If you read my last post you know that I am trying to incorporate fasting into my lifestyle. Since I tend to have a lower appetite during my period, just naturally, I thought that would be a good time to try fasting. It also is a time of hormone reset, both estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels at the start of menses.
I discovered intuitively what others have also researched and found true, that appetite drops during menses and peaks during the luteal phase (between ovulation and menses). So it makes sense to me to harness the power of your bodies natural hormone signalling to guide intuitive eating.
To that end I decided to try a fast a couple weeks ago when I was on my period. Unfortunately it happened to fall at a time when I was visiting family so I was not able to do the full 24+ hour fast I had planned. My plan had been to just water fast for at least 24 hours, or until I felt well and truly hungry, whichever was longer. But with visiting family I had to break my fast after only 18 hours of fasting. Still, it was amazingly easy to just not eat during that time. Normally I would have tried to eat something, overriding my body’s natural cues, because I’ve been told for so long that you have to eat or it’ll tank your metabolism, etc.
Though my fast was not as long as I might have liked, it was a proof of concept for me as to the ease of fasting during menses as a woman. So in a couple weeks when it rolls around again I will again attempt a 24+ hour fast while on my period.
Have any of you, male or female, incorporated fasting into your healthy lifestyle? If so, how? Have you found that timing your fasts in any particular way makes them easier?
Share your fasting stories and questions in the comments!
I have been reading a lot lately on the benefits of fasting (like this and this), especially for helping with gut healing, insulin resistance and cancer. Since I have IBS-D, and a strong family history of both diabetes and cancer, it seems to me to be very worthwhile to try a 3-5 day fast.
But then the question occurred to me, when? So many health and medical studies do not include women. The famous studies on fasting, such as the Minnesota Starvation Study which used conscientious objectors during WWII as study participants, have been performed using almost exclusively men. Even current proponents of fasting are largely men. What about we double X-ers? What effects does fasting have that are unique to the female body? With our hormone cycles is there a particular time of month/cycle that fasting is most effective and/or least detrimental?
My hypothesis is that, of course, there is. And I am setting out to find out what that time is as an n=1 experiment. Now because I am on a health journey and hopefully having ongoing improvements in my health, there is just no way to have a true control group. One month I may the stronger than the month before, have better hormone levels going into fasting than the month before, or just have overall better health going into the study than previous fasting tests.
With those caveats in mind though my hypothesis is that the optimum time for women to fast is during menses. For one, personal experience has revealed that I already have a decreased appetite during that time of month. Unlike other phases of the uterine/ovarian cycle, you are neither nurturing a developing oocyte, nor building your endometrium for the possibility of implantation. Your body is already in reset mode.
To that end, I will be attempting a 3-5 day fast during my next menses. My fast will start when I first notice signs of my period starting and will continue until my flow stops. (Sorry if this is TMI for more squeemish readers, but it’s a biological fact of life and I will try to use the appropriate anatomical and physiological terms as much as possible).
Have any of you fasted before? If you are a woman, have you timed fasting to your cycle? What have your experiences been?