It’s no secret that most people who get started with intermittent fasting are looking to lose body fat. Yes, intermittent fasting is incredibly beneficial for your health and you should keep practicing it for health reasons (besides, it will help ensure you don’t regain the weight you lost) but, hey, I understand! Losing weight can be hard and weight loss success stories using intermittent fasting abound! You are curious, you want to know if you could be one of them. In this post, I give you my simplest tips to lose body fat fasting.
How to Lose Body Fat Fasting
Intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding is one of the best ways to lose body fat. Why? Because it naturally decreases your calorie intake, reduces your food cravings, and makes you feel amazing! However, it’s not foolproof and it’s common to hear from people who “have tried it and it didn’t work.” In fact, that was me in my thirties. I have learned a few things since then, so here we go.
1. Start With a Modified Fast or the Keto Diet
If you have read any of my previous posts, you know that I am a big proponent of modified fasting. Healing your body and switching from glucose metabolism to ketone metabolism for at least a short while will be extremely helpful as you get started with intermittent fasting.
Modified fasting, as I call it, is based on the Fasting Mimicking Diet by Dr. Valter Longo. Dr. Valter Long has studied the impact of calorie restriction for decades, and he found that a temporary severe calorie restriction could offer benefits comparable to a complete water fast. You may have heard about the health benefits of prolonged water fasts. They are extremely healing. The problem is, not many of us are able to go on a prolonged water fast.
Besides, many of us will suffer severe detoxification symptoms when going on a prolonged water fast. That’s where modified fasting comes in. Not only will it offer the same benefits as a complete water fast, but it may even surpass water fasting. We can assume that the reason for these incredible results is that your body still has some nutrient-dense foods available to use for healing during the fasting period. Read my post Modified Fasting: How You Can Benefit From Fasting Without Giving Up Food to learn more.
The Keto Diet
The keto diet is another great option, particularly if you despise going hungry. There is no doubt that you will feel hungry during a modified fast. It may feel really difficult. The keto diet is also a way to mimic fasting. You eat very few carbs and trick your body into producing ketones by using your fat stores. What I would recommend is that you do a modified fast or a 7-14 days keto cycle before getting started with intermittent fasting. Check out my 7-day keto meal plan if that’s the option you want to try.
2. Make Sure Your Fasting Window Is Long Enough
How do you know if your fasting window is long enough? You have to make sure your body switches from using glucose for energy to making ketones. You will learn to know just by the way you feel. You will notice how hunger doesn’t bother you the same way and you feel more energetic. You can also purchase a ketone monitor when you get started. Sometimes, seeing the numbers go up on a screen can be motivating. Mine is a Keto Mojo. If you would like to purchase it, my affiliate link will give you a 15 percent discount.
Generally speaking, I find it is necessary to fast for at least 18 hours to stay in ketosis long enough to feel the benefits. To lose fat fasting, I recommend a 20-hour fasting window at a minimum.
3. Nourish Your Body With Nutrient-Dense Foods During Your Eating Window
Whether your goal is to lose body fat fasting or improve your overall health, nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods should always be a top priority. Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients while relatively low in calories. Good examples of nutrient-dense foods are leafy greens (off the chart nutrient-dense), vegetables, fruits, herbs (herbs are actually surprisingly nutrient-dense), and nuts and seeds. I go more into details about how we can measure the nutrient density of foods in my post What to Eat to Break a Fast, but it is helpful to know that there is something called the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) for that purpose. I used the ANDI scores to create this graphic, which gives you a nice visual of the most nutrient-dense foods. Oh! And don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
4. Don’t Stuff Yourself During Your Eating Window
You may find yourself ravenous by the end of the fasting window. It may be tempting to stuff yourself, but try to avoid doing that. It’s a good idea to prepare something wholesome that will take the edge off your hunger as you are approaching the end of your fasting window. For example, make yourself some cooked vegetables, a salad, or a superfood shake. You may enjoy my post 15 Best Foods to Break a Fast for more inspiration. Again, drinking plenty of water will also help.
5. Choose the Right Intermittent Fasting Method
Just remember, there is no black and white answer. For example, you may be able to lose weight on OMAD for a few months and realize it’s no longer working. When you see a method is not working, you have two options:
- Wait it out. Sometimes your body needs more time. It’s perfectly natural to go through periods of slow or non-existent weight loss as you are losing weight.
- Try another method. Again, I want to remind you that you need to make sure you fast long enough to achieve ketosis. If you are in ketosis for a few hours each day and still not losing weight for more than a month, try something else. Instead of OMAD, try Alternate Day Fasting. Instead of the Warrior Diet, go for the 5:2 Method. Choosing the right intermittent fasting method will require some experimenting and the right method may change over time.
Let me just give you a quick overview of the main intermittent fasting methods I find most effective.
The Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet (or the 20:4) method is my absolute favorite. Why do I love it so much? First, it gives you a fast long enough to experience the benefits of ketosis long enough. Also, you get to eat for a period that feels long enough to not feel too deprived. Four hours is ample time to nourish your body, enjoy life and meals with family and friends.
The Eat Stop Eat Method
The Eat Stop East method involves fasting for 24 hours twice a week. What I like about the Eat Stop Eat method is that it’s not something you need to do every day. That may be very freeing for many people. The fast is long enough to experience not only the benefits of ketosis but also for your body to start regenerating some of your intestinal cells. Now that I am no longer trying to lose fat fasting, I allow myself a longer eating window most days, but I like to fast for 24 hours once a week. It doesn’t seem too difficult, particularly when you are out and about. You eat dinner, say at 6 pm. The next day, you get to eat at 6:30 pm or so (depending on when you finished your meal the previous night). Pretty doable!
The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method was my favorite method when I started experimenting with intermittent fasting. It is based on the same concept as modified fasting. You are severely restricting your calories for 36 hours twice a week. So, let’s say you pick Monday as one of your calorie-restricted days. You will have dinner on Sunday, fast during the evening and overnight. The next day, you will eat only 500 calories (about 25% of your regular calorie intake) and fast overnight. Back to normal on Tuesday. Again, it’s nice to not have to worry about fasting every day, particularly when you are getting started. Being able to consume some foods also helps take the edge off your hunger. To learn more about why the 5:2 method works well for women and to get some meal ideas, read my post The 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Method for Women.
6. Make Sure Your Expectations Are Realistic
Losing weight is not easy, I won’t lie to you! For the average woman, it will take months of experimenting, learning, and growing to achieve some weight loss. I recommend you take your time and don’t jump into crash diets because I want you to lose weight in a sustainable manner. To lose 1 lb a week, you need a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day. That’s more than you think, believe me!
Fortunately, to lose body fat fasting, you don’t necessarily need to count calories. The calorie deficit will most likely come naturally. However, I wouldn’t start with the expectation to lose 10 lbs within a month. One pound a week is a more realistic goal. Just so you know, it took me a year to lose 20 lbs! To get a better grasp of what it takes to lose weight and how to set realistic expectations, read my post How Long Does It Take to Lose 20 lbs?
7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
This may seem like an odd recommendation, but getting enough good quality sleep is very important when it comes to weight loss and everything else that relates to your health. Not only will you crave food when you don’t sleep well, but also there is a connection between the quality of your sleep and your insulin response.
Moreover, poor sleep itself can increase cortisol production. Cortisol has many functions, including:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Balancing blood sugar
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving the wake-sleep cycle
However, as you may know, too much cortisol can contribute to weight gain as your cells become insulin resistant.
Exercise has to be one of the most common recommendations when it comes to weight loss. For good reasons, exercise reduces stress (cortisol, right?), improves your sleep, burns calories, and improves your metabolism. Moreover, strength training will help you gain muscle mass, which will burn fat, improve your self-confidence, and look your best no matter what your weight is.
9. Be Gentle With Yourself
You don’t have to jump right into OMAD (One Meal a Day)! If you are that all or nothing kind of person, go ahead! However, for many of us, a slower more gradual approach is best. I used to love having breakfast, so when I got started, I preferred the Eat-Stop-Eat Method because it allowed me to have my three meals most days. It also allowed me to get used to restricting my eating in a way I could handle.
Then, I discovered the Warrior Diet was very doable for me. I enjoyed the way I was feeling during my fasting window and the way I could eat to satisfy my hunger when I was done fasting. Even then, I would take the weekends off. Taking the weekends off allowed me to have pancakes for breakfast and feel like I could treat myself. Sometimes, you need to allow yourself some perks to keep going. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to adapt to your new lifestyle.
It’s a Long Term Commitment
Intermittent fasting is a long term commitment. Don’t expect to lose 20 lbs within 3 months and start eating whenever you want again. You will need to keep up some form of fasting if you want to maintain your weight loss. It doesn’t mean you should feel guilty if you break your fast when you were not supposed to. Remember that new habits take time to adopt. You are making progress every. Single. Day.
10. Try Different Eating Styles
Apart from picking the right intermittent fasting method, you may find that your body responds differently depending on the type of fuel you are giving it when you are eating. Some will feel better and lose more body fat on the keto diet. Others will thrive with a higher carb proportion. I find that this changes over the seasons for me. During springtime, I crave more carbs. In the Fall, I love a healthy fat-rich keto-style diet. To lose body fat fasting, you will most likely notice that your weight loss is faster if you combine the keto diet with intermittent fasting. If that’s the case and you feel good, keep it up! If you are not happy with the keto diet and it’s not working for you, try something else! Nobody should tell you how to fuel your own body.
11. Don’t Give Up
There is only one way to fail on your weight loss journey and that’s giving up! Keep up the good work, try different things, be patient with yourself. You will get there.