Fasting and Women's hormones

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Fasting and Women's hormones

This topic contains 16 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  daniela34 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • Hello since fasting I have lost more muscle than fat, my body composition has actually worsen. I am also feeling weak and light headed. 
     
    I was doing further reading on fasting and I came across with the dangers of fasting on women (disrupts hormonal balances) is there any proper research on the safety of fasting for women/fertility?

    Thanks!
    Alaide

    5:2 Fasting should not make you feel weak. Light headed on a fasting day FD may be you need a little extra salt on that day.

    It is hard to give advice when you just use the term ‘fasting’. This can mean several things. What exactly are you doing? How many days in a week are you fasting, and how much do you eat and what do you eat on fasting days and the other days?

    If you are normally healthy and getting exercise you should not be losing so much muscle.

    Anorexia will disrupt your hormones and account for muscle loss.
    W
    5:2 intermittant fasting will not lead to anorexia.

    If you are anorexic you should not be doing 5:2.

    5:2 is restricting calories for 2 days per week only. The other 5 days should be normal eating days.

    Thank you very much, had never done 5:2 but wanted to have a clean start and in order to achieve autophagy I did the mimicking diet which consisted in 4 days 700 calories. This led to muscle loss and weakness. Now I don’t think I’m up for the 5:2. My question is if there are studies on women’s hormones on 5:2? I am concerned that a female body hormones would disrupt even with one day of low calories (500cal 2 days per week).
    Thanks

    @Alaide. You really dont give enough information in your post. How long have you been “fasting” for up to now? Is it a water fast only? 500cal 800 cal? What is it that you do? How many days do you fast per week? How long have you been doing it for? You say yove lost lean mass and not fat? How have you come to this conclusion? Have you had a DEXA scan? Had a BodPod measurement done? How much have you lost over what time frame?

    Describe what you’ve been doing so far. What do you eat on a fast day, on a normal day. Need more information to give you a sensible answer.

    I did the mimicking diet only once, Day one 1090 calories and 2-5 700 calories. So faive days in total and today I am back to normal.
    I had boditrax measurement which showed muscle and water loss and minor fat loss.
    After these results I wonder if I am not a good candidate for a 5:2 further down the road and if what I did or doing 5:2 would cause hormonal imbalances.

    On these 5 days I had 10% protein 35% fat 55% carbs. So plant based.

    Thanks

    Alaide – as far as I know there’s no such thing as giving yourself a ‘clean start’. You just start with 1 fasting day (FD) of 500 calories.

    It sounds like you started with too low calories for too many days without drinking enough fluid. When you only have a few calories in a day you need to do 2 other things . When you do a total fast or a partial fast, as 5:2 is 2 days a week, you need to have extra fluid and add a little salt for electrolytes.

    1. All foods contain fluid , so you need to add extra fluid, extra to what you would normally drink in a day, the fluid you’re missing by not eating as much.

    2. You won’t be getting the salt that is naturally contained in food, so you need to add a small amount when you fast.

    You still need to give us more information about what you are eating: 10% protein, 35%fat, 55% carbs tells us a little, but what exact foods are you eating.

    Eg what you’re eating could be all food replacement drinks, –
    Or
    55% could mean excellent plant sources (good for your body), or it could be all sugar(still plant based but bad for your body)

    So:
    What did you have for breakfast?
    What did you have for lunch?
    What did you have for dinner?
    What did you drink?

    Also, what you did in those 5 days was very different to 5:2, so the results from it will not be the same as the results of 5:2.

    As I wrote before – 5:2 does not meanstarving yourself to the point where hormone production is damaged. There are many women doing 5:2 with no problem.

    Also, were you sedentary for those 5 days?
    Were you underweight already at the start of those 5 days?

    Do you have an existing eating disorder?

    Thank you so much for your comments and questions.

    It looks like I may have missed electrolytes and extra salt!
    I do not have and ever had eating disorders. I did start with a normal weight.

    For breakfast : oats with water and little chia seeds, strawberries and almonds .

