Thought about fasting? Never had I ever thought this could be a good idea until one night I watched a documentary with Michael Mosley and it got my mind in a spin. Everything I had ever been taught about hormone health was being thrown out the window when it came to eating habits. In the 80’s and 90’s we were taught that we needed to eat small and often, keeping our metabolism stimulated. Fast forward to the present and research supports a variety of ideas about how and when we should eat. What does it tell us. Never say never. Sidestep for a second if you will. What we know today, we will learn something new tomorrow no doubt, but in the essence of always having our finger on the pulse and adapting to each breakthrough we discover, it truly is a trap to become set in our ways. And there we have it – fasting. Who ever thought this could be good for our health and our hormones?
Each and every month, not only do we create a podcast that is at your ready on iTunes (of course that’s a FREE resource alongside this bright and shiny website). We also create a second ‘Radio Show’ that becomes part of the unique content that my membership has to offer. This, alongside beautiful artwork, exclusive offers (like 20% off supplements and more), webinars, live chats and a direct line to me – that’s right, you can pick my brains at anytime. A N Y W A Y, I tell you this because this month we feature my good friend, Lee Holmes as part of the monthly Radio Show – the queen of Supercharged Food. We got to chat about her latest read, Fast Your Way To Wellness – Supercharged Food. It was Lee who opened up my mind to its benefits!
During the episode we got to chat with Lee about fasting and how it changed her life, her hormones and her health. Turns out, there are various methods to fasting, the 5:2 being one of the most common, where you eat regularly for 5 days of the week and spend 2 fasting. Lee also talked of other fasting variations such as not eating after 7pm and breaking the fast late morning, limiting eating to an eight hour window or up day – down day where you alternate between the two. What grabbed me the most, was the discussion and research around intermittent fasting for women’s hormone health.
Fasting can have a negative effect on hormones as it sets the body up to believe it’s about to head into famine which can flick off the fertility switch meaning you see less frequent periods as your body adjusts to cope. Not necessarily ideal, the long term effect of this can be missing menstrual cycles all together. However I have observed in many instances, women who had introduced intermittent fasting see amazing results and it got me curious. I was frequently observing who had been amenorrheic for many years see their period make a comeback. Lee suggests that a safe fasting method for women would include fats at each opportunity (a woman after my own heart!) This is also because hormones are made of both fats and protein, so naturally including these at each and every meal is an excellent step in the right direction of hormone balance (or rebalancing). What would this look like? It may mean on a fasting day, a late breakfast full of quality fats and protein (say eggs, greens and avo), a mid afternoon smoothie with coconut water and a soup for dinner BUT not every day, only on fasting days. Lee suggests this is a nice and gentle option that will continue to support hormone function whilst promoting weight loss and detoxification.
The deeper I looked into fasting not only for women with missing cycles but also for those experiencing conditions where blood sugar may be affected like PCOS the more excited I got. When we eat on demand, that is eating frequently all the time, we don’t dip into our fat reserves. Put aside this being an issue for weight gain (so often seen in hormone imbalance), but the health risks involved. Our pancreas releases insulin to help move glucose from our blood through our cells. When we are always at the pantry, our insulin levels never fall. This can lead to issues like insulin resistance where by the cells become desensitised to insulin and we end up with too much circling around on the inside – this is a huge concern as it can cause damage and eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. It’s also a factor in PCOS – the excess is sent to the liver to deal with, which converts to fat (instead of it being used as energy) and stored. For those with PCOS, this becomes a big issue (and a reason why a cleanse to kick start your recovery journey is such a good idea), but whats more, over time this has the ovaries begin to produce too much oestrogen, upsetting the balance of other hormones like testosterone. If that is too much of a biochemistry lesson for you – just hear this;
Fasting is one way to assist in addressing hormone imbalance such as PCOS.
Our bodies are most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting, making us more efficient in the long run. During periods of famine our bodies are forced to dip into it’s reserves which also helps with fat burning. We have been experiencing dips and peaks with availability to food since the beginning of time, but the modernisation of food means it’s constantly at our ready and we’ve moved away from this natural ebb and flow.
There are far more benefits to intermittent fasting that just this though. Lee’s own journey was sparked after a period of illness leaving her with autoimmune condition and fibromyalgia. By putting the body under short term ‘stress’ she observed wonderful changes in her body.
There are a few important factors to point out;
+ Fasting doesn’t mean zero food, but a restricted calorie intake of approximately 500-600 calories per day on 2 days of the week. (differing for men and women) Fasting each and every day isn’t what we are advocating for and like all variations in eating, we must work out what works for us each individually. Evidently if there is a history of an eating disorder, intermittent fasting may not set up healthy habits, remember we are all unique.
+ Lee discovered that whilst the idea of fasting and the benefits were amazing, there wasn’t a wholistic approach. That was, traditionally intermittent fasting was an ‘eat whatever you like’ approach. But if food is medicine and we’re keen to make it count, we needed to come up with a better approach and include whole foods where possible. That’s where her book, Fast Your Way To Wellness comes to the rescue.
+ Planning fasting days is key. You wouldn’t want to be having a ‘down day’ or a restricted day, the same day you had an important task to do – it really does come back to self care and nurturing your body properly.
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- Access to all LIVE masterclasses
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I would love to see you there!
To check out Lee’s book (and her entire range of goodies and info) Click here to visit Supercharged Food. She truly is a wealth of life changing info!