Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 Jun

Dear Mark: Women and Intermittent Fasting

Many differences exist between the two sexes. We look different. We sound different. We dress differently from each other. We like different things. Different genres of movies cause men and women to cry (differently). And although society, media, and culture drive and/or inform many of our differences, some are inherent and physiologically-driven. For example, men and women have different biological equipment – both external and invisible to the naked eye – that change how we interact with and respond to our environments, our exercise, our sleep, and our eating habits. Nowhere are these gender differences more evident than in the realm of health and nutrition, and yet it seems that I’ve overlooked a big one: different sex responses to intermittent fasting.

Let’s take a look at a couple recent reader emails:

Hi Mark,

I’m a woman (28 years old) who followed your recent fasting series with great interest, gave it a shot, but had mixed results. Then I read this post, which mentioned your series and questioned the suitability of intermittent fasting for women. Is it true? Do we respond differently than men? What do you think of that post? Thanks!

Claire

Dear Mark,

Paleo for Women blog says that fasting may not be for women: that it’s more suited for male physiology. I have been fasting for three years and never experienced any missed periods/sleeplessness, etc. Moreover I got a handle on my mindless eating. Can you give your word on IF for women?

Varsha Tiwary

Thanks for writing in with your questions.

First of all, I really, really liked Stefani’s post. I should say “posts,” actually, since Stefani Ruper (who wrote the post linked in the reader question) also just did a guest post on Free the Animal, in which she discussed the treatment of women’s issues in the community at large. While I don’t agree with everything she said, both were quite well done.

Even though her articles – for lack of a better phrase – “called me out” (in a completely non-confrontational way), I was actually quite happy to read them. Heck, I was happy to read them because of it. After all, I’ve always encourage people to be critical about what they think they know about nutrition and fitness, and to be skeptical about what they read on the Internet – my articles included. The beauty of MDA is that it isn’t one-sided. I get constant feedback from readers that send me down new paths of inquiry, and it’s through this kind of crowd-sourced effort that the Primal Blueprint message grows and becomes stronger than it already is.

I also appreciated Stefani’s articles because they do highlight a blindspot – not just in my own series of posts, but in nutritional science as a whole. In the push to eliminate the confounder known as inherent endocrine gender differences, they’ve forgotten that real life is a series of confounding variables all pushing, pulling, poking, and prodding at the results we get. They’ve forgotten that while their results may represent fodder for publishing and accolade accumulation and hypothesis confirmation (or rejection), real live humans in normal living situations are not placebo-controlled. That women are not the same as men and respond differently to stimuli and stressors isn’t a “confounder”; it’s a fact deserving of further study! Because what are we ultimately trying to do here – put together nice, neat, peer-review-ready trials, or help real people living real lives?

Since I’m trying to do the latter, I happily accept constructive criticism. So should we all.

So, what did Stefani’s research find?

Fasting has different endocrine effects on male and female rats.

In male rats:

No matter the duration or degree of nutritional stress, male rat brain chemistry responds with similar changes. Nocturnal activity and cognition stay fairly stable, regardless of the intensity of the fast. If you push the fast long enough, males will get a little wonky and frantic, but overall they maintain pretty well. It’s like they’re equipped with the ability to handle nutritional stressors.

In female rats:

Any degree of nutritional stress (fasting or mere caloric restriction) causes increased wakefulness (during the day, when they normally sleep), better cognition (for finding food), hyper alertness, and more energy. In short, female rats become better at finding and acquiring food when they fast, as if their bodies aren’t as well-equipped to deal with the stress of going without food. They also become less fertile, while the males actually become hornier and more fertile (probably to account for the females’ plummeting fertility). Ovary size drops (bad for fertility), adrenal gland size increases (which in rats indicates exposure to chronic stress), and menstrual cycles begin to dysregulate in proportion to the degree of caloric restriction.

In humans, the male-female fasting literature is quite scant, but Stefani also found considerable differences beween the sexes, when data was available:

  • One study, which I’ve cited before as evidence of a benefit to fasting, found that while IF improved insulin sensitivity in male subjects, female subjects saw no such improvement. In fact, the glucose tolerance of fasting women actually worsened. Ouch.
  • Another study examined the effect of alternate day fasting on blood lipids. Women’s HDL improved and their triglycerides remained stable; men’s HDL remained stable and their triglycerides decreased. Favorable, albeit sex-specific results.
  • Later, both obese men and women dropped body fat, body weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyercides on a fasting regimen. These people were obese, however, and perimenopausal women were excluded from the study, so the results may not apply to leaner people or women of reproductive age.

