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This topic came up in today's "Fasting today" thread, so I've moved it here so people who don't fast on Thursdays can also participate.

The issue is that a lot of us seem to be finding that we can't maintain our weight loss without continuing on with our same schedule of fasting. As several of us have found, fasting seems to make us eat a lot more on our non-fast days. After several months of comfortable fasting, I am also finding myself hungrier on fast days, which is making fasting harder, not easier for me.

Most worrisome to me is that I am noticing a disinclination to fast creeping into my thought patterns. But after seeing so many people coming in who fasted for long times, got to goal or near (as I have) and then regained a lot of weight, I think this needs to be explored by all of us adopting this life.

It took me 3 years of eating a ketogenic low carb diet to get to where I was feeling the kind of disinclination I am feeling right now for fasting. It took me many years of watching calories to get to this state, too, where the thought of fasting twice a week forever is no longer exciting, but feeling a bit grim.

I am at a great wieight, and I don't want to regain. I have regained significant weight in the past (once) and it took me a long time to get it back off. I'm older now and have an even lower TDEE.

But I am starting to wonder if perhaps dieting with intermittant fasting is doing something new and different to my brain hormones than my previous day-to-day diets did, something that is making it much harder to stick with the way I'm eating. So I'm starting to wonder whether it really will be possible to maintain. If I start dreading my two weekly fasts, this is going to be a big problem. As it is, I am barely maintaining my current weight fasting 2 times a week and being very good about hitting my calorie counts on fast days.

If I have to start counting calories every day to maintain, which I didn't have to do to lose 10 lbs, I will not be a happy camper. The beauty of this diet for me was that I could for the first time in decades eat like a normal person for 5 days of the week. If I have to go back to dieting every single day, well, it won't work and I will regain.

So what are your thoughts and experiences here. Please note that I'm a small old lady and my TDEE is about 1500 calories, so if you can maintain at 2200 some of the the strategies that will work nicely for you will not work for me. Sadly, our desire to eat delicious foods in social situations does not drop with our TDEE as we age. 1500 calories a day is very little food, and to achieve that TDEE you have to obsessively count every morsel you put in your mouth because it is so easy to exceed it.
@peebles. Thanks for starting this thread. I want to start off by saying I'm the biggest fasting fan. I have done it all of my adult life (I used to water fast once a month for a couple of days), long before the published research on health benefits began to emerge more significantly. So I primarily fast for health reasons and I'm totally sold.

However, whilst my BMI is just a tad over 26, I find myself at the highest weight of my life which to me is unacceptable. I know that some people would love to have this BMI at 53 but to me I don't like it. My TDEE is currently 1500 but this is only because I have gained weight and it has been down as low as 1300, so like you I have to be very careful indeed.

My initial loss was pretty typical; around three quarters of a pound a week and it slowed down after about 4 months so I switched to 4:3 but that did not do anything more.

My life change which is well known on these forums started the rapid gain. Now to be clear, I'm not binging but I am re-bounding on non fast days. However an additional 200 calories a day on my TDEE is enough to accumulate weight gain over a period of time as we all know unless I step up the exercise massively, but I can't always fit that into my day.

Like you, my most successful sustained weight loss was ketogenic but to be honest I didn't feel healthy and I was fed up at looking at the dark circles under my eyes even though I was a great weight.

I do think my brain has now re-wired itself to fast. It is actually hard NOT to. However I do feel pre-occupied about when and how. For example I have seven days coming up of eating out every day for various reasons. Today I have a business lunch and tonight I'm taking my OH out when I pick him up at the airport. So I'm already mentally thinking through eating windows and I will be low carb of course. But secretly I'm devastated that I know that I will probably end up gaining weight and being an emotional eater this does not put me in a good place. I have had my cortisol tested - it is low so I can't put it down to stress. It's greed - although 1500 cals a day cannot necessarily be called greedy! I will be chuffed (delighted) if I emerge the other end of January holding steady at my already high weight.

What has helped me is to go back to daily meal plans. That is, on non fast days to follow a nutritionally designed plan that manages my TDEE well (slightly under), is moderate carb/low GL and means I don't have to think about what to eat. So structure is important to me which is why it all falls apart when business commitments/travel get in the way and I end up being confronted by sandwich city (and get weird looks when I start picking out the middle).

I'm also consuming reading material on mindfulness, how to deal with the perfectionist mindset (I'm an all or nothing person ), and anything else I can get my hands on.

I'm fascinated by the subject and it is one of the reasons I continue, but now I focus on managing non fast days rather than fast days - so yes it's just another diet to me!

