Losing Weight for Women and Men – Women and Fasting Part 2

One of the reasons why I want to do this blog series is because there is so much speculation about whether fasting can work for women. In the last seven years I have worked with thousands of women in all stages of life, and I’m happy to report I’ve seen nothing but incredible results for these women.

When I tell people that women can experience great success with fasting, they always ask me whether they can experience the same success as men.  The answer is YES!  Women can get the same results as men, but their journeys are slightly different.  In today’s post we will discuss how the female fasting experience differs from men in terms of weight-loss.

Most of the women I meet in clinic or online have struggled with their weight for a long time.  A lot of them have tried almost every other diet out there over the last decade or two or three.  All these diets tend to focus on caloric restriction as the primary means for weight-loss.  As a result, many of the women I encounter have very low metabolic rates.

This is the opposite of what I experience with male patients.  Most of the male patients I’ve worked with haven’t really tried to diet before.  Perhaps the odd diet here or there to drop a few pounds, but nothing as consistent or extreme as the women have.

People who are overweight tend to have quite elevated metabolic rates because their bodies are trying to shed the extra pounds.  But this isn’t true for people who have a history extensive dieting involving caloric restriction. These individuals tend to have a much lower metabolic rate, which makes weight-loss quite difficult.  Since women tend to have a more significant history of low-calorie dieting, they struggle more to lose weigh than men.

Women are also more hormonally complicated than men in general.  As a result, we end up becoming a lot more hormonally unbalanced after years of following the Standard North American diet than our male counterparts. This can make our weight-loss efforts appear to be more challenging at first.

 

The Duration of the Fast

Most non-diabetic men experience significant success following a 16:8 fasting regimen daily or fasting intermittently for 24 hours.  Women don’t appear to have the same success with either of those regimens.  Most women, especially at the start, achieve success doing 36 or 42 hours of intermittent fasting. It isn’t a significant amount more than men, but it’s just enough to have a significant impact on our waistlines.  In my experience, a 42 hour fast done three times a week has been the most successful fasting protocol for women looking to lose weight.

 

At the Beginning – The Men are Ahead

For every 36 hour fast, we should expect to lose about half a pound of body fat.  Anything beyond that is typically water loss.  At the start, women experience significantly less than that.  Most women will only drop some of the water weight and they typically lose about 0.25 pounds of body fat per fasting day for the first. Men, however, tend to lose about one pound of body fat per fasting day for the first two-to-four weeks that they fast.

 

In the Middle – The Women Take the Lead

Weight-loss for women starts off slowly but somewhere between four-to-six weeks their weight-loss starts to pick-up significantly.  During this period, we notice a significant reduction in water weight that we see in men at the start.  We also start to see their rate of body fat loss increase to one pound per fasting day.   We see the opposite happening with men during this period.  Their body fat loss drops to about half a pound per fasting day.

 

The Result – We Both Win!

After eight weeks of fasting both men and women appear to lose approximately half a pound of body fat per fasting day.  If you are fasting three days a week, this means you will lose about 1.5 pounds of body fat for three days of fasting per week.  During this time period most women report other positive hormonal changes as well.  Women of reproductive age start to experience improved symptoms of PMS.  Women going through menopause also report improved symptoms as well.  We also hear about improved sex drive in post menopausal women. These women often report feeling like teenagers again.

 

Body Composition Changes

My biggest source of grief (aside from LDL cholesterol) is body weight.  Notice in the text above I talked about body fat reduction, not body weight reduction.  The scale only tells us our total body weight.  Our body weight is composed of body fat, muscle mass, bone mass, water, etc.

I have been 186 pounds and have been obese, which most people wouldn’t disagree with given the fact that I only stand at five-foot, one inch.  But, what would you say if I told you I’ve been obese at 97 pounds?  When I say this in presentations or to patients, they always look extremely puzzled.  What would you say if I then told you I am skinnier now at 112 pounds than I was at 97 pounds?  This is often when people look at me like a deer in headlights.

Just because the number on the scale says an ‘ideal’ number doesn’t mean you’re healthy.  When I weighed 97 pounds, I was 34% body fat.  That’s just crazy!  Women should target under 30% and ideally under 25% body fat.  My risk of developing cardiovascular disease was quite high with that much body fat.  I was also quite weak with very little muscle mass and was brittle due to my osteoporosis.  At 97 pounds, I was just a little sack of fat.  At 112 pounds, I am 25% body fat and no longer have osteoporosis.  I’ve even put on quite a lot of muscle mass!  I look much more lean than I did at 97 pounds as a result of the shift in my body composition.