    Lunch: either edamame with avocado salad from crush or courgette spaghetti with peas and pine nuts.

    Dinner: first 2 days cucumbers and carrots with lemon and chilli sauce (here I had loads of salt) and some avocado.
    Next two days , cauliflower rice with radish and carrots, avocado and olive oil.
    Last day, courgette carrot and little corn in a veggie broth and avocado.

    Thank you so much!

    Regarding activity, the first 3 days normal. Work part time and look after my 2 ya old so not sedentary at all!
    Last 2 days stayed home a d took it easy, felt any activity would be depleting (still had to look after my toddler).

    That’s a pretty strict regimen youre following regards your eating habits. How long have you been doing it? How much do you weigh and what is your target weight? With regards to boditrax, its just a electrical impedance analyser. You might as well throw a dart at a dart board to get your body composition numbers.

    OK, while I’m not an expert on this or a qualified nutritionist/dietion, it is obvious to me that what you’ve left out of your 6 days of low calories is protein, hence the possible muscle loss.

    Yes, there is some protein in what you’ve eaten, but not enough. You’ve kept in some starchy carbohydrates – oats, peas, corn, edamame, and some high fat items, almonds, avocados, pine nuts, olive oil. Your calories are nearly all coming from these foods. The oils in these are good ones except for pine nuts which has more saturated fat than the others, but I’m guessing you may not have had a lot.

    The other foods – strawberries, courgettes, cauliflower are all very low calorie foods. The carrots are on the low side but more calories than the others. Without looking them up I don’t know about chia, radish, and again I’m guessing chia, as a seed, has more oil content, and radish on the low side of calories.

    So, my understanding of what you’ve done is you’ve got the food proportions the wrong way around for low calorie days. The 10% protein is fine on normal eating days, but not on low calorie days those proportions you used – 10%, 35%, 55% won’t work.

    You need to keep your protein amount quantity up on low calorie fasting days, and drop the higher calorie carbs ie the oats.

    When you fast 5:2 style, say 500 calories for 2 non-consecutive days, your protein componant may look something like this:

    Protein sources:
    100-120gms lean chicken breast or lean turkey breast (no skin),
    eggs, especially the whites which is where the protein is
    100-120gms lower calorie fish eg fish that is a white fish with calories 100 or lower than 100 calories per 100grams of fish eg basa, ling, barramundi, hoki, whatever is available in your country.
    Vegetarian protein: eg
    chickpeas,
    lentils,
    red, white or black beans,
    soybeans
    tofu

    You also need some calcium to keep your bones strong and you need it in your diet everyday. So, some dairy eg yoghurt, would be excellent. Also green leafy vegetables, not just green non-leafy vegetables.

    To summarize: i think what you’ve done is several things –

    1. The composition of what you’ve eaten didn’t work well for you.

    2. The instrument for testing what your body composition was after the 6 days showed you didn’t eat enough protein which it’s interpreted as loss of muscle mass. Because you had some carbohydrates with a high starch content it’s reporting you didn’t lose fat. I am not familiar with means of testing body fat composition, but given bigbooty’s information, I’m presuming that the method you used reflected what you ate, instead of actually testing your body.

    3. You didn’t drink enough every day and got dehydrated somewhat.

    4. You needed just a little extra salt on 5 of the days. You don’t need much but you do need a little extra to keep your electrolytes balanced.

    5. It would have been better to just start 5:2 in the usual way rather than try to do something else before you started. You are a normal weight so there is no need to do anything extra. Even if you were overweight you wouldn’t need to do anything extra before you started 5:2.

    Some final comments :

    Your fears about hormone imbalance relates to people who severely undernourish. 5:2 is not in that category.

    If you are still breastfeeding your 2yr old, wait till you’re finished before starting 5:2.

    If you are vegetarian or vegan you will need to make sure you get adequate protein, calcium, and Vit 12.

    Go to the menu in top right hand corner, click on tracker, and you will find in there a way to work out your TDEE – total daily energy expenditure, which you’ll need for your 5 non fasting days. You may need to add a bit more on non fasting days to keep your weight to normal.

