Hello there! Is there such a thing as intermittent fasting for PCOS? You might have heard about intermittent fasting (or IFT) due to its success in weight loss for individuals with obesity or overweight conditions.
It has also become very popular among those who want to improve their overall health by experimenting with this diet style.
IFT is typically done where you wake up at noon every day and eat your normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner times, but you never eat food while you are awake!
This is called the eating period.
You then go into a sleeping period that can be anywhere from eight hours to 24+ hours depending upon how long you sleep each night.
During this time, you do not consume any calories.
By doing this, your body does not get enough nutrition during the eating period so it will start to use other sources to try to receive energy.
These include using glucose or blood sugar as fuel, which can sometimes cause headaches and/or hunger pains. By limiting yourself to only 8-8½ hours of eating per day, you eliminate this effect.
Many people begin practicing IFT in just one week, and then extend it to more than one month before trying to add additional days to their eating schedule.
Some individuals may need help figuring out what timing is best for them, so they keep changing when they eat.
There are several different types of IFT, so there is no wrong way to do it if you are new to the concept.
1.) What is intermittent fasting for PCOS?
It’s no different from regular fasting.
There are many ways you can use IF to improve your health. Because it is a simple way to eat, it can be done by anyone at any time.
It does not require special equipment or resources so if you already have those then you are all set.
The most popular IF is 16:8. It means that you fast for 16 hours and eat in 8 hours.
But you can also choose the easier option — 13 hours of fasting. It means that you stop eating at 6 pm and your breakfast starts at 7 am.
By doing this, I believe your body doesn’t have to work as hard to get the same nutritional benefits. Many feel more rested after the night of food deprivation, also.
If you are interested in trying this method, make sure to do a few days of testing first to see how your body responds.
Related: Ketosis and Depression
2.) How can I start intermittent fasting?
The first thing you need to do is determine if IF is right for you.
You can start a shorter fast. The 13-hour fast is ideal for beginners. Then, if you get adopted to it, you can increase the fasting time to 16 hours.
You can increase it further to 23 hours or what people call one meal a day (OMAD).
It’s important to note that none of these strategies require you to be hungry. You can feel full from other foods, so it does not matter how much you eat – as long as you don’t feel overly full.
Your hunger will eventually tell you when it is allowed to feed, and this helps mitigate feelings of stress caused by being hungry. It also gives your body a chance to relax and recover from feeding times.
3.) What times should I pick?
Choosing an eating window is totally up to you! There are several types of IF that require different timing strategies.
Some people start fasting at night, some do it during the day, and some shift their feeding time around.
It really depends on what kind of body you want to achieve your goal with intermittent fasting. You will also have to determine how well you can stick to this style of dieting for the best results.
There are many ways to approach IF to see success. One way is moving your lunch break into nighttime or early morning so you don’t eat as late in the day, but there’s no wrong way to do it!
What matters most is finding a timing structure that works for you and your lifestyle.
For some people, starting early in the afternoon and then having lunch later the next day is perfect.
You must be able to sleep at least eight hours per night without any help from food, and wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the world! If you need extra sleep, you can always use melatonin to facilitate sleep.
Many people begin experimenting with IF by only fasting one meal a day before expanding to alternate-day fasting. It means that they fast for 24 hours. The following day, they eat one meal a day.
By doing this, you are still experiencing calorie restriction and weight loss benefits, just not all the days out of the week.
Related: Can IF cause high cholesterol?
4.) Can I exercise while intermittent fasting?
You can work out in either the eating or non-eating period of time-time division dependent. For example, someone may wake up and eat breakfast and then go straight into their exercise session, or they may start their day by exercising before eating.
Keep in mind that exercise is vital for PCOS patients. This is especially true if you are overweight.
Many different types of exercises can be done during this time frame, such as cardio (getting your heart beating), weight lifting, yoga, and other activities.
One important thing to note is that although you can do these things during the eating period, make sure to only drink water or beverages with no calories.
5.) What challenges are there with intermittent fasting?
One of the most common questions people ask about IF is what actually works for your body. Because every person’s body is different, this meal timing approach will work for some, but not others.
There can be complications like symptoms of diabetes or pre-diabetes in those who have it.
Or, you could have trouble losing weight due to an imbalance of hormones.
For women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the top hormone culprits, trying an intermittent diet plan can pose special challenges.
Because estrogen levels are so high, many people with PCOS struggle to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This can make achieving adequate nutrition difficult, especially during times when diets are restricted.
6.) What should I eat?
When it comes down to it, there is no one specific food that can alleviate PCOS. But you must stay away from sugary and processed foods.
7.) Can I shift my fasting times?
One of the greatest things about IF is that you can choose when to start eating and when to stop depending on what time of day you feel most hungry.
This is called time-restricted feeding (or TRF for short). And it’s not limited to people with PCOS! Many healthy individuals use this technique to lose weight or improve their health.
By only giving your body access to food during an established time frame, your metabolism will be forced into overdrive and you’ll burn more calories even while sleeping!
You can eat as much or little as you want within your allotted time, which makes this diet very flexible.
8.) What results will I see?
By restricting when you eat, your body does not get the chance to overproduce insulin as it would normally.
Because there is no glucose (sugar) intake, your body does not need to make as much insulin to process the sugar content of your diet.
This can reduce inflammation and balance hormone levels, especially insulin. By having normal insulin levels, fertility can be restored and weight loss can occur more easily.
Weight loss has been linked to improved hormonal health in people with PCOS.
What Time Frame is Recommended?
Intermittent fasting for PCOS patients is beneficial. The fasting period will depend on your lifestyle. If you don’t want to complicate it, you may consider OMAD. Find out more about it here.