Fasting May Not Be Best for Women

If you are a woman, and have tried fasting as a way to lose weight, have you had success?

I thought, initially, that intermittent fasting could be the secret to easy weight loss. I wrote a series of blogs about the awesomeness of fasting: how easy it is and how many wonderful benefits you will most certainly accrue.

The real draw was the idea that I could eat ANYTHING I wanted during the feeding window. Anything! I didn't have to count calories or carbs or meals or snacks. I could snarf down chips and cookies and chocolate bars. I didn't need to worry about wine. As long as I stopped feeding my face by 8pm, I was golden.

Well, just like every other idea that sounds too good to be true, this one is, too.

While I can't speak for anyone else out there, my husband has had a similar experience with intermittent fasting. Basically, he hasn't lost any weight in the past 2 months. (He is much more consistent about measuring his weight than I am, so he knows for sure!)

The theory with intermittent fasting is that you can lose weight (and studies bear this out) by reducing the window during which you consume calories, even if you eat the same number of calories. My hubby and I were both eating from 12noon to 8pm daily. Basically, this meant no breakfast for me, only coffee. I wasn't having too much trouble with the plan, except for the fact that I wasn't losing weight.

Then I began to reduce my calorie intake, on top of the fasting. And my body responded by not sleeping. My calorie intake went down to 1500 per day, and my carbs dipped below 100 grams. I was losing weight, finally, but at the cost of getting a good night sleep. Even with melatonin (a natural sleep aid) and magnesium (another natural sleep aid) I was still lying awake for too many hours. And this is the kind of trade-off I am not willing to make. Sleep is just too important.

The answer? I am easing back on the fasting. Although I will try not to eat after 8pm, I'm going to relax about my morning meals and eat when I feel hungry. Since carbs seem to be important to getting a good night's rest, I am upping my carbs to at least 100 grams per day.

Although fasting might still work for many people, it may not be right for everyone. Women seem to be much more sensitive to even minor decreases in calories and carbs. We need to assess all aspects of our health in order to make good decisions about when, what, and how much to eat.

If you've been experimenting with fasting, I'd love to hear your story.