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Hello everyone. This is Dr. Alison with little black bag medicine. And today we are talking about why I hate intermittent fasting, why I also love it, but really something that you should really consider. If you’re a woman, if you’re cycling, if you have issues with fertility, period, health hormones, any of those things, you need to be extremely careful with how you eat when you eat fasting, all of those things. I’m going to tell you why. So a couple of years ago, I think about five years ago now, there was a huge push in the functional medicine world for intermittent fasting. And there still is. And I jumped on board. I looked at the research. I was like, wow, this is amazing. Everybody in my community was doing it. They were having great results. I told my husband, I’m like, we are doing intermittent fasting. We planned it all out.
We had our time set. It worked really well. My husband lost 20 pounds that month. He did fantastic. He felt great. His body that was going down. He was so excited to learn about this myself. On the other hand, I gained weight. My body fat went up, my fatigue increased. My hormones were crazy. It, my periods were heavier and I was like, this is not fair. What is happening? And what I didn’t know at that time is what I know now is that intermittent fasting can affect all those things. We’ll talk about that in a minute. So what is intermittent fasting? It is a cycle of eating where you fast for certain hours of the day. And then you spend eating in a certain window of time. Many people do eight hours of eating, 10 hours of eating and then fast for the rest of the time.
So if you have breakfast at 8:00 AM, your last meal should be before 8:00 PM or 11 to five. And there’s all types of different ways. Some people do regular eating, where they eat and graze throughout the day. And then one or two days a week, they fast or do a juice fast that entire day. There’s many, many different types. There’s many ways to do this. It all depends on what you need, what you’re looking for, what your health is and how you should do it. Typically they don’t focus on tracking calories or fat or macros or protein. You just kind of eat whatever you want because you’re in this window. Your body’s not going to hold onto as much fat as a theory. It’s great for balancing blood sugar because your body is not constantly bombarded by sugars and fats, and it can help balance cortisol immune system.
There’s so much great research on it, but I’m going to tell you that when you look at the research, the research is based on the research is based on mice and the research is based on menopausal Limon. And that’s great for those people. Menopause women are not cycling. They don’t have hormone patterns like cycling women do. So my other warning for this is if you’ve had a partial hysterectomy and you are in surgical menopause, but you still have your ovaries, your brain is still cycling. Your ovaries are still cycling. You still fall into the cycling female pattern. Okay? So my number one reason for avoiding intermittent fasting for women is because I will tell you, 95% of my patients already struggled with an eating disorder. They don’t eat enough food. They don’t eat enough calories. We have this fascination and obsession with eating less, being skinny in our society and myself included.
I will put my hands up and say, I skipped breakfast. And is that because I’m doing intermittent Fasting is partially because I’m lazy partially because I want to jump into work and get right on my phone calls with my patients. I wake up, I’m not hungry. And that’s part of the reason I have these blood sugar issues. There’s all of these things where eating less is calorie restriction is not healthy because we’re not feeding our bodies. Food is fuel. It is important. It is important to eat a variety of foods, not just protein, not just fat. Don’t just avoid carbs that we have to have this wide variety for most people. So if you struggle with craving sweets during the day, if you can, yeah, it’s super hangry. Like you miss a meal and by 3:00 PM, you’re like, wow, I’m starving and I’m off.
Or you have to have coffee or energy drinks to keep you going throughout the day. If you feel better when you eat food. So like you’re really, really tired. And then lunch comes along and you eat food and you’re energized. That’s an issue as well. If you are shaky, if you are jittery, if you have high anxiety, if you have insomnia where you toss and turn at night and you have a hard time falling asleep, if you have memory issues, if your eyes are blurry, these are all signs that you are not eating enough. You are not eating enough calories. You are not eating enough fats, sugars, and proteins, and you’re not eating consistently throughout the day. So what I actually do is I teach my patients most of them, and we’ll get into when you should do intermittent fasting in a minute. But I teach most of my patients to eat consistently throughout the day, start with breakfast with them, 30 minutes of waking up, get your metabolism going.
If you wake up and you’re not hungry. And you’re nauseous, okay, is because you didn’t eat the day before. So this is a time where I say, get a breakfast bar, a protein, shake, eat half of it within 30 minutes of waking up something light and small. And then an hour later, the other half of it start snacking, start introducing these foods. And we start stabilizing the body’s blood sugar, the adrenals, the brain, the calories, energy becomes stabilized. Then after the body stabilized, because you’ve been doing this consistently for at least one to three months, sometimes longer, depending on your issues then because started talking about keto, intermittent fasting, or what to do with that. Okay? The other issue that I see with intermittent fasting is that women do this on their own. Anyways, we wake up, we have coffee, we skip breakfast. We skip lunch at three o’clock, we’re starving.