While you’re fasting your body produces human growth hormone (HGH) that can help you build muscle and rebuild bone mass.  I have always noticed that women gain a significant amount of muscle and bone mass when they start fasting.  This is fantastic because we want to be strong and sturdy as we age.  The one catch is muscle and bone come with a mass.  A lot of women will come in dancing because they’ve dropped three dress sizes, but then end up in tears when they step on the scale and see the number really hasn’t shifted that much.  In some cases, it has even gone up.  Often a woman’s view of her success is tied to the scale more than anything else, but the scale is often very misleading.  If you’re pants falling off, then you’re clearly losing the bad stuff – body fat.

Next week we will deviate a little bit from the Women and Fasting series to discuss the importance of understanding body composition and how you can measure it.

 – Megan Ramos, IDM Program Director

 

2018-11-15T06:24:15+00:0036 Comments

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Rakel nguyen Halldórsdóttir
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Rakel nguyen Halldórsdóttir

like always a great read

et
Guest
et

Awsome post!
Thank you 🙂

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

Thanks for this! My current weight is 30 pounds more than when I got married. I wore a size 16 then. Guess what? I have been fasting since February and lost 40 pounds and am down to a size 16! So yes the number can really mess with your head!!

Roel
Guest
Roel

“In my experience, a 42 hour fast done three times a week has been the most successful fasting protocol for women looking to lose weight.” 42? There has to be a typo here.

Rena
Guest
Rena

It is not a typo. I currently do a 42-hour fast 3 times per week, and I’ve finally lost the weight and body fat I had been trying to lose for years. Every other day I have an eating window from 2:00 to 8:00 PM, which is a 42-hour fast. It works!

Danica Holliston
Guest
Danica Holliston

I believe she means that one should fast from dinner on Sunday to lunch on Tuesday and that would be about 42 hours. Fast again from dinner on Tuesday to lunch on Thursday, and dinner on Thursday to lunch on Saturday, and you will have fasted 42 hours, three days a week.

Vicki
Guest
Vicki

I agree. That would mean a woman was eating 3 meals a week. That seems somewhat extreme. Not to mention socially/familially difficult. Many women are the cooks in their family. I can’t imagine having to cook 14-21 meals a week for my family, yet only getting to take part in 3 of them. Hoping for some clarification.

JeremyN
Guest
JeremyN

I would think so too. If you do the math, there are only 4 periods of 42 hours in one week, so most likely she intended to write 3 times a month, which seems much more reasonable. If you are re-feeding, then do it and re-feed. Don’t just eat one meal and go right back into fasting again. Your adult stem cells get activated to regrow cells in tissues and organs during re-feeding to repopulate the ones that were eliminated, so you don’t want to cut that process short (at least after longer fasting regimes).

Kat
Guest
Kat

Not per month, per week. No typo. Your math is off. This is what my schedule looks like:
Fast: Sunday 6pm to Tuesday 12pm
Eat: Tuesday 12pm to 6pm. (There’s room for at least 2 meals there. Maybe one at noon, one at 3, one at 6.)
Fast: Tuesday 6pm to Thursday 12pm
Eat: Thursday 12pm to 6pm
Fast: Thursday 6pm to Saturday 12pm
Eat: Saturday 12pm to Sunday 6pm.

Sunday is my “cheat” day. But I don’t call it that. I just like to say “On Sundays I eat whatever I like.”

HTH.

Steph
Guest
Steph

Thank you for the schedule! Do you allow yourself bone broth, a splash of cream, lemon water or vinegar during fasting window? Thanks!

Kat
Guest
Kat

I was having bone broth and tea with cream but, after reading further into autophagy and learning that proteins shut it off (both broth and heavy cream have proteins), I’ve switched to herbal teas and lemon water. I love to use the RealLemon powder packets – they’re super convenient. I also cave sometimes and have a sparkling water but I don’t like the bloated feeling it gives me.

Adrienne
Guest
Adrienne

This is for you then but now what do you do to maintain?

amy
Member
amy

Thank you! This was exactly what I was looking for. 🙂

Kayla
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Kayla

Thanks Megan, such good information! I’ve lost 30lbs with fasting, looking to lose another 30, I think, but my main goal is to live a long, healthy, active life. I’m 46, heading back into the workforce after nearly 20 years and I finally have hope that I can reach a healthy weight and more importantly, avoid the chronic diseases of aging.

