Why does my weight loss STOP on IF?

(Estel) #1

Hello! )

I have always liked fasting just because I don’t like to bother with food and because I think better when fasting. But whenever I do - my weight loss stops completely, even if just before it was going great. What the f***, why? Does anyone have ideas? I want to understand the mechanism.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

You’ll have to provide more specific details about yourself, what exactly you’re doing, what you’re trying to accomplish before anyone can give helpful advice.

(Estel) #3

Normally I am eating keto, not a lot, about twice a day when I feel like it. Weight loss goes smooth. As soon as I start skipping meals (eat only once a day, or don’t eat for one day at all) weight loss stops. It seems counterintuitive, but it happens every time.


That could be the problem there? If you’re consistently undereating, it could be that your body is kind of going into protective mode. The experts/proponents of IF often remind us that you need to FEAST as well as to fast. It may sound counterintuitive, but I’ve heard of some low-carb-friendly doctors counselling their clients to eat more to break through a stall. Mix it up, to keep your body guessing and stop it from adapting to what it may think is a low-energy (i.e. “famine”) situation.

I recall the 2 Keto Dudes had an interesting chat to Megan Ramos around this issue, in the earlier podcast days.

(Butter Withaspoon) #5

Welcome to the forums Estel!
Buxom is on the right track there. I like to think if it like -

  1. Feast to raise my metabolic rate
  2. Fast to lower the insulin
    Take care to eat to satiety on your eating days.

The other weird thing I’ve noticed (is it just me?) is that any effect of a change in eating or fasting takes a few days to affect my body. It’s as if there is a board meeting between all the Hormones and Signalling Molecules to assess all the inputs before they decide on the new levels of everything. It’s more about set point and homeostasis than me being a big bucket with calories pouring in the top, and a calorie tap at the bottom.
I am Not a CICO 🪣 BUCKET!

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #6

I know this is going to seem nit picky, but I’m doing this to illustrate an important point. And there are many others on this forum who could benefit from understanding this as well. So please don’t think I’m just picking on you. When you ask people who know zero about you for help and suggestions for dealing with dietary/nutritional/health issues you have to give them somewhat detailed information to help them help you. Otherwise, everyone is just throwing miscellaneous stuff out there that might be just as detrimental as helpful or not.

Keto is not food, what foods exactly are you eating? There are lots of so-called ‘keto friendly’ foods that cause digestive, ketogenic and/or actual health problems for some people and not others. There are also foods called ‘ketogenic’ which are not.

Does that mean sub-1000 cals per day? Sub-2000 cals per day? Do you have any idea how many grams of fat, protein per day? Carbs? Does the total amount of food you eat vary greatly day to day?

You eat two meals per day every day, some days, occasionally? Are two meals your norm? For how long?

How much less do you eat when you skip meals, or days?

And to put all your info in proper context, what is your age, height, total weight, fat%, overall body conformation, etc. Do you have any current diseases that might affect and/or be affected by what you’re eating? Do you have any metabolic issues that don’t (yet) add up to a disease but might be going that direction if not remedied? Are you taking any prescription medications? If so, for what?

What exactly was/were your motivation(s) to start keto? What are your expectations? In your info you say you’ve lost 37kg or 81.4 pounds. Congratulations! How long did that take? It’s important to know that.

Folks want to be as helpful as possible. But no one reads minds. So the better you explain your precise situation the better others can respond and the better your chance of receiving useful info.

Finally, I sincerely hope you figure out what to do, don’t get discouraged and stick with keto long term. Best wishes.

(Estel) #7

Thank you for your answer!

This is very insightful, you might have guessed the reason right away. Also, after fasting my breast size (sorry, not sure if it’s important information too, or too much already) goes down a little, but when I am not fasting it stays the same, only waist gets smaller (visceral fat?). So, maybe the reason is also ‘famine mode.’

The problem is I still don’t notice hunger cues. Maybe it sounds weird, but I really don’t understand when I am hungry and should eat, and when it’s just a craving that I should ignore. I can easily go no food for days, but, apparently, my body is mad at me for this.

(Estel) #8

Thank you for welcoming me. )

Thank you, it explains a lot. I had similar thoughts, but every article usually blames eating too much during ‘windows’ for IF failing, so I was eating less and less with less and less result, and thought my little hunch was bonkers. But if you also think so…

And the board meeting analogy is just great. )

(Estel) #9

It’s actually wonderful that you are trying to get and give reliable information, not nit picky at all. Sorry for starting with almost no info, I was taught not to talk about myself a lot, it’s hard to break.