We get super angry. We go home and cook dinner, and then you start bingeing at night and it’s chips and it’s candy and it’s donuts and it’s beer or wine and whatever, you can get any you, you can get in. So if this is your personality type of eating, do not do intermittent fasting because you are going to just pummel your blood sugar with the bingeing side of it. And I would strongly recommend seeing a food therapist to help you work through these issues. If you struggle with bingeing, starvation, binge dieting, yo-yo dieting, whatever it is for you. If you use food to punish yourself, you need to see a food therapist to help you work through these issues, change your relationship with food. And most importantly, change your relationship with your body. Learn to love your body. Learn to feel good as the way you are.
And we can work on healing from the inside, out as you’re working on those emotions too. Now, what does the research actually say about cycling women and intermittent fasting? Again, I am not a mouse. I’m not a rat and I am not a man. So none of that research actually applies to me. So what we’ve actually found is that you have a risk of shrinking your ovaries. If you do not eat enough calories. So intermittent fasting, if you’re not doing it correctly, if you’re not getting your 2000 calories in those six hour window, you’re going to put your body at risk. The other thing that some studies have showed that women actually have worsened blood sugar levels, meaning diabetes cortisol level after three weeks of intermittent fasting, where men have more stabilized blood sugar and cortisol after three weeks of intermittent fasting. Other things that it does is that affects the brain, which can be good and healthy for men and mice and post-menopausal limit.
But if you are cycling, the hypothalamus will not work as well, because it doesn’t have the healthy fats and protein than it needs, and really the glucose as well, the sugar. So that affects FSH and LH, which are the hormones that trigger ovulation. So if you’re struggling with infertility, if you’re struggling with hormone issues and wonky cycles and your periods stop and start intermittent fasting might be a problem for you. The other things that it does is of course it promotes the risk of infertility it, man, damages your bone health, because estrogen is a strong player in that it can affect your brain health. So if you struggle with brain fog, memory sleepiness, fatigue, intermittent fasting might affect that. And also again, regular cycles. So there’s a lot of research on cycling women that is not good. So make sure that you know what you’re doing.
And then another reason I don’t like it is that again, women just aren’t eating enough. They’re not eating enough calories. They’re not eating enough protein. They’re not eating enough fat. I like to see my patients above 1500 calories a day throughout the day and the healthy way, right? I’m not saying like go to McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but we’re trying to add in more healthier foods. Wider variety of is better macros. Okay? And we don’t regenerate muscle without protein. We’re not going to regenerate hormones without fat. So if you’re starving yourself, you’re not going to have the tools that you need to fuel your body for energy, for food, for hormones, for all of these things that you need to do to be able to live your life. Okay? So start tracking your macros. And this is where I started a lot of my patients as just start tracking, let’s see where you are with what you’re eating, and then we can add in and start to take out and really make those shifts quickly, but also slowly.
So that way it’s not so overwhelming, but you can start to see those differences. Now, should you do intermittent fasting? I do recommend it for my male patients who struggle with blood sugar issues. I recommend it for women who are struggling with blood sugar issues like diabetes, pre-diabetes high hemoglobin A1C. So that way they do get it managed if their adrenals are healthy enough. So we can look at all those things. We look at your blood work. We look at cortisol, we can do saliva testing. We look at your symptoms to see if you’re a good candidate for this. Now, one thing I do recommend for almost everybody, if you are healthy enough and you have a good mental and emotional state is that fasting would be a great option to reset your insulin, reset your cell receptors. And it is fantastic for resetting your blood sugar levels throughout the day to help manage weight hormones, all of those things.
So I prefer ProLon is a fasting mimicking diet, and you get a box and it has all the food that you needed for the week, and it is fasting, but you’re still eating. It’s very, very low calorie, but your stomach won’t hurt. Your gut won’t hurt, but your body still thinks that it’s fasting. So you get those regenerative properties to it. I do like water fasting or juice fasting. A great starting point is three days and move yourself up to five days. A lot of docs that I know do it for 25 days because they have auto-immune conditions that just need to replenish their gut and heal their body. So there are a lot of options, but just know that you are not the same as everybody else. Please look at your blood, work your testing, and figure out the right plan for you. And that is what we do in functional medicine to support you. So thanks for tuning in, and I’m always here to help you. So schedule a free consultation online to learn how functional medicine can help you.
Thank you for listening to functional wellness with Dr. Ellison. If you would like personalized care and testing, you can schedule a free introductory consult with Dr. Allyson online at little black bag medicine or message us on Facebook at little black bag medicine. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next week.