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Intermittent Fasting for Women: What Are The Potential Health Benefits?

alarm clock next to a healthy plate of food indicating when you may eat if intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting for Women: What Are The Potential Health Benefits?

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Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained significant popularity as a health and wellness trend over the last few years. It gained notoriety through a number of well-known health figures, including Dr Michael Mosley, who had experimented with it in an attempt to manage his type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2012. IF involves alternating periods of eating and fasting and has been associated with numerous health benefits. However, for women, intermittent fasting comes with unique considerations that must be understood to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet but rather an eating pattern. It focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat. The idea is to create a cycle between periods of eating and fasting, allowing your body to enter a state of rest and repair. It is far from a new fad, though, as it has been practised for thousands of years for a whole range of reasons from religious and ethical beliefs through to improving health.  

Common Methods of Intermittent Fasting

  1. The 16/8 Method: This involves fasting for 16 hours each day and eating within an 8-hour window. For example, you might eat between 12 pm and 8 pm and then fast until 12 pm the next day.
  2. The 5:2 Diet: In this method, you eat normally for five days of the week and consume only about 500–600 calories on the other two days.
  3. Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. For instance, you might fast from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  4. The Warrior Diet: This method involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and having one large meal at night, typically within a 4-hour eating window.
  5. Alternate Day fasting: Where you alternate between fasting and non-fasting days.

Potential Benefits for Women

There have been a number of studies done that have found a number of positive health effects for women undertaking intermittent fasting. These include:

  1. Weight Loss and Fat Loss: IF can help women lose weight and reduce body fat by creating a calorie deficit and improving metabolic health. By limiting the eating window, many women find it easier to reduce their overall calorie intake.
  2. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Fasting periods can lead to lower insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity, which can be beneficial for women at risk of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Enhanced Brain Function: Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting may support brain health by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood sugar levels. This can improve cognitive function and may protect against neuro-degenerative diseases.
  4. Hormonal Balance: For some women, IF can help regulate hormones, such as insulin and human growth hormone, which are crucial for overall health and well-being.
  5. Simplified Lifestyle: By reducing the number of meals you need to plan and prepare, IF can simplify your daily routine, making it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Potential Risks for Women

It’s important to highlight that while there appear to be a number of potential health benefits of this approach to eating, it’s not suitable for everyone. The effectiveness and suitability of IF will depend on a number of factors including existing health conditions, lifestyle and your nutritional needs. Among some of the potential risks for women of IF are:

  1. Hormonal Disruptions: Women’s bodies are highly sensitive to caloric restriction. Intermittent fasting can potentially disrupt menstrual cycles, particularly in premenopausal women. It’s important to monitor your body’s response and consult with a healthcare provider if you notice any changes.
  2. Nutritional Deficiencies: Limiting your eating window might make it challenging to get all the necessary nutrients. Ensuring a well-balanced diet within the eating periods is crucial to avoid deficiencies.
  3. Increased Stress Levels: Fasting can be a form of stress on the body. For some women, especially those with a history of eating disorders, this might trigger unhealthy eating patterns or increase stress and anxiety levels.
  4. Lower Energy Levels: During the initial phase of intermittent fasting, some women may experience lower energy levels, fatigue, or difficulty concentrating as their bodies adjust to the new eating pattern.

Tips for Women Considering Intermittent Fasting

  1. Start Slowly: If you’re new to intermittent fasting, start with a more flexible method like the 12/12 method (12 hours of fasting, 12 hours of eating) and gradually increase the fasting period as your body adapts.
  2. Work with Your Cycle: Calorie and nutrition needs vary during your cycle, for example women need more calories in the lead up to their period, and it is very easy to under-eat when fasting.
  3. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel during fasting periods. If you experience severe fatigue, dizziness, or irregular menstrual cycles, it may be a sign that intermittent fasting is not suitable for you.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water during fasting periods to stay hydrated and support overall health.
  5. Prioritise Nutrition: Focus on nutrient-dense foods during eating windows to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
  6. Consult a Healthcare Professional: Before starting intermittent fasting, it’s always a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider, who can help you to work with your cycle and any underlying health conditions or concerns.


Intermittent fasting can offer several health benefits for women, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and enhanced brain function. However, it’s essential to approach it with caution and be mindful of potential risks such as hormonal disruptions and nutritional deficiencies. By starting slowly, listening to your body, and prioritising nutrition, women can safely incorporate intermittent fasting into their wellness routine. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your eating habits.

The team at Perpetual Wellbeing are dedicated to providing insightful and practical advice to help you achieve optimal health and wellness. If you have any questions or need personalised guidance, feel free to reach out to our team of practitioners.

We offer Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine consultations

at 2 convenient locations, Brisbane CBD and Graceville