How Intermittent Fasting is a Game-Changer for Women

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  • I knew that I needed to consider intermittent fasting when in the space of three weeks time, my trainer & business coach, my mentor and my NP all addressed it in conversations with me. I have had such tremendous success with it that it will now be incorporated with all my 1:1 clients and will be reviewed with my groups. Most of my niche centers around women who are struggling with energy issues, sleep disturbances, weight gain and food cravings and I believe this tool can help all of these concerns. 

    Intermittent fasting (IF) is not new or a fad, but it has roots back to biblical times. This is just a means of shortening your feeding window during the day. And, no, despite the conventional dogma we do not need to eat throughout the day. I would argue that the concept of snacking all day long and eating three big meals per day is fueling (literally) the obesity and diabesity issue here in the US. Eating less during the day has many benefits, which I will delineate in this post.

     

    Data compiled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that Americans during the 1970’s ate three meals daily with NO snacks. Obesity, diabetes, fatty liver and vascular disease risks were much lower. Whereas now, we are encouraged to eat throughout the day this constant stimulus of food wreaks havoc on our digestive organs. If you understand the basic relationship between food consumption, insulin release and then storage of sugar in the liver or production of fat in the liver, it all makes sense.

     

     

    There are many ways to do IF, but my preferred and recommended method is to do a shortened feeding timeframe during the day, called the 16/8. You simply fast for 16 hours per day and eat during an 8 hour window. You would really just skip the first meal of the day and eat a reasonable sized lunch and dinner.

     

    The benefits of IF include:

     

    • Improved life expectancy
    • Improved cognition and mentation, it is during caloric deprivation that the brain maintains or even boosts its abilities
    • Improved ability of your body to get rid of old, damaged tissues (autophagy)
    • Improved sensitivity to hunger cues, the real ones. Hunger really is a conditioned response
    • Reduction in blood sugar and insulin
    • Improved energy levels related to adrenaline
    • Increased human growth hormone, which preserves muscle mass and stabilizes blood sugar
    • Increased break down of fats and fat oxidation
    • Increased glucagon levels, which break down fat
    • Weight loss, especially in those that are overweight and obese (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/1/69.short)

So, as my clients frequently struggle with weight gain and often some degree of either stubborn fat on their abdomen, buttocks and thighs, considering IF is a great option.  We typically couple this with some type of physical activity. If someone is not concomitantly suffering from adrenal fatigue or significant thyroid issues, coordinating this with 5-10 minutes of high intensity interval training to increase catecholamines release is crucial, as it helps break down stored fat into free fatty acids that can then be used for energy. And also helps deplete glycogen stores.

 

Remember: when your body is fasting it tends to rely on fat stores for energy. Think EFFICIENCY.

 

The old perspectives about eating three meals per day and snacks are being disproven. We need to eat more deliberately and thoughtfully. It is empowering to see my female clients begin to see progress in their symptoms and weight with these simple measures of intermittent fasting. And, as another benefit, IF frequently improves issues with food cravings, especially for sweet foods.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Mitzi Champion
    Reply

    Spot on my friend!!!

    • Cynthia Thurlow
      Reply

      Thanks Mitzi!

  • Stacy Russell
    Reply

    I’ve been intermittent fasting for over 2 years. I’m flexible with it so if there is an event or family gathering I just adjust my eating window. It helps me not eat as much sugar because I just tell myself I have to wait until my next eating window. Usually by then the craving has passed. I am able to stay lean without having to think about food all the time. Seems like it would be the opposite, that you would think about food because you can’t eat but most of the time is when you are sleeping. It takes some people a few days to get used to it but now I’m not even hungry until 11 or 12pm. I break my fast after I’ve had a good workout. I love it.

    • Cynthia Thurlow
      Reply

      I am thrilled to know that you have found IF to be so helpful! It is amazing how good it feels to fast daily 🙂

  • csaradar
    Reply

    Great article! Totally makes sense scientifically. I am going to try this.

    • Cynthia Thurlow
      Reply

      Let me know what you think of IF once you start doing it….reach out with any questions 🙂

  • Denise Pasquinelli
    Reply

    What are your thoughts regarding IF and hormonal balance? Especially for women interested in conception? It is my understanding that it is important to balance blood sugar within an hour of waking, and a meal higher in fat and protein will stabilize blood sugar levels and steady cortisol release and production for the day. Would love to know your take!

    • Cynthia Thurlow
      Reply

      Hi Denise, thanks for your message. IF has a positive net effect on hormones, like blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, norepinephrine and epinephrine, glucagon and many others….I, personally, do not believe that most people “need” to eat as soon as they wake up in the morning. Our bodies (in most instances) are carefully monitoring blood sugar levels and both glucagon and insulin carefully modulate this balance. I tell my clients to focus all their meals and snacks on high quality protein and healthy fats to keep them satiated and happy. Fat plays a huge role in our immunity, brain function and hormone production. I truly believe that larger windows of fasting are incredibly beneficial for most clients and people I work with….I do not work specifically with women trying to conceive, but the benefits of IF would likely apply in that situation as well. I would not recommend IF for women who are postpartum or breastfeeding exclusively. I hope that helps!

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