I eat the same things almost every day: pork, liver, brains (weird, but I got used to them since childhood), mussels, butter, cheese, eggs. Unfortunately, sometimes (once a month maybe?) I have to eat things that are not keto, because (and I think it could be an issue for many here? or is it just me?) people give fruits and seed oils as gifts ‘for health,’ though I am begging them not to. I feel horrible throwing away food, especially after real periods of starvation in childhood. Actually, it’s only after eating these things that I feel guilty and try to go fasting; maybe not the healthiest move, but.

I use Cronometer website, which might not be 100% right all the time, but suggests I eat 550-1550 of cals per day. Macro ratios are around 66% fat, 33% protein (5 gr net carbs, 115 gr fat, 120 gr protein) on 1550 days; and around 49/49% (3 gr net carbs, 30 gr fat, 60 gr protein) on 550 ones.

Normally I eat one large meal and one snack of cheese/eggs/etc. It’s a norm for around half a year; I used to eat once a day, but the ‘carb inputs’ from time to time throw me out of it, since they usually make people more hungry.

When I skip meals, I end up eating around 550 cal, mostly meat and organ meat. When I skip days, then, well, it’s 0 on the skipped day and normal 550-1550 on the next.

I am 26, 172 cm (5.64 ft), 88 kg (194 lbs). Sorry, I don’t know my fat %, and online calculators give wildly different results, but I would guess 30-35%. I don’t know exactly what you mean by body conformation, so sorry if my answer is off, but: fat is mostly in bosom and arms, relatively not a lot in waist and legs/hips. No diseases that would affect/be affected that I know of. No medications.

Metabolic issues? I hope I am not throwing some useless information here, but my metabolism might be slowed after I’ve had something similar to anorexia 6-7 years ago and stopped eating almost completely. (And, unfortunately, whenever I WAS eating something, it was carbs, because they were cheap and the only thing I could afford at the time). That’s the point after which I’ve gained weight, before I was just, well, normal.

The funny thing is I did not start keto on purpose. It accidentally just so happened that I was eating only keto foods for a month and started feeling so much better that never wanted to go back. Before it, I came in terms with constant abdomen pain, and now it was gone. And suddenly my mind was so much more clear, I never knew it could even be like this. I did not want to eat and could focus on other things, even my skin improved. Using up excess fat storages is just a bonus, but if I already started it, I want to go to the end.

Thank you so much for congratulations! I was trying to use up these 37 kg slowly, over a year.

Thank you both for serious/precise attitude and wanting to help. I did not expect it and sincerely hope to be as much of use (though I think I need to learn more before that).

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #10

Thanks for providing details. I’m sure many folks will have specific suggestions for you. I suggest you set your Chronometer to ‘Maintenance’ mode and I think you will get more realistic calorie numbers. 550-1550 is probably not enough food overall. Do you feel consistently hungry or not? Some folks do ‘alternate day fasting’ where they eat fully one day and fast completely the next. You may find that more useful than what you’re doing now. On your ‘eating days’ you’d probably need to eat more. Are you measuring/weighing food portions? Yes, anorexia in your past is significant. Best wishes. :+1:

(Old Baconian) #11

Just a thought: why not give this sort of stuff away to a food pantry? They’d love to have it, and it would be out of your house. You’d get the feeling of helping someone and not having to throw away food.

Thanks for sharing your circumstances and diet. Definitely try eating more, not less, and see what happens. A lot of forum members have found that their fat loss didn’t really begin until they started eating enough. We are so conditioned by the “calories in, calories out” dogma that it is hard to see beyond it to the effect of food on the body.

One of the premises of a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is that how the body partitions the food we eat is far more important than the number of calories. Dr. Stephen Phinney, one of the early researchers in the field, has data to show that the metabolism speeds up on a ketogenic diet, which is one of the reasons we can eat more fat and still shed excess stored fat. Prof. Benjamin Bikman, another researcher, has data to show that the body can actually waste energy if given enough food. In particular, he has studied a phenomenon called “mitochondrial uncoupling,” in which the mitochondria in the adipose tissue metabolise more fat than they strictly need for their energy needs.

(Estel) #12

I don’t feel consistently hungry.
Yes, weighing food. Not every day, I just know that 3 slices of cheese weigh 75 gr, etc.
Can I ask? Even if someone eats on their ‘eating day’ as much as they would normally in two days, IF still works? Some say that it’s good just because you fast, no matter how much is eaten overall, and some say that it’s only good because you end up eating less overall and if you don’t - there is no use.

