How Intermittent Fasting Can Make or Break Your Weight Loss Plateau

Woman looking at abs

Intermittent fasting has its good and bad points for particular goals

Intermittent fasting is one of those practices that can affect people differently. We do know that the window of fasting can be anywhere from 10,12, 16 or 20 hours. You can fast during the day or evening — depending on your lifestyle and what’s suitable. Men and women respond differently, and more restrictive fasting practices can be harmful to women. A smaller fasting window for women can produce an anti-stress effect. Fasting may also be more appropriate for overweight individuals, rather than athletes, lean or healthy people. Let’s look at some pros and cons of intermittent fasting to see if it will assist with your weight loss plateau. 

Fasting at its worse

We are creating an imbalance of your hormones, leading to overeating and weight gain.

Hormones regulate hunger, appetite and satisfaction after we’ve eaten. Both insulin and leptin decrease hunger — sending messages to the brain that we are full and turning off the ‘eat’ button. Certain gut hormones produce a short term feeling of satisfaction, inhibiting the activity of hormones that turn to eat on. Ghrelin, NPY and Orexins stimulate the appetite and promote fat storage, lowering energy expenditure while making us feel tired and lazy. One side effect of fasting is that the hormones above get out of balance, becoming unresponsive to cues that tell us we’re full and should stop eating. For example, if cells become insensitive to leptin or insulin, your brain won’t register satisfaction, and hunger will remain elevated. As suspected, this could lead to weight gain and many problems ahead if you decide to go back to eating regularly. One way to combat this problem is by moderating your feeding period in a 10–12 hours window, as this will not suppress the hunger hormones mentioned above. The timeframe will give you a delicate balance of fasting and feasting while allowing you to lead a semi-normal life!

Can cause stress & insomnia

Going without food for extended periods can increase cortisol via the flight or fight response. When you are overweight, this could be a good thing, as it may improve the body’s ability to use stored fat as energy. On the other side of the spectrum, those already experiencing stress daily, skipping meals and erratic eating patterns can further add to the stress levels. The side effects could follow with cravings for sugar and carbs. Another factor to consider is that combining fasting with cortisol can produce obsessive thoughts about food, raising anxiety and heightening cortisol even more, causing insomnia. Cortisol incites wakefulness which triggers the inability to fall asleep. 

Fasting at its best

Remarkable for fat loss

When done correctly, it consistently produces a fat loss.It’s a lot easier and more beneficial than conventional calorie-cutting diets that we’ve become accustomed to over the years. Many people opt to use fasting on alternate days, between regular food consumption days, even throwing in 500 calorie days. There is no right or wrong here, just variety to break up the monotony of restrictive eating and predictable plans. 

Fat burning with metabolism flexibility

Our bodies begin to burn stored body fat for energy faster and easier when fasting. Metabolic flexibility may be the missing link in fat loss programs, as it reduces hunger food cravings while improving your metabolism and brain function. Not only does fasting make fat loss a lot more achievable, but you also have the added benefit of preventing the loss of lean muscle mass that often occurs with low-calorie diets. Alternate fasting may be more helpful in maintaining lean muscle mass than any other calorie-restricted diet. Time-restricted eating could be more beneficial for a more muscular individual or athletes. Limiting your daily food intake towards a fixed time window will increase fat burning and promote optimal body composition. 

Key Take Away

We can gather that intermittent fasting will allow you to experience that weight loss breakthrough you’ve always wanted. Start with small steps, then progress to other protocols, such as low-calorie days, and then slot in some intermittent fasting with days when you can eat normally. Fasting allows for greater flexibility and peace of mind. 

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