I’ve been experimenting with different types of intermittent fasting and fasting for a few years now, and I think it’s made a huge difference in my blood sugar balance. But this year, I learned not to push it too far in honor of my hormones. According to Amy Shah, M.D., integrative medicine physician and mbg Collective member, “Put simply, women are extremely sensitive to signals of external starvation, and if the body senses that it is being starved, it will ramp up production of the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. When women experience insatiable hunger after undereating, they are actually experiencing the increased production of these hormones.”
Pushing fasting too far can be bad news for your menstrual cycle. “In animal studies, after two weeks of intermittent fasting, female rats stopped having menstrual cycles, and their ovaries shrunk, while experiencing more insomnia than their male counterparts,” Dr. Shah explained. Knowing this, these days I stick to a 13- or 14-hour fast instead of 16 hours or more, and I also eat three meals a day.