There is some talk, although not extensively studied nor fully corroborated, that the popular “intermittent fasting” diet is risky for women, since it can affect their hormone balance. So what’s an alternative just incase that’s true?
Is Intermittent Dieting Bad For Women?
Intermittent dieting has been a popular trend recently, and many swear who want to lose some weight are swearing by it. Research has also just started investigating the benefits of intermittent dieting, with some pretty interestingly positive results.
Recent research has also shown that having regular breaks from your diet can actually help you lose more weight. One study, for example found that people who follow a “two-week on, two-week off” diet not only lose more weight than those who follow a strict diet, but also gain less weight back after they stop.
So Is It Bad For Women?
There have been some claims that say women’s bodies are particularly sensitive to fasting and could cause their hormones to go all over the place. This is based on a fasting study done on female rats, in which they noticed the diet had a significant effect on their fertility. However, this is yet to be reproduced on human females.
Krista Varady, a nutrition associate professor from Illinois University, explained how this is unlikely to be comparable to humans: “A rat only lives for a few years. So starving one for  hours would be like starving a human for several days.”
There has been no other study that showed women’s bodily response to fasting is different than men’s, except for one 2005 study. This study showed that fasting could decrease insulin sensitivity in men slightly less than in women. This would cause blood sugars to go up a bit higher than usual following a meal. However, this study only analyzed eight women for a period of only two weeks, and so further corroboration is needed. Varaday said that other than the study’s small sample size, two weeks is not enough time to study the effects of fasting. “The first two weeks of intermittent fasting are a jumble, where your body is trying to figure out what’s going on.” Other studies have actually shown that insulin sensitivity actually improves after a year of intermittent fasting.
So nothing really backs up that intermittent dieting is bad for women. But just incase, what’s something else you can try instead?
The Crescendo Diet
One idea is to follow a “crescendo diet” instead- where instead of fasting for a period of 12-20 hours per day, you diet for 12-16 hours for 2-3 non-consecutive days in the week. The idea behind it is that it restricts your calorie intake enough to make you lose weight, but not enough to go into starvation mode.
Courtney Peterson, a nutrition assistant professor at Alabama University points out that “there is no scientific research on crescendo fasting.”