We know that intermittent fasting has many health benefits and it doesn’t end with weight loss. However, I also know that many of you get started with intermittent fasting because you are looking to lose weight. That’s why I decided to share my top 7 tips to help you achieve the weight loss results you want and maintain them long term.
Top 7 Tips to Practice Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Many people turn to intermittent fasting for weight loss after having tried everything under the sun, from extreme calorie restriction to all the different diets like low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat. The advantage of intermittent fasting over any of these other diets is that it can help you get the weight loss results you want without having to worry about macros, calories, etc. However, not everyone succeeds with losing weight while intermittent fasting right away. The following 7 tips will give you the best chance possible.
1- Start With a Modified Fast
If you are new to intermittent fasting, a modified fast will help you not only kick start weight loss but the healing process that needs to take place before you lose weight. Many women don’t see weight loss results at first because their body is busy reducing inflammation and restoring optimal hormonal function. A modified fast similar to the Fasting Mimicking Diet by Dr. Valter Longo helps your body repair itself. The healing process is called autophagy and it means that your body is replacing old cells with new ones. Healing your body is critical to achieving sustainable weight loss results.
Benefits of a Modified Fast
Many women don’t experience any durable weight loss when fasting at first but notice that they lose their belly fat for example (that was my experience). Did you know that belly fat is a sign of insulin resistance? Improving your insulin sensitivity will help you get rid of that belly fat. Moreover, improved insulin sensitivity has many other health benefits, including better mood, better sleep, improved cognitive function, and decreased food cravings. A modified fast is one of the best ways to increase your insulin sensitivity fast before you get started with intermittent fasting.
Types of Modified Fasts
A modified fast is simply a form of severe short term calorie restriction. Weight loss diets would require you to restrict your calorie restriction by 20-30%, however, modified fasts require a restriction of around 40-50%.
- Fasting Mimicking Diet: Dr. Valter Longo is the research pioneer of modified fasting. He created the Fasting Mimicking Diet, which I explain in detail in this post. If you want to do the Fasting Mimicking Diet, you can purchase a kit with everything you need from Prolon.
- 5-Day Modified Fast: If you don’t want to purchase a Prolon Kit, you can attempt to create your own modified fasting menu plan. My blog includes lots of resources to help you do just that. Based on the Fasting Mimicking Diet, the 5-day modified fat allows you to eat around 800 calories a day and follows a specific macronutrient ratio. Check out the various menu plan options here.
- 10-Day Modified Fast: Another modified fast that I love and promote is a 10-day fast. It’s called the 10-Day Transformation. This modified fast is an excellent option for those who get “hangry” when going hungry. Being “hangry” is a sign that you lack metabolic flexibility, and you will improve that over time as you experiment with intermittent fasting and modified fasting. However, when you get started with your first modified fast, my 10-day menu plan will help you avoid some of the discomforts. Everyone I have helped through this fast said they didn’t feel hungry even though the meal plan allows for only around 1,000 calories.
Pick your modified fast and devote some time to do it. Just be aware of the fact that even though you will most likely lose some weight during your fast, you will regain at least some of the weight back. The purpose of the modified fast is not strictly weight loss. It is to kick start autophagy (the healing process necessary for weight loss).
2- Experiment With Cycling
The advantage of modified fasting is not only the autophagy that takes place with the severe calorie restriction, but also the fact that a short term calorie restriction keeps your body guessing through cycling through periods of feasting and famine. That is also what happens when you do intermittent fasting. There are many approaches to cycling, experiment to find what works for you:
- Cycling of Macronutrient Ratios: Most women will find that they get the best results when they eat a moderate amount of carbs most days (between 100 and 200 grams). However, many women thrive on a keto diet (less than 50 grams of carbs). For others, having some keto days and some moderate carb days is the best course of action. Read my post Step-By-Step Protocol to Fasting and Women’s Health to learn the best way to alternate keto and moderate carb days.
- Cycling of Intermittent Fasting Methods: The cycling of intermittent fasting methods can be approached from many different angles. Some intermittent fasting methods have it built-in. For example, alternate-day fasting, the eat-stop-eat method, and the 5:2 method. These methods involve fasting certain days and eating the same as usual the other days. You can also cycle your daily intermittent fasting method by changing the length of your eating window. For example, you could do OMAD (One Meal A Day) certain days and the 18:6 method the other days. When I started doing intermittent fasting, what worked best for me was the Warrior Diet (the 20:4 method) during the week and not fasting on the weekends.
Cycling is not a new concept. In fact, body builders and athletes have been using cycling to achieve their weight goal for a long time. It is often called carb cycling and it helps improve metabolic flexibility.