(Estel) #13

That’s a good thought, and that’s what I have been doing when I was a student. But now I live in a small city and don’t know any homeless people here. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

Thank you! Seems like everyone is suggesting the same solution, and you are probably right. Every explanation is great, it’s amazing when people look at data. Sorry if it was hard to get information from me. I really appreciate all of it. )
Will try to eat enough, but not too much. Though it’s a little hard for me personally. )

(Old Baconian) #14

Context is all. The point of fasting is to have a long period with low insulin. Insulin rises when we eat, as it is supposed to do, so we won’t die. But eating a low-insulin (i.e., ketogenic) diet means that insulin won’t spike excessively when we do eat. And according to Prof. Benjamin Bikman, it’s the ratio of insulin to glucagon that is key. It is glucagon that stimulates ketogenesis, and insulin that inhibits it. So when the ratio is low, we tend to be catabolic and ketogenic; when it is high, we tend to be anabolic and glucolytic. The latter state is when we store fat, and when the elevated insulin starts to cause damage. The former state is when a lot of good things happen.

Of course, anabolic and catabolic processes are occurring all the time, but it is the insulin/glucagon ratio that determines which state will predominate, according to Prof. Bikman.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #15

Below is an example of the context Paul referred to above from Dr Phinney’s Virta Health site. My understanding based on both my own limited experience and descriptions by others on this forum is that on keto persistent/consistent hunger is the warning that you’re not eating enough. The Virta diagram explains why. In consistent ketosis you unlock your body’s fat stores for use. Yes, it’s true that you eat less - but you do not feel persistent/consistent hunger because you are now able to utilize stored body fat to make up the difference towards total energy expenditure. As you move through the 4 stages in the diagram, your plate intake increases as your body fat stores decrease. Yet again you don’t feel persistent/consistent hunger. As you progress towards ultimate maintenance, your body fat stores get utilized. Unlike CICO diets, however, you do not slow your metabolism during the loss of stored fat. In fact, you increase your metabolic rate in the process.

How can that happen, you may wonder? It is my opinion that it happens because our ancestors spent 3+ million years living almost exclusively in the metabolic state of ketosis and we are adapted to best nutrition and health in ketosis. Yes, we can store fat - if we eat enough of it. But if we eat close to our daily energy requirements give or take a few hundred calories we will maintain a healthy store of body fat and not store excessive amounts. Again, hunger is our guide to eat enough and for many folks satiety is the signal to stop. It’s because of our adaptation to fat that this occurs. I think it has only been since the beginning of the Holocene and agriculture with its preponderance of carb-loaded plant ‘food’ that humans have ceased living in consistent ketosis. And have paid a heavy price in health for it.

(Old Baconian) #16

It’s worth mentioning that the fictional woman presented in that chart always eats to satiety; she never cuts calories deliberately. At first, while she has excess fat to shed, her appetite is set at a rate that allows her body to use both dietary fat and excess stored fat to fuel her energy expenditure, but as the excess fat is metabolised, her appetite increases so that in the last stage all her energy is supplied from her food, because there is no longer a store of excess fat. The point of the chart is to illustrate that by eating to satiety all through this process, she never needs to measure her energy expenditure and never needs to count calories.


One thing to keep in mind is that even on keto there can be a fair amount of day to day water weight fluctuation so what you are noticing on the scale might not be very indicative of short-term changes in fat loss.

Your “low intake” days seem to be very skewed to protein. I measure my ketones every morning after I weigh myself. On the mornings I have a inexplicable increase of a pound or two in weight, I typically then see my ketones are negligible. I think that often traces back to eating a higher protein/lower fat dinner the night before.

With that said, I still have plenty of water weight fluctuation that I can’t really explain. I like to weigh daily because it helps to keep me focused but with that comes some confusing up and downs.

Since you like to track your intake, I wouldn’t worry so much about fasting. For people that abhor tracking, fasting can be a good way to generate a calorie deficit without having to record their macros. But studies seem to show that for weight loss at least there isn’t a distinct benefit for fasting protocols once caloric intake is equalized. If you are fasting for “autophagy” that is a somewhat different story but it doesn’t seem well understood and you probably would need longer fasts to see that benefit in any case.

(Bob M) #18

I think the benefits of fasting far outweigh “calories”. There is something different that happens when you fast 22+ hours, though I find overnight fasts (eg, 36+ hours) to be better. I tried to find studies that looked at things like growth hormone for IF, but I couldn’t find anything directly supporting growth hormone increases. These tend to be longer fasts.

But I notice that if I can eat OMAD, I typically eat a smaller meal in general on that day. My problem is that I eat too late. It’s hard to eat OMAD at 7pm and then go to bed at 9pm.

(Estel) #19

Thank you so much! I am amazed at how much useful information I am receiving here. I did not know about glucagon - now I will try to learn more.
And I am really sorry for taking so long to reply - something is going on in my life right now, trying to deal with it.


I think I agree. I like to do OMAD. I like to think it helps improve my insulin sensitivity at least plus some other health benefits around say autophagy but hard to know. For me that is mostly OMAD. Does a 23.5 hour fast provide all these benefits? I have more energy if I just allow some HWC early in the day. I’m starting to think instead of daily 23.5 hour fasts maybe I’ll do quarterly fasts of 3-5 days.