I figured I’d look through my other recent fasting posts for data on female (preferably pre-menopausal) responses to fasting. Here’s what I found:

  • In the only heretofore extant human study on fasting and chemotherapy, seven females (including a 44-year old woman who was likely premenopausal, given when menopause usually onsets, though it wasn’t explicitly stated) and three males found that IF improved their tolerance to and recovery from chemotherapy. Takeaway: male and female (mostly middle aged, though that’s the population that generally gets cancer and undergoes chemotherapy) chemotherapy patients appear to benefit equally from IF.
  • Although both men and women displayed greater increases in VO2 max and resting muscle glycogen concentration in response to fasted cycling training, only men showed greater skeletal muscle adaptations when fasted. Women had better muscle adaptations when fed. Takeaway: fasted endurance training, then, may work better for women than fasted weight training.

As it stands right now, I’d be inclined to agree that pre-menopausal (and perhaps peri-menopausal) women are more likely to have poor – or at least different – experiences with intermittent fasting, at least as a weight loss tool. That said, it appears to be a potentially gender-neutral therapeutic tool for chemotherapy, cancer, and age-related neurodegeneration patients.

As I alluded to earlier, this is what I love about this open forum we call the Internet: the fact that if you leave something out, or overlook a key point, someone will call you out on it, most likely publicly. When that happens, you grow despite yourself. If not for Stefani’s posts, I may never have taken a closer look at the inherent differences in men’s and women’s metabolic responses to fasting. I certainly receive enough feedback from female readers for whom fasting has been helpful, so it’s good to see another side.

To sum things up – if such a thing can even be done – and answer the questions in the intro, men and women have inherent metabolic and hormonal differences, and it’s evident that these differences in part determine how we respond to a stressor like intermittent fasting. I’ve never prescribed intermittent fasting as a requisite piece of the Primal lifestyle, but rather as an adornment, a choice, a potentially therapeutic strategy that each individual must test for him or herself. Although my recent series on fasting might have thrown some people off, I want to reiterate that I am not a huge IF guy. For myself, I generally fast when it makes sense – if I’m traveling and good food isn’t available, if I’m just not hungry, stuff like that. I periodically do 16/8 or 14/10 (i.e. eating in an 8 or 10 hour window) and find it works great for me because I am fully fat-adapted. But even I don’t hold rigidly to that. It’s not for everyone. And that hasn’t changed.

So who should and shouldn’t consider fasting? Have my recommendations changed?

If you haven’t satisfied the usual IF “pre-reqs,” like being fat-adapted, getting good and sufficient sleep, minimizing or mitigating stress, and exercising well (not too much and not too little), you should not fast. The pre-reqs are absolutely crucial and non-negotiable, in my opinion, especially the fat-adaptation. In fact, I suspect that if an IF study was performed on sugar-burning women versus fat-adapted women, you’d see that the fat-burning beasts would perform better and suffer fewer (if any) maladaptations.

I would also caution against the already lean, already calorie-restricted woman jumping headfirst into IF. I mean, fasting is ultimately sending a message of scarcity to your body. That’s a powerful message that can get a powerful response from our bodies. If you’re already lean (which, depending on the degree of leanness, arguably sends a message of scarcity) and restricting calories (which definitely sends a message of scarcity), the response to fasting can be a little too powerful.

I’d also say that daily fasts, a la 16/8 or even 14/10, run the risk of becoming chronic stressors and should be approached with caution by women. Same goes for ultra-long fasts, like a 36 (or even 24) hour marathon. Most of all, though, I’d simply suggest that women interested in fasting be cautious, be self-aware, and only do so if it comes naturally. It shouldn’t be a struggle (for anyone, really). It shouldn’t stop your cycle or make it harder for you to get pregnant. It should improve your life, not make it worse. If you find that fasting has those negative effects, stop doing it. It should happen WHEN (When Hunger Ensues Naturally), if it happens at all.

