Is It Safe To Do Intermittent Fasting During Pregnancy?


If you have been following a routine of intermittent fasting for some time and have been an ardent admirer of this habit then it is hard to leave this habit when you are pregnant. But if you are really expecting a baby, you need to change your habit. You need to follow a more regular schedule.

While following intermittent fasting you must have often skipped breakfast or not taken anything after dinner. While this can be a great way to lose weight, it can be a dangerous practice to follow when you are pregnant. Doctors who specialize in cardiology, weight loss and nutrition do stress on the point that intermittent fasting may have a role in curbing inflammation, cellular adaptation, boosting cellular adaptation and optimizing energy metabolism.

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Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Pregnant Women

Benefits of intermittent fasting may be far lesser compared to the risks for a pregnant woman. A glance at the varied structures of intermittent fasting are as follows

  • Once a week you need to fast for 24 hours at a stretch
  • Fast for 16 hours at a single go and in the remaining 8 hours, munch in as much calories as you can.

The effect of intermittent fasting on pregnant women is not conclusive enough. However, doctors don’t usually recommend fasting during pregnancy because of the following reasons

Intermittent Fasting

  • Doctors and dieticians argue that intermittent fasting can trigger irregular menstruation, anxiety and sleeplessness in women. This is obviously not a good condition for anybody, let alone a pregnant woman.
  • It is assumed that the body has a natural tendency of triggering a stress response when you are deprived of food. This response may be minor in men, but profound in women, which may be taken as an indication that the system does not want to nurture a baby under such conditions.
  • Animal studies have shown that males of the species can cope with fasting in a superior way compared to females. This can be gauged from the fairly stable levels of male hormones as well as cognitive capacity after fasting.
  • Females of the same species have shown obvious signs of reduced fertility along with the profound stress response. Even the menstrual cycles also become deregulated. However, to get the real picture you need to go through some studies on fasting during pregnancy.

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Studies of fasting in pregnancy

Studying the effect of fasting on pregnant women is certainly unethical, but studies have taken the help of religious and traditional practices, and studied the effect of these practices on pregnant women of those religions and places.

In 2004 a study was conducted on the pregnant women taking to fasting to observe the holy month of Ramadan in Islamic cultures. It was observed that fasting had a bearing on the pattern as well as frequency of breathing of the fetus.

Another study in 2014 has found that it may result in lower weight of the baby at birth. This is certainly something to be concerned about. However, there is another view too, which states that the availability of plentiful food may give rise to gestational diabetes. It may also result in high birth weights for infants. Another study in 2012 came to the conclusion that fasting during pregnancy does not seem to have any adverse effect. The outcome in this case was measuredon the serum lipid levels of the pregnant woman, the movement of blood through the umbilical artery and some other factors. However, the women tested on this occasion were all healthy women.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

A major benefit of intermittent fasting is an effective way to shed those extra pounds than Let us now understand some of the benefits associated with intermittent fasting

  • A major benefit of intermittent fasting is an effective way to shed those extra pounds than calorie restriction or conventional diets. When you fast the body ventures into a different zone where carb levels deplete and a different fuel source is needed.
  • It enables a better control over insulin levels, inflammation and cholesterol are achieved.
  • Fasting also contributes to a medical process referred as autoghapy where the body eradicates waste products coupled with cellular debris that otherwise is left around the body.

To conclude, fasting patterns will tend to work differently for each individual. It is evident from the studies cited above that the studies are inconclusive. However, it can be inferred with an appreciable degree of certainty that intermittent fasting during pregnancy may not at all be good for pregnant women. This is all the more if they are metabolically deranged or mentally stressed.


A healthy woman can experiment safely with a mild form of fasting to shed those extra kilos or prevent anti-ageing.

In the overall context more research is the need of the hour, and individual conditions are to be taken into consideration before opting for a fasting regime.