Let’s talk progesterone….my favorite hormone, because progesterone has a calming effect on the body and is the hormone that keeps estrogen in check. Progesterone is mainly produced in a woman’s ovaries and it’s levels naturally fluctuate around a woman’s menstrual cycle.
So, How to use fasting to support Progesterone?
As we approach midlife, progesterone begins to decline. So women over 40 or going through their menopause years will inevitably experience an up and down roller coaster and subsequent decline in progesterone as you go into postmenopausal years. If this might be you, I also recommend grabbing my new book, The Menopause Reset for tips and tricks on how to navigate menopause years with grace and ease.
If not due to menopause, the other way progesterone gets out of balance is if you are fasting at the wrong times of your cycle. Women of any age need to be careful about this, saving longer fasts for Days 1-17. Doing too much fasting, at the wrong time in your cycle may lead to unknowingly depleting progesterone.
A few telltale signs that you might have low progesterone are hot flashes, migraine headaches, spotting during your cycle, anxiety, agitation, fibroids and/or endometriosis.
Is fasting good for women?
People ask me all the time, is fasting good for women? The answer is undoubtedly yes! We know that fasting supports and balances healthy hormones, based on the Hormonal Hierarchy. The key however is, women need to know HOW and WHEN to fast around hormones, because the reality is, women should be fasting differently than men.
There are two hormonal peaks women must be aware of. The first is the estrogen peak around Day 14, when ovulation occurs. So if you are fasting and trying to get pregnant, you will want to step out of a longer fasted state, as you need insulin and glucose during this time. Remember, when you fast, cortisol goes up, which leads progesterone to go down.
The second hormonal peak is with progesterone, around Day 21. The days leading up to this progesterone peak are the worst times to do a longer water fast, such as a 36 hour, 48 hour or 3-5 day water fast. Days 17-21 is your progesterone building window, when your focus should be on avoiding things that might tank progesterone. I’ll talk more about what you can during this time below.
Creating a fasting lifestyle to support progesterone
Know that it is possible to create a fasting lifestyle that supports progesterone and healthy hormones, so that you can use fasting to your advantage. Here’s how you can do that.
Between Day 1 and Day 17, you’re welcome to do all of the below types of fasting:
Between Day 21 and Day 28, the week before your period, you will want to avoid fasting so as not to deplete hormones. If you don’t have a cycle, timing may still matter. A Dutch Test hormone panel can help determine this. I love this test for all women because it helps give us insight into your unique hormonal state.
What to add & avoid when building progesterone
During the progesterone building timeframe, again Day 17 through Day 21, you will want to avoid the following:
- Avoid fasting for more than 15 hours
- Avoid ketosis
- Avoid longer fasts
- Avoid carb restricted diets
- Avoid strenuous exercise, running a marathon or pushing yourself with a hard workout
- Avoid stress
During this time you will also want to lean into foods that support progesterone, that might not be otherwise ketogenic foods:
- Tropical and citrus fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Andreas Seed Oils, we love the Pumpkin Seed Oil for progesterone (use code PELZ for discount), Flax Seed Oil will help with estrogen
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
- Grass fed meat, we like ours from Grassland Beef or Crowd Cow
What kind of fasting for Progesterone
The ONLY fasts I recommend during the progesterone building time is Intermittent Fasting, fasting no more than 15 hours and Carnivore Fasting, again fasting no more than 15 hours. You may be wondering why a carnivore diet is acceptable during this time, and it’s because grass-fed meats are a great progesterone building food, so you may play with this fast.
Other things you can do to support progesterone and lower stress (ie. avoid cortisol) are things like yoga, meditation and breathwork. Right now I’m loving Soma Breathwork by Niraj Naik, you might try his guided daily meditation on Spotify.
If you missed my other videos on fasting and hormones oxytocin, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol >> Watch Hormones & Fasting Playlist