Intermittent fasting has become one of the go-to catchphrases in the fitness and wellness world. It’s revered for its fat-loss results and benefits to overall health. But, if you’re a woman, intermittent fasting comes with some inherent risks that are worth knowing and understanding—the main one being a hormonal imbalance that could lead to fertility issues and a chance of early onset menopause.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (or IF) consists of a brief break from eating lasting anywhere from 12-16 hours or more. During this time, you do not consume anything other than water (a few exceptions do apply). While it may seem complicated at first, you may already be fasting and not even realize it. If you’ve finished dinner at 7 pm, and then eat breakfast sometime between 7-10 am the next morning (only having drunk water, tea, or black coffee), you’ve been fasting.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Several studies conducted on intermittent fasting in the journal Endocrinology have shown that it results in increased overall energy while simultaneously improving cognition and memory retention. Intermittent fasting shows excellent fat-loss potential and even makes us less insulin resistant. IF reduces levels of circulating insulin growth factor 1 (or IGF-1) without lowering the resting metabolic rate. This is especially true compared to other more classic calorie-restrictive diets, as found in this study in the National Library of Medicine.
IF may also improve immunity, lower the risk for diabetes, and improve overall heart health.
IF can do most of this because it increases the production of brain neurotrophic growth factor, which is a protein that encourages neuron growth and protection. This is the hormone that makes us less vulnerable to neurological stress, and as a result, helps ward off several neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as presented in this study also found in the National Library of Medicine.