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Intermittent Fasting, Women, and Training

Humans have been fasting for thousands of years.

In fact, it’s been shown that regular fasting supports autophagy– the means by which the body clears out damaged cells.

However, as is everything with nutrition, there’s a time and a place. Just like you might not want to eat a steak before a track workout, it can be argued that for women, training in a fasted state does more harm than good.

From a biological/evolutionary standpoint women are designed to have babies. The female body operates first and foremost from this level (even if you don’t ever plan on making that a thing!)

When the female body is in a calorie deficient/carb deficient state the system adjusts to accommodate these deficiencies. It’s not necessarily WRONG to be in these states, but from a purely biological angle it needs to ensure that pregnancy happens when food is most likely abundant.

When you train fasted on the regular, your body does not know there’s a grocery store down the street and you’re doing this on purpose.

This means that your body may adjust hormones to anticipate not having what it needs, including increasing cortisol levels and decreasing estrogen production (cortisol is catabolic -breaks muscle down, and without the muscle building benefits of estrogen, a decrease in muscle mass can result).

Some studies even suggest that training in a fasted state can have immediate negative consequences on a woman’s metabolism (slowing it down to conserve body fat!).

Men tend to do very well fasting, even training fasted. But women are not men. What works for them will not necessarily work for you. You’re designed to make other humans. Your body is a unique system with constantly varying hormones.

If you DO want to incorporate fasting into your health regiment, consider doing some research on how to fast for a woman, and consider eating when you’re training, ESPECIALLY if you’re doing functional fitness! 

Do you currently train fasted? Do you follow an IF protocol? What are your thoughts?

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