Are you tired of not losing weight? Are you ready for a new approach to weight loss that does not involve hitting the gym, doing arduous exercise or restricting what you eat? Is that a yes? Excellent…….you’ve come to the right place! Let’s talk about Intermittent Fasting. If you’ve never tried intermittent fasting before, then after reading this article, I’m sure you’ll want to give it a try. In this Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss in Women, I introduce you to this trending topic, and give you front seat access to all the glory that lies ahead. Let’s begin!
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What Is Intermittent Fasting?
According to Wikipedia, Intermittent fasting describes various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting or reduced calorie intake and non-fasting over a given period of time.
Intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat by incorporating regular short-term fasts into your routine.
It does not involve tracking calories or macro-nutrients. There are also no requirements about what foods you can eat or should avoid, making it more of a lifestyle than a diet.
There are three primary methods of practicing intermittent fasting:
- Alternate-day fasting – This involves alternating between a 24-hour “fast day” where less than 25% of usual daily energy needs are consumed, followed by a 24-hour non-fasting “feast day” period.
- Periodic fasting – This involves any period of consecutive fasting of more than 24 hours.
- Daily time-restricted feeding – This involves eating only during a certain number of hours each day. The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting method, which will be discussed later, is a popular form of daily time-restricted feeding involving 16 fasting hours cycled by 8 non-fasting hours.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are many benefits to be derived from intermittent fasting.
- It may help you to consume fewer calories, and by so doing help you to lose weight.
- It may lower your blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
- Your risk of developing diabetes may be lowered through lower insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance.
- The risk of heart disease may also be lowered.
- It can preserve your muscle mass, which can help you to burn even more calories.
- It can improve your psychological well-being by, for instance, decreasing symptoms of depression and binge eating behaviors while improving your body image, especially if you’re obese or overweight.
- It can lead to reduced inflammation, which can be a huge factor in weight gain and various health problems.
- It can increase your longevity.
Risks of Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent fasting has not yet been studied in children, elderly, or underweight people, and may be harmful to those groups of people.
- Short-term intermittent fasting may produce minor but temporary adverse effects, such as continuous feelings of hunger, irritability, and impaired thinking.
- It can lead to infertility in women, period irregularity, poor bone health and other health effects.
- The long-term sustainability of the benefits derived from intermittent fasting is currently unknown.
How to Safely Practice Intermittent Fasting as a Woman
Intermittent Fasting affects different people in different ways. It may also not be as beneficial for some women as it is for men given that the female body is extremely sensitive to calorie restriction.
If you have a medical condition, before trying intermittent fasting, ensure that you consult with your doctor. This is especially important if you fall into one of the following categories:
- You have a history of eating disorders.
- You have diabetes or regularly experience low blood sugar levels.
- You are underweight, malnourished or have nutritional deficiencies.
- You are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.
- You’re experiencing fertility problems or have a history of amenorrhea or missed periods.
As a woman, you should consider pursuing a modified approach to intermittent fasting, such as shorter fasting periods, fewer fasting days and/or consuming a small number of calories on your fasting days.
Below are five modified intermittent fasting methods that may be suitable for you:
- The 16/8 Method or Leangains Method – This involves fasting for 16 hours per day and eating all calories within an eight-hour window. It is best to start with 14-hour fasts and gradually work your way up to 16 hours.
- The 5:2 Diet or Fast Diet – This restricts your calorie intake to 25% of your usual level (about 500 calories) for two days per week, while allowing you to eat “normally” on the other five days. You are allowed one day between fasting days.
- The Crescendo Method – This involves fasting for 12–16 hours for two to three days per week. The days of fasting should be non-consecutive and preferably spaced evenly across each week.
- Modified Alternate-Day Fasting – As the name suggests, this involves fasting every other day but eating “normally” on non-fasting days. On each fasting day, you are only allowed to consume 20–25% of your usual calorie intake (about 500 calories).
- Eat-stop-eat Method or 24-hour protocol – This involves a 24-hour full fast once or twice per week. It is best to start with 14–16 hour fasts and gradually work your way up to 24 hours.
No matter which of the above methods you choose, always remember to eat well during the non-fasting days. If you eat a large amount of unhealthy, calorie-dense foods during your non-fasting days, you may not experience the desired weight loss and health benefits.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to follow a structured approach to intermittent fasting, you should consider fasting whenever it is suitable to you. Skipping meals on occasion, perhaps when you don’t feel hungry or don’t have time to cook, may actually work better for you.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which type of fasting you choose. The most important thing is to find a method that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Not drinking enough water: It is critical that you drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
- Pursuing Intermittent Fasting too hard, too fast: This can be self-destructive.
- Not having electrolytes in the morning: You should ensure that you have high quality sea salt such as Celtic sea salt to help balance your electrolytes.
- Not eating enough and starving yourself: You should eat until you feel satiated during your eating periods.
- Pairing intermittent fasting with a high carbohydrate diet: This prevents you from bringing your insulin levels down and will make you feel hungrier during your fasting periods.
- Eating a small meal when you break your fast: This can lead to hormone imbalance issues.
- Having collagen in your keto coffee: Collagen will break your fast.
- Not being flexible with your eating window: Being inflexible is not sustainable.
- Drinking alcohol outside of your eating window: This will disturb your fasting process.
- Not getting enough sleep: This will make it difficult for you to stay focused on your intermittent fasting.
Among other health benefits, Intermittent fasting may provide an excellent way for you to lose weight. The amount of weight you lose however will likely depend on the number of calories you consume during non-fasting periods and how long you adhere to the lifestyle.
Five modified approaches to intermittent fasting for women were recommended for you to try out. The best approach for you is one that you can tolerate and sustain in the long-term, and which does not result in any negative health consequences for you. As with any exercise or new diet, it is always advisable to consult with a medical doctor first, especially if you have underlying health concerns.
If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your health, intermittent fasting is definitely something you should consider. I hope you have found this article on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss in Women quite useful. Please leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts.
All the very best,