7

votes

Intermittent fasting paradox... or not?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 19, 2011 at 2:39 AM

So intermittent fasting is supposed to be really good for us, right? Especially if you're trying to lose weight.

Enter the "I can't lose any weight!" person. One of the most common responses (those I've had, anyway) is, "you're not eating enough".

Am I the only one confused? IF = eating less. Supposed to be good for weight loss. Yet eating less = stalled weight gain...

Okay, I think my head is about to explode. Answers appreciated.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 28, 2011
at 12:03 AM

Josh, see, that's not me. Say I eat a total of 1500 calories a day without IFing: 500 at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 500 at dinner (this isn't precise of course). If I IF from 7 pm till 12 pm the next day and skip breakfast, I won't end up consuming the same amount of calories that day as I do on the non-IF days. I'll still eat my regular lunch and my regular dinner, and will end up eating a total of 1000 calories (-500 lost when I skipped breakfast). IF makes me hungry, but it doesn't make me hungrier than usual.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 27, 2011
at 11:57 PM

hcantrall, I used to force down breakfast back when I believed the "conventional wisdom". It was mostly yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal. Since starting paleo I have even less appetite in the morning. Not always though, some days I wake up and I'm ravenous, but it doesn't happen often, maybe once a week or so.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:59 PM

@bacon, i suppose so yes. I mean, absolutely yes one who is 4'5" will require less calories than one at 7' tall. However, I'm not aware that no matter how small you are 1k-1200 cals per day would be sufficient. I mean, I dont really "know" that you'd need more but that is a paltry amount yknow

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:40 PM

@PaleoLiz, yes 2-3 days IF would be short term calorie restriction, but that is not a regular occurrence for me, so for example if I skip breakfast and lunch I can still eat a day's worth of calories at supper, same if breakfast is skipped, etc, so one can IF but consume similar calories in a day.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:42 AM

Have you always gone around that amount of time without eating or did you used to eat breakfast earlier? I understand you're saying that you are not hungry but, maybe for the sake of experimentation try making yourself eat something earlier. My husband is like you, he's never liked to eat in the morning but he was having trouble losing weight so he drinks a protein/coconut milk shake. That seems to have helped him. He is type 2 diabetic though so obviously his metabolism is damaged.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:06 AM

OK, this is what I don't get. You say IF doesn't always equal calorie restriction. But if you're going for 2-3 days with very little to no food, isn't that, by definition, calorie restriction? Even if it's a natural kind of restriction?

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:04 AM

Sherpamelissa, totally understand and agree with that approach. Ben - I know it's ludicrous. I've seen the light since then!

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:00 AM

LOL @ the baby analogy. Makes sense. Thanks!

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:59 AM

Same here, baconbitch! I had two small porkchops and a pile of mixed greens today after barely eating anything all day, and I thought I'd explode!

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:57 AM

Okay, but what if IF-ing comes naturally? I'm just not hungry in the morning. By the time I get my appetite it's 12-2 pm, and I've had 18-20 hrs without food, but it's not like I'm consciously trying to IF...

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:57 AM

Okay, but what if IF-ing comes naturally? I'm just not hungry in the morning. By the time I get my appetite it's 12-2 pm, and I've had 18-20 hrs without food, but it's not like I'm trying...

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:56 AM

Okay, but what if IF-ink comes naturally? I'm just not hungry in the morning. I force myself to eat some days and I just can't.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Great response, Sherpa! @Ben - perhaps those of us who are smaller simply don't need the standard 2k/calories daily. If Liz is fine on 1200 day with no ill effects, perhaps that's all her body needs? I don't know - just wondering.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:30 PM

I'm just like you, Liz. Its natural for me but I take in only 1100 calories. I was getting weak so I upped my carbs and my energy increased. However, my carb intake is still below 40g/day. I discussed this with some men and they are getting up to 3000 calories on IF. I just can't gorge that much or I feel miserable.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 19, 2011
at 01:19 PM

@Liz, OK lets just get this out straight away: 1k or 1200 cals per day is ludicrous. Sorry, just too low. I mean, that is not good at all. This may sound daunting but one way that will work for you, period is to change your hormonal milieu to one that promotes growth of lean muscle mass and not too much retaining of fat stores. One way to do this is to start a lifting program. Basic stuff: backsquats, deadlifts, presses, etc. Maybe 3 hours per week is all you need. This will completely change whats going on inside your body and you will then use your calories in a better way. hire a coach

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 19, 2011
at 04:34 AM

Liz, sometimes if caloric restriction doesn't work, you need to play with your ratios of fat, protein and carbs. It's not JUST the calories that count, but what the calories are.

