Unlocking the Power of Fasting for Women: Insights from "Fast Like a Girl"

fasting Jul 01, 2024

At R1SE, we are always on the lookout for new ways to help our community achieve their health and wellness goals. We found a really interesting read and thought we should share - Dr. Mindy Pelz's, "Fast Like a Girl." This book is a treasure trove of knowledge specifically tailored for women, offering a unique approach to fasting that aligns with female physiology.

Understanding Female Physiology

One of the key messages is the importance of recognising the physiological differences between men and women. Dr. Pelz explains how hormonal fluctuations can significantly impact fasting and nutrition. Unlike men, women experience monthly cycles of hormonal changes, which necessitate a different approach to fasting. Women need to tailor their fasting practices to maintain hormonal balance and avoid potential negative effects. These may include:

  1. Hormonal Imbalances: Fasting without considering the hormonal cycle can lead to disruptions in oestrogen and progesterone levels, potentially causing menstrual irregularities or even loss of menstruation (amenorrhea).

  2. Increased Stress Levels: Extended fasting can elevate cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which can exacerbate stress and anxiety, particularly during certain phases of the menstrual cycle.

  3. Fatigue and Low Energy: Inappropriate fasting can result in significant drops in energy levels, making it difficult to perform daily activities or maintain a regular exercise routine.

  4. Mood Swings and Irritability: Hormonal fluctuations caused by improper fasting can lead to mood swings, irritability, and emotional instability.

  5. Nutrient Deficiencies: Prolonged fasting without adequate nutrient intake can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, impacting overall health and well-being.

  6. Decreased Bone Density: Chronic low-calorie intake and hormonal imbalance can affect bone health, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

  7. Weight Gain: Ironically, some women may experience weight gain or difficulty losing weight due to metabolic slowdowns and increased cravings caused by stress and hormonal imbalance.

By tailoring fasting practices to the different phases of the menstrual cycle, women can avoid these negative effects and enjoy the numerous benefits of fasting.

Hormone-Friendly Fasting

Dr. Pelz introduces hormone-friendly fasting schedules that align with the female hormonal cycle. These schedules are designed to optimise health benefits while minimising hormonal disruptions. By adjusting fasting protocols during different phases of the menstrual cycle, women can experience improved health outcomes without compromising their hormonal balance.

Here are some key points for advice when exploring extended fasting (over 24 hours):

Extended Fasting Periods

1. Benefits of Extended Fasting:

  • Autophagy Activation: Extended fasting, typically lasting 24 hours or more, can stimulate autophagy, a cellular cleansing process that helps eliminate damaged cells and promotes regeneration.
  • Improved Metabolic Health: Longer fasts can enhance insulin sensitivity and support weight loss efforts.
  • Hormonal Balance: Extended fasting can help balance hormones, provided it's done in a way that respects the female hormonal cycle.

2. Timing and Frequency:

  • Follicular Phase (Days 1-14): This phase, especially the late follicular phase, is the best time for extended fasting. Women are generally more resilient to the stress of fasting due to higher oestrogen levels. Dr. Pelz suggests trying a 24-hour fast once a week during this phase if it feels right for your body.
  • Ovulatory Phase (Days 15-17): Shorter fasts (up to 18 hours) are still suitable during this phase, but it's a good idea to listen to your body and avoid extended fasts if you feel any negative effects.
  • Luteal Phase (Days 18-28): Dr. Pelz advises against extended fasting during the luteal phase, especially the late luteal phase, as the body is preparing for menstruation and may need more nourishment and lower stress levels. Shorter fasts of 12-14 hours are more appropriate.

3. Listening to Your Body:

  • Individual Response: tune in to your body's signals. If you feel overly fatigued, moody, or experience other negative symptoms, it may be a sign to shorten the fasting period.
  • Nutrient Replenishment: After an extended fast, it’s crucial to break the fast with nutrient-dense foods to replenish the body and support recovery. Prioritise proteins, healthy fats, and a variety of vegetables.

4. Gradual Adaptation:

  • Ease Into It: For those new to extended fasting, try starting with shorter fasting periods and gradually increasing the duration as your body adapts. This helps to avoid overwhelming the body and ensures a smoother transition.

5. Supporting the Fast:

  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is vital during extended fasting periods. be sure to drink plenty of water, herbal teas, and electrolyte-infused drinks to maintain balance.
  • Stress Management: Incorporating stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, and gentle exercise can support the body during extended fasts.

Customised Fasting Protocols

"Fast Like a Girl" offers several fasting strategies that can be customised based on individual health goals. Whether you're aiming for weight loss, increased energy levels, or better hormonal health, Dr. Pelz provides practical guidance on how to achieve these goals through fasting. Her personalised approach ensures that every woman can find a fasting routine that suits her needs.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips

In addition to fasting, the book covers essential dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes that support overall well-being. It highlights the importance of consuming nutrient-dense foods, staying properly hydrated, and managing stress. These holistic tips are crucial for maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Backed by Science

What sets "Fast Like a Girl" apart is its strong foundation in scientific research and the author's extensive experience working with women. The book is filled with evidence-based insights and practical advice, making it a reliable resource for women looking to incorporate fasting into their lives safely and effectively.

Empowerment and Community

Like R1SE, Dr Pelz, aims to empower women to take control of their health. She encourages readers to join communities and support groups for motivation and shared experiences. At R1SE, we believe in the power of community, and Dr. Pelz's approach aligns perfectly with our mission to support and uplift each other on our health journeys.

How R1SE Can Help You Implement These Learnings

  • Personalised Training Plans: Our expert trainers can help you design fasting-friendly workout schedules that align with your hormonal cycle, ensuring you get the most out of your fitness regime without compromising your health.

  • Stress Management and Wellness Classes: We offer yoga, meditation, and mindfulness sessions both in-studio and online to help you manage stress and maintain mental wellness, crucial components of a successful fasting lifestyle.

  • Online Support and Community: Join our online community where you can share your fasting journey, seek advice, and stay motivated with the support of fellow R1SE members and our wellness experts.


"Fast Like a Girl" is a must-read for any woman interested in exploring the benefits of fasting while respecting her unique biological needs. It offers a balanced approach to fasting, focusing on health, well-being, and hormonal harmony. We highly recommend this book to our R1SE community as a valuable resource for achieving your health goals.



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