Make Sure Youve Actually Reached A Plateau
Before concluding that youve reached a plateau, it helps to define what a plateau really is. According to dictionary.com, a plateau is a period or state of little or no growth or decline. But how long does this period need to be?
For weight loss, you have to take something into consideration: You can hold up to five pounds in water weight at any given moment.
Extra water weight can be hanging around in the tissue between your cells for many reasons:
Thats why the scale can sometimes be deceiving. Also, when you have a strong desire to lose weight, you can have unrealistic expectations of how fast you should be making progress. Even more so because the pounds often fly off quickly when you first start Intermittent Fasting.
Losing anything less than 1kg or 2 pounds a week can be seen as a disappointment.
However, keeping up that speed for a long time is not healthy. Your goal should be to lose around a pound per week on average. If you notice you havent lost a single pound over a two to three-week period of time. Then you can speak of an actual plateau.
And you can take these steps to break through it.
You Arent Sleeping Well
Sleep can have a direct impact on body weight through its impact on appetite, basal metabolism, hormone regulation, and energy levels. So, if youve been sleeping less or are regularly dealing with interrupted sleep compared to when you started your fasting diet, this can be holding you back from achieving weight loss progress, says Palinski-Wade.
Fix it: To improve sleep quality, set a structured bedtime and wake-up routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Put all screens away as soon as you hit the sheetsinstead, try focusing on reducing stress levels by opting for more calming activities, like reading a book or doing a quick meditation sesh.
Change Your Everyday Diet
If fasting for a longer period, even if its just a few hours a day, ends up being too hard on you, either psychologically or socially, you can always combine IF with another diet.
In this article, I compared 8 other famous diets to intermittent fasting. You might think IF was the big winner, well, yes and no. IF is not really a diet, its an eating habit, a lifestyle.
So if youre doing IF, you may think you dont really need to be doing anything else to lose weight. Except eat kind of healthy food and trying not to get too much sugar and stuff.
But depending on your goals and how hard for you it is to reach them, why not take a look at other diets out there?
There are low-carbs diets that might freak you out like the Ketogenic Diet, because it can be hard to implement with a social life, but maybe the Atkins Diet would be easier for you?
And what about going vegan for a month? Or trying the delicious Mediterranean Diet or the great Paleo Diet?
These days, everyone seems to have created its own diet and written a book about it. Of course, dont just do any diet out there, read articles about it, studies, and check if you could implement and if it really would work for you.
But there are tons of diets, well-documented ones, with advantages and disadvantages, most of them working, that you can pull from and try to implement in your life, at least for a while.
Find the right diet for you and add it as a bonus to your already great intermittent fasting lifestyle.
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Whats Specific To Intermittent Fasting
You might be confused here because I mostly talked about calorie deficit and the body adapting to fewer calories.
When youre intermittent fasting, of course, youre putting a calorie deficit on the body, but thats not the same as eating 3 to 5 times a day while counting calories.
Youre not effectively trying to get fewer calories, youre trying to eat less often, shortening your eating window, in order to train your body to burn fat. Youre not forcing your body to adapt to fewer calories to function.
Intermittent fasting is not about calories in, calories out, its about hormones. Youre lowering your insulin levels when eating less often, you give your body time to adapt to fat as energy, thats the whole concept.
Some of the things Ive said apply to IF too, because youre effectively getting used to fewer calories, but there could be another side-effect of intermittent fasting that could slow down weight-loss.
Its how intermittent fasting might affect your thyroid.
Intermittent fasting might be slowing down the functioning of the thyroid gland. The thyroid plays a huge part in the body and one of its roles is to regulate energy metabolism and thermogenesis.
Fasting will impact your metabolism and the way your body uses and converts energy, this means it will have an impact on your thyroid.
Thyroid hormone, called T3, is crucial for the body to use energy. But when youre fasting, your body will reduce T3, in order to preserve as much energy as possible.
Is It Really A Weight Loss Plateau
First, its important to know whether what youre experiencing is truly a weight loss plateau.
People lose weight at different rates depending on age, size, and other factors. Women typically tend to lose weight more slowly than men.1
But regardless of your age or gender, youre likely to lose more weight during the first two weeks of a diet especially a low-carb diet than you will in subsequent weeks. A portion of this early weight loss will be water rather than fat.2
Then, youll tend to lose more slowly and less consistently for the rest of your weight loss journey.3
Sustained weight loss frequently occurs in a non-linear fashion.So, its perfectly normal to lose two pounds one week and then go several weeks without losing any weight before beginning to lose again.