8b982d4beccca9fcb85affe8d4bd4ff2

(1585)

on June 19, 2011
at 04:23 AM

Yes it is confusing!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:27 AM

If going less doesn't reduce (and I wouldn't expect it to) does *increasing* calories (via fat) help? I find when I shamelessly indulge in beef tallow (for example - spoonfuls) I often lose a pound or two shortly (averaged from typical weight cycle).

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:04 AM

CaveRat, IF occurs naturally in me. I wake up and I'm just not hungry, so I go with it. Most days I don't eat until noon, sometimes as late as 2 pm (giving me good 18-20 hrs fast). BUT. When I do get to eating, I don't consume any more calories than I would without IF. So my overall intake in a day ends up being less than it is without the IF. So technically it leads to restricting calories for me, even though I don't consciously mean to do so... Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:01 AM

I agree with you. However... I've tried eating 1200 cals for a couple of weeks, and for a brief time even went below 1000. Didn't lose a pound. So either weight loss requires caloric restriction, or caloric restriction stalls weight loss. Either or... no?

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 19, 2011
at 02:59 AM

I agree with you. However... I've tried, at different times, eating 1200 cals, and for a brief time I went below 1000. Didn't lose a pound. So either weight loss requires caloric restriction, or caloric restriction stall weight loss. Either or?

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5 Answers

3
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:44 AM

My understanding is that if you are metabolically deranged you shouldn't be using IF to lose weight. Most people here have said that they have only used IF successfully to break through a stall after having lost a significant amount of weight and their metabolism is more healthy. If that is correct you may be sabotaging your efforts.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:56 AM

Okay, but what if IF-ink comes naturally? I'm just not hungry in the morning. I force myself to eat some days and I just can't.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:42 AM

Have you always gone around that amount of time without eating or did you used to eat breakfast earlier? I understand you're saying that you are not hungry but, maybe for the sake of experimentation try making yourself eat something earlier. My husband is like you, he's never liked to eat in the morning but he was having trouble losing weight so he drinks a protein/coconut milk shake. That seems to have helped him. He is type 2 diabetic though so obviously his metabolism is damaged.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:57 AM

Okay, but what if IF-ing comes naturally? I'm just not hungry in the morning. By the time I get my appetite it's 12-2 pm, and I've had 18-20 hrs without food, but it's not like I'm consciously trying to IF...

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:57 AM

Okay, but what if IF-ing comes naturally? I'm just not hungry in the morning. By the time I get my appetite it's 12-2 pm, and I've had 18-20 hrs without food, but it's not like I'm trying...

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 27, 2011
at 11:57 PM

hcantrall, I used to force down breakfast back when I believed the "conventional wisdom". It was mostly yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal. Since starting paleo I have even less appetite in the morning. Not always though, some days I wake up and I'm ravenous, but it doesn't happen often, maybe once a week or so.

2
Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 19, 2011
at 02:48 AM

Short version: eat all you need most of the time, eat less occasionally for a change. It's not about reduced calories overall but about giving your body a brief rest from the eating/elimination cycle. Also, giving your body a minor occasional stress has all kinds of positives.

Todd Becker calls this Hormetics, and has a nice discussion of it on his blog, here: http://gettingstronger.org/

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:04 AM

CaveRat, IF occurs naturally in me. I wake up and I'm just not hungry, so I go with it. Most days I don't eat until noon, sometimes as late as 2 pm (giving me good 18-20 hrs fast). BUT. When I do get to eating, I don't consume any more calories than I would without IF. So my overall intake in a day ends up being less than it is without the IF. So technically it leads to restricting calories for me, even though I don't consciously mean to do so... Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:59 AM

Same here, baconbitch! I had two small porkchops and a pile of mixed greens today after barely eating anything all day, and I thought I'd explode!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:30 PM

I'm just like you, Liz. Its natural for me but I take in only 1100 calories. I was getting weak so I upped my carbs and my energy increased. However, my carb intake is still below 40g/day. I discussed this with some men and they are getting up to 3000 calories on IF. I just can't gorge that much or I feel miserable.