A Smith
Guest
A Smith

Did you really mean women should fast 3 times a week for 42hrs. That seems extremely drastic.

Zeina
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Zeina

I don t understand: “a 42 hour fast done 3 times a week”? Meaning I fast for 2 consecutive days 3 times a week? Please explain.

Jade M
Guest
Jade M

It’s actually pretty easy. Just skip breakfast every day, eat lunch and dinner every other day and that’s your 42 hours in between.

Mary
Guest
Mary

Megan, under Duration of the fast, you say the best for women would be a 42 hr. fast three times a week. That seems like you’re eating just a few hrs per week. Is this right?

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

Is that written correctly -doing (3) 42 hour fasts a week? That’s 126 hours out of 168. Is this a short-term regimen?

Ann
Guest
Ann

Thank you! I have suffered a lifetime of forced caloric restriction only to find myself with health problems (including obesity and T2 diabetes) in my early thirties – confounding all my specialists because my diet and exercise routines have been “perfect”… my metabolism never had a chance. So fasting has been the only thing to help me. I would love more on how women can strive to keep their metabolism and hormones healthy in this series. Thank you again for all your work!

Meghann
Guest
Meghann

How do women normally do a 42 hour fast? When do they start the fast?

Wmr
Guest
Wmr

Start at 8pm, fast the next day, until 12pm the following day

Janice
Guest

That would only be 40 hours.

Lexa
Guest
Lexa

Hi Megan! Love this series of blog posts! Can you give an example of eating periods of a week when you do a “42 hour fast done three times a week”. I think it basically means fasting starts after dinner one day, continues through the entire next day, and then ends at lunch the following day. Would then have your eating period lunch through dinner and then begin again?

Shalla
Guest
Shalla

I love this article! It’s nice to know that “most women… achieve success doing 36 or 42 hours of intermittent fasting” because as I continue on my journey I was wondering how long I should fast for. Thanks for telling me!

Jane Cusack
Guest
Jane Cusack

Thank you for this great information Megan! I am also a little confused about the 42 hour suggestion. Does that mean 42 hours divided by 3 days? Or 42 hours at at time?

Debbie K
Guest
Debbie K

It means 42 hours straight of fasting. Eat a couple of meals and start again with 42 hrs fasting. Repeat eating and fasting.

Adrienne
Guest
Adrienne

What about bone broth during the fast?

Patti A Johnson
Guest

Wonderful information & guidance, Megan!! TYVM!!! 🙂 <3

Martina Campbell
Guest
Martina Campbell

I am 6 weeks into fasting and eating low carb. I have lost a good amount of weight but how I feel in my self is much more satisfying than the result on the scales . No longer am I hungry or dreaming all day long about food that is off limits, I am full till my next meal and when I do fast I feel amazing,supercharged.
Thank you Dr Jason Fung & Megan Ramos
Kind Regards Martina

Guest
Guest
Guest

42 x 3 might be very effective but it’s also brutally difficult. At the moment I fast 20 hours every day and I’m not seeing spectacular results. I’ve tried 42 but couldn’t do more than one of them a week because I was ravenous afterwards.

RB
Guest
RB

So should a woman fast for 3-7 days a week on the 16:8 schedule? (Eat during 8 hours of the day; fast for 16) I am looking for a sustainable weight loss of maybe 15 lbs tops and also want to make sure this doesn’t impact my chances of having a baby. Any insight or thoughts on how this may impact a reproductive cycle and those hormones? Thank you!

Stacy
Guest
Stacy

So excited about the increase in bone mass. I have just been diagnosed with osteoporosis but refused biologics because of the side effects. I have been doing ADF and one weekend fast but will start the 42 hour fasts right now. I want to lose about 50 lbs(39% body fat presently) but good to know < 25 is the goal.

Phen375
Guest

its a nice discussion . i want to ask how a female control her weight in 2nd pregnancy. If she is already over weight.

Sunshine
Guest
Sunshine

Great articles, Thank y’all very much..

Sheree
Guest
Sheree

I’m curious as to whether a 48-hour fast would work the same as a 42-hour fast? My eating habits sort of just evolved into IF many years ago. I don’t eat breakfast, since I’m a night owl and even though I’m forced into a diurnal work schedule, my digestive tract just isn’t online yet until lunch time. I don’t eat dinner, since lunch portions are so large. So when I do ‘alternate-day’ fasting, it’s actually 48 hours. Does this work as well as 42, or should I be trying to force a meal in where there isn’t usually one?