Many people feel that they are not losing weight with intermittent fasting and think that fasting is ineffective. However, to see the best weight loss result you need to avoid some common intermittent fasting mistakes.
Similar to the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting (IF) has spread all over the world. Its potential health benefits have been confirmed by more and more scientists.
These benefits include reducing inflammation and the risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer caused by inflammation, helping to lose weight, stabilizing blood sugar levels, helping to prevent diabetes, promoting autophagy, anti-aging, etc.
Among these benefits, weight loss is the most obvious effect of intermittent fasting. The reduction of body and visceral fat can improve a person’s overall health.
However, many people find that the weight loss effect is not satisfactory after following intermittent fasting for a period of time.
According to studies, IF doesn’t work for everyone. However, you won’t know whether this is the right diet plan for you unless you give it the best chance to take effect.
Before continuing, I want to explain how IF helps with weight loss and other benefits.
During fasting, the body undergoes a series of physiological changes. If a person fasts for a long enough time, their body will enter a state of ketosis and begin to burn fat instead of sugar for energy.
At the same time, fasting also triggers autophagy, which is a process of self-repair. Aged, damaged or dead proteins and organelles are broken down, recycled and new cells are formed. The autophagy mechanism plays an important role in delaying aging.
However, some mistakes made during fasting can prevent the body from entering a state of fat burning and autophagy. This can also reduce your weight loss success.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when following intermittent fasting.
1. You are making drastic changes
If you normally have 3 meals a day or eat every 3–4 hours and then suddenly reduce to one meal a day or shrink your eating period to an 8-hour window, you may feel hungry all the time. This can lead to becoming discouraged.
Switching from using glucose as an energy source to using fat as fuel is a big change and your body needs time to adapt.
It’s like suddenly powering off your body when you are making drastic changes. The energy that should be supplied at a given time does not appear, so your body and brain can come under pressure.
Additionally, during the new fasting window, you may feel an unbearable feeling of hunger. You may keep looking at the clock, thinking about your next meal, unable to concentrate on anything else.
Due to this, you may also feel increased pressure on both your body and your brain. Furthermore, once it’s time to eat you may be likely to overeat.
Intermittent fasting is a healthy way of living and dieting. However, it requires long-term adherence. Its significance is to teach our brains to know when to eat and when to stop. When you keep eating, your blood sugar will always be at a high level, which can easily induce insulin resistance. Even if you are full, your brain cannot receive the correct signal.
[The correct approach]
In order to avoid overeating after fasting, you need to gradually let your body adapt to this new method. The more natural the process, the better.
You can start by reducing snacks. Then reduce your meals from three meals a day to two meals.
Another way you can try is to gradually extend your fasting window. For example, postpone breakfast by 30 minutes every one to three days, or advance dinner time by 30 minutes, which will prolong your fasting by half an hour.
Keep doing this until you stop thinking about food all the time and are willing to try longer fasting.
2. You are eating junk food
Many people think that intermittent fasting can solve many health problems, so they no longer pay attention to what they eat.
Indeed, IF can improve overall health and help with weight loss. However, when your fast ends and you still consume a low-quality diet such as high-sugar or deep processed food, the damage to your body caused by these junk foods can exceed the repair effect of fasting.
[The correct approach]
The best way is to combine intermittent fasting with a ketogenic or low-carb diet. Eat real food to ensure your body gets enough nutrients during eating.
The ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diet has a good weight loss effect. A moderate amount of protein and a high proportion of high-quality fat can increase satiety and make fasting easier.
The combination of the two can improve insulin sensitivity helping your body to enter the state of ketosis faster. This accelerates fat burning.
3. You are not eating enough calories
Fasting can easily be misunderstood as a calorie-restricted diet. Some people who are just starting IF will deliberately limit calories. They feel that doing so will help them lose weight faster.
Over a short period of time, they may see a positive result of weight reduction. However, in the long run, a calorie-restricted diet may be harmful to your health.
It is not easy for people who follow this kind of diet to get enough nutrition. Especially protein and healthy fat, which are considered high-calorie food. As a result, you will always feel hungry. Over time, this can slow down your metabolism, making weight loss more difficult.
[The correct approach]
Intermittent fasting doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. In other words, limit the time of eating, not your calories.
You should focus on whole foods that comprise a well-balanced diet. This way you can ensure the intake of nutrients that meet the basic metabolic needs of your body.
In addition, it also helps reduce hunger, thereby prolonging the fasting window period and allowing your body to enter a fat-burning state faster.
4. You are ignoring the hidden carbs
There are two types of IF: dry fasting and water fasting.
In dry fasting, you eliminate water as well as food. Your body will directly enter a fat-burning state. As far as the overall cleansing of the body is concerned, one day of dry fasting is said to be equivalent to three days of water fasting.
However, this method is difficult for most people, especially those who are new to intermittent fasting.
Water fasting, as the name implies, is when you include water or other beverages during fasting.
Then here is the question:
What beverages will contribute to the body’s transition to burning fat?
Many people drink black coffee or tea while they’re fasting. If you can’t stand the bitterness, you might add a splash of milk, cream or a packet of sugar. However, by consuming these extras are you breaking your fast?
How about sugar-free carbonated drinks? They contain artificial sweeteners, should they be safe to drink while fasting?
Sorry, I’m going to disappoint you again.
Many artificial sweeteners have been proven to increase blood sugar and insulin levels. Like other sugary drinks, they will stimulate the sense of taste and make you unable to get rid of your craving for sweets.
[The Correct approach]
The safest beverage is water, followed by plain tea and black coffee. Any liquid other than that may disrupt your fasting plan.
However, there is one exception, you may wish to try.
If you are also following a ketogenic diet or low-carb diet, you may have heard of Bulletproof Coffee. It’s made by adding butter, coconut oil, or MCT oil to black coffee.
The founder of Bulletproof Coffee is Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Dave Asprey.
Adding oil to coffee will help your body convert to fat metabolism and will not affect blood sugar and insulin.
Drinking a cup of bulletproof coffee in the morning can quickly replenish energy, make you energetic, improve work efficiency and reduce hunger caused by fasting.
Remember, if you want to drink bulletproof coffee during fasting, you must follow a keto diet or low-carb diet. Otherwise, you may gain weight instead of losing it.
Intermittent fasting is a very effective method for weight management. It has been proven to help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, stabilize blood sugar and insulin and prevent diabetes. In addition, its autophagy mechanism plays an important role in delaying aging.
If you are not losing weight with intermittent fasting, you may need to take a closer look at what you have been doing wrong.
If you understand and avoid these common mistakes many people have made when following IF, you will have a better chance to achieve the best weight loss results.
Fasting is safe for most healthy people. However, if you have metabolic diseases, are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended that you try IF. Consult a doctor before making any diet changes.