Youve Got Sugar On The Brain
Were not talking about wanting a cookie now and then. But if you cant deal without your sugar top-up each day, step back and ask yourself why. Cravings are often an early clue to hormone issues.
You may have leptin resistance. Remember, leptin is the hormone that helps regulate your appetite. It tells your brain when your belly is full. If your body starts ignoring leptins messages, thats called leptin resistance.
Researchers know that leptin resistance leads to weight gain. Talk to your doctor if you dont feel full even after big meals. Leptin resistance could be a problem, and it could be leading to overeating.
It could be an insulin issue. Another hormonal cause of belly fat? Insulin imbalance. Wild sugar cravings, sudden weight gain, and lack of focus could all indicate insulin issues. There are natural ways to lower insulin, but its also a concern you should bring up with your doctor.
Theres no magic fix for hormonal weight gain. Your game plan depends on which hormones are wonky and why. But these five tactics are a good place to start.
The Truth About Fasting
The bottom line: Nutrition experts agree that fasting is a potentially dangerous, and not particularly effective, way to lose weight.
Instead of a fast, opt for a healthy eating plan that you can stick with long-term Healthy diets provide a minimum of 1,200 calories and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and healthy fats, along with regular physical activity.
If you are not convinced and want to go on a fast, be sure to consult your physician first.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.
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Intermittent Fasting And Hormonal Health: What You Need To Know
Last updated on by Alisa Vitti
If you pay attention to the health headlines, youve probably heard about intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been linked with several important health benefits.
But fasting isnt the same for men and women. If women try fasting but dont do it properly, it can cause more harm than good.
Because womens bodies are biologically built for fertility and reproduction. Extended periods without food tell the body that now isnt a good time for reproduction.
You might be thinking So what? I dont want to get pregnant now or maybe ever. But fertility isnt the only problem. Women need to consider that estrogen and progesterone do more in the body than simply get us pregnant. Estrogen helps us with metabolism, weight loss, mood, anxiety and stress, energy, bone density, and cognitive function, to name just a few.
If youre a woman, intermittent fasting can disrupt estrogen balance and throw a wrench in all these essential physiological processes. But when you know how to use intermittent fasting in a way that is safe for your unique female biochemistrythat is, when you know how to biohack intermittent fasting to improve hormone health instead of harm ityou can reap some amazing benefits.
Keep reading. I walk you through the benefits, dangers, and how-to of intermittent fasting for women below.
Womens Hormones and Intermittent Fasting
First, intermittent fasting can disrupt estrogen balance. Estrogen imbalance may show up as:
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Eat Sufficient Clean Protein
Undereating protein and overeating carbs can lead to weight gain. Make sure your protein is anti-inflammatory, i.e., lentils and other legumes, if you tolerate them cold-water, low-mercury, wild-caught seafood like salmon, cod, and steelhead trout and pastured and wild meats, if you eat them, like elk, bison, and grass-fed beef.
Intermittent Fasting And Hot Flashes
Insulin resistance is an important contributing factor when it comes to hot flashes. For the menopausal woman, intermittent fasting will help reduce hot flashes and many other uncomfortable symptoms. If you are an aging woman and suffer from hot flashes, also consider the following triggers:
- Hot drinks
- Spicy food
- Improve your memory
- Increase your stamina
Whats not to like? Women of all ages can benefit from intermittent fasting. However, its important to learn how to practice intermittent fasting safely.
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Intermittent Fasting For Women: The Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle has four uterine stages: the proliferative stage, ovulation, the secretory stage and menstruation. Additionally, over these four uterine stages the ovaries are either in a follicular phase or a luteal phase . Because of this constant fluctuation of hormones, intermittent fasting may not be suitable for women at every stage of the reproductive cycle.
A study in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation indicates that gonadotropins, the hormones responsible for moderating the follicular and luteal phase, can be interrupted by weight loss related factors, causing changes in reproductive functions including anovulation and infertility.
During a typical menstrual cycle, your estrogen levels start to decline the week before the onset of your period, if an egg is not fertilized, explains Dr Kumaran. The decline in estrogen in the body can be stressful and cause a rise in cortisol levels. As such, adding extra stressors to the body, such as intermittent fasting, may be counterproductive. Similarly, during the first three days of your period you may be losing lots of blood, which again can be quite stressful for the body. It is best to wait for the bleeding to reduce in severity, and then intermittent fasting can safely be resumed.
The best way to approach intermittent fasting as a woman is to feel out how you react to fasting at different times during your cycle some times may feel less sustainable than others.
