Why is Intermittent Fasting Not Working for Me?
Although intermittent fasting (IF) has been proven effective for many people, some may not see the results they are hoping for.
There are several reasons why you might not be losing weight while following this type of eating pattern. You may be eating too much, choosing the wrong foods, fasting for too long, fasting for too little time, or not being consistent.
Let’s review common causes of why intermittent fasting is not working for you.
Common Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting Doesn’t Work
Before we dive into the topic, let’s remember that IF is all about when to eat and not about what to eat. However, the quality and quantity of the food you consume are also essential components of weight loss, even in this program.
Eating Too Much During Eating Windows
Eating too much during non-fasting periods can negate the benefits of IF in several ways.
When you fast, your body undergoes several physical changes, including improved insulin sensitivity, increased fat burning, and reduced inflammation. However, if you consume too much food during non-fasting periods, it can have the following negative effects:
Fasting is often used as a tool to eat fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss. But if you take on more calories than your body needs during the eating window, you will not lose the weight you are hoping for.
One benefit of intermittent fasting is improved insulin sensitivity, which can make weight loss easier.
Having said that, overeating during non-fasting periods can cause blood sugar spikes, leading to increased insulin production. This can reduce insulin sensitivity and impaired glucose metabolism, negating the positive effects of fasting on insulin sensitivity.
Overeating during non-fasting periods can lead to inflammation in the body, which can contribute to excess weight.
It is truly a cycle. Inflammation leads to weight gain and weight gain results in inflammation.
Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of the food you eat during the eating windows. To reap the benefits of fasting, you will still need to avoid overeating.
Furthermore, choosing healthy foods during non-fasting periods can help us maintain good health and support our fasting goals.
Eating Too Many High-Calorie Foods
Another common cause of why intermittent fasting is not working is eating a lot of high-calorie foods during non-fasting periods.
It’s possible that you’re not consuming a lot of food, but what you do eat is high in calories. This will result in overeating, as discussed above.
This applies to both healthy and unhealthy high-calorie foods.
But it’s much worse if the foods are high-calorie, processed foods that are low in nutrients—for example, fast foods, sugary drinks, and baked goods.
Our bodies do not respond to them the same way they do to whole foods.
You Are Not Eating Enough
There are a couple of things that happen when you don’t eat enough during the eating window.
First, instead of burning glucose or fat for energy, your body will start to break down muscle tissue to use instead. This leads to a loss of critical muscle mass, which can decrease your metabolism.
Also, the natural functions of the body are quite smart; when you don’t eat enough, your body starts saving nutrients to protect itself. So, instead of using calories, your body will keep them.
You Are Not Fasting Long Enough
To see results, you need to fast for at least 14 to 16 hours. This leaves you with an eating window of between 8 and 10 hours.
If you’re only fasting for 12 hours or fewer, your body is unlikely to have enough time to burn fat efficiently.
The popular 16:8 method works really well for most people. In this type of IF, you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8.
You Are Fasting Too Long
On the other hand, if you go overboard with your fasting window, then your body can enter a state of starvation.
This is when it starts to conserve calories instead of burning them. Fasting for too long can also lead to reduced energy levels, muscle breakdown, and even hormonal imbalances.
Lack of Consistency
To get the best results from intermittent fasting, you need to do it regularly. That means eating within a certain time window every day and fasting for the same amount of time each day.
If you don’t do this consistently, your body won’t be able to make changes like burning more fat or reducing inflammation.
Be consistent, and you’ll see improved results!
The Bottom Line
To be successful with intermittent fasting, in addition to maintaining a fasting window, you also need to pay attention to both the quality and quantity of food you eat.
This does not mean you have to cut out all of your favorite foods. Instead, focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods during the eating window while still having an occasional treat.
If you are mindful of what you eat and when, intermittent fasting can be an effective tool in achieving your health goals.
Keep in mind that finding the right type of IF and the right eating window for you is essential.
For example, let’s say you are following the 16:8 method, and you are eating from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. You could try changing the window from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. This schedule might work better with your lifestyle, and that means it becomes easier to be consistent.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.