Should You Intermittent Fast On Your Period?
If you're approaching your period or on your period, should you be using Intermittent Fasting? Today, we're diving into the details of what you need to know about Intermittent Fasting on your period.
Should You Intermittent Fast On Your Period?
Intermittent Fasting is a great tool to naturally help the body tap into fat burning mechanisms and achieve a weight loss goal.(1) The fasting period also allows for increased gut cleaning by activating a process called The Migrating Motor Complex. But is it a good idea to Intermittent Fast on your period?
It is true that women are particularly sensitive to a state of calorie restriction and semi-starvation. These states of low energy intake can sometimes lead to issues with female hormones. However, this is true of any calorie restrictive state, whether it be from eating 6-8 meals per day or from Intermittent Fasting.(2)
This is why the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle protocols and recipes do not advocate for a state of calorie restriction. Instead, it focuses on keeping the storing hormone insulin from spiking and allowing the body to naturally use fat as fuel as a means of achieving a weight loss goal with Intermittent Fasting.
Just like Monica, who stopped using calorie restriction while following the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle protocols:
"I had only set out to lose 5 or 10 pounds, but I actually lost nearly 25 pounds over the course of three or four months! ...I have stopped obsessively counting calories and living in what felt like a persistent state of starvation."
It's important to note that there is research (on rats) showing negative effects on female hormones from Alternate Day Fasting.(3) Alternate Day Fasting is a type of fasting where you don't eat anything for 24 hours, then you eat "normally" the next day. With this method, you're still "restricting calories" by not eating anything every other day.
With Time Restricted Fasting (the method used in the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle), such as fasting for 12, 14, 16 or 18 hours per day, you still have a daily "eating window". This eating window allows you to be able to get your nutrient needs in every day! (as long as you're breaking your fast properly, that is.)
However, there are still facts that need to be considered during the PMS or period time. Namely, symptoms such as increased hunger and cravings. Scroll down for Intermittent Fasting tips while on your period.
Tips For Intermittent Fasting On Your Period
While you're on your period, it's important to consider a few key factors in order to ensure that you feel your best.
1. Break Your Fast Early If Necessary
Hunger and cravings tend to go up when you're about to start your period. This is likely (although not proven to be) due to the body requiring more energy during the PMS and first few days of your period. In order to nip cravings early on, try breaking your fast when you start to feel hungry during the one week before your period starts. If that means you only have a 12 or 14 hour fast that day (or no fast at all), that's perfectly fine! It's important to listen to your body and your hunger level. This strategy can help get ahead of PMS cravings... as long as you break your fast with the right types of foods.
2. Break Your Fast With Protein, Fat And Fiber
We've all experienced the increased cravings for sugar or starchy carbs during PMS or the first few days of your period. However, you can help combat these cravings by supplying high quality sources of protein, fat and fiber with your break-fast meal. This can be in the form of a greek yogurt bowl with coconut flakes and raspberries, an egg scramble with avocado or a protein rich smoothie.
In fact, you might even need to ramp up the fat a little bit more during this time to help further boost satiety and prevent sugar cravings. For example, if you're using one of my smoothie recipes from the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle, you can try adding an extra tablespoon of peanut butter or a scoop of chia seeds into your smoothie.
The key is to make sure you eat enough of the right types of foods to support your body's needs -- whether you're using Intermittent Fasting or not.
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Keto Coffee Cheers,
Autumn Elle Nutrition