Menopause & Intermittent Fasting
Research also shows that for postmenopausal women, intermittent fasting can be useful for weight loss and weight control. IF doesnt restrict what you choose to eat – it just restricts when you eat it.6,7,8
The loss of body fat with IF is partially due to the reduction in the amount of calories you eat, and the impact fasting has on insulin levels. HRT + IF can be very helpful during menopause because women often gain weight because of hormone changes, fatigue, decreased lean muscle, poor sleep, stress eating, and other factors.
A recent study showed that when people were only allowed to eat during a four-hour window, they ate about 650 fewer calories per day which could lead to over 5 lbs of weight loss per month.8
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Which Intermittent Fasting Is Best For Hormonal Belly
There are a variety of different Intermittent Fasting methods that can be used — and this first step is crucial for specifically addressing hormonal belly fat . The two main forms of fasting include Alternate Day Fasting and Time Restricted Eating.
Alternate Day Fasting is a method where you fast for 24 hours, then you eat “normally” for the next 24 hours. In essence, you fast for a full day, every other day.
Time Restricted Eating is a method where you fast for shorter periods of time every day. Common examples of Time Restricted Eating include fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours or fasting for 12 hours and eating for 12 hours .
At first glance, it might seem that the longer fast should win when it comes to decreasing belly fat. However, one recent 2021 study found that in rats, ADF resulted in lipolysis in belly fat.
On the flip side, a study done in humans using TRE with a daily 16 hour fast found an increase in fat breakdown and a reduction in belly fat.
If you’re looking to lose belly fat with Intermittent Fasting, the TRE method has been shown to be more effective.
However now you have to choose which method of TRE will be best for you. Check out my free Intermittent Fasting Schedule Quiz below to determine your Intermittent Fasting Schedule.
Intermittent Fasting And Menopause
Menopause and the years leading up to it are characterized by significant shifts in your reproductive hormones. But once you are postmenopausal, meaning you haven’t had a period for at least a year, your hormones usually remain relatively stable.
Menopause is also associated with many other changes in a woman’s health, especially metabolic shifts due to declining estrogen.
During menopause, women often notice weight gain, especially around the abdomen. With the drop in estrogen, the risk for heart disease, insulin resistance, and dementia increases because, as you learned earlier, estrogen plays a protective role.
Intermittent fasting may help since many of the benefits of fasting tie closely with menopause-specific health concerns, including blood sugar balance, blood pressure, weight loss, fat burning, and lipid improvements.
As a result, even practitioners who usually don’t recommend IF may consider menopause a better time to try it simply because postmenopausal women have much more stable hormones during this period of their life, so the potential impact on hormone fluctuations is lower.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t any solid evidence specifically examining intermittent fasting during menopause. From my perspective, IF could be beneficial for postmenopausal women, but once again, it really depends on the individual.
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How Can My Dad Fast Happily And Yet If My Mom Goes More Than A Couple Of Hours Without Food Her Body Starts To Freak Out
It could just be that theyre different people. Not everyone responds the same way to the same diet approach.
But theres also a good chance its related to their sex.
While intermittent fasting seems to benefit many men, it can have a negative effect on a womans hormones and metabolism.
How so? Youre about to find out.
In this article, well cover everything you need to know about intermittent fasting for women.
Well start with the science, where youll learn:
- help you gain lean mass
- reduce the risk of cancer, and more.
So, naturally, a lot of people are trying it.
But an accompanying trend thats emerged: Some women report serious problems, including binge eating, metabolic disruption, lost menstrual periods, and early-onset menopause.
Early onset-menopause while intermittent fasting has even happened to a few of our clientssome of whom were in their early twenties.
Maybe my mom was on to something. Maybe intermittent fasting is totally different for women than for men.
Visceral Fat Or Intra Abdominal Fat
Many sources seem to equate belly fat as visceral fat at times. However, its important to keep in mind that visceral fat, or brown fat, in itself isnt visible. That being said, a protruding belly and a large waist can be signs of visceral fat as it pushes out your subcutaneous fat. Scientific literature shows a strong correlation between visceral fat and metabolic disease but, at the same time, visceral fat offers the benefit of serving as a quick source of energy. Too much fat all over the body may be the true culprit for metabolic disease.
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How Can Intermittent Fasting Help My Health
Ive already said that intermittent fasting can help lower risk of many chronic conditions AND help control weight now Ill illustrate how.
Heart disease is the worlds leading cause of death, according to information from the World Health Organization. Some of the top risk factors for developing heart disease are high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and high triglyceride concentrations.