I’m not going to say that women should or shouldn’t fast. I’ll just echo Stefani’s advice “to look at options, to be honest about priorities, and to listen to one’s body with awareness and love.” Frankly, everyone should be doing that, but with regards to fasting, it looks like women should probably hew a little closer to her words.

Of course, if I had to make one minor quibble with the content of Stefani’s otherwise outstanding posts, it would be her source for the number of unique visitors Mark’s Daily Apple gets each month. Nowadays, we’re actually getting closer to 1.5 million monthly uniques, not 250-300,000… but who’s counting?

That’s it for me, today. What about you? If you’re a woman who has tried fasting, or know someone who fits the description, let us all know about your experiences. I’m intensely curious to hear from as many of you as I can. Thanks for reading.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. I am 36 year old female who stuggled with blood sugar in younger years. IF and weight training has been great for me. I listen to my body and don’t schedule the events. If I am not hungry I don’t eat breakfast. Weight training and running intervals are no problem. I have found I sleep better and have great energy on those days. Normal work outs are 30 to 40 minutes of intense training.

    Tracy wrote on July 13th, 2012
  2. Hello Mark,

    I am a 51 year old female and I was able to successfully do intermittent fasting last year to lose weight. I also did a sort of warrior fast for a couple of months except my meal was a normal sized meal (not particularly large). I sort of stumbled into it was not really “planned” but it worked for me.

    Now that I’m approximately 10% body fat fasting is a bit too hard on me. I can get through a fast easily enough but I tend to want to eat up everything in the house afterwards and that just does not feel healthy to me, so I don’t do it.

    Three years ago I was in the obese catogory; I’m 5’1″ and I was 171 lbs. I was very physically active have been for almost 31 years.

    I’d tried most every diet out there over the last 15 years and lost and gained. I finally got tired of it along with the slow weight creep up year after year. I started eating my own diet, simply healthy foods I like in small portions. I put my meals on small desert plates and typically had 2-3 small meals a day and maybe one snack. I followed a rule of not eating past 7pm and then gradually set that time earlier, say 5pm or 3pm only because I felt I had enough calories for the day. Without planning on it I did “mini fasts” for 15-17 hours which was interesting because I never fasted before in my life. I lost 40 lbs this way. I told a friend one day that I thought I found the secret to weight loss; mini-fasts and mini-meals. He told me to look up “eat stop eat”. That is where I found Brad Pilon’s intermittent fasting book which I purchased (along with the women’s workout Venus Index which I LOVE).

    So, I tried out a 24 hour fast and found it quite rough. I could not complete it the first time. I felt dizzy and nauseous and thought well this isn’t for me. I tried it again a week later and was successful. Then I did this once a week no problem, then twice a week. I followed the program as Brad described eating a normal sized meal after my fast.

    Then for some reason I got excited about this and started doing a 24 hour fast nearly every day for about two months. I didn’t plan to do this. I would simply wake up in the morning and decide that I felt like doing it again. I probably had a couple of days where I had more of an eating window or switched it up because of a social event that involved eating.

    Typically I did a lunch to lunch fast and did a fairly long gym workout each afternoon (taking one or two rest days a week as needed). My workouts were 1.5-2.5 hours depending on my energy level which was usually pretty good and my workout included 1-1.5 hours of resistance training and .5 to 1 hour of running, depending on how I felt. Sometimes I would skip the cardio depending on DOMS, constantly listening to my body and what I needed.

    I lost an additional 17 lbs during the three months after I started Eat Stop Eat. But then I hit a wall and for the first time in my life felt like binging and didn’t like the feeling one bit. I did went and got a hydro-static body fat test done at this point and found I was at 10%.

    I’ve maintained around this lean level for almost a year now and through a few fasting experiments found it is not so good for me anymore. But it isn’t really necessary anymore either since the point is not to go to 0% BF!

    While I did the fasting I found it worked best to only do it “when I felt like it”, sort of going with the flow of my hunger hormone cycles. Forcing it because of a “plan” for the week does not work for me.

    That was my experience with intermittent fasting.