If this is what youre experiencing, you may not need to make any changes as long as youre happy with your diet, energy levels, and health markers, such as blood glucose and blood pressure.
A weight loss plateau, or stall, is different. Its a period of at least two months without any weight loss.
Experts arent certain about what causes weight loss plateaus. Theories include that they occur because the body is defending itself against further weight loss by slowing down its metabolic rate, or because people are eating more calories than they need to continue losing weight.4
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Change Up Your Exercise Routine
Whatever you’re doing now, whether it’s absolutely no exercise or running five days a week, find ways to change things up in your workouts. Weightlifting is always a good choice, as increasing your muscle mass will burn more calories throughout the day. If you’re only weightlifting, make sure you’re mixing up the exercises you’re doing, increasing the weight you’re lifting, and working all your muscle groups.
Also try adding some cardio into your week, and include HIIT workouts as that can burn more calories and target belly fat. If you work out once in the morning, then sit at a desk job for eight hours straight, try switching your workouts to noon, or take a walk in addition to your morning workout. You can also look at how many steps you take a day. If it’s barely 2,000, aim to get 10,000.
Doing fasted workouts can also help, where you hit your workout at the end of your fasted window, then break your fast afterward. So if you usually fast from 8 p.m. till noon, exercise at 10 or 11 a.m., then eat lunch at your normal time.
What Is A Weight Loss Plateau
Most of us know this answer but I do think it helps to be on the same page. 2 days with the same number on the scale is not a plateau. 2 weeks with the same number on the scale IS a plateau.
We all seem to have natural set-points, or plateaus, that the weight just sticks at no matter what we do. It is very frustrating when you are working diligently at weight loss. And that can be good and bad. Sometimes a plateau may be where you want to maintain your weight. Thats good it helps to cut back on the fluctuation. Most of the time, though, we hate them.
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/7there May Be Hormonal Problems You Need To Check For
Sometimes, the root of a lot of health problems or hitting unexpected weight loss plateaus can be underlying hormonal issues. Hormones have a major role to play in controlling or sometimes, even accelerating our weight loss. If they are unregulated, it may be difficult for a weight watcher to lose weight and suffer from additional complications.
With Intermittent Fasting, a lot of times, hormonal issues can also arise out of slowed down metabolism and incorrect eating patterns.
Since IF is also a dietplan which makes a person prone to certain deficiencies, any hormonal issues must be checked out at once. Consulting a dietician or a medical practitioner may help you address the issue better and gain the maximum results.
What Is The Metabolic Switch And How Is It Flipped
Flipping the metabolic switch is the very natural process of switching our bodys energy source from glucose to fatty acids and ketones from our body fat.
This shift happens in our bodies while we sleep instead of storing fat, our body switches to using its fat as an energy source, naturally leading to fat loss .
So, you must be wondering,
How do I know if my metabolic switch has been activated?
Here are some key points you can use as indicators:
Fasted for at least 12 hours
No or minimal hunger
Your body has not tapped into its fat stores and probably your precious muscle tissue is your source of energy.
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Recalculate Your Macros Every Month
As we stated earlier, when you lose weight, your calorie deficit will get smaller. As the calorie deficit gets smaller, you will start losing weight more slowly until you plateau.
Eventually, what was once a calorie deficit will become precisely the amount of calories you need to eat to maintain weight. To bust through this plateau , try calculating your macros with your new body weight every month or so. The simplest way to do so is by plugging your info into our keto calculator.
Depending on how much fat you want to lose, you may need to adjust your calorie deficit as well. If you still have 50 to 100 pounds that you want to burn off, then you may be able to handle a 20-30% calorie deficit without losing much muscle mass .
With this method, you are likely to drop fat rapidly. After another month or so of dieting this way, it is best to recalculate your macros with your new weight again.
Each time you recalculate, try reducing your calorie deficit a bit so the diet is easier to stick with and your metabolic rate doesnt slow down too much. However, if the calorie deficit isnt manageable for you in any way, then try taking intermittent diet breaks .
For those of you who are leaner and dont have much more weight to lose, it is best to aim for a calorie deficit of 10-15%. This should allow you to lose weight at a healthy and steady pace of 0.51.0% of body weight per week.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You
As of right now, there’s no official test to say whether you should or shouldn’t try intermittent fasting, but there are some general guidelines. You should consider the impact on your lifestyle.
If your IF protocol conflicts with family’s nutrition needs or your work schedule, it might be challenging to commit to an IF schedule. Or let’s say you’re a performance-based athlete: You should consider your nutritional needs, including recovery. Finally, if you’re a woman, intermittent fasting might not be right for you due to hormonal implications.
