Intermittent Fasting (IF) benefits are backed by science and endorsed by celebrities and nutritionists. The most alluring IF benefit is weight loss, which is the primary reason most people practice intermittent fasting.
You might have been practicing IF for long and reaping its weight loss benefits. But eventually, your weight loss progress comes to a halt, despite making no changes in your IF regimen.
It is pretty demotivating, but you are not alone. IF weight loss plateau is experienced by many. How do we break through the weight loss plateau? This article has all the answers.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a diet regimen where you alternate between fasting and eating periods in a 24-hour cycle. It is a way of scheduling your meals so that you have periods during the day when you consume little to no calories.
Some of the most popular intermittent fasting schedules are the 16/8 plan (16 hours of fasting and an eight-hour feeding window), the 5:2 plan (normal eating for five days of the week and eating 500-600 calories per day for the remaining two days), and the alternate day fasting plan, where you alternate between days of eating normally and calorie restriction.
What is Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Plateau?
Experts think you will come across a weight loss plateau, irrespective of your diet. You will lose 5-10% of your weight during intermittent fasting in the first weeks. After this period, your body will hit a weight loss plateau, where your body resets. A weight loss plateau is a period when you do not lose weight.
You might get frustrated with intermittent fasting during this period, but remember that the plateau is crucial for your body. You should not quit intermittent fasting just because you have reached a weight loss plateau.
Causes For Weight Loss Plateau During Intermittent Fasting
During the initial intermittent fasting weeks, your body sheds water weight, leading to a quick weight loss. However, at a later stage, the body changes its metabolism to use fat as an energy source, and weight loss continues .
During this phase, your body will reach a weight loss plateau. It does not imply that intermittent fasting has stopped working. It indicates that your body needs time to reset and readjust. Your body favors homeostasis (a process where the body is stable) and has a natural preset point for your body weight .
According to experts, there is a 5-10% decrease in our body weight when we first start intermittent fasting. This effectively means you can lose 4-10 kilograms with minimal effort or resistance. After the initial weight loss, our bodies try to stay within this set point and function as best as possible. The fasting plateau permits the body to reset to the lower set weight. Above all, it requires your time and patience.
Although Intermittent fasting is good for weight loss, you will also have to examine your diet if you are plateauing. Here are a few dietary issues and how to work around them.
Dirty fasting and intermittent fasting are different. In dirty fasting, you can have coffee with cream, diet soda, bone broth, and MCT/olive/coconut oil as long as they are below 50 calories. A sweetener will induce the pancreas to secrete insulin, and elevated insulin levels prevent the body from accessing the fat to burn for fuel . Dirty fasting does not stop burning fat but slows it down. Switch over to clean fasting if you want more weight loss, and have zero-calorie liquids like water, which won’t harm your fasting.
On IF diets like the 16:8, 5:2, or monk fast, you follow a weekly fasting routine and eat during feeding windows. It is essential to take care and eat the right things, so your body gets all the nutrients it needs. Eating a healthy diet will support weight loss.
Diet Loaded With Carbs
Your intermittent fasting weight loss plateau may be due to too many carbohydrates in your diet . Consuming carbs means having sugar in your body as the primary energy source. This way, your body doesn’t use fat as fuel .
High Protein Intake
It’s not only carbs. Excess protein can also be a problem with weight loss. Lean protein will also raise blood sugar (not as much as carbs, but still). Insulin release prevents the body from accessing its fat reserves for fuel. If you consume protein moderately, it will help with weight loss plateaus.
Related: Protein Intake Calculator
In intermittent fasting, you limit your calorie intake to specific hours. However, cutting calories during your eating window will be counterproductive for your body. When you go overboard cutting your calories, your body gets into an energy-saving mode, concentrating on its main bodily functions, and does not utilize fat for fuel. 
While intermittent fasting, breakfast should be about avoiding refined products, eating healthy foods, and switching from simple carbs to complex carbs. You shouldn’t go from fasting to feasting. If you break the fast correctly, you will not experience hunger pangs or have stomach problems like diarrhea and vomiting. Also, your metabolism will promote fat burning.
Tips for Breaking Through an Intermittent Fasting Plateau
Stress, lack of sleep, insufficient water intake, thyroid dysfunction, a lack of motivation, and high expectations from intermittent fasting can also cause a weight loss plateau. Here are seven great tips for breaking through the intermittent fasting plateau.
1. Track Your Calories
The reason behind the popularity of intermittent fasting is that it does not keep people from eating. Intermittent fasting limits your eating window and naturally leads to calorie restriction. Many people who do intermittent fasting for extended periods become careless about calorie restriction during eating windows.
You might consume too many calories in your eating window, which nullifies the caloric deficit achieved by fasting. Suppose you consume high calories during your feeding windows. In that case, you will not achieve a calorie deficit, which is integral to losing weight.
Keeping a food journal to track your calorie consumption is a good idea. It will help you figure out where you are falling short. Eating a moderate amount of food will also help reduce excess calorie consumption.
2. Have Dinner Two To Three Hours Before Sleep
During sleep, your body flips its metabolic switch, and instead of storing fat, it will start burning fat for energy. Try having dinner 2–3 hours before bed to maximize this effect. Your last meal should be before 8 pm.
