Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Women?

Posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Susan Ohtake, CPT

Is intermittent fasting safe for women, especially those of us over 35? This is a question medical professionals are still trying to answer

I know we often look for "easy answer."

You may ask yourself, "how can I lose weight?" And even better: "how can I lose weight with minimal effort?" Our busy lifestyles only allow for so much "me time", so it's imperative that you use your time wisely. In addition, it's also important that you lose weight safely.

But what looks easy can often be much more complex.

There are different reasons that motivate people's desire to lose weight. Maybe you want to lose weight for more aesthetic reasons. Or maybe you'd like to lose weight in an attempt to improve your health. Regardless of your reason, we know that weight loss has the ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and complications from Type 2 diabetes. In the quest for weight loss, we often embrace the latest fad diets. And, one of the most popular fads to date is intermittent fasting.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting happens when a person makes a decision not to eat for a period of time.

Generally, intermittent fasts last for anywhere from 12 hours to two full days. And, these intermittent fasts may happen more or less frequently depending on your preference and desire to lose weight. It is also important to remember that fasts are only food fasts. If you decide to follow this diet, you are still allowed to drink water. In fact, you are encouraged to drink even more water than usual, as it is essential that you stay well-hydrated during a fast

What Are the Benefits of an Intermittent Fast?

According to proponents of the intermittent fast, there are countless benefits of embracing this new trend. Perhaps most importantly, intermittent fasts can help spur weight loss and this weight loss can be sustained as long as someone is willing to commit to this lifestyle. Many fasters also report that they have more energy after they fast and that they think more clearly.

With all of these benefits, why would anyone say no to trying out an intermittent fast?

The answer to this question is safety.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

There is not necessarily an easy answer to this question. And there is no one answer that all medical professionals agree with. Some medical professionals argue that intermittent fasting not taken to an extreme level is safe for anyone. Others argue that intermittent fasting is safe for no one. The real answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

If you have a chronic illness, then you should avoid intermittent fasting all together. If you're not really sure, then you should consult with a medical professional before making a decision too fast.

Intermittent Fasting May Be Safer For Men

You must also keep in mind that there are differences in the safety of a man practicing intermittent fasting and a woman embracing this new health trend. The male body and the female body function differently in many ways, including in how they react to hunger.

A woman's body is more likely to produce certain hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin, in response to hunger. This can result in a hormonal imbalance. In turn, this hormonal imbalance can lead to a wide range of troubling health outcomes, such as sleep deprivation and additional weight gain. As a 40-something year old woman, you'll have no shortage of sleepless nights and weight gain, so this approach may not be the best.

Should You Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

The simple answer to this not-so-simple question is, for many people, intermittent fasting is healthy and leads to countless benefits.

But, these benefits do not outweigh the potential risks of embracing this trend, especially for women.

This is why I don't recommend intermittent fasting. Instead, you use a balanced eating and workout strategy that increases overall energy expenditure sustainably...without starving yourself or going without.

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