Intermittent Fasting can be a great way to lose weight as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, there are some potential Intermittent Fasting mistakes that can lead to unwanted weight gain. This guide will tell you what you may be doing wrong and give you tips on how to succeed!
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I follow an Intermittent Fasting (also called IF) lifestyle. It has been a key component of why I feel so amazing and healthy at this point in my life.
Remember, it wasn’t always that way. I definitely struggled with my weight for many years (see my story here) and didn’t feel good about myself at all. I had some yo-yo dieting going on and a love for junk food, and seriously, the two did not mix.
But now that I am on the right track (thanks to Intermittent Fasting and exercise—a great combo), it’s so much easier to be healthy. One thing I think is great about IF is that it suits every type of diet you prefer, from keto to vegan to paleo, and so on.
So yes, I used IF for weight loss, and chances are you are reading this post because you are, too.
If you are wondering “why am I gaining weight with Intermittent Fasting?”, don’t stress. You are not alone. I get asked a lot how weight gain factors in when you are trying so hard to eat healthily.
We’re going to look at that now and let you know where things may be going wrong. I’ll also give you the info you need to succeed.
Losing weight with Intermittent Fasting is entirely possible and trust me, we’ll get you there!
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent Fasting is basically an eating pattern. It’s pretty simple really, as you have periods when you eat (eating window) and periods when you don’t eat (fasting window).
I don’t call it a diet, even though this regimen can help you to lose unwanted pounds. It’s more of a lifestyle change to be honest, and a change that pays off when you make it a regular thing.
Choose an IF plan that fits in with your day and your habits. That’s the best way to make it work for you.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING?
I go into more detail in my post Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss: A Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting, but here is a brief rundown:
- Improved brain functioning
- Reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol
- Weight loss
- Increased metabolism
- Improved digestive health
- Decreased inflammation
- Increased muscle mass and promotes fat loss
- Decreased insulin resistance
HOW MUCH WEIGHT CAN YOU LOSE IN A MONTH WITH IF?
A lot depends on your body and how it reacts to the fasting. Some people can lose 10 pounds in a month, whereas others will lose an average of a pound or two a week.
Several studies have proven that IF helps you lose weight. One, in particular, concluded that IF participants lost between 4.6% and 13.0% of their baseline body weight over 8 weeks to 1 year. For sure, those who exercised (see my post on the best time to exercise here) saw increased results over those who did not. Daily activity is good for you in many ways, so get out there and move!
WHY YOU MAY BE GAINING WEIGHT WITH INTERMITTENT FASTING
1. YOU’RE EATING TOO MUCH DURING YOUR WINDOW
Paying attention to what you eat is just as important, or even more so, than when you eat. You see, if you eat a lot of carbs and high-calorie foods full of sugar, you will, no doubt, gain weight as opposed to losing it. You’ve got to eat what your body needs in calories, not overeat just because you know you won’t be eating for another 16 hours (if you follow the 16:8 plan as I do).
Instead, eat clean. If you do that, you’ll have no issues. Fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, fish, and whole grains are foods to eat. Sounds great, right? Calculate your macros (I explain how to do it here) and eat healthily to lose weight.
Keep an eye on the calories, too. If you are eating from the time your window opens until just before the fasting window, chances are, you are consuming too much. To lose weight you do want to reduce calories—but it’s a fine balance and needs to be a nutritional one.
2. YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH DURING YOUR WINDOW
This may come as a surprise, but not eating enough can cause issues. How is that? If you don’t eat enough in your eating window, you increase the chances of binge eating in your next window due to sheer starvation. You’ll be so hungry, you may start eating and not stop.
As well, the body stores food to protect itself. Your body will sense the need to stock up on reserves and may store those extra pounds as fat instead of lean muscle. So again, calculate your macros to see the number of calories your body needs (it’s not that complicated to figure out your macros, trust me) and you’ll still nourish your body while losing weight.
If you are struggling with not eating during the fasting period and then bingeing during your eating window, try reducing the fasting period from 16 hours to 14 or even 12. Once you get things under control, you can gradually expand the fasting period until you are back at 16 hours. If you are trying the 24-hour fast, make it a 20-hour fast to gain control over how you are eating. The same principal can be applied to any of the fasting regimens. The main thing is to eat healthily when you do eat, and to eat enough to nourish the body.
3. YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH PROTEIN
I’ve been writing a few posts lately about protein and I cannot stress enough how important it is for the body! Whether it’s vegan protein, protein powders, or sources like lean meat and chicken, protein is an essential building block. Protein is important for muscle mass and recovery after you exercise. It’s good for bone health, too.
Protein fills you up as well, helping you make it from the fasting window to the eating window. If you are consuming foods that are sugary and processed, your insulin levels spike, signaling your body to store fat. At the same time, this spike blocks leptin, the hormone that tells you that you are full.
So rather than filling up on carbs and refined sugar, go for delicious lean protein!
4. YOU’RE NOT EATING CLEAN
I eat clean MOST of the time (on holidays and special occasions or dinners out, of course, I eat what appeals to me) and I’d advise that you do, too, especially if you are asking “why am I gaining weight with intermittent fasting”.
There are reasons to eat clean when following an Intermittent Fasting regimen:
- Processed foods and trans fats are detrimental to blood sugar levels.
- Intermittent Fasting increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin and moderates your blood sugar.
- Avoiding refined sugar will eventually reduce your cravings long-term and increases your desire for healthy fruits and veggies.
- Healthy carbs like sweet potatoes not only give you nutritional benefit but also reduce the chances of storing belly fat like sugary foods do.
- Eating clean boosts your fiber intake which is key to a healthy digestive system.
- Avoiding processed foods like store-bought muffins (make your own for a healthier choice!), fast food, and fake healthy foods like instant oatmeal and sugary sports drinks will reduce the sugar highs and crashes that sap your energy.
Remember, clean eating is not restrictive. You can still have tons of amazing foods—and even dessert!
TIPS FOR INTERMITTENT FASTING
I found that little tips and tricks made a huge impact when I first started out with IF. I’ve compiled a little list of things that helped me:
- Drink apple cider vinegar in your water as a way to stave off hunger. Apple cider vinegar has tons of benefits, too!
- Make time to exercise.
- Use protein powders to boost your protein intake.
- If you are using sweeteners in your eating window, make wise choices.
- Eat healthy dairy like Greek yogurt.
- Choose non-inflammatory foods.
- Take advantage of meal prep to always have healthy meals on hand to eat.
MORE POSTS ON INTERMITTENT FASTING
You can learn a whole lot more about Intermittent Fasting by reading through my other posts. Take a look!
- Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss? Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- 9 Intermittent Fasting Mistakes Beginner’s Make (And How to Avoid Them!)
- Intermittent Fasting for Women: A Complete Guide
This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.