    -Roberta

    Roberta Saum wrote on July 14th, 2012
  3. Started fasting daily and I love it. I’m a 23 year old athletic female. I eat about 2000 cals in a 5 hour window. (I’m a monster I know..) and feel satisfied until the next day. I started with a bigger eating window at first. And my workouts suffered the first 3 days. But now I am so much stronger and have tons of energy throughout the day. I can do way more chin ups and push ups than before. I Sleep like a baby I am way less moody and finally didn’t pms this month. I don’t think I can go back to eating small meals. My mood has just been far too good. Please keep us ladies updated on IF for women.

    anon wrote on July 15th, 2012
  4. I suspect the level of testosterone matters. It varies from woman to woman. I think I have more than average as I put on muscle quickly. And I have no problem with IF, it worked great for me as a weight loss tool and my body adapted readily to it.

    I think men vs women is too broad of a categorization, as there is a lot of variation among women.

    Emma McCreary wrote on July 15th, 2012
  5. Thought I’d share my story…….. I’m a fit 37 YO and I found intermittent fasting pretty easy for the first few weeks and had lots of energy. i was doing a daily 16-18 hour fast and eating between 1200-1600 kcal/day. being 5’2″ I figured this was enough calories even though i do pretty heavy lifting 2-3 times/week and HIIT 2-3/week and have a lot of muscle mass. Well, after a few weeks I began to wake up ravenously hungry every morning (totally new for me) and find myself dizzy, low energy and grouchy by mid morning. then I began having obsessive food thoughts and cravings for treats. i eat a pretty clean paleo diet and never got below 17% body fat, but lost my period within 6 weeks of this program. clearly i need more calories and/or more regular meals!

    rachel wrote on July 16th, 2012
  6. Hi there,
    I am a 33 year old female athlete who has incorporated IF into my life since March of this year. I follow a 16/8 daily and also do one 24 hour a week. I mainly stick to lots of veggies and meat as well as fresh fruit (though usually only following a workout) so you could say that I am “fat-adapted”. I love IF. It has done wonders for me! I am 5’6″ tall and weigh 176 lbs and am about 18-19% body fat. IF has brought me to numbers I have never seen before in the gym ( 200lb bench press! 300 lb dead lift! 15 wide grip pull ups, while still maintaining a 25 min 5km run!!). It also has really helped in leaning me out. I can literally feel my body breaking down the adipose tissue in my abdominal area ( a real trouble spot for me!). Many other people have commented on my shape changing (I don’t notice it that much because I am constantly looking for results) But the best of all, I have constant energy throughout the day and that is very important as I am a partial-insomniac!! I do not crave food like I used to….when I am truly hungry, I know it. IF has also allowed me to identify a gluten sensitivity that I couldn’t nail down before. I recommend at least trying it, but remember it works best if you are fat adapted- if you stuff your face with pasta and bread for 8 hours, don’t expect to not be hungry for the remaining 16….your body loves carbs as it is an “easy” fuel,. Give yourself a chance and ease off on the carbs before you try IF… I think you will find it a lot easier to adjust. It took me about 3 days and then I just wasn’t thinking about food anymore!! I recommend it to all athletes! It is not difficult to maintain at all…I just get up, don’t eat, go to work and then eat lunch, back to work, hit the gym, come home and eat! Simple! Good luck everyone!
    Thanks!

    Erica wrote on July 18th, 2012
  7. I am female, 54, post-menopause. I fast for about twenty or twenty-one hours on weekdays, entirely for the sake of convenience. I’m not an early-morning person, no matter what time I go to bed, and I have a long commute, so I don’t like to spend morning time cooking and eating breakfast.

    I habitually work through the lunch period, because that’s a productive time of day for me, though I do have business lunches once in a while (not a problem, I always have plenty of appetite for free food).

    My main, or only, meal starts around 8 or 9 in the evening.

    At weekends, I have two meals a day, brunch and my usual late supper. I eat a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet on average (I think I eat 60 to 100g of carbs per day).

    I feel well on this regime, but it does *not* work for losing weight, and I am slightly overweight (BMI 26).

    Valda Redfern wrote on July 18th, 2012
  8. Mark, I am a 35 year old female and have been doing IF. I usually do a 16/8 or a 20/5, and I feel great. I walk 4-5 miles a day (briskly) in a fasted state and lift weights several times a week. I was eating “healthy” and excercising but not losing the 15 lbs. I could never get rid of, so I tried IF and have finally been able to see results. Plus, I feel a lot calmer overall (less stress and anxiety) and realized I was obsessed with calorie counting and meal times before. IF has allowed me to be in tune with my body’s needs abd finally see results. My menstral cycle has not been affected nor has my sex drive. Thank you for your web site. It encourages me and gives me the necessary knowledge to get fit and lean plus feel better!