1
B7fec4bf394de8dfa6403067aea94e1b

on June 19, 2011
at 12:33 PM

IF, from my understanding, is about adding a little chaos into your system that would be naturally there if food wasn't so readily available. However, if your system can't handle the chaos due to health issues and metabolic weakness from SAD and inactivity, it's not a good idea to throw it in until the foundation is strong. Kind of like when people with marriages on the rocks have a baby to try to save the marriage. It doesn't work, because the foundation is too unstable to handle the additional chaos.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:00 AM

LOL @ the baby analogy. Makes sense. Thanks!

1
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 19, 2011
at 02:44 AM

IF does not equal eating less. IF means one thing only: eating intermittently rather than society's norm of three meals.

I dont IF and don't think it's a ticket to weight loss. Even Martin, the guy behind the IF site, advocates tracking calories and maintains that calories always count. Usually losing body fat requires at least some degree of caloric restriction.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 19, 2011
at 02:59 AM

I agree with you. However... I've tried, at different times, eating 1200 cals, and for a brief time I went below 1000. Didn't lose a pound. So either weight loss requires caloric restriction, or caloric restriction stall weight loss. Either or?

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:01 AM

I agree with you. However... I've tried eating 1200 cals for a couple of weeks, and for a brief time even went below 1000. Didn't lose a pound. So either weight loss requires caloric restriction, or caloric restriction stalls weight loss. Either or... no?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on June 19, 2011
at 04:34 AM

Liz, sometimes if caloric restriction doesn't work, you need to play with your ratios of fat, protein and carbs. It's not JUST the calories that count, but what the calories are.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:27 AM

If going less doesn't reduce (and I wouldn't expect it to) does *increasing* calories (via fat) help? I find when I shamelessly indulge in beef tallow (for example - spoonfuls) I often lose a pound or two shortly (averaged from typical weight cycle).

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 19, 2011
at 01:19 PM

@Liz, OK lets just get this out straight away: 1k or 1200 cals per day is ludicrous. Sorry, just too low. I mean, that is not good at all. This may sound daunting but one way that will work for you, period is to change your hormonal milieu to one that promotes growth of lean muscle mass and not too much retaining of fat stores. One way to do this is to start a lifting program. Basic stuff: backsquats, deadlifts, presses, etc. Maybe 3 hours per week is all you need. This will completely change whats going on inside your body and you will then use your calories in a better way. hire a coach

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 19, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Great response, Sherpa! @Ben - perhaps those of us who are smaller simply don't need the standard 2k/calories daily. If Liz is fine on 1200 day with no ill effects, perhaps that's all her body needs? I don't know - just wondering.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:04 AM

Sherpamelissa, totally understand and agree with that approach. Ben - I know it's ludicrous. I've seen the light since then!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:59 PM

@bacon, i suppose so yes. I mean, absolutely yes one who is 4'5" will require less calories than one at 7' tall. However, I'm not aware that no matter how small you are 1k-1200 cals per day would be sufficient. I mean, I dont really "know" that you'd need more but that is a paltry amount yknow

0
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on June 19, 2011
at 05:17 AM

IF does not always equate to calorie restriction. If someone is healthy and has not metabolic conditions IF has it's place, but someone who it trying to get healthier may be better off to not try IF as it may stress one's system too much. I naturally go for 2-3 days at a time with little to no food, it's just what my body wants or does not want at the time and I try & listen. IF just for weight loss may not be best, but as another tool in one's arsenal in a healthy life it certainly has it's place.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:06 AM

OK, this is what I don't get. You say IF doesn't always equal calorie restriction. But if you're going for 2-3 days with very little to no food, isn't that, by definition, calorie restriction? Even if it's a natural kind of restriction?

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:40 PM

@PaleoLiz, yes 2-3 days IF would be short term calorie restriction, but that is not a regular occurrence for me, so for example if I skip breakfast and lunch I can still eat a day's worth of calories at supper, same if breakfast is skipped, etc, so one can IF but consume similar calories in a day.

Medium avatar

(297)

on June 28, 2011
at 12:03 AM

Josh, see, that's not me. Say I eat a total of 1500 calories a day without IFing: 500 at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 500 at dinner (this isn't precise of course). If I IF from 7 pm till 12 pm the next day and skip breakfast, I won't end up consuming the same amount of calories that day as I do on the non-IF days. I'll still eat my regular lunch and my regular dinner, and will end up eating a total of 1000 calories (-500 lost when I skipped breakfast). IF makes me hungry, but it doesn't make me hungrier than usual.

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