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Why Intermittent Fasting Alone Won’t Help You Lose Weight

There has been a lot of hype about intermittent fasting for weight loss recently.

And for good reason!

It works quickly, it’s easy to get started, and you still get to enjoy the foods you love.

Of course, it’s all over the internet and social media. It’s a dream come true!

Many people (including myself) have found that this weight loss method works for them and they are seeing great results!

Some people I know are losing six pounds in the very first week of intermittent fasting.

It’s enough to get you hooked!

But I’ve got some news that you might not want to hear.

Unless you’re willing to change your diet while fasting, you probably won’t ever hit your weight loss goals.

In this blog post I want to talk about why intermittent fasting alone won’t help you lose weight, and the steps you need to take in order to make intermittent fasting work for you!

*This post contains affiliate links.



 What Is Intermittent Fasting?

intermittent fasting walk in place

Intermittent fasting is a meal pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and abstaining from food, typically for 16 hours at a time.

The most popular type of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 method (16-hours fasted with an optional eight-hour feeding window), but other variations exist as well.

There are so many benefits to fasting.

It’s so easy to get started (very little required), it works lightning-fast even if you’ve struggled with weight loss before, and it even works without exercise!

It’s a great way to jumpstart your weight loss, but you’ll eventually need to add other good habits on top of fasting to get where you want to go.


Why Does Fasting Stop Working?

weight loss plateau

If you try fasting, you’ll most likely lose a lot of weight really quickly.

I lost ten pounds the first month I tried fasting, so believe me, it really does work!

The thing is, though, the way fasting (and all other weight loss plans) works is by helping you naturally and automatically consume fewer calories than you burn over time.


The 3,500 Calories Per Pound Rule

eat less meat fasting

Generally speaking, a pound of fat is around 3,500 calories.

So if you want to lose an average of a pound per week, you would need to consume 500 calories less per day than you burn.

Intermittent fasting helps with this in the beginning so easily because even if you keep eating the same foods, skipping those late-night snacks or your morning breakfast and sugar-laden coffee will probably help you automatically avoid taking in at least 500 calories.

The problem arises once you lose that first initial burst of weight.

Your body will eventually lose all the weight it’s going to lose at that level of calorie intake.


An Example For You To Consider

how to look skinnier

Let’s take a 35-year old woman who weighs 200 pounds at 5’5.

She doesn’t exercise and has a desk job.

She needs around 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight.

Let’s say she’s been eating 2,000 calories exactly per day and that’s why she’s not losing any weight.

So, she starts intermittent fasting, keeps eating the exact same foods as before, but by cutting out one meal plus late-night snacks, she’s automatically eating 600 calories less in a day. It’s great!

So this woman who requires 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight is now only consuming 1,400 calories!

That deficit of 600 calories per day, every day for thirty days comes out to 18,000 calories saved… just by fasting!

It gets even better if she chooses to do other weight-loss promoting habits like drinking more water, maybe adding in a few walks in the morning or evening. Things like that.

It’s not uncommon at all to lose ten pounds in your first month fasting relatively easily.

So what’s the problem?


Losing Weight Makes Weight Loss Harder

weight loss harder

An unfortunate fact is that the smaller you get, the harder it is to lose weight.

Let’s say this woman went from 200 pounds down to 185 just by fasting for 5-6 weeks.

Still eating her same foods and living her same life.

She’s so happy and can mostly keep up with fasting. It’s a fair enough trade for her to not have to go to the gym or give up cheeseburgers!

Anyway, she steps on the scale and realizes that she hasn’t lost any weight in a few weeks.

At first, she shrugs it off. Keeps fasting.

But she waits… and waits… and waits…


She tries to think of why she’s not losing weight.

And, well… It turns out that her body has adjusted to fasting and it is now easier for her to maintain a lower weight than it was before.



Calories In, Calories Out

burn fat intermediate fasting

Now that she’s lost weight, she only needs 1,842 calories per day to maintain.

