not chronically. However, one study that reduced calories by 75 to 90% of energy needs on only one or two days per week – the exact amount recommended for an Intermittent Fasting Diet, has shown hormonal imbalances and increased cortisol levels.
Researchers believe that calorie restriction, even sporadic restriction, causes hormonal dysregulation, and excess cortisol secretion with the body holding onto its fat stores. It’s a “protective response” as the body stores fat for future survival when calories are scarce.
Another issue that can be trigged by intermittent fasting is an unhealthy obsession with food. Restricting yourself from food for long periods can cause you to want to eat everything in sight if you are not careful when you break a fast. It can be easy to overcompensate or reward yourself because of the restriction you put yourself through. Hunger is a powerful evolutionary mechanism designed in response to our bodies hormones if your body is telling you it is hungry, it needs food, trying to control those hormones can be challenging and not necessarily healthy either.
Why is Carb Cycling Better….
Instead of starving yourself, give your body energy — with balanced carbs, fats and protein — your hormones will be in happy balance, stress will be lower, and your body will be more willing to give up your fat stores. Optimize carb intake by eliminating sugar, eating plenty of green veggies and non-starchy carbs that are high in fiber. Switch to a carb cycling plan that gets your body to adapt to burning off fat faster, while still giving you the nutrients you need to build muscle. Women tend to access carbs less than our male counterparts which means we can function just fine on less, and will get better results too.
Cycling between a low carb and a high carb diet can also avoid plateaus in your diet, and ensure that you keep your metabolic hormones up regulated. Follow a low carb diet for 3 to 4 days to deplete your carb stores and tap into fat. Carbs should be around 25 to 50 g. On day 4, eat a high carb diet, doubling or tripling your carb intake.
Until Next Time,
Be Fierce & Rule the World,