    Ali wrote on July 27th, 2012
  9. I have just starting IF, and I am fasting breakfast each morning and waiting until I’m actually hungry, around lunchtime instead of automatically eating breakfast first thing, the way I have done my whole life. I am also trialling fasting each Monday. This has been good (and easy)for me, but this week I tried a 2 day fast and woke up this morning (day 3) feeling absolutely terrible – weak and nauseous. I had a healthy breakfast and lunch and I’m starting to feel better now. I think a full one-day fast per week, and daily breakfast-skipping fasts are what works best for me. My body was certainly telling me off this morning! I lost 2kg in two days, which is probably a bit much! I only have a couple of kg’s to lose for my ideal weight anyway – only 1 more to go now!

    Andrea wrote on July 31st, 2012
  10. Oh, forgot to mention – I am 33 years old :-)

    Andrea wrote on July 31st, 2012
  11. Well id like to be able to fast, being a 25 years old female. But starving myself like that sends me into a panic, I just can’t do it. I previously suffered from Anorexia Nervosa and I associate food restriction with purposefully starving myself, so whenever I attempt to fast I find my body going into more than just a panic, it thinks Im ging to starve it again.

    Maybe in future I can bring fasting into it, but for now its too soon after the illness.
    H

    Supercellbaebe wrote on August 6th, 2012
  12. I am certainly look at this as think my body (pre menopause) would not like the stress. We have just had this TV programme in the UK http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01lxyzc/Horizon_20122013_Eat_Fast_and_Live_Longer/ but that was a man doing a 2 day fast a week.

    EnglishRose wrote on August 8th, 2012
  13. Eating one meal a day has worked for me when nothing else would. And when I switched the timing of that one meal from midnight (I work late) to noon, I got even better results. It’s taken 3 years, but I’ve gone from 165 (where I’d been all of my adult life) to 130 lbs. I’m 5’7″ and age 57 and just got my first bikini!

    I’m one of those who never gets hungry so this is a winner for me.

    Another help was doing 8 sets of sprints on my elliptical every other morning.

    Interesting side-note: I never quit drinking, but switched from wine to vodka and stevia-sweetened lemon juice.

    I can’t do weight-training due to arthritic joints, but I’m lookin’ good! LOL. I get more attention now than ever before in my life–matronly, not for me!

    Sometimes it all comes down to switching stuff around and seeing what works for YOU.

    MyrrMade wrote on August 10th, 2012
  14. Oh, and I have a physically-demanding job too. Mark, I wish you’d write something about those kinds of jobs since many of us are not sedentary office workers, and how that fits the Paleo lifestyle.

    MyrrMade wrote on August 10th, 2012
  15. I was wondering if diet drinks are allowed during IF? Thanks. Also can I use sweetener is my tea/other drinks? Thanks.

    sarah williams wrote on August 11th, 2012
  16. This is probably a dead thread, but I just found it.

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but if you want to do a large study on women and fasting, you should do it during women who fast during Ramadan.

    During the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink (not required in IF) from sun up until sun down. My husband’s entire family has done this their whole lives with the kids starting around the age of 6. None of them report any of the effects Stephani is talking about (which doesn’t mean they’re not really happening).

    I’ve done it and the only problem I have is that I work and I can’t stay up all night to eat, so I end up not getting enough calories and I have trouble not drinking any water during the day. However, beyond that, I don’t have any other problems as a woman. I’ve done this fasting in my 20’s and 40’s.

    The point is, if you want to know what happens to women when they fast for a relatively long period, studying women fasting for Ramadan is probably a good idea.

    Kat wrote on August 17th, 2012
  17. Benn doing IF for 5 years…no problems. One thing I must say is when I go from 2 meals a day to one meal a dya during my periods I gained less weight at this time and the weight that I did gain came of easily post menses.

    mary titus wrote on August 18th, 2012
  18. I’m a post-menopausal female, and a few years ago, I tried IF. After maybe 24 hours without food, I broke my fast and kicked off a lovely week-long bout of intense gallbladder pain and vomiting. It took a few months to return to normal, and I’ve been careful not to fast more than 12 hours or so since.

