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Fasting Has Its Place...But It Can Be Different For Women

blog keto for women Aug 24, 2019

Up until about 5 years ago (before I started keto), the thought of waking up and not eating within 30 minutes never crossed my mind.

Most days this was because I was literally waking up with that hungry pit in my stomach that turned into nausea if I didn’t eat something right away.

Ever experience that? Not fun, especially when it happens….

Fast forward to today, and this is a rare occurrence for me.

Most days I wake up, drink water, and sip on my coffee with a splash of cream and/or a bit of MCT powder and I'm good to go for a while. 

Don’t get me wrong though, there are some days when I wake up and do feel true hunger. Those are the days where my ‘always stocked in the fridge’ hard-boiled eggs and avocados come to the rescue.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, over the past 4 years I’ve had my fair share of what I like to call ‘going down the fasting rabbit hole.’

Once I discovered keto, and more so fasting, I started trying everything…

  • 16/8
  • 20/4
  • OMAD (one meal a day)
  • Alternate day fasting
  • 5:2 fasting
  • Water fasting
  • Fat fasting
  • Bone broth fasting
  • Fast-mimicking fasting
  • PSMF (protein-sparing modified fasting)
  • Prolonged fasting (72 hours)

You name it, I’ve tried it.

And each of these methods worked (and still do work) great for me...BUT only when I implement them mindfully and with control.

This is what I mean when I say 'going down the fasting rabbit hole.'

Once you experience all the benefits of fasting -- mental clarity, euphoria, steady energy levels, semi-effortless weight loss/maintenance, etc. -- it can become somewhat addicting.

So before I turn this post into a novel, I’ll get right to the point.

ALL of these methods of fasting have their benefits, but they also have their drawbacks...especially for women.

Although we sometimes don’t like to admit it, women have more sensitive and reactive hormones compared to men.

And while there is not a lot of scientific literature supporting exactly how women respond to fasting, we do know that females tend to be more sensitive to long periods of caloric restriction and higher-stress situations.

Fasting is a stressor.

And as you probably know, stress can be both good and bad depending on the type, frequency, and length of time it occurs.

By definition, a fast is a hormetic stressor

Hormesis is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect (improved health, stress tolerance, growth or longevity) results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses.

This is pretty much where the saying “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” originated.

Other types of hormetic stressors include:

  • Exercise
  • Sun exposure
  • Plant phytochemicals
  • Coldwater therapy
  • Radiation
  • Caffeine

The list goes on…

But, just like anything else, more is not always better. With too large a dose, a hormetic stressor overwhelms our defense mechanisms and can harm us. 

There are many different variables that affect how much of a hormetic stressor a person can tolerate.

Specifically for women, when done improperly or excessively, fasting may result in issues such as irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalances, blood sugar dysregulation, and mental or emotional struggles related to eating disorders.

Now, does this mean women should never fast? No, not all.

It just means that we may need to fast differently and take extra precautions to ensure we’re supporting every aspect of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

In the Keto For Women Program, I’m going to take you through my fasting history in more detail and explain exactly what I’ve learned throughout the years.

We’ll discuss some of the precautions mentioned above, lay out some ground rules when it comes to the “do’s” and “don’ts” of fasting, discuss methods that I’ve found to work for both myself and my clients, and much more!

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