How Carb Cycling and Fasting Lead to Hormonal Health and Happiness for Women
Diverse cultures have fasted for thousands of years and continue to fast for religious, spiritual and health reasons. Bodybuilders and world class athletes use carbohydrate cycling to maximize their performance. Many women experience problems regulating their hormones, and this creates multiple mental, emotional and physical health problems.
Why are we talking about these three seemingly unrelated topics?
It’s because carbohydrates and fasting can help women reach hormonal balance. That means control over emotions, better physical health, a stronger and more capable brain, and improved wellness throughout the body.
How Hormones Dictate Health
A woman’s body weight, emotions and mental state can fluctuate noticeably (that’s an understatement!) during her monthly menstrual cycle. This is clear evidence of how hormonal ups and downs promote changes in physical and mental health.
Think of it this way: Hormones give your body marching orders. They are chemical messengers that “talk” to your body tissue, organs, physiological processes and body parts. When they are thrown out of order by things like unhealthy carbohydrate consumption, any aspect of your health and emotions can go awry.
Fasting and carbohydrate control are two practices that help women regulate hormonal health. By experimenting with carb cycling and fasting, a woman can find the perfect eating schedule for her unique situation.
How Carbohydrates and Diet Affect a Woman’s Hormones
Menstrual cycles can wreak havoc with your hormones, as can stress, menopause, aging and medications. No matter why you desperately want to control your hormone-driven emotions and any unwelcome physical occurrences related to hormonal fluctuations (unsightly hair growth, weight gain, skin issues), you can do exactly that through what and how you eat.
Your appetite and body weight as a woman are largely dictated by your hormones and carbs affect your hormones. When you eat too many carbs, especially unhealthy, simple carbs, this hurts your ability to produce and use insulin correctly. Insulin is just one of many hormones negatively affected by eating too many carbs regularly. This means lots of carbs can lead to hormone-related health issues.
What to do? There IS a healthy and natural answer.
How Carb Cycling and Fasting Can Reboot Your Hormonal Health
Where a woman is concerned, fasting and carb-cycling can balance hormones and emotions. This lowers the hormonal impact of your diet, and better health in mind and body are the reward.
By reducing carbohydrates when carb-influencing hormones are in full affect, you limit the weight gain, emotional peaks and valleys, mental fog and irritability that accompany your monthly cycle. You also change the amount of carbs you eat when your monthly cycle is not producing as many hormones. You create a healthy carb/hormone relationship that is conducive to emotional and physical balance, rather than ups and downs.
Benefits of Carb Cycling and Fasting
Carb cycling offers many benefits to women: A reduction in inflammation, better fat-burning ability and mental clarity are just a few rewards. Skin problems clear up and you have fewer unhealthy food cravings. You receive antiaging benefits and reduce your risk of developing chronic disease.
Some research shows intermittent fasting (IF) can extend a person’s life. This on-and-off eating practice can help an overweight person lose excess weight and fat.
Your metabolism is the combination of chemical reactions and processes that keeps you alive, and it’s improved with IF. When your metabolism is firing on all cylinders you are healthier inside and out, head to toe, in body and mind. Your metabolic process also influences your hormones.
What Type of Intermittent Fasting Is Best?
There is one type of intermittent fasting that is recommended for women rather than skipping eating for an entire day. Balancing hormones is more difficult for women than men; this is because of the complex nature of a woman’s ability to reproduce. A 14/10 or 15/9 intermittent fast means going without food for an extended period of time, not all day.
You eat your daily meals and snacks over a period of 9 or 10 hours. The remainder of the day you fast. You should drink water and or herbal teas during those fasting hours. Men can employ a 16-off/8-on IF, but women are not recommended to go for more than 14 or 15 hours without eating in most cases.
Having said that, some women fast by eating no more than 500 or 600 calories per day a couple of days during the week. Other women do this over the weekend. Try the 14/10 fast and eat your daily meals and snacks over a consecutive 10 hours if trying this type of fasting the first time.
Here’s What You Need to Do
Go low-carb for 3 days in a row followed by a high–carb day. Then you go low-carb for 3 more days. You can alternately try 5 days eating few carbohydrates followed by 2 high–carb days. A high–carbohydrate intake is considered 80 or more grams (g) of carbs. A low-carb approach means consuming less than 50 g of carbohydrates.
The typical menstrual cycle lasts for about 28 days. During the first two weeks of this cycle (follicular phase), most active and healthy women can handle up to 150 g of net carbohydrates. If you are relatively healthy but not very active, cap your intake at 100 g. If you are diabetic, overweight or have some similar problem with insulin resistance, shoot for 50 to 80 g of net carbs during this phase.
Subtract grams of dietary fiber from total carbs to get net carbs.
During the third and fourth weeks of the menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, most women see the best results by not eating more than 50 to 80 g of carbohydrates per day. Adding the significant health benefits of fasting means eating no more than 600 to 1,000 calories per day. Fast for a day or two every week or two weeks. Follow a low-carb (less than 50 g) eating approach.
Intermittent fasting and carb cycling can help you regulate your hormones, and in return, your emotional and physical health. Just remember that no two women are the same – what works for someone else may not work for you. Experiment with the fasting and carb cycling recommendations just discussed. You may finally be able to control your hormones, rather than letting them control you.
Have you tried carb cycling and fasting and noticed any differences in the way you feel? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’d like some healthy, delicious recipes that will support you in feeling your best during carb cycling and fasting, check out my free guide here with My 15 Top Paleo Recipes. As well, I have a NEW program launching on October 24th – The Over 40 Hormone Reset. Send me a message if you want more info on how to sign up to learn more tactics like these to finally feel in control (and in peace) again.
Wishing you well,
Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica
I’m Dr. Jessica Payne, Medical Intuitive, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and your go-to guide for living your life naturally…More
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