Intermittent fasting is an excellent way to encourage health and maintain a healthy body weight. However, some people find it difficult because they make some common mistakes. If you are intermittent fasting and still gaining weight, you should read this article. We will be discussing the common errors that are made during intermittent fasting. This will benefit you because then you will be aware of the wrong methods of intermittent fasting. Then you will succeed in losing weight. Let’s discuss those mistakes so you can fix your method and start getting the results you want from intermittent fasting.
The first issue that makes many people gain weight is stress. Stress can come in many forms. Some of these forms are:
- Excessive Exercise
- Financial Stress
- Family Stress
- Too Little Sleep
Excessive exercise causes your body to be physically stressed. This is because overexercising leads to a hormonal imbalance. These imbalances include testosterone and cortisol. This will encourage overeating and your body begins to burn muscle instead of fat. Then your body will gain fat.
Financial stress is a common stressor as well. In fact, Northwestern Mutual did a study that found that money was the dominant source of stress for 44% of Americans.(1) Additionally, American Psychological Association has data that supports the fact that money is the number one stressor for Americans. (2)
Family stress is also on the list of stressors that can cause you to gain weight. Some examples of family stress are:
- The Death of a Loved One
- Loss of a Job
- Increase in Financial Obligations
- Getting Married
- Moving to a New Home
- Chronic Illness or Injury
- Emotional Problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, and low self-esteem are examples)
- Taking Care of an Elderly or Sick Family Member
- Traumatic Events Against You or a Loved One (examples include natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence)
Too little sleep is a common stressor as well. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more cortisol. This is an issue because cortisol is a stress hormone. When you don’t get enough sleep it causes your body to decrease the production of human growth hormone as well.
All of these stressors cause your body to release cortisol. It exhausts your adrenals as well. This causes most people to turn to caffeine in order to combat this effect. However, caffeine only drains the adrenals even more.
So what do you do instead? The following will help reduce your stress:
- Take B Vitamins
- Mindful Meditation
- Adaptive Herbs
Taking B vitamins reduces your stress level. A randomized clinical study in Australia had results proving this theory to be correct. (3) Dietary supplementation with vitamin B is a sustainable intervention for stress. This is because vitamin B is what regulates how much cortisol goes into our bloodstream. Excessive stress causes our bodies to use more vitamin B than it normally does. Therefore, our level of vitamin B becomes depleted in our bodies. That allows excess cortisol to be stored in your body. The result of this is an insufficient level of vitamin B in our bloodstream. When we don’t have enough vitamin B in our bodies we experience high blood pressure, weight gain, and other side effects. (3) Basically this means that we need to increase our level of vitamin B to decrease stress in our bodies.
Mindful meditation is another way to reduce your stress level. For those who are not familiar with this term, the practice of mindful meditation involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being, which decreases stress.(4)
Adaptive Herbs are a helpful way to decrease stress as well. The best adaptive herbs that will help you overcome stress are:
- Rhodiola rosea
- Holy Basil
Ashwagandha is known for supporting our nervous and endocrine systems. It also promotes a natural sleep cycle. Ashwagandha helps the body to overcome stressful conditions. In addition, it helps to nourish and restore health. This is because it supports normal mood, energy levels, and immune function. This results in you staying centered in your life.(5)
Rhodiola rosea supports our adrenal glands and encourages a healthy response to stress.(6) This is helpful in how we handle our stress as well.
Eleuthero also helps with relieving your stress levels and elevating your mood.(7)
Schisandra helps to decrease your cortisol levels in the body. It is effective in controlling serotonin and adrenaline as well. In addition, it fights adrenal fatigue. (8)
Holy basil supports how well you respond to stress. It nourishes your mind and elevates your spirit. In addition, it helps to support your adrenal health.(9)
Now that we’ve discussed common stressors and the best ways to overcome stress, we will discuss how breaking a fast interferes with weight loss.
