By following a few simple intermittent fasting rules, you’ll be able to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle without feeling deprived.
After having 3 kids and consistently fasting for more than 5 years, I have some practical insights on this topic, especially how to make the intermittent fasting rules work with your female anatomy.
Yes, I say with your “female anatomy” because I don’t know how to describe the fact that women have very different hormonal swings and needs than men, and therefore, we struggle differently when it comes to weight loss and fasting.
I’ve heard the frustrations of many women in my community regarding their husbands’ ability to shed weight quickly. At the same time, she struggles with headaches, bad sleep patterns, and barely getting through the fasting period. So I’ve concluded that there are some differences in intermittent fasting for women.
First, you should consult a licensed medical physician before you jump into intermittent fasting. IF isn’t for everyone, and therefore, it’s something to discuss with a licensed professional.
The purpose of this post is to give you a simplified version of the confusing rules you’ll find on the internet when it comes to intermittent fasting; it is not to provide any professional/medical advice
Are there Intermittent Fasting Rules?
The main rule of intermittent fasting is not to consume any food or drink containing calories during a fasting period and eat during an eating window.
After that, the internet loves to complicate things, which explains why there is so much written about it on the topic.
For the sake of keeping this simple and helping you achieve success with intermittent fasting as a woman, the following are guidelines that are also referred to as “rules.”
1. Create an Intermittent Fasting Schedule
Having an intermittent fasting schedule means committing a certain amount of hours to fasting, with a minimum of 12, and stick to an eating window. An eating window is the hours of the day when you eat solid foods.
The most popular schedules are 14:10, 16:8, and 20:4. Fast for 14 hours, eat during 10, fast for 16 hours, eat during 8, fast for 20 hours, eat during 4.
I explain everything you need to know about an intermittent fasting schedule in this post.
According to researchers, a 12 hour fast is the minimum amount of time needed for the body to begin reaping the benefits of intermittent fasting.
As a busy mom, I feel like 12 hours without eating solid foods and sticking to water, or black coffee isn’t too difficult to achieve.
Say you finish eating dinner around 7 pm and have your first cup of black coffee around 7 am to push your eyelids open. That’s 12 hours! Most days, I don’t get to eat breakfast for another couple of hours, and now, without any stress, I’ve naturally achieved a 14 hour fasting period.
3. Do not restrict calories
It’s extremely important to nourish your body with wholesome foods and not restrict calories during your eating window.
While this isn’t a “hard rule,” it’s a “hard guideline” for a healthy lifestyle as a woman. Our bodies are designed to “hold on to the fat” when we restrict calories, and because of this, many women struggle with weight loss or enter a plateau when they practice intermittent fasting.
During intermittent fasting, you will enjoy the same amount of calories your body needs in a smaller window of time. Instead of grazing without end from the time we get up until we go to bed (and in the middle of the night), you will eat the food your body needs during the eating period.
I know this can be a challenge for many of us, so if you need a simple, real food meal plan to help you get started, check out my Intermittent Fasting Guide for Women & Meal Plan here.
4. Liquid Calories Count and Will Break Your Fast
Choose calorie-free drinks during your fasting period since the biggest culprit to breaking our hard-earned intermittent fast is liquid calories taken in through drinks, even coffee!
While bulletproof coffee has earned all the rage over the years, I reserve this magical and delicious drink as a way to break my fast since it contains +/- 250 calories.
So, can you drink coffee while intermittent fasting? Yes, you can. Keep it black and without added sugars. Cream and milk will add calories and, therefore, break your fast. Make sure to check out the post linked above for all the coffee details.
5. No Workouts Over an Hour During the Fasting Window
While you can work out during your fasting window, it is not recommended to do HITT or endurance workouts (over 60 minutes) in a fasted state.
After an hour or more, your body begins to tap into its energy stores, and it can often trigger headaches, dizzy spells, and nausea for many women.
6. Be Flexible
With life comes many responsibilities and schedule changes. You must use the fasting window as your guide to intermittent fasting vs. the time of the day.
This means that you can start your fasting period at any time, say 7 pm to 7 am, or 10 pm to 10 am. There is no hard rule of when the fasting window must start and end. The best part is that each day can be different, so you can fit intermittent fasting around your lifestyle without feeling deprived.
On weekends, for example, I stay up later and often consume snacks in the evening with my kids (like popcorn) while watching a movie. This means that my fasting window will start later, and I just need to wait a little longer in the morning to get started with eating.
IMO, this is why brunch is such a great thing to incorporate on weekends! Late breakfast, almost lunch, perfect for fasting!
How to Start Intermittent Fasting
The best way to start intermittent fasting is by deciding to start and making a plan for your week following the intermittent fasting rules (guidelines) I shared above.
If you’re new to intermittent fasting and want a step-by-step guide to help you get started, explain everything about working out, what you can eat and drink, how to figure out your fasting schedule, and more, check out my Intermittent Fasting for Women eBook.
It also includes a weekly plan to help you get started and succeed at Intermittent Fasting!
Intermittent Fasting for Women
If you want to dive deeper, I’ve created a book with everything you need to know about intermittent fasting & a 1-week meal plan so you know exactly what to eat during your eating windows. Check out my Intermittent Fasting Guide here.
Did you know Intermittent Fasting can be as simple as these six rules? Share your experiences with me in the comments!
Hi, thanks for the info.
However I do 16/8 but when I looked things up it said a little french vanilla creamer is not enough to break fast. ( morning coffee) its contradiction to this so what does one do.
Hi Dee, it depends how much you use. Anything over 40 calories is considered to break the fast. If you need a teaspoon or two of the french vanilla to get your morning cup in…. by all means. It depends on your goals and the product’s nutritional information.
I have been seeing so many different ways to start IF, yours makes total sense. My husband is also on board with IF. We are senior citizens, retired, and love to go to many restaurants. What about alcohol in our open window?
Hi Nancy, if alcohol drinks here and there are part of your typical healthy diet (say a glass of wine here and there) during your window it is 100% up to you. I have this post on what to drink during Intermittent Fasting you might find helpful. As always, consult your physician before you make any drastic changes.