Thanks for starting this topic.
After approx. 12 months of fasting I was fed up and so was my body. I got colds often and I got hungry and cranky. Maybe it works until a certain point or certain weight?
I had the same experience with lowcarbing - but it took around 24 months before I couldn't uphold it any longer.
My guess is that it has physiological as well as psychological reasons.
My long-term plan is to do a mix when I'm back in shape - occasional fast days, low carb and 16:8. I kept my weight fairly stable until this christmas, followed by an all-inclusive holiday where I over ate 3 times a day :cool:
Interesting thread. I am keen to see how it develops.

At the moment we have next to no scientific evidence on the long-term effects of intermittent fasting. So it is all speculation, but my thoughts are: 1) just because we lost the weight through fasting may not mean that there is any difference in the changes that occur with weight loss with respect to increased pressure to regain from hypothalamic circuits 2) if we have to fast fairly intensively to get to/maintain the weight we want it could be that cortisol levels will rise resulting in an increase in fat storage 3) as we age our TDEE gets lower anyway and fasting won't change that so we might expect that if we keep our eating exactly the same after reaching our maintenance weight that we will see a gradual increase 4) if we buy into the concept of a 'set point' in weight then it could be that those who find maintenance easy have managed to reset their set point (or perhaps it was always there underlying the weight increase due to insulin resistance and so lowering insulin resistance enabled the body to return to its natural weight), whereas those who find maintenance difficult have a higher set point.

According to the tracker, my TDEE is around 1500 and I find the eating window method very effective (so far...I've been maintaining for only 8 months) without calorie counting. It really does seem to make a difference how long I fast for each day though, if I have a 5 hour eating window I seem to lose weight even if I appear to eat the same food as on a day when I have an 8 hour eating window when I will likely gain weight. It would be interesting to know how much insulin and other hormones are affected by 5:2/16:8 etc and whether this has any bearing on things.

A final thought to be going on with is that there do seem to be periods in the year when it is harder to control one's eating and it could be that in the northern hemisphere the winter conditions are making it harder?
peebles wrote: This topic came up in today's "Fasting today" thread, so I've moved it here so people who don't fast on Thursdays can also participate.

The issue is that a lot of us seem to be finding that we can't maintain our weight loss without continuing on with our same schedule of fasting. As several of us have found, fasting seems to make us eat a lot more on our non-fast days. After several months of comfortable fasting, I am also finding myself hungrier on fast days, which is making fasting harder, not easier for me.

Most worrisome to me is that I am noticing a disinclination to fast creeping into my thought patterns. But after seeing so many people coming in who fasted for long times, got to goal or near (as I have) and then regained a lot of weight, I think this needs to be explored by all of us adopting this life.

It took me 3 years of eating a ketogenic low carb diet to get to where I was feeling the kind of disinclination I am feeling right now for fasting. It took me many years of watching calories to get to this state, too, where the thought of fasting twice a week forever is no longer exciting, but feeling a bit grim.

I am at a great wieight, and I don't want to regain. I have regained significant weight in the past (once) and it took me a long time to get it back off. I'm older now and have an even lower TDEE.

But I am starting to wonder if perhaps dieting with intermittant fasting is doing something new and different to my brain hormones than my previous day-to-day diets did, something that is making it much harder to stick with the way I'm eating. So I'm starting to wonder whether it really will be possible to maintain. If I start dreading my two weekly fasts, this is going to be a big problem. As it is, I am barely maintaining my current weight fasting 2 times a week and being very good about hitting my calorie counts on fast days.

If I have to start counting calories every day to maintain, which I didn't have to do to lose 10 lbs, I will not be a happy camper. The beauty of this diet for me was that I could for the first time in decades eat like a normal person for 5 days of the week. If I have to go back to dieting every single day, well, it won't work and I will regain.

So what are your thoughts and experiences here. Please note that I'm a small old lady and my TDEE is about 1500 calories, so if you can maintain at 2200 some of the the strategies that will work nicely for you will not work for me. Sadly, our desire to eat delicious foods in social situations does not drop with our TDEE as we age. 1500 calories a day is very little food, and to achieve that TDEE you have to obsessively count every morsel you put in your mouth because it is so easy to exceed it.


