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With the growing popularity of intermittent fasting and as the 813,000 Muslims in Australia observe the month of Ramadan (which usually includes dawn to dusk fasting), many might be wondering what they can do to get the best healthy outcomes and to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

The truth is, men and women are physiologically different – and that means what is good for the goose may not be ideal for the gander. The CEO of Holista Colltech (ASX: HCT) and health and wellness expert, Dr Rajen Manicka, shares a few tips that are unique to both men and women.

He says:

“It is important for everyone to eat more protein-based foods when you break your fast and to keep your body well hydrated throughout. The trick is not to overeat or eat bigger portions than normal, but to instead consume slow digesting foods such as meat and vegetables.

However, there are specific things that men and women should do differently to maximise the healthy outcomes from fasting. It might surprise men to know that it is typically easier for them to lose weight from fasting because their hormone levels and amount of water in their body do not fluctuate as much as women during any given month. This allows men to get a more consistent outcome when they fast or exercise.

Besides being disciplined and doing the obvious things like having a healthy diet and regular exercise regime, the key thing men often overlook is sleep. Men who sleep between 7 and 9 hours on a regular schedule often lose more weight. This is because their insulin levels drop and their growth hormones become more active around 4 in the morning.

For women, I recommend they fast for at least 14 hours and only consume water and coffee or tea, without sugar. When they break their fast, it is important to eat a diet rich in protein and fat, meaning meat, eggs, nuts and plain coconut oil, for instance. They shouldn’t consume carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates like white rice, as this forces the body to burn fat instead of carbs.

Women should also try to exercise at the end of their fast as that stimulates their hormone levels, which will speed up the burning of fat.

While my tips for women are also good for men, it is women that will benefit more from these practices.

Of course, it is also important for men and women not to eat more than their normal amount when they break fast. The recommended portion of protein servings, such as meat, should not be bigger than the palm of your hand. For vegetables and fruits, it should be no bigger than two palms.

You should also use butter instead of margarine as the latter is high in trans fat, which is something you should avoid along with deep-fried foods.”

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