Doing alternate-day fasting is tough in itself and it can feel really discouraging when you put in the work but not seeing the results. In this article I will explain to you some possible reasons why you may be not losing weight, or worse, gaining weight while on ADF.
Why am I not losing weight on ADF?
In general, there are a couple of reasons why you are not losing weight on ADF. If you don’t see any progress, or you’re gaining weight, this means you either overeating during your feeding days, or you’ve just started, and it’s too early to see noticeable visual changes.
Another reason can be that you’ve already lost weight and you’ve hit the weight loss plateau.
Alternate Day Fasting and Not Losing Weight
If you’re doing alternate day fasting and not losing weight this may be because your perception of what you eat and how much you eat is different from the actual calorie intake. Weight loss happens only when you’ve restricted your calories and created a calorie deficit.
Relax. It happens to all of us.
Studies show that people’s perception of what they eat is radically different from what they actually eat. As humans, we like to underestimate our calorie intake, we tend to forget about less-than-perfect snacks or beverages that “accidentally” slip into our hands (source).
Did anybody notice the licence plates of that Nutella truck that hit me?
Luckily for you, there are few ways how to get back on track while doing alternative-day fasting (or any calorie restriction really). More on that later.
First let’s define what exactly means that one overeat.
What Is Overeating?
In general, overeating is the excess consumption of food, beyond the point of feeling satisfied or full. Overeating happens when you reach the point when you’re no longer hungry, but you still eating. It is also the consumption of food for other reasons than physical hunger.
We eat for many reasons, beyond to satisfy our physical hunger. We love food because:
- It’s tasty and delicious
- It’s part of social culture
- It’s a stress relief
- It’s a pain killer
- It provides comfort
- It makes us feel safe and secure
So it doesn’t take long to see that if we’re gonna be using food as a therapy or as a way to get by through the day, we may not only gain weight but have a really hard time losing it (source).
Now watch this.
If someone got used to using food as an emotional blanket, or where it is practically the only way to relieve stress and anxiety, what’s gonna happen during the fasting time?
Blanket is gone. Stress go up.
And we are exposed like a flesh of the crab to all the emotions without a way to regulated them.
Unlike physical hunger that you can satisfy with food, emotional or psychological hunger is never gonna go away. That’s why people overeat. They feel:
- Stressed out
- [insert any negative emotion]
And they use food to feel good. The problem is if we only gonna be relying on food as a coping mechanism, we can do alternate-day fasting, juicing, dieting, you name it, but we always gonna end up chasing our own tail (source).
SOLUTION: To stop overeating you need to first identify your weak points or the triggers that make you overeat
I’ve wrote an extensive post on how to stop overeating on OMAD. But it also applies to ADF.
Alternate Day Diet Not Working
Generally, if an alternate day diet is not working you should find the triggers that cause you to fall off the wagon. People usually don’t follow their ADF diet for the long term because they may feel uncomfortable with hunger, they use food as comfort, or both.
I will circle back into the solution in a second.
But first I need you to understand that alternate-day fasting is tough. And I’m not saying that to cheer you up. It’s just the reality.
Not eating for an entire day is hard. Feeling hungry is hard. Some people may feel absolutely fine with not eating. They can maintain mental and physical performance all day. But not everyone. I hear the stories all the time like:
- Eat now because you will get hungry later
- I won’t let my kid walking around hungry
- I’m starving
- If I don’t eat now, I will be hungry
Some people are physically afraid of being hungry. And with the slightest rumblings in their tummy, they panic, freak out, and believe that it’s time to eat.
How do you feel when you’re hungry? Are you panicking? Are you stressed out? Do you feel disorientated? Do you feel like you cannot handle any tasks and projects? Do you feel like you cannot think straight?
Because if yes, then you must understand that the longer you stay on all day fasting, sooner or later your body will rebound like an elephant on the trampoline.
- It may not be the same day
- It may not be the same week
But at some point, people break down, crack under pressure, and binge or do other unwanted eating behaviors. Which will lead to weight gain.
Is Alternate Day Fasting Safe Long Term?
As a whole, alternate day fasting is safe long term for people who don’t rely on food as a stress reliever, comfort, or stability. People with strong stress and hunger tolerance can maintain calorie restriction for a long. However, people with lower stress and hunger tolerance can fall off the wagon.
The good news is that you can develop strong stress and hunger tolerance. It will take some part of the effort. But the results will be geometric.
Even beyond weight loss.
SOLUTION: To be able to maintain your success on ADF, you need to improve your hunger tolerance.
To learn more about how to improve your hunger tolerance, head on to my article where I teach you how to be in a calorie deficit without being hungry.
Another reason why people don’t see the results is they are in the process not long enough.
How Long Does It Take To See Results With Alternate-Day Fasting?
On average, it can take 2–4 weeks to see results with alternate-day fasting. The amount of weight loss will depend on the calorie intake you have on your feeding day, the macronutrient ratio, your physical activity, and your total daily energy expenditure.
Let me break those down for you.
How Many Calories On Alternate Day Fasting?
Alternate-day fasting means you fast for 36 hours and you eat for 12 hours. So if you’re fasting on Monday, your next meal will come on Tuesday morning.
So it is important that you’re mindful of what and how much you eat. Anchoring your to the present moment, especially during your meal times will allow paying attention to the food amount you eat.
Distraction, mindless eating, and eating on the go will usually lead to eating more than we think we are. To help you stay present at the moment, use a food journal. Logging your food intake not only will help to get results but also maintain your weight.
Alternate Day Fasting Macros
Your macros on an alternate day fasting should be focused around lean protein (meats, fish, eggs, dairy), fiber-rich foods (fruits, veggies), healthy fats (nuts, omega 3) (source).
Gaining weight on ADF may be due to the fact of what type of food you’re eating during your feeding window. Those foods keep us fuller for longer and suppress appetite more than others.
Can You Exercise While Alternate Day Fasting?
In general, you can exercise while alternate-day fasting. Adding low-intensity cardio will help to lower the appetite and suppress hunger while adding extra resistance and strength training will help you to increase (or maintain) lean body mass and burn more calories.
This will also prevent a weight loss plateaus. With higher muscle mass you will be less likely to hit the wall.
People who fast for a long time and don’t spend any time doing strength training may notice a dip in their energy levels and metabolic rate.
Doing ADF and not losing weight is a normal thing. Especially in these days where we are exposed to multiple stressful situations, eating is found to be the perfect space for problems.
But to go a step further, even beyond weight loss, you want to first identify what is holding you back and find an alternative to regulate emotions, instead of eating.
Being mindful about your eating habits while your feeding window can help you maintain the process and allow you to enjoy the benefits of the alternate-day fast.