Does it work for every­one?

LOSE IT! - - Health -

There are very dis­tinct ben­e­fits to in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing (IF) for those who do well on it, in­clud­ing in­creased en­ergy and im­proved cog­ni­tive abil­ity, mem­ory and in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity. The aim is to cut down the amount of food you eat, but carry on liv­ing nor­mally without af­fect­ing your meta­bolic rate, by choos­ing a ‘win­dow’ of time – rang­ing from eight to 16 hours a day or once a week – dur­ing which you don’t eat.

The prob­lem is, many women who try IF find they suf­fer from anx­i­ety, in­som­nia, ir­reg­u­lar or to­tal ces­sa­tion of pe­ri­ods, or other hor­monal prob­lems. When a woman’s calorific in­take drops be­low a cer­tain level, her en­ergy gen­er­ally de­clines, her stress lev­els rise and her hor­mones are ad­versely af­fected. Some men ex­pe­ri­ence this too, but it usu­ally takes much longer to man­i­fest. It’s also been found that re­duc­ing fat and calorific in­take can af­fect fer­til­ity in women and even lead to early menopause.

12 | LOSE IT!

I have seen some women lose weight on IF, but once they re­sume eat­ing even a very low-carb diet, they usu­ally put on part – if not all – of the weight lost, of­ten with in­ter­est.

Fast­ing too of­ten or for too long at a time can slow me­tab­o­lism, caus­ing thy­roid and gen­eral en­docrine may­hem in many women. In both men and women, re­duc­ing food in­take and meal fre­quency, re­strict­ing calo­ries and ex­er­cis­ing ex­ces­sively can lead to adrenal fa­tigue, which in it­self cre­ates a whole new set of prob­lems that can only be over­come by fol­low­ing a strict pro­to­col, and it will make los­ing weight even more dif­fi­cult. The bot­tom line is, you should never fast if you have adrenal is­sues, or if you’re preg­nant or on chronic med­i­ca­tion.

HOR­MONES AND IF Three en­docrine glands work to­gether in the body to trig­ger hor­mone re­lease. First, the hy­po­thal­a­mus re­leases go­nadotropin-re­leas­ing hor­mone (GnRH), which prompts the pi­tu­itary gland to re­lease luteiniz­ing hor­mone (LH) and fol­li­cle-stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone (FSH). LH and FSH then act on the go­nads (ovaries or testes) to trig­ger oe­stro­gen and pro­ges­terone pro­duc­tion in women, and testos­terone and sperm pro­duc­tion in men. For women, in par­tic­u­lar, GnRH needs to be pre­cisely timed or their hor­mones will be dis­rupted.

No one is cer­tain why women are so sen­si­tive to IF, but it is sus­pected that a pro­tein-like

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