    There are recipes of various sorts on the forum that will help you.

    Read Dr Moseleys 5:2 book, and read simcoeluv’s: Information for newbies – your questions answered, which is on the forum.

    * Perhaps someone would put the link to simcoeluv’s Info for newbies up please : sim – if you’re reading, bigbooty, LJoyce ….?

    Good on you for wanting to be healthy and wanting to stay healthy. That is a good attitude.

    Your 2 year old will have different nutritional needs to you, an adult, so keep this in mind – different proportions of things for a young rapidly growing body, and a rapidly developing brain.

    Stay on the forum, and continue to ask questions as you have.

    Best wishes to you alaide,
    Merry

    Wow @merryme has nailed it. Follow her advice. There was no protein (or very little) in what you said you’d eaten. Either some meat or lots of beans/legumes. Dairy is good also. So what do you weigh and what do you want to weigh?

    Thanks simcoeluv!

    Alaide – this is an excellent introduction to 5:2.

    Thank you so much for your comments and showing concerns about the regime that I followed for 5 days.
    You are absolutely right, the profile did not suit me and I was dehydrated. I am now on a normal diet with loads of leafy greens and protein sources. I had some electrolytes yesterday and I feel better now.

    By the way @bigbooty I am 46kg now and was 48kg before the “mimicking diet” , I am happy at 46kg I am tiny, 1.52 cm. I was not looking for any weight loss, I was looking to go into autophagy for mitochondrial health. I understand everybody’s concerns about eating disorders but rest assured I have none and I am not undergoing through this again! My son has a very healthy balanced diet, no worries about that either 🙂

    I will wait some time and recover from this before trying the 5:2, I have learnt a lot from the experience and from your comments.

    Since we are at it, do you recommend having 14,16 hours fast on the 500 cal days? Or in general?

    Thanks everyone!
    Alaide

    @alaise. I wouldn’t describe 1.52cm tall as tiny. My wife is 1.51cm. Small yes, tiny no. So at that height and 46kg your bmi is under 20. Im assuming youre not a top athlete and you still want to menstruate? So your body fat is quite low. Low body fat = no menstruation or disrupted at the very least. I’ll be honest and say I have alarm bells ring in my head.

    On the assumption that you don’t want to lose any more weight?? Then your regime wasn’t correct. You want to get into autophagy, that’s fine I too fast not for weight loss but to get into autophagy. However your previous posts describing your eating pattern were not going to achieve that. You want to maintain a constant weight correct? Then by default you must gain a small amount of weight during the first part of the week. Then fast to lose the weight, so that overall you remain the same but enter ketosis and autophagy.

    I nominally weigh 70kg. During the week I put on 1kg taking me to 71kg. I have my last meal on Sunday night, then water fast on Monday, and have breakfast on Tuesday. So 36 hours of water only. I enter ketosis at about the 20 hour mark. I have been doing this for 3 1/2 years now. So I bounce between those two weight limits. But by default I over eat on the other 6 days. As best as I can make out your eating habits seemed to be that you were restricting what you ate for 5 days and then severely restricted what you ate for the other 2 days. Not good.

    Hormonal disorders and diet – tips for women
    Your fertility depends on the proper level of hormones. If you are applying for a child, make sure that your diet does not cause hormonal disorders. Here are the dietary recommendations for the future mother:
    Control the amount of fiber. Women applying for a child should cautiously approach the amount of high-fiber products, such as bran, if their diet is poor in fats. In this case, the concentration of female sex hormones may decrease.
    Eat soy. Women, unlike men, should reach for soy and soy products and remember about the proper supply of vitamin D3 and folic acid, and preferably folates in green vegetables.
    Do not use draconian slimming diets. Hormonal disorders may result in a menu with too low energy supply and excessive reduction (slimming) of fat tissue. Overweight women will also have a problem with maintaining hormonal balance, which is why it is so important to maintain the normal fat content.

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