So that 600-calorie deficit got sliced down to 442!

And what’s more, by the time most people have been fasting a while, they start to slip a little bit.

Maybe a special outing here, a night of drinks on the town with friends, there.

Maybe you congratulate yourself on a job well done and enjoy a few extra treats.

None of these things are bad. In fact, they are part of a sustainable fasting plan.

Part of what makes fasting so good is the flexibilty itself, after all.

BUT… the less you weigh, the steeper the calorie reduction.

And simply cutting out a meal and eating the same higher-calorie foods that made you overweight in the first place just won’t work.


So What Do You Think Happens Next?

intermittent fasting not losing weight

So, after the weight loss grinds to a halt, what do you think happens next?

Most people will get frustrated and give up.

Then what?

ALL the weight comes right back.

You feel like a failure.

You feel like you have to start over.

But the reality is that intermittent fasting alone will not make your weight loss last. It’s a fantastic tool, but it needs support from other aspects of diet and lifestyle in order for it to work long-term.


So What Can You Do?

intermittent fasting schedule

I’m glad you asked!

Some people think they have to start over from scratch with fasting.

Or fast longer and longer hours.

These things could work, but they aren’t necessary one bit!

What you should do is pick right up where you left off!

Get back on the wagon with fasting 14-16 hours per day, but commit to slowly changing your diet by eating more plants!


Eat More Plants To Lose Weight

plant based vegan woman holding greens

It’s true that you can lose weight in tons of ways.

You can try juice fasting, the lemonade diet, or other methods to lose weight.

Those all work very well but you’ll probably gain the weight right back if you don’t learn how to eat sustainably.

Many people also love the keto diet, but I hate it and think it’s one of the worst ways to lose weight.

It’s very restrictive, most people can’t hack it long-term, and you’re missing out on key nutrients that your body needs for good health.

The best thing you can do is simply slowly, gently work on incorporating more plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes) into your diet.

The thing is you can STILL have some of the other things you like some of the time!

Just not ALL the time.

And you don’t even have to make the switch all at once!


Why Eat More Plants?

avocado plant-based food

The main reason you want to incorporate more plants into your diet WHILE fasting to lose weight is that these are the foods that will give you the most bang for your buck.

These are the foods that are so low in calories for the volume of food you get, that you could eat as much as you want of them and never gain a pound.

One apple is 50 calories.

Do you know how many apples you’d have to eat to gain weight eating them?

It’s impossible!

The thing is, you don’t have to eat ALL plants to benefit. Just MORE.

Even if you ate something a little heavy and fatty every single day for one of your meals, but chose to eat your second meal and the rest of your snacks from the plant kingdom?

You would lose weight!

It’s literally the easiest change to make once you get your head around how flexible you can be and that it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.


The Best Way To Start Eating Plant-Based

plant based foods vegan

So, now I bet you’re wondering exactly how to get started and what to do, right?

I’ve written an article about how to transition to a plant-based diet, and it’s full of tips and ideas for you.

But I think the very first step would be to just make ONE small promise to yourself to start.

I mean, teeny tiny!


Here are a few ideas:

  • Anytime I get hungry, I will only snack on fruit or vegetables
  • I commit to cooking one new plant-based recipe within the next 7 days
  • I will have one fully plant-based day each week to start (like Meatless Mondays)


It Can Be So Easy, And It Works

vegan diet mindset

I know it may seem intimidating or even unappealing, but eating more plants couldn’t be farther from either of those things!

After struggling with obesity for my entire adult life, I found fasting and fell into the trap of thinking that was good enough.

I would lose and re-gain the same 15 pounds over and over again, and nothing would break the cycle — except gradually altering my diet.

It’s really so easy. You don’t have to be perfect.

You just have to get started making tiny shifts that add up to BIG weight loss over time.

Give it a try and I think you’ll be so amazed by your results!

Happy fasting (and plant-based living)!


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