3- Find the Right Fasting Window for You
As you experiment with cycling, you may find that a specific fasting window works really well for you. If that’s the case, keep it up! Maintain the chosen intermittent fasting method as long as it works and you benefit from it. Then, if you notice that you hit a plateau, don’t panic! You can either try another intermittent fasting method or wait it out. I have been doing the Warrior Diet for months and sometimes, I stop losing weight. I keep doing it because I enjoy it, and then, the weight loss starts happening again 2 or 3 weeks later. Our bodies are beautiful and complex, who knows what’s going on when the weight loss stops happening. If you are still stuck at a plateau after a month, your best bet is another modified fast or reducing your eating window. You can also read my post Top 7 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight On OMAD for more ideas.
4- Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
Intermittent fasting on its own is enough for some women to achieve their weight loss goal, but it’s not necessarily optimal. Furthermore, many women don’t lose weight with intermittent fasting unless they make sure they focus on nutrient-dense foods during their eating window. If you use intermittent fasting as an excuse to fill up on processed foods and snacks the rest of the time, it should be pretty obvious that you are not doing yourself a favor.
Here are the foods you should be consuming (that’s not to say you can never eat dessert or processed foods, but be wise and listen to your body):
- Vegetables: Eat vegetables and more vegetables. I am a big fan of the Wahls protocol. In fact, I am going to get certified as a Wahls protocol practitioner. Dr. Terry Wahls advises that you eat 9 cups of veggies a day! Now, that’s a lot! I always break my fast with a huge salad to make sure I am good and hungry for all these veggies.
- Healthy fats: Avocado, olive oil, nut and seeds, fatty fish are excellent options. You can add them to your salads.
- Fruits: If you are keto, you will not eat fruit, but you may at least have some moderate carb days and enjoy your fruits on these days.
- Clean meats: Source your meat carefully and consume meat that is ethically raised. I enjoy getting my meat from Butcher Box (affiliate link).
- Legumes: Legumes are a controversial topic. Just like grains, many health experts recommend you avoid them. I have found that fasting has healed my body enough that I can eat legumes and gluten-free grains without any issue. Moreover, they are affordable and rich in fiber and many vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, iron, calcium, magnesium, and folate.
- Gluten-free grains: If your body can handle grains, go ahead and eat them. My favorite options are sprouted rice and gluten-free sourdough bread.
Another thing I love to do to ensure I flood my body with the vitamins and minerals it needs is to drink a green super-food shake every day. My favorite one is made from organic raw (dehydrated at 80 F) ingredients and it has totally changed my health. It’s called the Power Shake and this link will give you a 50$ discount if you want to check it out.
5- Don’t Rely Solely on the Scale to Measure Your Progress
The scale is helpful, but not always. It’s a good idea to take your measurements as well as before and after photos to check your progress. You may notice that sometimes your weight will go down steadily while your measurements don’t change much or the other way around. It’s a good idea to have multiple ways to track your progress,
6- Don’t Stress Over Calories, But Don’t Ignore Them Either
Calories have become such a touchy topic. In my video 7 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight on OMAD, I got some flack for suggesting women aim for around 1,200 calories a day. Apparently, this amount is too low. I am pretty convinced that it’s a good number to get a calorie deficit of around 500 calories a day, which would amount to a weight loss of about one pound a week. So, I asked other women how many calories a day they were eating to lose weight on a Facebook group I am a part of and so many people suggested that calories didn’t matter, and even said I should not count calories. I am going to break this to you: Calories Do matter, it’s just a fact. However, it doesn’t’ mean you need to count calories. I think that’s where the confusion comes from. In fact, intermittent fasting is the most effective weight loss approach that doesn’t require to count calories for weight loss. However, calories are still relevant and if you are not losing weight, you may need to track your calories for a week or two.
7- Make Intermittent Fasting a Lifestyle Choice
This last tip will help you with achieving and maintaining your weight loss. If you hate doing intermittent fasting and feel stressed out about it, it will impact your results. If you can’t wait to get back to eating whenever you want whatever you want, you will gain the weight back. It is important that you work on your mindset if you struggle with that. You can learn to enjoy intermittent fasting. It may take a few weeks of practice, but there are so many intermittent fasting methods for weight loss, you will find one that you can enjoy. The method that you enjoy most will evolve over time too. It’s important you stay flexible, but don’t assume that you will go back to unrestricted eating when you achieve your weight loss goal. This is a recipe for disaster! Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle. You will need to keep it up forever, but it’s worth it! I have never felt better even in my teen years!
Intermittent Fasting for Beginners for Weight Loss Video
Intermittent fasting for weight loss has many benefits aside from helping you achieve your weight loss results. It will help you feel amazing and energetic! It will give you a level of food freedom that you may have never experienced before. However, it may take some time to get used to it and chances are it will feel restrictive at first. You may feel hungry when you fast, you may want to give up when you don’t see the scale budge. Remember that it’s a journey. Each of us is so different and what works for you one month may not work another. Learn to appreciate what you are doing for yourself and your body. Practice intermittent fasting from a place of love and acceptance rather than frustration and self-loathing. There are so many ways to practice fasting to reach your health goals, you are sure to find the right one. Keep experimenting and listening to your body. You won’t regret it!