Fasting and menstruation: is it possible not to eat?

Fasting is an ancestral practice widely used and practiced in certain religions. Fasting is simply the act of going without food for a given period of time.

Often, in the run-up to or during menstruation (the famous PMS), we tend to feel bloated, have digestive problems and also feel tired. Well, fasting can be the solution to regain energy, put your digestive system at rest, and even relieve menstrual pain.

Is it possible to fast during your period?

Contrary to what you might think, it's perfectly possible to start fasting during your period (although in some religions, the taboo surrounding menstruation persists, preventing women from fasting). In fact, there's no ideal time to start fasting. You can start fasting at any time of the year, it's up to you.

On the contrary, starting fasting during your period can be an excellent way of curing digestive disorders, bloating and other problems that occur during the menstrual period.

Indeed, during the menstrual period, many women experience symptoms such as :

Fasting is known for its many therapeutic virtues. It is said to reduce menstrual pain and uterine contractions.

Why is this?

When you fast, your liver uses the glucose reserves stored in your body. This is when the famous sensations of tiredness and hunger occur. These sensations are particularly acute during the first 3 days of fasting. In fact, nature's way of doing things is to produce ketones to counteract these effects, restoring vitality and euphoria to the body. When you fast, you also produce antioxidants, so the body is purified, and that's where you'll feel the positive effects of fasting. The positive effects of fasting include, for example

  • improved skin quality
  • an improvement in your digestive system
  • a change in your state of mind (generally calmer, more serene and stable), not insignificant during the menstrual period when you're more likely to feel stressed or sad.

If your premenstrual syndrome (PMS) tends to be quite virulent, fasting may be a solution worth trying! But don't force yourself to do anything: if you don't feel like fasting, there's no problem. Instead, you can learn more about the foods you should be eating during your menstrual period, as diet plays a very important role in the various symptoms you may experience during your cycle.

You can also lose weight by fasting, but bear in mind that this is not the objective of fasting. The aim is to provide the body with a "detox", to eliminate accumulated waste.

What are the reasons for fasting during my period?

There are many reasons to fast during your period. The most common reason is torelieve menstrual symptoms.

Adopting a new diet

You can also fast to adopt a new diet.

There are different types of fasting:

  • intermittent fasting, which involves fasting for 16 hours a day
  • dry fasting, which requires medical supervision
  • alternating fasting, a 24-hour fast alternated by a day.

In all cases, whether you want to start fasting or change your diet, we recommend that you seek advice from a health professional, whether a dietician, general practitioner or nutritionist.

Religious practices: Ramadan and Lent

In some religions, fasting is a common practice.

Ramadan, for example, is one of the five pillars of Islam. During this period, fasters are forbidden to eat from sunrise to sunset.

Millions of Muslims fast every year.

This proves that fasting is a practice that is very well supported by the body. It takes about 10 days for the body to get used to this new eating pattern.

Fasting is also found in the Catholic religion. It begins 40 days before Easter. The idea is not to stop eating for 40 days, but only to eat one meal a day. During this period, most people fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Preparing your body before starting a fast with your rules

The most important thing when you start fasting is to take it one step at a time. Give your body time to get used to this new rhythm of eating.

Stopping eating abruptly will not solve your painful period problems; on the contrary, it can have negative consequences for your body.

Intermittent fasting is best suited to the menstrual period. Intermittent fasting is the most widely practiced form of fasting, lasting 16 hours. You can start it one or two days before the start of your period. Here's how to do it:

  • Eat a light meal in the evening
  • The next morning, skip breakfast
  • Then, eat a balanced meal at lunchtime
  • Don't hesitate to have a snack!
  • Eat again in the evening, early enough to ensure a 16-hour interval between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the following day.

The aim of intermittent fasting is not to eat less than you would normally, but simply to distribute your meals differently.

Gradually reducing and adapting your diet

The first step is to gradually reduce your food intake.

To start with, you can remove certain foods such as stimulants (drinks like tea, coffee or alcohol), refined sugars and animal proteins.

Next, cut out starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice, etc., as well as legumes and dairy products.

Finally, the day before you start fasting, we recommend you eat only vegetables.

Entering the fasting period

During the fasting period, you must not eat any solid foods. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas. Keeping sufficiently hydrated helps eliminate all toxins.

You can do sport, and it's even advisable to be physically active. When you fast, your body will draw on your resources; if you stand still and don't exercise, it will draw on your muscles. This is not the objective.

Preparing your body to come out of fasting

As with entering the fast, it's important to prepare your body for exiting the fast. You can take the same approach (in reverse) to re-introducing food as you did to preparing for the start of the fast.

At the end of a fast, we often feel more like turning to healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables: listen to yourself!

What are the contraindications to fasting during your period?

Of course, there are contraindications to fasting during your period.

While fasting has many benefits, it does present some risks.

It's very important to stay sufficiently hydrated (2 to 2.5l of water a day) when you're fasting. If you don't hydrate sufficiently, you may experience an acidosis attack, which can lead to migraines and nausea.

Another precaution: long-term fasting is not recommended for very thin people. Over the long term, when you fast, the body draws the energy it needs from muscle proteins. This can lead to muscle wasting and a weakened immune system.

To prevent these effects, it is advisable to supplement your protein intake in the days following the start of fasting.

Fasting is not recommended if you are pregnant, suffering from anorexia, liver or kidney failure, diabetes, etc., or if you have any other medical conditions. Ask your doctor!

Ramadan and menstruation: is fasting recommended?

If you're going through Ramadan, you may be wondering whether you should fast during your period. Here's what you need to know!

Stopping fasting during your period

It's possible to stop Ramadan when you're menstruating. This is a dispensation that allows you to break the fast. The same applies to pregnant women.

The justification for this derogation varies according to the family model. In some families, women have to break the fast for health reasons. In others, fasting is broken because women who menstruate are considered impure.

Making up for missed days at the end of Ramadan

Nevertheless, Muslim women who menstruate during Ramadan must make up the days they have missed at the end of Ramadan.

FAQ on fasting during menstruation

Can I fast during Ramadan with my period?

Menstruation during Ramadan is a derogation from fasting. A woman who fasts Ramadan and menstruates must stop fasting during the period of her period, then make up the missed days at the end of Ramadan.

Is it possible to fast during Lent while menstruating?

It's perfectly possible to fast during Lent while menstruating. Fasting days are generally Wednesdays and Fridays. To avoid any problems when fasting, don't hesitate to discuss the matter with your GP first.

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