Thousands of people turn to dangerous weight loss methods daily because of the sheer frustration they face from traditional diets. Countless health blogs and magazines recommend that you cut calories to shed pounds. Typically these publications don’t offer much guidance, and some promote incredibly restrictive diets, and ban certain foods. So, if you find yourself trapped in a “yo-yo dieting” cycle where you lose weight, regain it, then diet again, IF might be for you.
IF isn’t a typical diet, so weight loss and intermittent fasting go hand-in-hand. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle transformation, so the foods you eat, and the way you eat them can help you permanently shed those stubborn pounds.
In this article, we dive deep into the average weight loss intermittent fasting creates as well as hear from an intermittent fasting influencer to learn more about her weight loss journey. Let’s get started!
What’s the Best Protocol for Weight Loss?
When it comes to weight loss, there is no “best” protocol; the best protocol is one you can stick with. You might want to keep your fasting window to a minimum. Or, you may prefer fasting for the majority of your day.
Common intermittent fasting protocols are:
- The 16:8 Method: Fast for 16 hours and eat all of your day’s food within eight hours, seven days a week.
- The 23:1 or One Meal a Day (OMAD) Diet: Fast for 23 hours and eat one meal a day in a one-hour window.
- The 5:2 or Fast Diet: Eat as you typically would for five days and limit daily calories to 500-600 for two days in order to “fast”.
- Eat, Stop, Eat: Similar to the Alternate Day Fast, but you choose to fast for an entire day once or twice per week and return to your routine eating habits the other days.
For an in-depth look at the various types of intermittent fasting protocols, check out this guide to learn more about which regimen might fit for you.
How Much Weight Can You Lose With Intermittent Fasting?
The amount of weight you can lose through intermittent fasting depends on your starting weight, medical conditions, type of food you eat on your non-fasting days, and other factors like your lifestyle, age, and activity level.
For example, if you choose to eat sugary desserts, drinks, and refined, ultra-processed carbs during your non-fasting days, a fast may not help you lose body fat.
However, if you pair intermittent fasting with healthy eating, you can experience healthy weight loss. A systematic review of 40 studies published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology found intermittent fasting was effective for weight loss, with a typical loss of seven to eleven pounds over ten weeks. If you weigh roughly 200 pounds, that equals a five percent loss of your total body weight in just ten weeks.
You might want a quick weight loss fix, but experts recommend you don’t try to speed up the process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommend you shoot for a safe rate of one to two pounds per week.
According to the CDC, if you lose weight gradually and safely, you’ll be more successful at keeping it off. So, the average weight loss per week with intermittent fasting is safe, effective, and long-term.
Losing Weight vs. Losing Fat: What’s the Difference?
When you watch the numbers on your scale drop, it can be exciting. But the scale doesn’t reflect if you’ve lost fat or weight in general. You may think the goal of your health journey is to lose weight, when what you really want is to shed body fat. The reason is simple: When you lose weight, you can lose a combination of muscle, fluids, fat, and even organ size.
If you want to increase your health and add muscle so your body feels and looks toned, losing muscle and fluids likely isn’t your goal. Instead, you’ll want to focus on fat loss, so any more than two pounds a week could undermine your goals.
According to research and Doctor Joel Seedman , when you shed upwards of five pounds per week, you’ll lose water weight and muscle along with your fat. Muscle and water loss can be dangerous, since it puts you at risk for dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, poorer fitness and mental performance, and puts you at risk for regaining the weight. To combat this, incorporate strength training into your workout routine. Cardio can promote fat burning, but you need resistance training to maintain your muscle mass. Also, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Basic strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups, can add muscle and improve your body fat composition.
Why You May Not See Results
Although there is research supporting the effectiveness of intermittent fasting, there are many reasons you may not see results. It may sound counter-intuitive, but you may not be eating enough calories during your fasting window. If you severely restrict calories, it can backfire. Sudden under-consumption can lead to metabolic adaptation, a process where your body becomes more efficient at using energy and storing fat which means you’ll burn less calories. The goal is not to count calories and cut them, it’s to eat minimally processed, nutritious foods during your eating window until you are full.
If you eat ultra-processed, energy-dense foods during your meals, that could be another reason why you’re not getting the results you desire. Fasting can help you burn fat, but it doesn’t mean that it’s magic! Remember to fill your plate with lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats.
Finally, make sure you drink plenty of water during your fasting window. Hydration helps you feel full and satiated, and it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. If you’re not hydrated when you approach your eating window, you may be prone to choose and eat ultra-processed foods.
Lessons From Krystal’s Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Journey
To give you a better idea of what intermittent fasting weight loss is like, Simple recently spoke with Krystal, a weight-loss influencer and intermittent fasting advocate. Krystal uses her platform of over 30,000 followers to encourage others to begin their path to wellness through the handle @KrystalLoses on Instagram.
Choose Your Best Protocol
Krystal began her intermittent fasting journey about a year ago, and she experimented with various protocols until she found the right protocol.
“I alternate what kind of fasting I do. Sometimes I stick with a traditional 16:8 fasting period, other times I will do a longer time frame,” she says. “My longest fast was five days.”
Though five days might seem a bit overwhelming to a beginner, Krystal urges readers to find what’s best for them. For her journey, Krystal admits, “I read a lot about the health benefits of fasting, plus with following a ketogenic diet fasting came naturally as my hunger levels decreased.”
How to Stay Focused
With so many resources pertaining to intermittent fasting, not all the information you find online can be trusted. Poorly informed or false sources can give IF a bad rep, which Krystal felt firsthand.
“The biggest challenge is probably other people’s perceptions of fasting and overcoming the idea that not eating is dangerous or an eating disorder,” said Krystal. “I’ve found that having information about why I do what I do helps me stay focused.”
Stay Healthy With Intermittent Fasting
What about the misconception that intermittent fasting isn’t great for your health? “I had my annual checkup a couple of months ago and did blood work,” explains Krystal. “I’m in perfect health!”
Krystal shares her progress with her Instagram followers, who leave encouraging comments such as “Amazing!!!” “You’re so inspiring!” and “#GOALS!” And she’s sure to take them on every aspect of her journey, including sharing breaking her fasts, easy ketogenic recipes, and “workout fasts” which are workouts she completes while fasting.
Krystal pins all information relevant to her fasts, current eating plan, and workout routines to her Instagram Story Highlights so her followers can easily find them. And Krystal wouldn’t leave intermittent fasting beginners without a bit of advice:
“Start slow! Build up to longer fasts. Fasting is a muscle you have to exercise and grow,” she encourages. “Supplement electrolytes while fasting! It will make you feel so much better. Drink plenty of water. Challenge yourself, but stop when your body is ready!”
To learn more about how intermittent fasting works for weight loss, study the other chapters of our Weight Loss Guide and to track your results effectively try our Intermittent Fasting App. We have worked hard to make the process of weight loss easier and support our users on their way to the bodies of their dreams.