Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
July 21, 2023 ·  5 min read

6 Ways Fasting May Benefit You: Blood Sugar, Weight Loss & More

Fasting has gained significant attention in recent years for its potential health benefits. It is an ancient practice that involves abstaining from food or certain drinks for a specific period of time. There are several types of fasting, including intermittent fasting, water fasting, and juice fasting. In this article, we will explore the various benefits of fasting while also discussing the potential dangers, particularly for women.

The Benefits of Fasting You Didn’t Know Of

Whether you realize it or not, fasting is something that we all participate in, well, kind of. Think about it: What time do you typically eat for the last time each night? Then what time do you eat again the next day? Chances are this time frame is at least seven to eight hours, if not more. You just don’t notice it because you are sleeping through it. This is where breakfast got its name, because you are breaking your (overnight) fast.

Fasting today, however, refers to a more intentional action. Most often, the motivation to do a fast is to change or improve body composition, aka look leaner and fitter. There are, however, plenty of other reasons that people fast, including religious reasons, spiritual strength and/or self-mastery, to decrease inflammation, or to control blood sugar. For all of these there are different types of fasting that will supposedly help you to achieve different things.

Read: The Link Between Vitamin D and Belly Fat

Types of Fasting

Before delving into the benefits, let’s briefly touch upon the different types of fasting:

  1. Intermittent Fasting: This involves alternating periods of fasting and eating within a specific window of time. The most common intermittent fasting methods include the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window) and the 5:2 method (eating normally for 5 days and restricting calories on 2 days).
  2. Water Fasting: Water fasting requires abstaining from all food and only consuming water for a certain duration, typically ranging from 24 hours to several days.
  3. Juice Fasting: In this type of fasting, individuals consume only juices extracted from fruits and vegetables while avoiding solid food.

Benefits of Fasting

While fasting has been historically associated with religious practices, research has begun to uncover potential health benefits that extend beyond spiritual significance. Here are some potential benefits of fasting:

  1. Weight Loss: Fasting can lead to weight loss by reducing calorie intake and boosting metabolism. However, it’s important to note that sustained weight loss is more effective when combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise. (1)
  2. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Fasting has been shown to enhance insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and helping manage blood sugar levels. (2)
  3. Enhanced Brain Function: Studies suggest that fasting may support cognitive health. It does this by promoting the growth of new nerve cells and protecting brain cells from oxidative stress. (3)
  4. Cellular Repair and Regeneration: Fasting triggers a cellular recycling process called autophagy. This removes damaged cells and promotes the regeneration of healthy cells. (4)
  5. Reduced Inflammation: Fasting has been found to decrease inflammation markers in the body. This potentially benefits individuals with chronic conditions like arthritis and asthma. (5)
  6. Improved Heart Health: Fasting may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. This can then reduce the risk of heart disease. (6)

Dangers of Fasting for Women

While fasting can have potential benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially women. Fasting can affect hormonal balance and have unintended consequences. Here’s why fasting might not be a good idea for women (7):

  1. Impact on Menstrual Cycle: For some women, fasting can disrupt the regularity of menstrual cycles and even lead to amenorrhea. This is the absence of menstruation. This disruption can be caused by changes in hormone levels and inadequate energy intake. Amenorrhea and disrupted menstrual cycles can impact women’s health in numerous ways. This includes bone density, fertility, and overall health.
    Bone density is important for preventing osteoporosis and fractures after menopause. Fertility is an obvious issue for women who are trying to conceive or whose menstrual cycles are disrupted by hormone changes. Finally, malnutrition caused by fasting can be dangerous for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  2. Hormonal Imbalances: Women are more susceptible to hormonal imbalances, and fasting can further disrupt their delicate hormonal balance, which may have negative consequences on reproductive health (mentioned above).
  3. Inadequate Nutrient Intake: It’s essential for women to get adequate nutrients, especially during certain parts of their hormonal cycle. Fasting can lead to nutrient deficiencies and may not support their specific nutritional needs.
  4. Mood and Emotional Health: Restricting food intake for prolonged periods can impact mood and emotional well-being. This can potentially exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression, which women may already be more prone to.

It’s important for everyone, but especially women, to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on any fasting regimen. This is to ensure that it aligns with their individual health needs and hormonal cycle. 

The Bottom Line

While fasting can have numerous benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly women. The potential risks and hormonal imbalances associated with fasting should be carefully considered before beginning a fasting regimen. It is always recommended to seek medical advice and guidance to determine the best approach for achieving health and wellness goals.

Keep Reading: A Beginner’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting


  1. Intermittent Fasting Promotes Fat Loss With Lean Mass Retention, Increased Hypothalamic Norepinephrine Content, and Increased Neuropeptide Y Gene Expression in Diet-Induced Obese Male Mice.” NCBI. December 14, 2015.
  2. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings.” NCBI. Adrienne R Barnosky, et al. October 2014.
  3. Chronic intermittent fasting improves cognitive functions and brain structures in mice.” NCBI. Liaoliao Li, et al. June 2013.
  4. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves 24-Hour Glucose Levels and Affects Markers of the Circadian Clock, Aging, and Autophagy in Humans.” Pubmed. Humaira Jamshed, et al. May 2019.
  5. Effects of intermittent fasting diets on plasma concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Pubmed. Xiaoli Wang , et al. November -December 2020.
  6. Health Effects of Alternate-Day Fasting in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Pubmed. Yuanshan Cui, et al. November 2020.
  7. Intermittent fasting for women: Is it safe?Live Science. Lou Mudge. November 03, 2022.