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Fasting for women’s health – what is it, and how to do it

Fasting for women's health - what is it, and should we do it?

Fasting has become a very hot topic of late, and it’s something I get asked about all the time! I find there is a huge appeal because unlike many diets that tell you what to eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat by incorporating short-term fasts into your routine. Many well-known fitness and wellness role models are using fasting in their daily routine, and many articles in the media tout its benefits.

But what is fasting, why is it a good idea to incorporate into our lives, and what are the best ways to do so?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not about starvation. In today’s society, we have snacks at our desk, and fast food on every corner. In fact, food is available to us almost at all times! Fasting is about giving our digestive systems a break, and giving our body a chance to burn excess fat rather than grazing all day long.

This method usually involves a 16hr fasting window and an 8hr feasting window. An example would be to stop eating at 7.00pm and then fast until 11.00am the next day.

During the feeding window, 2-3 meals are consumed consisting of healthy wholefoods. Keeping your protein and healthy fats high is the key to staying satiated and keeping your blood sugar levels stable. You could choose to do this everyday or you could choose a few days a week to follow this style of eating.

Always consult your health professional before starting any new health plan.

What are some of the positive effects for women on fasting diets? 

Fasting:

  • Promotes sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, which will help with weight loss, healthy skin and healthy hormones. In fact one small 3-week study showed that alternate day fasting had a large impact on women’s blood sugar levels in comparison to men.
  • Promotes health by reducing inflammation.
  • May improve heart health by improving blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
  • Will boost brain function and energy! I see many women in clinic who tell me they need help with their energy levels or that they get tired after they eat too much. Fasting can be a great solution to managing poor energy levels.
  • Can assist in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Aids weight loss and boosts metabolism – which can be more difficult for women than men, due to hormonal imbalances or conditions.
  • Increases growth hormone, which is essential for metabolism, fat loss and muscle tone.
  • Could delay the ageing process and promote longevity! Who doesn’t want that?

Who shouldn’t fast?

There are some demographics of the population who shouldn’t fast at all, in case it aggravates existing health conditions. If you are pregnant or lactating/breastfeeding, a teenage girl, or have existing health conditions, it would be to wise to avoid fasting, or seek the guidance of an expert before integrating fasting into your life.

My best tips for integrating fasting into your life

There are many resources on fasting however try to avoid anything that seems very drastic or extreme. Something I always tell my clients is, that just because you are restricting your eating times and possibly your calories on fasting days, that doesn’t mean you should make poor quality food choices or lifestyles changes that are dangerous. Although you may only be eating twice a day, if you choose high sugar foods that spike in insulin, it is still going to effect your body and your metabolism. So choose your foods wisely, and consult a nutritionist to get the quality and quantity of foods right. Aim for high levels of protein and healthy fats such as salmon, avocado, eggs, nuts and seeds to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

My recommendation would be to follow the 16hr fasting window (for example, fasting from 7pm – 11am) and consume 2-3 very healthy, balanced meals in the 8hr feasting window (in between 11am and 7pm).

Water and herbal teas are great to keep you hydrated while fasting. Don’t forget that water helps keep us satiated. Some choose to ingest bone broth as well during the fasting period – which helps sooth the gut and can assist in gut repair.

There is a lot of information on fasting available, and it always helps to have a professional, guiding hand who can help you navigate the vast amounts of information to make the correct choice for your individual circumstances. If you require any assistance in starting a fasting plan for yourself or your family come and visit me at Health Space Rozelle.

During the month of September, all clients of Health Space can have the opportunity enter them and a friend to WIN a free nutrition consult, month of sauna, 2 weeks of a detoxification supplement program, and gut health ebook. Enter your name and your friends name in clinic, or at this link.

Patricia Rufus

A Bachelor Qualified Naturopath specialising in Weight loss, Skin, Women’s Health & Reproduction

Availability: Mondays 8-1pm, Tues 1-7pm, Friday 9-6pm 

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