Intermittent Fasting Mistakes That Make You Gain Weight

Intermittent fasting has become an increasingly popular way to lose weight and improve health. By cycling between periods of fasting and eating, it can help burn fat, maintain metabolism, reduce insulin resistance, preserve muscle mass and increase growth hormone. However, there are some common mistakes that can sabotage your intermittent fasting plan and cause weight gain instead of loss. Here are 15 intermittent fasting mistakes to avoid if you want to successfully lose fat.

Eating Too Many Carbs

Consuming too many carbs is one of the biggest reasons people struggle to lose weight with intermittent fasting. Carbs spike blood sugar and insulin, which signals your body to store fat instead of burning it. Some people can handle more carbs than others, but limiting carbs is key for most to see results.

Stick to low-carb vegetables, high-fiber fruits and healthy fats during your eating window. Avoid sugar, refined grains and starchy foods.

Too Much Protein

Protein is important on a fasting diet, but too much can also stimulate insulin and block fat burning. Moderate your protein intake to 0.8-1 gram per pound of ideal body weight. Focus on high quality sources like grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, pasture-raised eggs and bone broth. Avoid going overboard on protein powders and supplements.

Overeating Fats

Fat is satiating and fuels ketosis during the fast, but you can still gain weight by eating too many calories from fat. Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocado, fatty fish and grass-fed meat provide healthy fats. But limit high-calorie foods like cheese, cream and fatty cuts of meat. Your body won’t burn its own fat if you consistently eat more than you need.

Too Many Calories Overall

At the end of the day, intermittent fasting still comes down to calories in versus calories out. It’s possible to overeat even within a restricted eating window. Track your calories occasionally to get an idea of appropriate portion sizes. Focus on nutritious whole foods so you get plenty of nutrients without excess calories.

Too Few Calories

On the flip side, chronically undereating can slow your metabolic rate and cause your body to conserve energy. Make sure you eat enough within your window to fuel your activities and metabolism. Get plenty of filling fats, proteins and vegetables. Listen to your hunger cues and avoid overly restrictive low-calorie diets.

Restricting Calories, Not Meals

Intermittent fasting limits when you eat, not how much you eat. This signals to your body that food is plentiful even when eating less frequently. In contrast, small frequent meals with calorie restriction tell your body food is scarce, slowing metabolism. So eat larger satisfying meals within your window without worrying about calories.

Not Drinking Enough Water

Staying hydrated is crucial on a fast, both for health reasons and to prevent false hunger. Aim for at least 2-3 liters of water daily. Add mineral-rich Himalayan or Celtic sea salt to improve hydration at the cellular level. Herbal tea and bone broth can also help replenish electrolytes during a fast.

Letting Yourself Get Too Hungry

Allowing hunger to reach ravenous levels can cause overeating and poor food choices when you finally do eat, sabotaging your progress. Gradually work up to longer fasting periods so your body can adapt. Plan nourishing meals before you get overly hungry. Consistency over the long-term leads to better compliance and results.

Not Exercising

Exercise provides enormous health benefits that can enhance fasting outcomes. Walking, lifting weights and high intensity interval training are great options. Ideally exercise while fasted to maximize fat burning, then eat afterward. Just keep workouts brief and intense to limit cortisol and muscle breakdown.

High Stress Levels

Chronic stress raises cortisol, which promotes insulin resistance, muscle loss and stubborn belly fat. Prioritize rest, relaxation, sleep and stress management. Yoga, meditation and nature time help lower cortisol for better fasting results. Optimize sleep quantity and quality as much as possible.

Failing to Change Things Up

Your body adapts to any routine over time. Change your fasting and exercise schedule occasionally to prevent plateaus. Vary the length and frequency of fasts, swap different intermittent fasting protocols and play with your eating window. Also rotate the types and amounts of foods you eat for continued success.

Breaking a Fast Improperly

Some people claim that you must avoid combining carbs and fat when breaking a fast due to increased insulin sensitivity. The theory is that after fasting for an extended period of time, your body becomes extra sensitive to insulin. Eating carbs and fat together after a fast may trigger excessive insulin release and fat storage.

However, this effect is likely exaggerated. Unless you have been fasting for several days or longer, your body probably won’t react excessively to some carbs and fat together. This is because your insulin sensitivity is heightened compared to your previous state, but not to an extreme level. Your body is smart and will only produce enough insulin to handle the meal you eat based on your current insulin sensitivity.

That being said, you still want to break your fast gradually and avoid carb-heavy, processed junk foods. Start with bone broth, avocado or nut butter, then slowly work your way up to larger meals with a healthy mix of nutrients. Having a little protein, fat and veggies together is unlikely to sabotage your insulin sensitivity after a shorter term fast.

Relying on Artificial Sweeteners

Avoid sucralose, aspartame and other unhealthy artificial sweeteners that can disrupt gut health and metabolism. But natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit likely won’t spike insulin much due to their minimal carbs and calories. Monitor your response with a glucose meter to see if they work for you.

The best way to understand how your unique body responds is to experiment and track your blood sugar. Use a glucose meter to check your levels before and after breaking a fast. As long as you don’t become hypoglycemic or experience an enormous blood sugar crash, combining macronutrients is probably fine for you. Just don’t go overboard on the carbs.

Remember that metabolic flexibility is the goal, where your body can easily switch between burning carbs and fats for fuel. An all-or-nothing approach to carbs can backfire. Find the sweet spot for your body where you can enjoy a variety of healthy foods in moderation without triggering excessive insulin responses. Be patient as your metabolism heals and your insulin sensitivity improves over time through intermittent fasting.

Not Adjusting Your Approach

If you’ve stopped losing weight, reassess your diet and fasting routine. Track your calories, carbs and protein for a few days. Experiment with longer, more frequent fasts. Cut back on fatty coffee drinks and caloric beverages. Boost exercise intensity. Get more sleep and reduce stress. Be prepared to make changes to get back on track!

The key is finding a sustainable intermittent fasting routine that fits your lifestyle and helps you consistently burn fat, maintain muscle mass and improve metabolic health over the long term. Be patient through plateaus and tweak your approach until you find what works best for you. With commitment and consistency, intermittent fasting can be a safe and effective tool for lasting weight loss and wellness.

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