With any IF protocol, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting. Will you benefit from IF? Remember, just because your friend did it doesn’t mean it will work for you too. Ultimately, the only sure way to find out if intermittent fasting is right for you is to try it for yourself.
There are a ton of variations on intermittent fasting, and choosing which one is right for you is often a matter of trial and error. To get you started, here are a few examples of IF protocols:
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Why Am I Not Losing Weight On Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has many potential benefits for overall health. Your friends may have tried the method to promote fat burning, create healthy habits, improve brain function and insulin sensitivity.
Most participants see results, which makes it such a popular diet plan.
If youve put effort into an intermittent fasting program, it can be frustrating to witness zero results. But it doesnt mean that fasting cant work for you.
IF is difficult to navigate, particularly in the early days. Its no wonder that people dont master the diet immediately.
It could be several things, from not fasting long enough to consuming excessive calories in your eating window.
If youve given it a few weeks and youre still not seeing changes in your body weight, youve likely hit an intermittent fasting weight loss plateau. In that case, its time to assess your strategy to see where you might be going wrong.
Editorial Sources And Fact
- Fothergill E, Guo J, Howard L, et al. Persistent Metabolic Adaptation 6 Years After The Biggest Loser Competition. Obesity. August 2016.
- Varady KA, Cienfuegos S, Ezpeleta M, et al. Cardiometabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Annual Review of Nutrition. October 2021.
- Gabel K, Hoddy KK, Haggerty N, et al. Effects of 8-Hour Time Restricted Feeding on Body Weight and Metabolic Disease Risk Factors in Obese Adults: A Pilot Study. Nutrition and Healthy Aging. June 2018.
- Catterson JH, Khericha M, Dyson MC, et al. Short-Term, Intermittent Fasting Induces Long-Lasting Gut Health and TOR-Independent Lifespan Extension. Current Biology. June 2018.
- De Cabo R, Mattson MP. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. The New England Journal of Medicine. December 26, 2019.
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Your Hormone Levels May Be Out Of Whack
This one is difficult to determine on your own without the help of a medical professional. What we do know is that health needs can vary widely by individual, which is why IF simply may not produce the same results for everyone.
Following the IF pattern means we are eating according to our metabolism, which is highest in the morning and tapers off throughout the day, says Nico. Some people eat too much of the wrong foods closer to bedtime, disrupting the hormone system and setting off a cascade of insulin imbalances.
Fix it: First, talk to your MD. But in general, the best strategy to prevent a slowing in metabolism with any weight loss plan is to prevent excessively low calorie intake , says Palinski-Wade. At the end of the day, its always best to consult with a knowledgeable health professional before starting a diet plan like IF, but especially you have any hormone concerns.
How To Define A Weight Loss Stall
Before we troubleshoot your intermittent fasting weight loss stall, lets just make sure that you are in fact experiencing one. Many women expect to lose at least 5 lbs a month or more. If they dont lose weight one month, they think they hit a plateau.
However, it is perfectly normal to not lose any weight one month. Weight loss wont look like a straight downward line. Instead, you will see ups and downs with an overall downward trend. One month you may lose 4 lbs, another 2 lbs and another 0lbs. As a rule of thumb, if you dont lose any weight for two months in a row. Then, you can start troubleshooting your intermittent fasting approach. Otherwise, try not to worry about it and trust the process!
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What If Keto Isnt Right For You
Although the primary focus of this article is to help you bust through that plateau and lose weight again, lets take a few minutes to look at the bigger picture. Weight loss plateaus provide us with the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on our diet and health as a whole.
- How are you feeling mentally and physically with your current dietary approach?
- What does your blood work look like?
- Are you struggling to sustain this way of eating?
If all youve achieved is weight loss at the expense of your health and well-being, then you may need to focus on adjusting your overall diet and lifestyle instead of looking for another quick fat loss fix. Formulating a diet that is optimized for your needs is the best way to ensure that you will lose that fat and keep it off for good without losing your mind and impairing your health at the same time.
An ideal diet is one that will help you improve your body composition, feel better than before, and optimize your health while also being a sustainable dietary approach for the long-term. Diets that dont fulfill these criteria are not worth our time and energy because we will only be able to stay on them for a short period of time.
The first step to creating a diet that is ideal for you is to realize that no diet is perfect for everyone. Every dietary approach has its advantages and disadvantages and must be adapted to each individual to help them meet their health needs and body composition goals as efficiently as possible.