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Fasting for Your Cycle 101

Fasting101

In the health and wellness world, the concept of fasting has gained considerable attention, offering a whole host of benefits to promote our overall well-being. Within this paradigm lies a nuanced approach tailored specifically for women – fasting for your cycle, or what I refer to  in Cycle Synergy™ as “Opening Your Windows.”

 

At the heart of this approach is what I term “Metabolic Cycling” – strategically timing periods of eating and non-eating to shift the body’s fuel sources between glucose and fat utilization. This process elicits a profound healing response and essentially tells our cells that it’s time to ‘take out the garbage.’

 

Fasting is a simple and convenient way of eating that makes a meaningful difference. You’ll notice that you save time and feel better. Your body wasn’t built to successfully handle eating day and night. Fasting is more natural for your body than the eating schedule most people follow. 

 

>>>Truth is, your body comes programmed to thrive without food.

 

Consider that it hasn’t been that long since humans had access to a steady stream of food. There was a time when humans spent most of the day roaming the countryside looking for things to eat, and they weren’t always successful. There would often be days without food, yet when it was time to hunt or collect food, the body had the energy and stamina to go out and get it. Amazing!

 

Fasting or Opening Your Windows is an eating schedule that alternates periods of eating with periods of fasting. On some level, you’re already fasting. You might only be fasting from bedtime until you wake up, but you’re fasting while you sleep. Fasting shrinks the eating window and expands the fasting portion of a 24-hour day.

 

Why is this important? Because the benefits of fasting are manifold, ranging from weight loss and reduced inflammation to improved insulin sensitivity and enhanced brain health.

 

While fasting sounds difficult, most people are surprised how easy it is to follow after a couple of challenging days or weeks. It’s simply giving your body a break and it doesn’t require you to change how you eat, only when you eat.

 

>>>Women need to fast in a way that supports our fluctuating hormones.

 

It’s crucial to recognize that women have unique physiological needs that make it necessary for a tailored approach to fasting to unlock its full potential and support their bodies effectively. 

 

Throughout the month, different hormones require different levels of support. On the front half of our cycle, we are supporting estrogen, and estrogen prefers insulin to be low and doesn’t mind cortisol as much, allowing for longer fasts.

 

Conversely, on the back half of our cycle, particularly the week before our period, we are supporting progesterone. Progesterone favors low cortisol levels and stable insulin, meaning that fasting during this time can potentially disrupt our progesterone levels and lead to imbalances.

 

Thus, understanding our hormonal fluctuations and adjusting our fasting approach accordingly is paramount to harnessing the benefits of fasting while maintaining hormonal harmony throughout the menstrual cycle.

 

Six Styles of Fasting

Let’s start by discussing the different kinds of fasting and why you might want to try them. I find that when I know the benefits of different lengths of fasts, it’s easier for me to plan which ones I want to try and the easier it is to do them. It gives you a focus and intention every time we fast. Which type of fast you do at a particular time will really be dependent on your goals and where you are in your cycle. Let’s take a look at six in particular.

 

These six types of fasting that we use in Cycle Synergy have been adapted from Dr. Mindy Pelz’s book “Fast Like a Girl” – highly, highly recommended reading!

 

The six styles of fasting include:

  1. Intermittent Fasting
  2. Autophagy Fasting
  3. Gut Reset Fasting
  4. Fat Burner Reset
  5. Dopamine Reset Fasting
  6. Immunity Fasting

1-Intermittent Fasting

Non-Eating Window: 13-16 hours

Benefits: Increased human growth hormone and ketones, reduced inflammation, improved energy, fat burning begins.

 

This is the most common fasting eating schedule and can be very easy to implement and convenient overall. A day with this type of fasting might look like you opening your non-eating window at 8PM and then you wait to open your eating window until sometime between 9AM-noon. Your eating window is now open until around 8PM.

