Many people get started with intermittent fasting because they want to lose weight. That was me, 10 years ago. However, I wasn’t able to lose weight at first. Learn from my mistake and discover the top 5 reasons why you are not losing weight with intermittent fasting.
Top 5 Reasons Why You Are Not Losing Weight With Intermittent Fasting
1- You Picked the Wrong Intermittent Fasting Method
I would say this is the most common reason why people are not losing weight with intermittent fasting, but most people don’t realize that there are many ways to practice intermittent fasting. Until fairly recently (considering the fact that I got acquainted with intermittent fasting 10 years ago), I thought intermittent fasting was just about skipping breakfast. However, intermittent fasting is so much more than that.
Types of Fasting
Let’s look at the main intermittent fasting types so you can decide which type you want to try next.
- 16:8 Method: That’s the most common method and that’s how most people get started with intermittent fasting. With the 16:8 method, you eat all your calories within an 8-hour window. Typically, people will eat between 12 pm and 8 pm.
- Crescendo Fasting: Crescendo intermittent fasting means you are practicing intermittent fasting every second day. It may be a good idea for women who are concerned about the impact of fasting on their hormones. Read How Fasting Affects Women’s Hormones for more information.
- 5:2 Method: This is the method I wish I had known about when I didn’t the results I wanted on the 16:8 method. The reason I like the 5:2 method so much is that it allows the phasing that benefits many women so much and enough of a calorie deficit to yield real results. Even though the crescendo method may be effective in some cases, it is hard to get enough of a calorie deficit when you restrict your eating window to 8 hours. Well, it’s even harder if you do it only every second day! Moreover, for your cells to run out of glucose and start using stored fat to make ketones, you will need a significant lack of food unless you practice a ketogenic diet. Read The 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Method for Women for more information.
- Warrior Diet: I mentioned that it may be difficult to create enough of a calorie deficit with the 16:8 method. That’s where the Warrior Diet comes in. With the Warrior diet, you are eating during a 4-hour window. For many, that will be enough to get into ketosis and create the calorie deficit needed. Read Why You Should Consider the Warrior Diet for Weight Loss.
- Eat-Stop-Eat Method: If you like the idea of not fasting every day, but are not losing weight with the 5:2 method, the eat-stop-eat diet may be your next logical step. Twice a week, you will abstain from all food for 24 hours twice a week. Read The Eat-Stop-Eat Diet Explained for more info.
- Alternate Day Fasting: Take your fasting to the next level by abstaining from food for 36 hours twice a week. How this works is that you fast one night (12 hours), the next day (12 hours), and the next night (12 hours). Read Alternate-Day Fasting for Weight Loss for more info.
- OMAD: The OMAD (One Meal A Day) method means you are eating all your calories within a 1-hour window. If you prefer getting food every day, but need a longer fasting period to see results, this may be a good approach to try.
To learn more, watch my Intermittent Fasting 101 Workshop.
Not Losing Weight on OMAD
As you experiment with various fasting methods, you may still struggle with weight loss even on a more advanced method like OMAD. The problem with OMAD is that it may cause a significant calorie deficit Every. Single. Day. That might become a problem if your body gets used to fewer calories, but you don’t adjust consequently.
Another possible issue is that any type of intermittent fasting causes the release of cortisol. That’s a good thing because cortisol helps burn fat. However, excess cortisol may cause your body to store fat instead. You are walking a fine line, particularly if you are a woman. If you are on OMAD and can’t lose weight, try other methods that don’t require you to fast every day like the eat-stop-eat method or alternate-day fasting. You can even start with only one 24 or 36-hour fast a week to give your body even more chance to not get used to the low number of calories.
Read my post 7 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight on OMAD for more tips to try.
To pick the right fasting method for you, take the quiz What Is Your Fasting Personality?
2- Your Body Needs to Heal
I have read many stories of people who can’t lose weight initially, even on an extended water fast. Then, they notice other improvements in their health and start losing weight at last. Sometimes, before your body needs to heal before losing weight. Extended fasts are the most effective way to heal your body and reset your hormones. However, for the average person, an extended water fast is too difficult to achieve at first.
As I mentioned already, I didn’t lose any weight with intermittent fasting at first. I didn’t experiment with the various methods because I wasn’t aware of them. What I did do is try the fasting mimicking diet. The fasting mimicking diet is a 5-day fast that can kickstart the healing process (read The Fasting Mimicking Diet: Benefit From Fasting Without Giving Up Food).
The fasting mimicking diet allowed me to finally start losing weight after struggling for years and get into ketosis easier while practicing intermittent fasting. If you are curious about all the benefits I experienced read My Fasting Mimicking Diet Results.
To try the fasting mimicking diet with the easiest meal plan possible, read The Easiest and Simplest Meal Plan Ever to DIY the Fasting Mimicking Diet.
