Sex hormone in a man and woman is responsible for motivation, drive libido along with the reproductive system. While the male has just one sex hormone to deal with which is testosterone, the women have three. Every 15 minutes testosterone is released in a male body which keeps him at the top of his game every time. In case of a woman, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and released in varying quantity throughout the month. So let us dive deep and understand these sex hormones and how they dictate behaviour. Of course, we shall also discuss about which foods to eat and fasting too.
The predominantly male hormone which defines a male comes in just limited quantity and that too at specific time for the female. If men go on a fast, there is a spike in this sex hormone. A mere 15 hours of fast gives a boost of 1300% while a 24 hour one pushes it to 2000%. Fasting give immediate and spectacular results to all men but not so in case of women. Instead many women suffer from fasting induced problems like hair loss, brain fog, fatigue and even weight gain. That is because of two extra sex hormones which the female has.
The quintessential female hormone which provides distinct qualities to a female like soft skin, clear complexion, breasts, hips and the reproductive system. This hormone is also important for your bones and brain. Buildup occurs during the first half of the month.
Also known as the calming hormone, this one helps a woman to relax and sleep. This hormone is abundantly available during pregnancy which helps women sleep well. Buildup begin in the second half of the month.
How they fluctuate during the month
Day 1 is the counted when menstrual bleeding begins. Not just spotting but full flow. This is the beginning of build up of estrogen which continues till day 10.
This is the time when you should get the hormonal production kicking off. It is the right time to go for intermittent fasting because it promotes production of hormones. If you coincide day 10 to a 36 hour or 72 hour fast.
Fasting boosts the production of any hormone, so during this stage the build up of estrogen also is facilitated by fasting. Estrogen hormone also acts a counter to stress and helps balance cortisol.
This is the best time for a woman to start a new long term activity.
If you do a cholesterol check during these 10 days you will notice a spike. That is because cholesterol is the building block of estrogen and hence the body starts manufacturing lots of cholesterol.
Procreate stage – Day 10 to Day 15
By design women are created to expand the species, the human race. While a man is always ready with his libido tops all the time, it is slightly different with a woman. There has to be a preparatory stage before pregnancy. That is between day 10 to day 15.
This is the time when estrogen peaks and testosterone is also created and released during these five days. Motivation, drive and libido, all max at this time.
It is during this phase that a woman is looking for a mate. The best one to procreate. Her thoughts process goes into overdrive that includes analytical skills and intelligence. They get better at multitasking and more outgoing and extrovert.
Women also get creative during this period. This is the right time to re-arrange the decor in the house or to change those curtains.
This is the time of month when they are most romantic. She will be both receptive and romantic. Time to find out whether you are the guy because she is only going to prefer one male over all others. Already in a relationship, then it is the time to re-connect. Resolve issues during this period. This is also the right time to discuss buying the new gadget or boy toy you needed for a long time.
This is however not the right time to start a new diet plan. Hormonal levels are at the highest. The body is pushing out toxins like heavy metals, plastics and other pollutants coming out of muscles and tissues. This already pushes the body to limits. At this time a change in diet will stress your already overloaded body. This time, the body needs lots of nutrition. Eat well these five days, three meals a day. If you are comfortable with three meals and a 12 hour gap, you are good.
One bad news for women is that beyond 35, testosterone levels start going down. This also takes down motivation and drive. Not motivated to work, not able to get a task done or not able to resolve a problem in relationship. All that can happen due to low testosterone levels. Women suffering from PCOS will find testosterone levels climb through the roof.
Day 16 – Ovulation
At this time, estrogen levels start to subside and progesterone levels start to rise. This is the body preparing for pregnancy.
This is the most fascinating thing for a woman, no matter what, every month she has to prepare for pregnancy. And the cycle repeats every month whether the egg is fertilised or not.
By Day 22 both hormones start subsiding. The last week of the month is full of ups and downs. Women might suffer from PMS, anxiety, migraines, mood swings or even depression. There is also a rise in insulin which leads to sugar cravings before the beginning of the next menstrual cycle. Also time to recycle those old hormones.
A bit of physical activity and lots of stress busting exercises will definitely help. You can continue with intermittent fasting during this period.
Why metabolic switching is important?
Our body has two energy production systems which run together in varied ratio. The sugar or glucose system comes from the food we eat which converts to blood glucose. The other system is the ketones which are energy particles converted from fat to a form of glucose.
So a typical Indian routine is eating from 8 am to 8 pm with three standard meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are leaving out bed tea because it was never truly an Indian tradition but a senseless British import. From 8 am to 8 pm the body is running mainly on sugar or blood glucose which has come from food. But after 8 pm, specially after a few hours that the food is digested, the blood glucose levels falls, somewhere at 2 or 3 am at night. That time the body switches to ketones as source of energy which is called a state of fat burning for energy.
These energy production systems are also called as metabolic systems.
If the breakfast is delayed by a few hours and if the dinner time is advanced by a couple of hours, then you will get a fasting window of more than 12 hours, up to 16 hours. This increases the ketones burning duration.
A metabolic switch is defined as the ability to move between sugar burning to fat burning and vice versa within the 24 hour cycle. A successful switch means that when your body is transitioning, you should not feel any discomfort.
When we eat food, our blood glucose level rises. After some time when the glucose is used up by the body cells, the blood glucose level starts falling down. From here on two things can happen. If you are fat adapted, then your body shifts from sugar burning to fat burning without you even coming to know. Second option, if you are eating too frequently or eating sugars and carbs, you will start getting hungry and craving for food. This cravings sometimes takes you to the brink of madness and a state of mind called hangry (hungry plus angry). There is no problem in eating frequently except that it pushes insulin levels too high and increases the risk of going diabetic.
It is true that so much of hormonal changes in a month is demanding and challenging for a woman. There are several apps for smartphones which track the menstrual cycle. Clue App is a good start point. With a plan, you will be able to be at the top of your game.