Breaking Your Fast
Breaking your fast is another common mistake many make while intermittent fasting. This topic is referring to breaking your fast in an inefficient way. Many people make it through the fasting period only to break their fast with the wrong foods. Examples of the wrong foods are:
- High Carbohydrate Foods
- High Sugar Foods
- Processed Foods
The reason that the type of food you eat after you fast matters is because of the effect it has on your body. When you eat the wrong foods, you are setting up your body for metabolic instability. When your body is metabolically unstable, you gain weight because your metabolism is altered.
In addition, these foods cause insulin levels to increase. When insulin levels are high, it signals your body to store fat. This leads to weight gain as well.(11)
So now you are probably wondering what you should eat after a fast. The best meal to eat after your fast is a big salad with a lot of greens and protein. Protein is important because it will reduce your appetite by filling you up. (11) In fact, studies suggest that consuming around 30% of a meal’s calories from protein can significantly reduce your appetite.(12)
Now we will move on to how fasting too much can impair your ability to lose weight.
Too Much Fasting
When you fast too much, you restrict your calories significantly. This will cause you to enter a state that damages your metabolism. When you damage your metabolism, you will gain weight.
Instead of restricting your calories too much, you should add an exercise routine. Exercising will increase your metabolism. Then you should slowly increase your calories.
Now let’s discuss how you can break your fast without realizing it.
Unknowingly Breaking Your Fast
You can unknowingly break your fast by consuming calories that you don’t realize you are consuming. The most common ways people do this is:
- Natural Sweeteners
Many people think that they can add products to their coffee without breaking their fast. However, if you add things to your coffee that have calories, you are breaking your fast. The best way to overcome this is to either drink black coffee or only drink water during your fasting hours. You should also note that people who fast are more likely to be deficient in minerals like iron, calcium and vitamin B.(13) Supplements are essential if you are fasting. If your supplement states that you must take it with food, then your should wait until about 20 minutes before you break the fast to take the supplement.
Now let’s discuss how you can plateau during intermittent fasting.
Hitting a Plateau
When you hit a plateau, it means your weight is not going down anymore. This happens because your overall body mass is the primary determiner of your resting metabolic rate, or the number of calories you burn per day. Therefore, when your body weight drops so will your metabolic rate.(14) This means you have to keep cutting more calories to continue seeing results. This is pretty difficult to do when you are fasting.
The best ways to combat this are:
- Don’t Fast Every Day
- Change Up Your Fast
These are the best ways to overcome a plateau because you need to create metabolic confusion. The goal of metabolic confusion is to prevent your metabolism from getting comfortable enough to adapt. (14) For example, try fasting 16 hours and eating during an 8 hour window one day. Then the next day, switch to one meal a day. The key is confusing your body so that you still see results.
Next we will discuss how dehydration can cause you to gain weight.
Dehydration is when the human body does not get enough water. The amount of water entering the body should be greater, compared to the amount of water leaving the body. Dehydration can occur at certain levels from mild to severe dehydration. Water helps your body burn calories. When you are dehydrated, your metabolism will slow down. Studies have proven that drinking 2 cups of water before a meal, increases your metabolism by 30 percent.(10)
This is by far the most common mistake people make during fasting. Dehydration causes you to:
- Mistake Being Thirsty for Being Hungry
- Have Fluid Retention
When you mistake being thirsty for being hungry, you consume too many calories. When you are dehydrated your body tries to fix it by retaining water. Both of these issues will make you gain weight. (10)
There are a lot of benefits to cleansing your body by drinking water.(10) However, you will not see the best results if you are not drinking enough water. Your body needs an adequate water supply to get rid of toxins and perform ideally. A good rule to follow is that you should consume half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 ounces of water per day.
Now hopefully you have learned about the mistakes that make you gain weight while intermittent fasting. Remember these common mistakes so that you can avoid them. Then you can get the results that you want from intermittent fasting. Good luck!