To say that Intermittent Fasting (IF) has been widely popular in the Philippines is a huge understatement.
The said dietary practice has been featured in Television shows, magazines and shared across social media platforms as ‘before and after’ pictures never ever lie. With that said, the domino effect of women wanting to get skinnier or lose some fats is definitely expected and many of us Pinays have been crazily obsessive about this fad.
I have tried Intermittent Fasting and all I can say is, it has improved many functions in my body. I started observing that I am sharply focused when it comes to my work hour which is also a time that I am not in my eating window. To make it more favorable, I started noticing that my weight drastically dropped in just 2 weeks of Intermittent Fasting. I am also fairly certain that when I got used to IF, I never craved for sugary treats that I normally would and so far, it has been a stress free situation when it comes to how my moods react to stressors that usually piss me off. And for emphasis, I did feel LIGHTER.
Sounds, great right?
But hold on, your female body wants to speak with you first.
I hear you. You want to lose weight and post those ‘Before and After’ photo stat. But if you are a woman, you might want to slow down every tips and trick you read on the Internet. You might not know it but practicing Intermittent Fasting can affect your fertility and the crazy effects of hormonal imbalance.
The Rats Who Went Intermittent Fasting
First of all, I know that we are NOT rats but since these little creatures are as much mammals as we are, then it pays to know how it went.
The subjects included 10 male and 10 female normal-sized rats.
Half the rats ate whenever they wanted.
The other half ate only every second day. In between feeding times, their food was removed and they fasted.
This went on for 12 weeks, which is the equivalent of about 10 years in a human life.
By the end of the 12 weeks, the fasting female rats had lost 19 percent of their body weight, their blood glucose levels were lower, and their ovaries had shrunk.
Overall, the experiment affected the female rats’ hormones much more significantly than the males’.
While kisspeptin production went down in both male and female fasting rats, in the females, LH absolutely plummeted, while estradiol, a hormone that inhibits GnRH in humans, skyrocketed to four times higher than the normal level.
The appetite hormone leptin was six times lower than in a normally fed female rat.
It only took 10-15 days for the experiment to disrupt their reproductive cycle.
In other words, the female rats’ hormones — both reproduction- and appetite-regulating — were totally out of whack.
It’s hard to say whether this experiment mirrors the effects of Intermittent Fasting on human females but seeing how these rats are also mammals gives us a forewarning that Intermittent Fasting might affect fertility and reproductive system in general. Another thought to consider is if you have problems with thyroid production and Intermittent Fasting is proved to cause hormonal imbalance among women if drastic Intermittent Fasting is made
So How Do You Do Intermittent Fasting Properly?
Dr. Taz Bhatia, M.D., a board-certified integrative medicine physician and wellness expert recommends the best way to make Intermittent Fasting safer for women while still reaping the benefits it has to offer:
According to her, you may want to try a gentler version of intermittent fasting. Instead of a rigorous daily fast, choose two or three non consecutive days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example) and try a shorter fast on those days; between 12-14 hours is a good place to start. You’ll still get many of the benefits of fasting, but your hormones won’t take the shock that can come from daily fasting. And if you feel good doing shorter fasts a few times a week, you can always increase the length or add a couple more fasting days and see how you feel.
A little precaution can go a long way. What’s a summer body if you’re about to face serious health issues?
This might sound cliché but listening to your body will not get you wrong.