intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has been used as a weight loss tool for years. Recently, it has become popular again amongst the health and fitness world as numerous individuals have shared their success stories. Fasting intermittently takes a different approach to the typical diet. Rather than emphasizing which foods a person should eat, the diet focuses on when a person should eat. In general, fasting intermittently is an umbrella term for an eating pattern, which alternates cycles of fasting and eating. While there are research studies showing the promising effects of fasting, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Research studies have shown that fasting intermittently may not be as beneficial for some women as it is for men.

How does fasting affect women differently?

Research studies continue to explore the effects that intermittent fasting has on the body, particularly in women.  It turns out that fasting may affect women differently than it does men. While there have been a number of studies showing the positive effects of fasting intermittently including weight loss, and diabetes control, this isn’t always the case for women. In a study published by Obesity Research, the authors found that blood sugar control actually worsened in women after three weeks of fasting intermittently. The same results were not found in men. In addition, many women have also stated that they experience shifts in their menstrual cycles after starting intermittent fasting. This shift is most likely due to the fact that female bodies are extremely sensitive to extreme caloric restriction.

 Calorie restriction in women can cause a mass of unwanted side effects including hormone disruption. When calorie intake is too low (from fasting for long periods of time or too frequently), the hypothalamus, which is the part of your brain that controls hormone production, is affected. According to the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation this can disrupt the natural secretion of gonadotropin- releasing hormone (GnRH), which helps to release two reproductive hormones called luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). When there is an insufficient amount of hormones produced or hormones are unable to communicate with the ovaries, risk of irregular periods, infertility, poor bone health, and other adverse health effects increase. Studies performed on rats have also shown that intermittent fasting for 3-6 months caused a reduction of ovary size, as well as irregular reproductive cycles. 

These side effects are serious and should be considered before starting a fasting diet. Hormones play a vital role in everyone’s body. A hormonal imbalance, even a minor one can have a cascade of negative short term, and long term effects on your health.

 Should women try intermittent fasting?

Fasting intermittently may have not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. Women who are interested in fasting intermittently should consider a modified approach, in order to reduce any adverse effects. Fasting for shorter periods, or fasting for fewer days may help negate any severe side effects.

If you would like to try intermittent fasting or you are experiencing symptoms from a hormonal balance due to fasting, consider consulting with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park KS relies on, who can assist you. A treatment plan will be created to help establish hormonal balance and improve your overall health.

Contact in2GREAT today for more information. 

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Dr Corey Priest, DC - Functional medicine practitioner

About the author

Dr. Corey Priest has been practicing functional medicine since 2001. in2GREAT was founded in 2014 by Dr Priest after 13 years of experience with his other practices. Over his career, Dr. Priest has worked with and helped well over 10,000 patients under a functional medicine model.

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