Intermittent fasting seems to be the diet of the hour, quite literally! With limited regulations on what you eat, and focus on when you eat, intermittent fasting has become the go-to diet for many. However, is it that simple? If you find yourself in a situation where you have been following intermittent fasting but haven’t been able to shed the kilos, you are doing something wrong! Read on to know why intermittent fasting may not be working for you.
What is intermittent fasting, and how does it work?
Intermittent fasting allows you to break your day into two parts; you fasting window and your eating window. Explaining how this helps in losing weight, dietician Garima Goyal tells Health Shots, “The mechanism of action behind intermittent fasting of IF diet is complex and multifactorial. During the fasting window, the levels of insulin hormone drops and body starts using the stored fat as an energy source. Also, a process named autophagy begins in the fasting period where cell works by removing its damaged components. Thus, cell longevity is enhanced.”
Why am I not seeing results from intermittent fasting?
- Unsustainability: There are no cheat meals on IF days! If you didn’t follow this diet religiously and eat even in fasting window, you may not get desirable results.
- Diet quality: If the foods you eat during your eating window are not nutrient dense, but calorie dense, then fasting will not work.
- Overeating: Feeling extreme urge to eat whatever you can in the eating window will lead to overeating and hence weight gain.
- Dehydration: Intake of inadequate amount of water in the fasting window can dehydrate the body and negate the effects of IF.
- Skipping meals: You don’t need to skip meals if you are doing IF. Just have 2-3 big meals and 1-2 snacks. Eating less won’t help here.
- Calorie counting: IF works well if you also monitor your daily caloric intake and keep it up to maintenance level, rather than over consuming it.
What to do if intermittent fasting is not working?
- Calorie restrictive diet: You can make a diet plan having calories 300-400 lower than the maintenance calories needed to aid weight loss.
- Mediterranean diet: This includes all the healthy food groups loaded with complex carbohydrates, lean protein and fibre. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, healthy fat sources such as nuts and seeds etc.
- Low carb diet: Limiting your carbohydrate intake to 60-65 percent calories coming from them and raising the protein value may work for you.
- Portion control: If you think you are eating everything healthy, try reducing your portion size as you may be consuming more calories than you know.
How to follow intermittent fasting?
- 16/8 method: This diet can be implemented in various ways and the most common form that is implemented by the individuals is 16/8 method. This diet divides the day into two parts, having an eating window of 8 hours and a fasting window of 16 hours.
- 5:2 method: Here, you have a normal dietary pattern on 5 days a week and for the next two days, drastically reducing your caloric intake to 500-600 calories for an entire day.
Variations of intermittent fasting
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This includes fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week.
- Alternate day fasting: In this, you fast for one day and eat for another and so on.
- Warrior diet: This involves fasting for 20 hours and eating a large meal in the four hour time frame.
- OMAD (One Meal A Day): This is extremely restrictive diet following a fasting window of 23 hours and eating a heavy meal in one hour.
- TRE (Time Restricted Eating): You can alter the 16/8 method to 12/12 (12 hours fasting and 12 hours eating) or 20/4 as per your preferences.
What to remember while following Intermittent Fasting?
While intermittent fasting seems simple enough to be followed by anyone, there are some points that should be kept in mind. “IF has its own types such as 16/8 or 5/2 method. Choosing the right method that suits the best for you as per your lifestyle is what you have to experiment on your own,” says Goyal.
Formulate your eating timings in such a way that the last meal of your day should be between 7-8 pm, not later than that to suit your body’s natural internal clock.
Also, go slow! “Start by choosing a fasting window of short time span and raise it gradually,” explains Goyal.
Another point to remember is that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, diabetic or suffering from any kind of chronic illness, fasting should always be practised only after concerning your doctor.
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