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IF for women: yay or nay??

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  • IF for women: yay or nay??

    I have been reading a lot about IF (intermittent fasting) and there doesn't seem to be any definitive word on women and fasting. Mark wrote this post about women and fasting: Should Women Fast? | Mark's Daily Apple but he didn't really come to any solid conclusions other than to try it and see. My question is how do I see? I am not hungry much of the time but I eat because CW says "three meals a day". So should I only eat when I am hungry or should I eat at regular intervals because women don't do as well with IF? Also how do I tell how I am handling IF?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    In general, the jury is out on that. GoKaleo has a lot of great articles about IF and women -- mostly anecdotal and most of it against IF for women.

    That being said, I IF and it's been positive for me. I am a woman, btw. IN case that wasn't somehow obvious.

    Anyway, a bit of a story. As a kid, I always forced myself to eat breakfast. I never felt good after breakfast, unless I was hungry before. But generally, I wake up not-hungry, and I"m not-hungry for several hours after waking. I usually get hungry between 10 and 12 in the day.

    I usually run an 11-7 or 11-9 window -- which most IF sites talk about. Most women have a larger IF window than their male counterparts, I don't think anyone has figured out why.

    Now, in general, I eat when hungry. This means that if I wake up and feel hungry, then I eat. And if I'm hungry at 10 at night, I eat. And if I"m hungry in between, I eat. But, it also means that if I wake up and don't feel hungry, and I don't feel hungry all day, and then I'm not hungry by the time I go to bed -- then I don't eat.

    Most days, I eat around 12 and then again around 3 (snack) and then again at 7 (finishing at 8). It seems to just fall out that way and luckily matches my teaching schedule. My preference is for 11-7, though, so on evenings when I don't teach, I tend to run that schedule instead.

    On weekends, I tend to eat only two meals and no snacks, and they are usually at 11:30 and 6:00. I don't know why. Again, it just rolls out that way.

    So, it's really up to you. What works for you, what you want to do, etc.


    • #3
      I've always done fine on one meal a day, in fact I kind of thrive on it because in general, small meals don't do it for me, but one big one does. With the weather so hot, two smaller meals eaten between 3pm and 11pm serves me well.

      I agree with zoebird -do what works for you.
      "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


      Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


      • #4
        Do what works for you.

        I IF... it has always come naturally to me, I used to fight it because "you're supposed to eat". But eating early in the day has always made me feel sort of nauseous(even as a kid), and the most I've ever wanted at lunch was a very small snack... except when I was a teen doing heavy farm labor in summer and then late afternoon lunches were a quart of milk and half a roast chicken and I'd still eat dinner.

        Now I go with that and it's great! It works for me.
        I do a coffee like 4-5 days a week at about 10/11 am. A splash of cream in it so not "strict" fasting. The rest of the time I just have water with lime juice for a bit of flavor.
        Maybe once or twice a week I'll have a little yogurt or similar small snack in the afternoon before dinner. Occasionally I'll search out a chunk of protein instead... like some left over slices of cold steak to smeared chimichurri.
        Dinner is between 6-8pm depending on husbands schedule.

        Anyway, I eat when I'm hungry.
        I never had to "try" to force myself into this schedule in any way. It's just the schedule I feel comfortable with.
        I don't think that IF is bad for women... I think that it gets a bad rap in connection with women because many of the ones who are attempting to use it as a tool may be taking it to an extreme(adding it to an already extreme dieting pattern) or trying to use it for the wrong reason/trying force their bodies into it even if it obviously isn't a comfortable fit.
        “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
        ~Friedrich Nietzsche
        And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.


        • #5
          Give it an honest try and see how it works. Theorizing on the internet will only get you so far (not very.)


          • #6
            A lot of people make IF such a consistent, regular thing it becomes not Intermittent Fasting but Intermittent Feeding. For many people, chronic, regular intermittent feeding will eventually stop adding value.
            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


            • #7
              I would give it a shot and see how you feel. Some women do ok, others don't.

              Personally, I IF every day 16-17 hours, and occasionally I throw in a 24 hour fast. I have found that IFing, (with the combo of eating primally) has only been of benefit to me. Hormone issues cleared up, better cravings control, improved mood and really good sleep.


              • #8
                Thanks for the advice! The one other thing I am not clear about is how much I should be eating when I do eat on IF. Am I supposed to try to fit all my food for the day in the meals I do eat, or should I just eat enough to satisfy my hunger?


                • #9
                  I think it depends on you, your goals, your fitness level, etc.

                  I do not count calories, I just eat 2 good sized meals within a 6-8 hour window, eating to satiation and then I stop until the next day. I always make sure to eat a variety of primal foods to get as many nutrients as possible. I do better with higher fat, so I use a lot of coconut oil, ghee and olive oil, which fills me up and probably adds sufficient calories to my daily totals. I just don't know what they are, I let hunger be my guide. I have lost consistently this way and now maintain and continue to IF for the other health benefits.


                  • #10
                    I tried IF in order to help with weight loss. It did nothing for me in that regard. I would generally eat during an 8 hour window (from 1:00 pm to 8 or 9:00 pm). I didn't gain or lose any weight doing it. I started losing a little when I went back to having small breakfasts.

                    In my case IF did not get me the results I wanted so I stopped. YMMV.


                    • #11
                      My wife and I eat every 12 hours. It has been working very well for both us so far ~ 2 months.
                      The above should be viewed as complete and utter nonsense.


                      • #12
                        I generally eat 2 meals within a 6-8 hour window. I also eat only when hungry.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by primalcraft View Post
                          Thanks for the advice! The one other thing I am not clear about is how much I should be eating when I do eat on IF. Am I supposed to try to fit all my food for the day in the meals I do eat, or should I just eat enough to satisfy my hunger?
                          If you're only going to 1 meal a day, it will definitely need to be bigger than a 'normal' meal would be, since it contains all of your calories for the day. I found that I couldn't do that (I got mildly depressed and had cold hands in the afternoons) so I added breakfast back in. Autophagy is still a great idea though.

                          It's also a good idea to have 'feast days' like the weekends, so that your body doesn't think that you're in a time of deprivation and downregulate your metabolism.
                          Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

                          Griff's cholesterol primer
                          5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
                          Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
                          TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
                          bloodorchid is always right


                          • #14
                            We eat basically the same number of calories in a shorter window.

                            Somedays I eat a lot of calories in that window, and somedays I do not. Depends upon what you are trying to do, I guess.


                            • #15
                              I do 16-18 hour IFs to create a deficit but I also take days off from it just to switch things up. I think it's perfectly fine as long as you do well with it and eat nutritious foods when you do eat.
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