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8 Reasons Intermittent Fasting Is Not Working (and How to Make It Work)

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 9, 2022

Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting method involving periods of eating and periods of fasting. There are many different styles of intermittent fasting and all are thought to help you lose weight.

Though the intermittent fasting diet has been shown to help many with weight loss, some may find intermittent fasting not working for them. There are many reasons for this, and we’re going to explore a few of them in this article.

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How Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss?

For those who have had trouble with calorie-counting diets in the past, intermittent fasting may be a better way for them to reduce their overall calorie intake each day. Time-restricted eating does not restrict how much or what you can eat but instead limits when you can eat.

The eating window on an intermittent fasting diet can vary from 12 hours to just 1 hour, depending on the intermittent fasting style you’re trying. By restricting the amount of time you have to eat, you push your body into a natural caloric deficit, reducing your overall caloric intake as you cannot physically eat the same amount you would in a longer eating window.

In addition to the natural caloric restriction, the long fasting periods on an intermittent fasting plan push the body into the state of ketosis. Ketosis is when the body burns fat for fuel rather than blood sugar. By making your body burn fat, you’re increasing fat metabolism and weight loss.

Lastly, there is some evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting may boost metabolism. You may notice significant weight loss in the first few weeks of fasting due to improved metabolism.

Even though intermittent fasting is known for its help with weight reduction, it is important when you start losing weight to know how much weight is healthy to lose. In one week, you should aim to lose no more than 1–2 pounds – anything more than this is considered unhealthy weight loss and can lead to weight gain and other negative health effects.

8 Reasons You Might Not Be Losing Weight

When it comes to fasting, there are a few reasons why you may not be losing weight. We’ve taken a look at a few of them below.

1. You may be eating too much

When fasting for weight loss, it is important that you don’t eat too many calories during your eating window. Though it can feel like a relief when you can finally eat, too much food in one go can lead to indigestion and gaining weight.

During an eating window, it is important that you practice mindful eating and don’t consume more calories than you need. The number of calories you need to eat will vary from person to person, but the recommended average for women is around 2000 calories and 2500 for men.

During a fast, you should aim to eat zero calories, though there are some foods you can consume which will not technically break a fast.

To make sure you don’t eat too much, we recommend:

  • Using a calorie counting app, like the DoFasting app, to stay in control of your caloric intake
  • Meal planning so that you don’t binge eat during your eating window
  • Research foods to properly break a fast

2. You may not be eating enough during your eating window

On the other hand, not eating enough during your eating periods can also stop you from losing weight. This is because the body will enter what is known as starvation mode. In this state, the body begins to conserve energy instead of burning calories, which can lead to weight gain.

To ensure you eat enough during your eating window, we recommend:

  • Use a calorie counter to ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need each day
  • Understand how many calories your body needs to sustain itself
  • Try meal planning to ensure you’re properly nourishing your body

3. You may be skipping meals

Though some fasting plans allow you to skip meals or restrict the number of meals you can eat, it is very important that when you are in an eating period, you consume all of the food you need to be nourished.

To counteract a weight loss plateau caused by skipping meals, we recommended:

  • Planning meals and timings ahead of time so that you don’t have to think of a meal on the spot
  • Researching some nutritious, fasting-friendly recipes
  • Keeping a food diary to stay on top of your food intake

4. Your diet is not nutritious enough

A healthy diet consists of fruits, cooked veggies, healthy fats, and delicious lean protein, like lean meat, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. When making the meal plan for your intermittent fasting plan, you need to ensure that you consume healthy foods from all the food groups as well as make sure you’re eating enough calories.

If you’re not getting enough of your macros, you may find that you feel unwell or even gain weight. Indeed, not getting enough protein can lead to an increased appetite. Intermittent fasting plans work best when you eat nutrient-dense foods and avoid refined and processed high-calorie foods with little nutrition.

To ensure that you are nourishing yourself properly while fasting, we recommend:

  • A meal plan (again!) – can be made more accessible by using the DoFasting app, which provides a whole range of fasting-friendly recipes
  • Counting your macros to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need in your eating windows

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5. You may have chosen the wrong fasting type

Unlike many diets, intermittent fasting works because it is flexible. With many styles, including the 16:8 method, alternate day fasting, and the 12-hour fast, you can fit losing weight around your lifestyle.

If you find that you’re constantly breaking your fast in the morning, then change your plan to one where you’re able to have a healthy breakfast. If you find an eating window of eight hours is too short, choose a plan with a longer eating period.

To find the right IF plan, we recommend:

  • Doing some research into all of the different intermittent fasting styles
  • Seeking professional medical advice to ensure you find the diet that will work for your body and health needs
  • Consider which kind of plan will fit into your lifestyle

6. You may not be sleeping enough

Studies have shown that poor sleep quality can actually lead to a higher BMI and may cause weight increase. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a higher risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and increased blood pressure.

Getting enough sleep is incredibly important, not just to help you to lose weight but also to keep you in good health. During sleep, your body has a chance to reset and recharge, helping to boost immunity and improve brain function.

If you’re not sleeping properly, we recommend:

  • Turning off screens a few hours before bedtime as blue light can interrupt sleep
  • Drinking soothing, sleep-friendly tea, like chamomile or valerian root
  • Avoiding caffeine after 3 PM as it can disrupt sleep
  • Diffusing lavender oil to help you relax
  • Seeking medical advice if your sleeping problems don’t improve with home remedies

7. You may not be drinking enough water

Dehydration is incredibly dangerous, which is why it is very important that you stay hydrated during long periods of fasting. You can hydrate with water, herbal tea, and unsweetened black coffee.

Dehydration has been linked to a slower metabolism and higher BMI, which is why you may not lose weight as easily on an IF diet if you do not consume enough water each day. A slower metabolism means that your body burns calories at a slower rate.

To increase your water intake, we recommend:

  • Tracking your water intake on an app or by hand
  • Setting reminders on your phone to hydrate

8. You may need some help

Even for advanced fasters, intermittent fasting can be challenging. Keeping track of fasting windows, eating nutritious meals, not exceeding daily caloric intake, and staying active can be overwhelming.

So, if you don’t seek help and do intermittent fasting on your own, this may be the reason why you don’t see results.

One way to make intermittent fasting work for you is to join a fasting community. This can help you get your questions answered by people who are going through the same as you. You can also get the motivation and inspiration you need to stick with your regime.

Another option is to use an intermittent fasting app like DoFasting. This app helps you:

  • Get a handle on your fasting journey
  • Track your fasting times
  • Get nutritious recipes for meals
  • Follow the calories you eat daily

9. You may be putting too much pressure on yourself

Lastly, if you have found you’re not losing as much weight as you would like on a fasting diet, you may actually just be putting too much pressure on yourself. Weight loss varies from person to person, and while some may lose weight very quickly, it can take others longer to shed the pounds.

Healthy weight loss is about a pound or two a week, and anything more than this can be considered unhealthy. Due to fluctuations in hormones and other outside factors, you may not see a steady decline on your scales which can be disheartening.

Instead, try tracking your weight loss in a different way. You could take measurements, try on old clothes, or even take progress pictures instead of focusing solely on the number on the scales.

If you think you could be putting too much pressure on yourself to lose weight, we recommend:

  • Setting realistic, SMART goals for weight loss
  • Measuring your progress in alternative ways to looking at the scales
  • Not being too harsh on yourself if you slip up

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and discover how much weight you can lose with DoFasting!

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is a popular dieting method that helps many people to lose weight each year. If you have found you are not losing weight on this dieting method, check out our tips and tricks above to find out why you may have plateaued in your weight loss.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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