Fast Like a Girl | Mindy Pelz

Summary of: Fast Like a Girl: A Woman’s Guide to Using the Healing Power of Fasting to Burn Fat, Boost Energy, and Balance Hormones
By: Mindy Pelz

Introduction

Unlock the healing power of fasting and tap into the ancient wisdom that has helped women maintain their health and vitality for generations. In this summary of Mindy Pelz’s ‘Fast Like a Girl’, we will explore the benefits of fasting, how it improves metabolism, and how it can be customized to work with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Discover how to enhance your hormone balance, boost energy, and feel empowered in your body with the six different types of fasting windows. With the guidance of this summary, you will gain the knowledge and insight on how to unleash the transformative effects of fasting on both the body and mind.

Metabolic Switching: The Hidden Key

The longstanding belief that the main factor in effective weight loss is consuming fewer calories than one burns through exercise is being challenged by new research. Studies are revealing that it is actually the time frame in which we eat that plays a more significant role in managing weight and improving health. By using the concept of metabolic switching, people can experience significant health benefits by focusing on the duration of their fasting windows rather than solely relying on calorie counting.

For years, we’ve been told that to lose weight and become healthier, we must eat fewer calories than we burn through physical activity. Yet, recent research now suggests it’s not just how much we eat, but also when we eat that matters. A 2018 study discovered that obese individuals saw noticeable improvements in their metabolism simply by narrowing the timeframe in which they consumed food daily. They still ate what they wanted, but limited it to an 8-hour period, leading to remarkable results. A similar 2020 study found that eating within a 10-hour window led to better metabolic effects as opposed to a 14-hour window, even when consuming the same foods.

What makes such positive changes possible is rooted in the science of fasting. Our ancestors evolved to maintain energy levels even after extended periods of not eating. During daytime hours, food would be consumed, followed by a fasting state overnight. Their bodies would then have enough energy to power them through the next day to find more sustenance, thanks to ketones produced while fasting. This switch from glucose to ketones as an energy source is known as metabolic switching.

Metabolic switching allows our bodies to transition from a sugar-burning mode to fat-burning mode. When not fasting, our bodies burn glucose for energy. However, when in a fasted state, the body relies on its fat-burning system to make energy instead. Glycogen, stored sugar, is used up during exercise, predominantly within our muscles. Through fasting, we can also start to burn glycogen in the liver and fat tissues.

There’s more to a fasted state than just using up glycogen stores, though. Our bodies also regenerate neurons damaged by toxins and excess sugar, heal our mitochondria, decrease the risk of developing cancer, and balance our gut. Although this system was well-suited for our ancestors, our modern lifestyle of constant access to food makes entering a fasted state more challenging. To maximize the benefits of fasting, understanding the relationship between different fasting windows and their effects on our health will be explored further.

In conclusion, the key to unlocking healthier living may not be rooted in strict calorie counting or fad diets. Instead, understanding the concept of metabolic switching and focusing on when we eat could be the secret to better weight management and overall wellbeing.

Hormones, Fasting, and Cycles

Women’s hormonal cycles can affect and be affected by fasting. Understanding the four distinct phases in a cycle – power, manifestation, nurture, and power, can help with knowing the best time to fast. Estrogen benefits from fasting during power phases, while progesterone might suffer, making it wise to avoid fasting during the nurture phase.

Let us delve into the biology of a woman’s hormonal cycle to understand its interaction with fasting. A woman’s cycle begins on the first day of menstrual bleeding and ends when the next period starts, usually lasting around 28 days. The hormones estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone start relatively low on day one and gradually change throughout the cycle, affecting a woman’s energy levels and mood.

During the first 10 days of the cycle, the body gradually builds up estrogen levels to prepare for ovulation. This process leads to the growth and thickening of the uterine lining. Ovulation typically takes place between days 11 and 15, with estrogen levels peaking around day 13. Elevated levels of estrogen and testosterone during ovulation contribute to feelings of happiness and strength in women.

Hormone levels decrease between days 16 and 18, leading to lower energy levels as the body prepares to produce progesterone. Around day 19, the body starts making progesterone to ready the uterus for a potential fertilized egg. If no fertilized egg appears, the body stops creating progesterone, and both progesterone and estrogen levels drop, prompting the uterus to shed its lining, signaling the next cycle’s beginning.

How does fasting fit into this cycle? Dr. Mindy Pelz identifies three phases within a cycle based on the hormones present – power, manifestation, and nurture. Power phases occur during days 1-10 and 16-19, while manifestation takes place in days 11-15, and nurture goes from day 20 until the bleeding begins again.

Fasting works best during the power phases when the body produces estrogen. Decreased insulin levels due to fasting are beneficial for estrogen production. Fasts during the power phases can vary in length, from intermittent fasting to 72-hour fasts. However, longer fasts should be spaced out to allow the body time to replenish before fasting again.

On the other hand, fasting can negatively impact progesterone, which benefits from higher glucose levels. Stress, leading to increased cortisol levels, can also hinder progesterone production. Therefore, it is wise to avoid fasting during the nurture phase when the body is focused on creating progesterone.

The manifestation phase, marked by increased testosterone production, comes second in the chronological order. Research on the impact of fasting on female testosterone levels is limited, but based on male studies and clinical experience, Dr. Pelz recommends limiting fasts to no longer than 15 hours a day during the ovulation window.

To recap, days 1-10 of the cycle are the first power phase, and fasts between 13 and 72 hours are suitable. The manifestation phase, during days 11-15, calls for fasts between 13 and 15 hours a day. Next is the power phase on days 16-19, when any length of fasting is appropriate. Lastly, the nurture phase begins from day 19 of the cycle until bleeding starts again, during which fasting should be avoided.

Mastering the Fasting Spectrum

Fasting comes in various lengths and purposes, ranging from 12-hour intermittent fasting to a 72-hour immune system reset. It’s essential to start slow and gradually build your fasting ability through a 30-day reset program, which includes adjusting your eating habits and fasting according to your body’s hormonal cycles.

Embarking on a fasting journey offers diverse possibilities, with six primary fasting lengths to explore. Intermittent fasting typically spans 12 to 16 hours daily, while autophagy fasting (a self-healing cellular process) kicks in after 17 hours. Gut reset and fat-burner fasts last for 24 and 36 hours, respectively. Dopamine-reset fasts take 48 hours, and a 72-hour fast rejuvenates your immune system.

Three days without food might sound daunting, but don’t fret – jumping straight into long fasts isn’t advisable. Similarly to training for a marathon, fasting requires gradual acclimation. The suggestion is to begin with a 30-day reset program to help your body access a fasted state with ease. This reset employs varying fasting durations tailored to your hormonal cycle.

Those new to fasting should start with a two-week pre-reset. During this phase, eliminate hydrogenated oils, synthetic ingredients, and high-sugar or refined-flour foods, replacing them with healthy fats and proteins. Additionally, adjust your meal timings, gradually reducing your eating window until you fast for 13 hours each day.

For the full 30-day reset, continue avoiding unhealthy food components and alcohol. Start on the first day of your period, following this fasting schedule: 13-hour fasts on days 1-4, a 15-hour fast on day 5, 17-hour fasts on days 6-10, 13-hour fasts on days 11-15, and 15-hour fasts on days 16-19. Don’t fast during days 20-30. Once the 30 days conclude or your period restarts, you can comfortably experiment with extended fasts, perfecting a fasting lifestyle that suits your body’s unique needs.

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