There is some research that has shown that intermittent fasting can lower all of these things, though the studies have been small, and further research is needed. Still, even the possibility that IF can help lower risk of heart disease is encouraging, since heart problems claim so many lives.
Diabetes has been steadily increasing in the US for decades. Intermittent fasting has a positive impact on some risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes, specifically by lowering insulin levels and reducing insulin resistance.
One randomized, controlled study of more than 100 obese or overweight women found that intermittent fasting for six months reduced insulin levels by 29% and insulin resistance by 19%. Other research has shown that intermittent fasting lowered insulin levels 20-31% and blood sugar levels by 3-6% in individuals with pre-diabetes in just 8-12 weeks.
Cutting Out Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation is a contributor to many health issues, including hormone imbalances . This means that if you have a hormonal imbalance, cutting down on foods that may increase inflammation like sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, ultra processed foods, certain refined oils, or dairy products can be helpful.
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Safety And Side Effects
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting.
You may also feel weak and your brain may not perform as well as youre used to.
This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if youre healthy and well-nourished overall.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.
Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.
What Is The Best Intermittent Fasting Window To Aid Belly Fat
The effects of meal timing are not limited to IF diets. Our bodies respond to meals and snacks differently throughout the day in nutrient metabolism and hormonal balance, so its no surprise that our bodies would react differently to various fasting periods.
There is still a need for continued research regarding the ideal fasting window, but one recent study found weight loss success when participants fasted for 14 hours and ate during the remaining 10 hours. Another study found similar weight trends for participants who fasted for 16 hours versus 12 hours but found that those who fasted for 16 hours actually had lower insulin levels, reduced insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure. Another review of studies showed no difference in weight loss or waist circumference between the IF regimens of 16:8 or alternate-day fasting.
Researchers are actively testing the science behind time-restricted eating, but there is still much to learn about fasting and if it can play a role in a healthy diet. Each person has individualized needs making it difficult to determine the best intermittent fasting window.
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Supplements For Hormonal Belly Fat
Since most hormonal belly fat issues are caused by insulin issues then taking a supplement that helps with this issue is vital.
Intermittent fasting is a great method for naturally lowering your insulin. Combined with a low-carb diet itll produce the best results for resetting your hormones to drop the belly fat.
I recommend taking a C8 MCT powder while youre fasting. Itll boost your results by enhancing your bodys ability to switch over to using ketones for energy. Ketones are made when quick-burning sugars and stored carbs arent available in your body for energy. So your body has to start using your fat stores for fuel and it produces ketones as a result. I like and recommend Keto Elevate.
Support Many of the Keto Benefits Associated With Increased Ketones, & Support Them FAST, but Without the Difficulty of Doing Ketoâ¦
- 3X Better Than Coconut Oil, Butter or MCTs
- Heightened energy levels
If youre having trouble eating enough high protein and low carb meals then its easiest to add in a protein shake. Just make sure your protein shake is low carb and isnt filled with a bunch of additives or junk.
The Last Word
Does hormonal belly go away?
Focus on doing the things that help to reverse the damage caused by out-of-whack hormones. This includes focusing on your diet, intense workouts, optimizing sleep, and lowering high-stress levels.
Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Estrogen Levels
The downstream impact of these hormonal changes means that fasting could decrease estrogen production. While we often think of estrogen as a hormone primarily involved in reproduction and sexual health, it does so much more.
Estrogen is protective for our heart and brain health. It plays a role in mood, sleep patterns, metabolism, body fat, and insulin sensitivity. Disruptions in estrogen balance, either too much or too little, can significantly impact your health and just make you feel terrible.
To be clear, if you think you have estrogen dominance, its best addressed with diet and lifestyle changes first . Once you have a solid foundation, IF could be considered as an additional approach
Stress and undernutrition can lead to hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis dysfunction, adversely impacting estrogen balance. HPO-axis dysfunction leads to drops in LH which in turn affects estrogen production.
Research suggests that the HPO-axis disruption can occur when the body is under stress from undernutrition or over-exercise. It’s part of the reason athletes often experience amenorrhea. Fasting could have similar outcomes if taken too far.
Are There Any Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Women
Based on what we know, intermittent fasting probably affects reproductive health if the body sees it as a significant stressor.
Anything that affects your reproductive health affects your overall health and fitness.
Even if you dont plan to have biological kids.
But intermittent fasting protocols vary, with some being much more extreme than others. And factors such as your age, your nutritional status, the length of time you fast, and the other stressors in your lifeincluding exerciseare also likely relevant.
And, as we mentioned in the research update box above, there may be some support for trying intermittent fasting in women who have PCOS.
But for most women, intermittent fasting is probably not the best approach.