    Pia M. wrote on August 19th, 2012
  19. Very interesting comments above and of course great article by Mark.

    As for me, I am a 28 year old female tipping the scale at 112 pounds. I did the IF for two weeks. I ate in an 8 hour window and fasted 16 hours. My results…

    I ALWAYS felt hungry, my body never really adopted. I gained about 3 pounds on the fast (not my intent). My goal was to help my body the proper rest from digesting all the food I ate. I was hoping I would feel more alert, be in a better mood, and increase my weights while I lift in the gym. I didn’t see any difference.

    I am back to eating my first meal around 8 or 9am and eating my last meal around 5 or 6pm. I might sneak a small bite of chocolate around 8pm but very rarely. I feel way better and focused on this schedule. I eat three large meals and 1 snack in the middle of the day.

    The results for IF is all over the board. I’d say, give it a try and if you like the result then go for it. If not, then you didn’t sign a contract with Satan so go back to your normal routine.

    Hannah wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • So you went from an 8 hr feeding window to a 9 hr feeding window? how is that much different.

      andria wrote on February 19th, 2014
  20. I would just like to represent myself. I have been primal for about 2 months. I am 25 and probably very fertile, and whenever I think about fasting, I can feel my body saying NOOOOOOOO. Some inner voice is telling me it would create stress, at least at this point in my life. Besides, I have lost 20lbs and am still losing, so I guess I don’t see the point of IF.

    Ashley wrote on August 21st, 2012
  21. Hi Mark! Great article, thank you for your well-researched content. Back in Feb I followed a daily 14/10 IF protocol in conjunction with heavy lifting for 30-days. As you can imagine, it stressed my body to the point of hormonal dysregulation and has required significant time to recover from. Although I’ll never partake in this particular method of IF, I still occasionally enjoy a 14-18hr fast. I love the science behind IFing and am still very curious about the differences experienced by men and women. Again, thanks for the great information! Keep it coming

    Mae wrote on August 21st, 2012
  22. all i wanna know is if the differences are psychological or physiological. i would hate to gain weight on IF!
    if it was psychological it could just be that many women are apparently conditioned to turn to food as their comfort – versus if there are actual hormonal differences then that can’t be helped i guess

    i want to lose about 10 to 15 pounds and maintain it. i’m pretty sure i have a high metabolism so this is my first attempt in my 20 years at dieting but why not go for the best – and IF does sound like the best!

    Dill wrote on August 29th, 2012
  23. I did 16/8 daily fasting for about 6 months, tried 20/4 fasting for 6 months, tried a 3 day fast once (would not do it again) and have been doing IF now twice a week for 24 hours at a time for about 2 months. I have GI issues (a physician recently called it mind-gut, also acid reflux, and other things).

    IF has helped quite a bit. I find it much less stressful than dieting. That’s why I find it interesting that there were stress symptoms in women who fasted. I think some people psych themselves out thinking that IF isn’t healthy! Some people freak out and think they’re going to die or something without a day of food, or they have some disorder. My boundaries are that I never fast for more than 24 hours, once or twice a week, never two days in a row, and I end the fast when I get true hunger at any point. IF makes perfect sense to me and I like the break for my system. Not only do I save big on grocery bills but also it opens up a lot of time during the day and my nights become more efficient. I’ve lost 35 pounds in the past 2 years and the scale keeps dropping. I have 20 to go and will continue with IF, pilates, yoga, and biking and see where it all takes me. Good luck in your own journey. Like everyone else said, listen to your body!

    K Cody wrote on September 6th, 2012
  24. Anybody out there female, middle-aged, menopausal? I’ve been doing IF for about a month now, and have tried several permutations — 2 consec days/wk; two split days/wk, 3 split days/wk — and half lost 1/2 stone (7lbs). I also workout 4 hours a wk, including interval training, free weights and calisthenics. I’ve noticed astounding muscle gain (it really IS remarkable!), but last week I had a hormonal meltdown. Like PMSx400%. Severe seratonin drop; felt suicidal, weak — high cortisol, extremely irritable, and massive migraine. Although the headache has now receded and I’ve recovered from the emotional drop, I remain extremely fatigued. Any ideas from anyone? Should I stop? What might be causing this? Should I go on with modifications? If so, what sort? Any ideas welcome. I’d really like to go on with fasting –I’m losing the weight around my middle, looking younger and building muscle. As well, occasionally I feel better than I have in years.

