Intermittent fasting literally seems to be the diet of the hour! With limited rules about what you eat and a focus on when you eat, intermittent fasting has become the diet of choice for many. However, is it that simple? If you are in a situation where you have been following intermittent fasting but have not been able to shed the pounds, you are doing something wrong! Read on to know why intermittent fasting may not work for you.
What is intermittent fasting and how does it work?
Intermittent fasting allows you to divide your day into two parts; your fasting window and your eating window. Dietitian Garima Goyal explains how this helps with weight loss, telling Health Shots: “The mechanism of action behind intermittent fasting of the IF diet is complex and multifactorial. During the fasting period, the level of the insulin hormone drops and the body begins to use the stored fat as an energy source. Also, a process called autophagy begins during the fasting period, where the cell works by removing the damaged components. This improves the lifespan of the cells.”
Why am I not seeing results from intermittent fasting?
- Unsustainability: There are no cheat meals on IF days! If you do not follow this diet religiously and do not eat even while fasting, you may not get the desired results.
- Diet quality: If the food you eat during your eating window is not high in nutrients but high in calories, then fasting will not work.
- Eating too much: If you feel an extreme urge to eat whatever you can during the eating period, this will lead to overeating and therefore weight gain.
- Dehydration: Inadequate water intake during fasting can dehydrate the body and negate the effects of IF.
- Skipping meals: You don’t have to skip meals when you do IF. Eat only 2-3 large meals and 1-2 snacks. Eating less doesn’t help here.
- Counting calories: IF works well if you also monitor your daily calorie intake and keep it at maintenance levels, rather than consuming too much of it.
What to do if intermittent fasting doesn’t work?
- Calorie restrictive diet: You can create a diet plan with calories that are 300-400 lower than the maintenance calories needed to promote weight loss.
- Mediterranean diet: This includes all healthy food groups packed with complex carbohydrates, lean protein and fiber. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fat sources like nuts and seeds etc.
- Low carbohydrate diet: Limiting your carbohydrate intake to 60-65 percent calories and increasing protein may work for you.
- Portion control: If you think you’re eating everything healthy, try reducing your portion size, as you may be consuming more calories than you think.
How can you follow intermittent fasting?
- 16/8 method: This diet can be implemented in several ways and the most common form implemented by individuals is the 16/8 method. This diet divides the day into two parts, with an 8-hour eating window and a 16-hour fasting window.
- 5:2 method: Here you have a normal diet for 5 days a week and the next two days, drastically reducing your calorie intake to 500-600 calories for a whole day.
Variations of intermittent fasting
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This includes fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week.
- Alternative fasting one day: This involves fasting one day and eating the next, and so on.
- Warrior Diet: This involves fasting for 20 hours and eating a large meal within a four-hour window.
- OMAD (one meal per day): This is an extremely restrictive diet after fasting for 23 hours and eating a heavy meal within an hour.
- TRE (time-restricted eating): You can change the 16/8 method to 12/12 (fasting for 12 hours and eating for 12 hours) or 4/20, depending on your preferences.
What should you pay attention to when following Intermittent Fasting?
Although intermittent fasting seems simple enough for anyone to follow, there are some points to keep in mind. “IF has its own types, such as the 16/8 or 5/2 method. Choosing the right method that suits you best depending on your lifestyle is what you have to experiment for yourself,” says Goyal.
Formulate your eating times so that the last meal of your day should be between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and no later than that, depending on your body’s natural internal clock.
Go slow too! “Start by choosing a fast of short duration and gradually increase it,” explains Goyal.
Another point to remember is that if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have diabetes or suffer from a chronic illness, you should fast only after discussing it with your doctor.
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