Burnout and a weight loss plateau crept up on me towards the end of my second year fasting. It was winter and I was practicing OMAD (eating one meal a day).
Initially, it was a great success but as time went on I started to feel weak, cold, and cranky. I knew that I had to make a change but I was fixated on fasting. I didn’t want to give up the practice.
So instead I decided to increase my daily caloric intake. After a week I started to feel better. But it took almost a month for me to get back to normal.
From that experience, I learned that even though I increased my calories I still didn’t gain weight.
My body needed that extra energy.
So if 16/8 or any other fasting protocol isn’t working it may be time to look into other options.
Breaks From Fasting Can Be Beneficial
When I first started fasting I took to it like a duck in water. I fell in love with the practice. And knew that I didn’t want to let it go.
But everyone is different. I didn’t stop fasting but instead increased calories during my eating window.
This may not be the best option for you.
You may need a break from fasting. Temporary breaks can help you bust through a weight loss plateau.
Yes, this may seem counterintuitive but if you go too far into a caloric deficit your body will start to hold on to fat stores.
A boost in healthy calories gives you more energy. It can rev up your metabolism.
You won’t gain weight. Instead, you’ll have more energy for exercise which will help you maintain lost weight.
This is especially helpful if you’re active and do 20–23 hours fasts frequently.
Temporary breaks allow you to avoid long breaks when weight gain is much more likely. Weight gain during temporary breaks is almost null as long as you have a healthy diet and stay active.
Long-Term Caloric Restriction Is Also an Option
If fasting is no longer working consider adopting a caloric restriction protocol.
The pros of caloric restriction include:
- Very low risk of developing heart disease and diabetes
- Sustained weight loss maintenance (like traditional IF)
- The decrease in inflammation (inflammation is the root cause of many common diseases)
- Possible extension of lifespan (more studies are needed for definitive analysis)
Caloric restriction is not a fasting protocol. It allows you to eat healthy meals throughout the day.
Starvation and lack of micronutrients is not a proper practice of caloric restriction.
But there are cons of caloric restriction.
Some of the cons include:
- Calorie counting is required especially in the beginning to get a solid understanding of personal goals and consumption.
- Calorie counting can cause anxiety and disordered eating.
- Reduction in sexual libido can happen
- Intolerance to cold environments (IF also can cause this)
- Some studies showed that caloric restriction in mice actually shortened their lifespan
If you do decide to experiment with a caloric restriction protocol it’s best to track your calories for 60 days or longer.
Use an app like MyFitnessPal to get a general idea of how many calories you need to consume without going under your daily limit.
Vary your intake based on your activity level for each day.
Analyze your weekly consumption.
This prevents anxiety if you eat more calories for a day or two each week. A weekly average will give you a more accurate picture of your current progress.
A Bad Diet or Binge Eating May Also Call for a Break From Fasting
A bad diet or binge eating during your eating window will derail your efforts regardless if you stop fasting or not.
A break is imperative. You need time to heal from deep-seated emotional issues which creates disordered eating.
Before I started fasting I worked on consuming a healthy diet. I also became aware that I suffered from binge eating disorder (BED).
You can heal from BED by:
- Seeing a therapist that specializes in emotional eating
- Personal/spiritual growth practices
- Food journaling
- Healing from past traumatic experiences/relationships
These are just a few ways to overcome binge eating. You don’t have to suffer from disordered eating for the rest of your life.
Sometimes fasting can help with binge eating.
Fasting helps prevent snacking and mindless eating. You become more aware of your daily eating patterns.
But this varies from person to person.
We’re all different and we respond to fasting in different ways.
There Are Plenty of Fasting Protocols to Experiment With
Plateaus in any long-term goal are frustrating. But fortunately, if you’re experiencing stagnation with your current protocol you have other options.
These options include:
- 5:2 fasting– This protocol allows you to eat normally 5 days a week and have 2 days of consuming 500 calories or less. The calories consumed should be healthy and low in carbs.
- Alternate day fasting– This protocol is rather intense. Basically, you eat every other day. If you don’t have many social events alternate day fasting may work in your favor. Your weekly caloric intake will also be low. I recommend using this method for brief periods of time.
- OMAD (one meal a day) fasting- This style of fasting is my personal favorite. You fast for 20–23 hours a day and break your fast with a healthy meal. If you’re plateaued with 16:8 OMAD is the best way to jump-start your body. Keep in mind at the beginning of doing OMAD, it’s best to do it a few times a week. Do 16:8 the rest of the time. You’ll still see positive results.
- The fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)– This is a 5-day protocol geared towards more advanced fasters. This type of fasting allows you to eat 500 healthy calories a day. Most do this protocol a few times a year to reap the maximum benefits.
- Keto fasting– Many report positive results following the keto diet in conjunction with the 16:8 way of fasting. Most keto fasters drink bulletproof coffee which has ghee or coconut oil in it. This allows them to have some calories and it slows down the release of caffeine because of the oils.
As you can see there are many ways to manage facilitate weight loss. Even more than what I listed above.
Play around with different fasting protocols. There’s no reason why you should stop seeing results.
Take breaks from fasting when necessary.
You have the choice to keep your lost weight off for good. All you have to do is open your mind.
You’ll be successful in your weight loss journey for years to come.
Here’s a Guide That’ll Help You With Hunger As You Adjust Your Fasting Protocol
Download the Stop Hunger Guide. Implement the 5 tips suggested. You’ll see a positive change in a short period of time.