    And then, occasionally, I feel worse than I ever have in my life, except postpartum.

    Dawn wrote on September 9th, 2012
  25. Dear all,

    I am a 36-year old woman. Today I finalized Fasting as recommended by Dr. Med. Hellmut Luetzner.
    Fasting according to Dr. Luetzner is a 8 day program during which I strictly did not eat for full 5 days (day 2 to 6). The first day of the program was to get the body and mind into fasting mode, I was allowed to eat raw fruit, veg and nuts; the second to sixth day consisted of tea, tea and even more tea, a glass of juice, and half liter of veg broth. During the last two days, you can eat things like a proper soup with veg in it, some fruit etc. I was motivated throughout the program, however I have to admit that I felt increasingly dizzy and physically weak; mentally I had tons of energy. I was able to concentrate for hours, hardly needed any sleep, and was in a really good mood; usually I get angry easily and I am very impatient, however during the IF I was really calm and at ease. Today I was finally able to take a bite again, and I am feeling miserable. After every tiny bite of food, I need to find the nearest toilet to vomit. I already ate twice today, with the same end result.
    I had fasted before, around 7 to 8 years ago, and I remember that I had tons of energy to spare, however I did not have any difficulties.
    The aim of fasting was to detox my body. As a positive side effect, i lost only 1.8kg this time, and around 5kg last time.
    Hope this helps.

    Sandra wrote on September 11th, 2012
  26. I’ve been trying intermittent fasting for two weeks now, and find myself stuck in a psychological rut at the minute unfortunately. When I put my head to fasting I can REALLY do it, and dont find it that hard,and find myself feeling little pangs of joy/self pride in the middle of the fasts at my progress, and generally more appreciation for what it actually means to be hungry. Hpwever the last two weekends ive let myself have a treat at the end of a fast because of unavoidable occassions and the junk calorific food that generally accompanies such occasions. And… it just went out of control! 1 “treat” turned into 36 hours of bingeing (im talking alcohol, pizza, chocolate cake and chips to name but a few) It’s like the minute i let myself taste a little bit of indulgence i CANT stop. this switch turns on in my head and i dont stop unitl i feel physically sick to the very core from stuffing my face. the first time i followed it with a 36 hour fast and felt a bit better about it. this time, i dont want to do such a long fast b/c i want to do work over the wkend and need energy for it…. but i just want advice on how to get out of this cycle of successful fasting/ healthy eating and savage eating because i have at least a stone and a half to lose before my GW is reached. Please offer any advice its really getting me down.

    Michelle wrote on September 14th, 2012
  27. I find this interesting.

    I have been doing a variation of IF, I suppose. I am 23, female. I do not do well with long fasts, I will literally eat anything and everything that is not nailed down when it is over (and maybe some things that are nailed down.)

    I have been waking up in the morning, having green tea, working out without any food in my belly, then waiting between 2-3 hours to eat my first meal. WORKS LIKE A CHARM

    My body fat percentage has just been falling. My appetite is decreased, and my energy is increased.

    For any women, or men for that matter, who do not do well with long fasts- give this a try. It’s wonderful..

    Maegan wrote on September 18th, 2012
  28. Hi, here’s my story. I am a 54 year old female. I have been doing IF for exactly one year. I generally fast 3-4 days a week. 18-20 hour fast with 4-6 hour eating window. I work out 2x week with heavy weights. I am 5’6″ tall and have gone from 151 lbs at start of IF to 135 lbs today. Body fat percentage has gone from 24% to 21%. I have lots of energy during the day and I sleep well at night. I will continue to eat like this for the rest of my life.

    Nan wrote on September 19th, 2012
  29. I fast intermittently. And I do it regularly (about 1-3 times a week). It’s come naturally to me, and the pounds keep flying off. I am however, not active, but I’ve dropped 30lbs so far without much difficulty.

    I keep my calories relatively low, and eat a clean diet on the days that I am not fasting.

    Karen wrote on September 24th, 2012
  30. Stefani Ruper is WRONG!

    Watch my YouTube series on why she is wrong!

    Jason wrote on September 29th, 2012

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