 

2-Autophagy Fasting

Fasting Window: 17+ hours

Benefits: Repair and detox of cells, creation of new cells, anti-aging, immunity boosting

 

Your health starts at the cellular level, and your cells are replicating themselves every day. If you have sick cells, your body will replicate those sick cells. This is why it can be so hard to get out of a chronic condition. Autophagy is a process that helps your cells “take out the garbage”, removing damaged or sick cells in order to generate newer, healthier cells. Fasting for more than 17 hours is one of the best ways to stimulate this process.

 

A day with this type of fasting might look like you opening your non-eating window at 8pm and then you wait to open your eating window until 1pm or later the next day. Your eating window is now open until around 8PM.

 

3-Gut Reset Fasting

Fasting Window: 24 hours – One Meal A Day (OMAD)

Benefits: Regeneration of intestinal cells, improved anxiety, mental clarity, reduced memory loss, healing in autoimmune conditions, fat burning

 

This plan has a lot of fans. You eat one meal a day or have a one-hour eating window each day. Most people prefer to eat their one meal at dinner, but it’s entirely up to you. If you want to jumpstart total body healing, especially for your gut, this is a great option.

 

A day with this type of fasting might look like opening your non-eating window at 6:30pm in the evening and then not having dinner (opening your eating window) until the next day at 6:30pm.

 

4-Fat Burner Reset

Fasting Window: 36 hours

Benefits: Reduced glucose stores, improved insulin sensitivity, increased fat loss, detoxification of toxins released from stored fat

This plan is easier than it looks. Most people eat dinner one evening, nothing the next day, and then the first thing the following day you can break your fast. Again, it’s entirely up to you and your schedule.

 

A day with this type of fasting might look like opening your non-eating window on Sunday at 8pm and then not eating again until Tuesday morning at 8am.

 

5-Dopamine Reset Fasting

Fasting Window: 48 hours

Benefits: Reset dopamine receptors, reduce anxiety, increase human growth hormone by 500%, “mental health boosting” fast

 

At 48 hours you reset your dopamine signaling pathways – the ‘feel good’ pathways. You open up the receptor sites, create more receptor sites and improve the signaling system to leave you feeling great. This is a great fast for those struggling with happiness, anxiety, or depression. The effects are long-lasting.

 

For this one you might have an earlier dinner on a Sunday, say around 5pm and then you could open your non-eating window at 6pm. Then you would go until dinner or 6pm on Tuesday to open your eating window. 

 

6-Immunity Fasting

Fasting Window: 72+ hours, maximum 5 days

Benefits: Peak autophagy, increased immune stem cell regeneration, accelerated healing for chronic conditions

 

This is great for those getting sick frequently or if you have had high stress. Also great if you are struggling with an autoimmune condition, chronic condition or cancer or even if you are just feeling overall sluggish and nothing is helping.

 

>>>Please note – for any fast 48 hours or longer, it is highly recommended to monitor your blood glucose and ketones. For any fast longer than 24 hours, you would also want to gradually break your fast before having a full meal. These are very advanced forms of fasting and ones that I would only recommend for those that have been fasting for a while, in particular, only trying a 48+ hour fast once you have already done many 24-36 hour fasts without complications.

 

So how would this look in a typical cycle?

Let’s look at a 29-day cycle. Days 1-10, you could engage in any of the six fasting styles. The same goes for days 16-19. Whereas, during our ovulation window, we need to support all the players and stay with a more moderate non-eating window. And finally, days 20-29, we really are supporting progesterone with no fasting.

You’ll notice the chart below says 12-13 hours – this is because ANY day of the month is okay to break from food for 12 hours (please see the article on the BIG THREE for more info on this). A non-eating window of 13 hours would be for someone who has been fasting for a while, but even seasoned fasters need to keep it to 13 hours maximum during this part of their cycle.

 

And remember, it might feel a little intimidating to begin fasting or even if you’ve been fasting for a while – it might feel intimidating to fast in a different way.

 

The most important aspects are just getting started and avoiding the need for perfection. It might take some time to find the right fasting schedule that works best for you. Be patient and do your best to enjoy the process.