Is fasting one day a week good or bad for women?

Answered on January 20, 2014
Created January 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM

I'm a 22 year old female and I'm considering fasting once a week.. i.e. not eating anything for the whole day, so I guess it would be a 36-hour fast. I'm not sure about IF, I just don't think I have enough self-control to not eat for 14-16 hours a day, everyday. When I see food, I have to eat it (especially if it's chocolate). But I think I could do one day a week.

Is this healthy?

1) A few studies have shown that fasting has a negative impact on women, especially on glucose tolerance.. I have a family history of diabetes

2) There have been anecdotal complaints from women of irregular periods, anxiety, and insomnia after regular fasting.

3) I'm 44 kgs (97 lbs) and I don't want to lose weight. Will I need to increase my caloric intake on the other days or will my body's BMR and appetite naturally adjust to the decreased food intake?

Any advice/personal experience/studies etc. would be useful. Thanks.

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5 Answers


on January 20, 2014
at 04:58 PM

i just read the yoga of eating by charles eisenstein. first book i've ever read that suggests eating what you want to eat, when you want eat, by listening to and trusting your body. he suggests that often what we eat is not what we want, but is a "misplaced desire". it was kind of revolutionary for me, as everything i've ever read has told me in some form or fashion that i don't or can't know what my diet is supposed to consist of....when society is continually reenforcing the idea that you should be doing something different, it is very confusing and it is easy to forget that YOU KNOW.

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on January 20, 2014
at 11:16 AM

Fasting is not a mythical practise abnormal to your body. In fact depending on the size of your meals and your digestion time, a good number of hours after eating you are actually in the fasted state. I.e. You eat dinner at 19:00, by 7:00 the next day you are most likely in a fasted state. The point being that fasting is not abnormal.

Chronic calorie restriction + chronic exercise + poor nutrition is asking for trouble especially if you are a woman. If you are using fasting for the purpose of reducing calories, just make sure at the end of the week you are not going too low over all, (i.e. not chronic daily dieting + fasting) and when you are eating make sure you are well nourished. Brad Pilon author of EatStopEat allows his clients to be on a daily 15% deficit with one 24 hour fasted day.

Just remember the less you eat the less you eat. The women who have reported problems with fasting are not having problems because they simply don't eat three meals for 24 hours, it is a long-term compounded problem of possibly not eating three meals a day every day, plus chronic exercise programs and poor nutritional habits. (I am not saying three meals is best, just saying useful general eating habits).

The purpose of the 16/8 fast is NOT to reduce calories but rather it is "intermittent feeding" that is you just eat all your day's food in the 8 hour window.

One 24 hour fast a week is all you really need if you are wanting to fast for health. Simply you eat dinner one day (i.e. Monday), and don't eat until dinner the next (i.e. Tuesday). This way you are fasting but eat every day! A 36 hour fast is really is not going to impart any more benefit.

Be well nourished first, and I really mean that. If you are wanting to knock out meals on a lifestyle where you are not well nourished daily you are going to be even less nourished overall.

Personally from what I remember back then, there were not many 22 year old girls I knew who I would have said ate enough. Again I would simply say look at how you eat daily, weekly and monthly and then choose whether fasting is going to be an additive bonus or a negative subtraction.



on January 20, 2014
at 11:05 AM

Sub 100lbs and not wanting to eat for an entire day once every week sounds like trouble / hard work to me.

In general, I think IF is a good idea if you can get your body in a position that it isn't bothered by not eating for a while. Things like skipping a meal or two when there isn't time to prepare a meal and your blood sugar is stable enough to avoid a crash (eg. today I had breakfast at 7pm, but I try not to make a habit of it.) I wouldn't make yourself do it for the purported health benefits.

Maybe try it out and see how it feels. If it doesn't feel natural / healthy, it's probably not offering you too many life-extension benefits. I watched this vid a while back on fasting, but there wasn't much science with it.


on January 20, 2014
at 11:03 AM

The irregular period is from being underweight. I used to be 102 and just got my back when I got up to 110-115


on January 20, 2014
at 11:02 AM

I'm 115lbs and take in 2,500-2750 calories. I wouldn't be doing any fasting as long as you eat well or strict paleo your body will detox itself.

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