If you are facing an intermittent fasting weight loss plateau, try eating fewer calories close to bedtime. Eat large meals in the daytime eating window and taper your meals to smaller portions as the day progresses.
3. Get High-Quality Sleep
Intermittent fasting emphasizes sleep. If you do not sleep well, no amount of intermittent fasting will help you lose weight. If you have sleep disturbances, your hormones will be affected, and your appetite and metabolism will also be impacted. It can also make you crave more calories and make it harder for you to go through extended fasting periods.
To enhance your sleep, follow a bedtime and wake-up routine. Do not exercise more than 2–3 hours before bedtime; limit your exposure to television and mobile phones. The sleeping environment affects your sleep quality. Sleep in a calm, quiet, and dark place for optimum sleep quality. If you feel restless before sleeping, try meditation.
4. Have the Right Food
All calories are not healthy. If you do not eat the right food in the correct proportion during your nonfasting windows, you are not doing yourself any favor. If you eat sugary food, it will give you a temporary energy spike and nothing more.
You need to go for foods rich in protein and fiber. If you find your weight loss progress plateauing, examine your diet. You may have become lax with your diet and careless about properly consuming micro and macronutrients.
Intermitting fasting focuses on the time of your meals rather than what you eat. If you combine intermittent fasting with exercise, you will see quick results. For weight loss, you must be in a calorie deficit. If you are stuck on a stubborn weight loss plateau, consider exercising to induce weight loss.
Low-to-moderate intensity workouts during fasting periods will help you lose fat faster and keep your body in fat-burning mode. Add 3–4 weekly resistance training workouts to your routine for better results.
You could also benefit from switching to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a type of workout that alternates between periods of intense effort with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. One example of HIIT is running at your maximum speed for 30 seconds, then walking for 60 seconds. This high-intensity exercise and rest pattern is repeated several times.
6. Get a Hormone Check
Your hormones play a significant role in supporting weight loss. During intermittent fasting, your metabolism governs your food intake, and your body’s metabolism is directly affected by hormones. Overeating or eating the wrong food can disrupt your body’s hormone balance.
Intermittent fasting can slow your metabolism if you over-restrict your calorie intake. If you have incorrect eating patterns, hormonal issues can occur, causing a weight loss plateau.
7. Try A Different Fasting Schedule
You could switch to a different IF schedule to break through a weight loss plateau. Your body may have become used to the intermittent fasting schedule you’re following, and shaking things up a bit will help nudge your body out of the plateau. Keep your body guessing when the next calorie intake will happen, and you may edge yourself out of the weight loss plateau.
What is a weight loss plateau?
With intermittent fasting, you will lose weight initially. However, after some time, your weight might refuse to budge. This is called a weight loss plateau. A weight loss plateau happens to every person trying to lose weight.
How long does a weight loss plateau last?
A weight loss plateau can last anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the individual. After this period, it will be easier for you to lose weight.
How to break through a weight loss plateau?
Throw out the crash diets and control your hunger with the right foods. Keep track of your exercise and diet, add resistance training to your routine, and adopt a positive attitude toward weight loss. Remember that everyone experiences a plateau during weight loss. Do not get discouraged; keep putting in the work.
Can a weight loss plateau go away on its own?
If you have not changed your diet and have not seen weight changes in a long time, this is a sure sign that you are on a weight loss plateau. Unfortunately, a weight loss plateau will not disappear unless you change your diet and exercise routine.
Can water help a weight loss plateau?
Drinking water before a meal has weight loss benefits. This is because of two things: you eat less, and the water boosts your metabolism.
A weight loss plateau is common when practicing intermittent fasting. Don’t get discouraged; take this as part of your weight loss journey. Your bathroom scales may not move for some time, but you will see changes in body measurements and energy levels while intermittent fasting.
Check your diet, examine your sleeping patterns, and be careful about your calorie intake. Make the necessary adjustments to break through your weight loss plateau. The scales do not entirely reflect your wellness and health. Be consistent and use the tips mentioned in this article to break free from the intermittent fasting plateau.
Learn more about fasting
- Can You Drink Coffee While Intermittent Fasting?
- 12-Hour Fast: Everything You Need To Know 12/12 Intermittent Fasting
- 12/12 vs. 16/8 Intermittent Fasting: Everything You Need To Know
- How Long Does it Take to See Results From Intermittent Fasting?
- Healthy Eating Made Easy: A Complete 7-Day Meal Plan for 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
- Does Taking Vitamins Break A Fast? — Debunking the Myths
- The Ultimate 60-Hour Fast: Tips, Benefits, and Preparation for Improved Health
- The Surprising Connection Between Low Blood Pressure and Intermittent Fasting: What You Need to Know
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- Dhillon, Jaapna, et al. “The Cephalic Phase Insulin Response to Nutritive and Low-Calorie Sweeteners in Solid and Beverage Form.” PubMed Central (PMC), 9 Sept. 2017.
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- “Effect of a Low-carbohydrate Diet on Appetite, Blood Glucose Levels, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Patients With Type 2 Diabetes – PubMed.” PubMed, 15 Mar. 2005.
- Benton, David, and Hayley A. Young. “Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight.” PubMed Central (PMC), 28 June 2017.
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