Stop doing Intermittent Fasting if you’re looking to change your body physique!
How jumping on the newest diet trend maybe hindering your progress instead of promoting it!
Every week, month, or year there are a new set of diets that jump onto the scene and promise to transform your body shape in a certain amount of time! Keto and Intermittent Fasting have been around now for a couple of years and seem to be gaining traction in the health and fitness industry as the top diets to follow to hit your physique goals.
I personally don’t dabble in the world of diet culture but after listening to a podcast with Dr. Stacey Sims (specialist in women’s health & performance & Why Women Are Not Small Men”) I was fascinated to learn that the research taken into the benefits of both these diets had all been conducted on either obese men & women & athletic men! There has been no study conducted into the effect of these diets on athletic/active women.
Intermittent fasting can be a great tool for non-active women who are maybe over-weight and are looking to control their calories and drop into a calorie deficit. IF shortens the window for consuming food which overtime will lead to fat loss if creating a calorie deficit. However, to become leaner (drop body fat & build muscle) you need to create an environment for muscle to grow and that means eating balanced meals high in protein at regular intervals throughout the day and especially before training.
For years I have heard people & the media harp on about how we should exercise in a fasted state so to tap into fat stores and burn more fat when we exercise! This is simply fitness Bulls**t, a myth! There is no scientific research out there to prove there are any benefits for active females to train fasted or that it will lead to any further fat loss results.
Following the Intermittent Fasting diet while trying to build a stronger physique can be very counter-productive. There is no added benefit for women who both workout & intermittent fast.
When women deplete themselves of calories for a prolonged period of time, they are sending warning signals to 2 important areas of the brain (the hypothalamus which is responsible for the production of Kisspeptin hormones). These neurons are essential for so many bodily functions such as thyroid function, reproductive status (production of sex hormones), growth & development and metabolism function. When kisspeptin is low you are turning off the luteinizing hormone and down regulating thyroid function which have many knock-on effects, (low energy, mood, fatigue, problems concentrating).
When women try to work out and push themselves in this fasted state, they are not in the optimal environment to 1. perform at their best and 2. create an environment for muscle to grow. When fasted they are sending signals to the brain to say there is not enough nutrients available to support normal function never mind the stress of exercise. Over time this stress on the body can lead to problems such as the downturn of metabolic rate, storage of more abdominal fat due to a rise in cortisol (stress hormone) and the chances of going into a catabolic state (burn more body muscle than fat).
IF is more likely to cause impaired glucose intolerance in women in comparison to men as kisspeptin is disrupted. Over-time this disruption will result in a rise in cortisol levels due to the added stress on the body, which may lead to a change in menstrual cycle, the storage of excess belly fat and impaired performance.
Here are couple of keys notes to take away from today’s article as to why active women, who exercise a couple of times a week, do NOT need to add the added stress of Intermittent Fasting into their lifestyle!
1. It disrupts hormone production, potentially causing health issues such as disrupted menstruation, weakened bones, and impaired/slower recovery.
2. It weakens the thyroid and increases cortisol, which may lead to an increase in belly fat
3. It slows down the fat burning process
4. It causes energy deficiency and may result in the body using muscle tissue as it’s energy source when training
5. It causes muscle breakdown.
Think of it like this, exercise is general is an added stress we place on our bodies, there is no benefit of loading another stress onto the body in the form of (Intermittent Fasting). For women who do not lead an active lifestyle and do no form of exercise it may be a useful tool to use to enter into a calorie deficit and drop some excess fat. However, for an active female, it is so important to fuel yourself with complex carbs and protein prior to working out in order to have energy and push yourself in the gym.
Thanks for reading and I hope it has added some insight into the side effects of Intermittent Fasting for active women!
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