3- You Are Eating Too Many Calories
It’s incredibly easy to eat too many calories without even realizing it. It is common for people to underestimate how much they are eating. That’s one of the reasons why for many people the 16/8 method won’t be enough to lose weight. Eight hours is a long time. It’s easy to eat too many calories during this time frame.
Eating only 30 extra calories a day (1 cup of broccoli or 1 tsp of olive oil, for example) will cause you to gain 3 pounds a year.
To lose 1 pound a week, you need a calorie deficit of around 3,500 calories. That’s a lot of calories! If you typically consume 1,500 calories a day, it would mean not eating at all for more than 2 days a week. If you practice a daily intermittent fasting method, you need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories each day. Skipping one meal is one way to do it, but if you are not losing weight with intermittent fasting, it may be that you are redistribution these 500 calories among your two remaining meals. That would be very easy to do.
4- You Are Not Eating Enough Calories
People who are not able to lose weight sometimes find that they can break through the plateau by eating more. The constant calorie restriction may cause excess cortisol, a stress hormone that can cause fat storage.
Furthermore, your body may reduce its metabolic rate in response to the constant food deprivation. Now, keep in mind that a slow metabolic rate is not a bad thing. Many people think it is because let’s face it: We like to eat! Everyone would love to be able to eat anything without gaining weight. However, a slower metabolism means a slower aging process. Plus, you save money on groceries and you don’t have to cook as much. Depending on your health goals, you may not need to worry about slowing down your metabolism.
It’s up to you to see if not eating enough calories is a problem for you. Before you try eating more, I recommend you have an honest look at your overall calorie consumption. If you consistently consume less than 1,000 calories a day, consider experimenting with the number of calories you consume. You could consider a 200-400 calorie increase at first.
5- You Are Eating Inflammatory Foods
When I started on my weight loss journey, changing the types of foods I was eating was all I needed to start losing weight. I had been struggling for months to reduce how much I was eating and seeing no results. However, when I went on a strict Paleo Diet, I dropped 6 lbs effortlessly the first week!
If you suspect you are not choosing the best foods to fuel your body, I recommend you read my post Intermittent Fasting: What to Eat, What Not to Eat. In summary, I suggest a diet rich in vegetables and healthy fats. Eat fewer grains and fruits. Avoid gluten, dairy, processed foods, and sugar.
When the Scale Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story
If you are not losing weight with intermittent fasting, you should also consider the fact that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story.
Losing Inches Not Pounds With Intermittent Fasting
Sometimes, people start losing inches before they lose weight. This phenomenon usually happens when your body needs to heal before you start losing weight. I had that experience when I started with the fasting mimicking diet. The first time I did the fasting mimicking diet, I didn’t lose any weight, yet I was being told that I looked like I had lost weight. My belly looked flatter. Abdominal fat is a sign of poor metabolic health. Losing weight around your waist has huge benefits for your health!
Losing Weight But Not Inches
At the other end of the spectrum, you may lose weight but not inches. Again, I experienced this as well. After overcoming my initial inability to lose weight through the fasting mimicking diet, I was able to drop 12 lbs within a few months. However, I wasn’t losing any more inches and I was still not able to fit in that coveted pair of jeans. It turns out that I was still losing inflammation weight. My face and my limbs (arms and legs) looked slimmer.
I had been eating a very clean diet for many years, I had no idea that I still had so much inflammation in my body. When your body is fighting inflammation, it tends to hold on to water. So losing inflammation weight means you are losing water weight. Fasting is an effective way to decrease inflammation.
Weight Gain After Stopping Intermittent Fasting
After following the advice in this post, you will lose the extra weight you have been wanting to lose. However, let me warn you: gaining the weight back will be much easier than losing it. Don’t throw all your efforts out the window by reverting back to three meals a day right away after reaching your weight loss goal.
Instead, move slowly. Depending on the intermittent fasting you were using, start increasing your eating window by 1 or 2 hours each week. Or take one or two days off intermittent fasting each week and see what happens.
The benefits of intermittent fasting extend well beyond weight loss. It is a lifestyle that you may want to maintain for the rest of your life.
Not Losing Weight With Intermittent Fasting Video
For most people losing weight with intermittent fasting is a delicate balance between choosing the right method, consuming the right foods, the right number of calories and understanding how your body works. Each of us is unique. Your body will respond differently than mine to the same methods. Your body might respond differently to the same methods at different times of your life.
The main advantage of intermittent fasting when it comes to weight loss is that it will help you feel satisfied with less food. As time goes on, you will notice that your appetite will decrease naturally. It’s an excellent way to reduce your calorie intake without feeling constantly deprived.
Since the main problem with continuous calorie restriction is the constant feeling of hunger and deprivation, intermittent fasting is the perfect alternative!