Hormone chaos through intermittent fasting - is that true?

Hormone chaos through intermittent fasting – is that true?

intermittent fasting and hormones
Study: How Intermittent Fasting Disrupts Hormone Balance

Intermittent fasting can Decrease help and have a positive effect on the metabolism, shows a current one overview study from the USA. Instead of torturing yourself with short-term diets, which anyway with the Jojo effect end, a daily fasting window should specifically stimulate the fat metabolism in order to lose weight effectively and sustainably. But not only that: Digestion, complexion, mood and sleep should also improve. You can read more about this here.

What sounds promising at first can have devastating consequences for women: intermittent fasting can turn the female hormone balance upside down. Is that really true? That was in one study the University of Illinois Chicago examined. We have summarized the results for you.

This is how the study went

In order to find out whether and to what extent intermittent fasting influences the hormone balance in women, the American researchers examined overweight women for 8 weeks. Some of them were before menopause, and some of them were after menopause. In addition to their weight, hormone levels were measured in order to draw conclusions about possible connections. There was also a control group that did not fast.

The method: intermittent fasting a la “warrior diet”

Intermittent fasting is a proven weight loss method. Nevertheless, it is not a classic diet, since no special diet is prescribed. You can eat whatever you want as long as you stick to the prescribed fasting period. Such as the popular 8-hour diet, also known as the 16:8 method. With this type of intermittent fasting, you are not allowed to eat anything for 16 hours, while you can eat as you please for the remaining 8 hours.

In the study, however, the women were supposed to eat according to the so-called “warrior principle” and fast for 20 hours and eat 4 hours a day. Alternatively, a 6-hour eating window was okay.

Result: Does intermittent fasting really affect hormone balance?

This study also confirmed that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight. After all, the women who fasted 20 hours a day all lost 3 to 4 percent of their original weight.

And the hormones? That wasn’t quite so clear. But at least the same for all women: androgens, estrogen and progesterone were unchanged both before and after the measurement.

However, one hormone decreased in all women: dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA for short. This is a steroid hormone that may be less well known, but is extremely relevant to a variety of bodily functions. It improves physical well-being, supports the nervous and cardiovascular systems, affects bone density and also strengthens the function of the ovaries.

With age, the DHEA value decreases all by itself. It is all the more critical that intermittent fasting increases this effect in both women before and after menopause. Since DHEA can compensate for the lack of estrogen when the ovaries no longer produce estrogen after menopause, it can be used, especially for women after menopause menopause be critical if it decreases through fasting. However, no woman in the study reported any side effects.

This could also be due to the fact that the levels of DHEA decreased in all women, after the 8 weeks in which they fasted, they were still within the normal range.

How meaningful is the study?

Unfortunately, the new study does not provide clear results, at least not in a way that is valid for all women. There is simply not enough research that goes beyond that. It also remains unclear how fasting affects younger women, whether the DHEA level continues to fall after 8 weeks and reaches a critical range and to what extent the results would change with a shorter fasting window. Because fasting 20 hours a day is pretty radical.

Unfortunately, the study situation on the subject of intermittent fasting is still vague and contradictory. One could older study found in rats, for example, that the production of the sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) was reduced by intermittent fasting and even the ovaries shrank after 14 days. In addition to numerous animal studies, there are now also clinical studies with humans, but here too the results regarding weight loss and long-term consequences cannot be generalized.

When should you NOT do intermittent fasting?

If you want to try intermittent fasting, we recommend a moderate fasting method, like 5:2 or 16:8. You can read everything you need to know about it here.

If you have these diagnoses or diseases, you should NOT just start intermittent fasting:

  • cycle disorders
  • an eating disorder
  • hot flashes
  • Low blood pressure
  • an adrenal insufficiency
  • an underactive thyroid
  • suffer from insomnia
  • need to take medication with meals in the morning/evening
  • or are pregnant

Instead, make sure your blood sugar levels are stable, and be sure to consult a doctor before experimenting with fasting methods.

And otherwise, as is so often the case: as long as it’s good for you, it can definitely be helpful to lose weight. With Women’s Health nutrition coaching, you can have an individual nutrition plan created for you based on the intermittent fasting principle.

Be sure to listen to how your body is reacting to part-time fasting. Just because the 8-hour diet is “in” doesn’t mean you should force yourself to do it if you realize it’s not doing you any good.

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