I've highlighted the points you have made that relate exactly to me too.
I have been fasting for two years now. I needed to lose three stone; I lost 23lbs in the first year (mostly in the first 6 months) and 2lbs over the whole of 2014 and a couple of pounds so far this year since I renewed my efforts.
It was easy at first because the overall calorie deficit came from the two fast days with no problem at all and I ate what I liked on my 5 fast days. Since then it has been a struggle to really lose anything. I know it's because I'm "overeating" on my feed days but like you my TDEE is tiny (I'm 4'10" and just over 9 stone) so overeating to us is normal to everyone else sadly.
I don't know what to advise you really because my solution is to have a proper long term bash at 4:3 until I have lost this last stone and a bit then go back to 5:2 for permanent maintenance. I'm still really not on board with strict calorie counting on feed days, it takes away from the whole point of IF for me TBH.
I honestly don't know what I'll do if IF doesn't work for me in the long run, I can't ever go back to being fat but no other WOE has worked either!!
Interesting topic as I've been fasting for nearly two years now. The first year my tracker went steadily down wards and then since reaching my goal weight in the first year I have bounced about. The most I have put on is 7lbs but on some who is 5' that feels quite a lot. My TDEE is around 1400 at goal weight and 1500 at current weight so like others on here there is not really much to play with. I had a couple of weeks where I stopped any fasting/eating windows and just concentrated on eating to my TDEE, using MFP. Then the March challenge came up and I felt invigorated again with hopefully two successful fasts this week. Looking at my tracker I do seem to put weight on in the winter; I feel the cold and I don't exercise as much during the winter. However since I've started parkrun I'm running in the winter and I'm swimming with my OH so I'm hoping that the exercise and the fasting will see me back to goal shortly. One legacy is that I do not eat potatoes, pasta or rice very much and just occasionally eat a little bread and I eat a huge quantity of vegetables :)
Really interesting thread so thanks for starting it. I have been fasting for 2 years in June and while I hve lost a lot of weight, I am finding it impossible to lose any more and I lose and gain the same 2 kgs - I also seem to feel just lately that fasting is harder and I'm finding myself beset by urges to eat more bread/carby stuff. I am terrified of gaining back what I have lost but I really do feel that something has changed that is making it more difficult for me to lose and/or fast - I have gone over my target on fast days more than once just lately which is worrying to me. I have also read on here about others who are struggling to maintain and /or have gained so pleased someone has brought it up in a thread. Thanks@peebles!
OK Here's my foggy morning brain bit. I started fasting 2 years ago, lost 9kg which saw me at my lowest weight in probably 40 years. Trying to get to a goal is mentally way easier than trying to maintain, I mean one is like getting on a plane to a holiday destination, the other is like driving around the block...forever. so I started failing fasts, not mentally being able to face fasting and gained 7kg. Then once again I slapped myself with the wet fish and restarted fasting, quickly getting back to below goal. I pretty much always did 4:3 as 5:2 was not really weight loss in my eyes and also I was interested in Krista Varady's human research on ADF (but I found Friday was wineoclock and couldn't fast so 4.3 closest). I now do Varady's maintenance of 3x1000. This is certainly maintainable without too much heartache. BUT I believe it doesn't matter WHAT weightloss program we choose, there are always issues in maintaining a restrictive lifestyle. Let's face it, if the headlines today said 'new discovery says you can eat all the carbs you want and be healthier and slimmer than before' most of us would think this was heaven!
Years ago I read Dr Phil's Ultimate Weight Solution and no matter what you think of him, there are some brilliant insights. It IS all about the mind. There is 1 chapter on food, the rest is on the mind. To quote him (definitely not exactly) Weight problems aren't fixed, they are managed. Lots of us here will be in the category of food users for reasons other than nutrition. Children are rewarded for good behavior with junk food, how can we not grow up thinking I've been good pass me the good er bad food so I can give myself disease and obesity. I believe the bingeing on feast days is a direct link to this sort of thinking, I was good yesterday I restricted my food, therefore I deserve to have what I want today. Maybe not consciously, since the years of dieting make us feel guilty to consider this.

I believe the solution lies in the knowledge that we have to manage our weight for the rest of our lives and we need to find a way to do this that feels like living.
Thank you all for this great post and your wonderful contributions.

I'm brand-spanking new to IF, but I've been using other WOEs for a long time to lose weight and generally get healthier. In the last few years I've used counting calories and counting WW's points to lose 90lbs (40kg), but 50lbs of it I had to lose twice. For me the hardest part was sticking to it after I got sick of deprivation (and I never had to go below 1700 Calories a day to lose weight!) and tracking my calories/points. I would do great for six months, then I'd see myself slipping...
I see some of you as suffering from the same complaint, and I'm wondering if it's not about IF or the fasting, but just the constant sameness. Every time I got to the point where I was struggling, I'd switch up my WOE (from counting calories to WW and back again) and I'd jumpstart my weight loss again. This is how I've come to IF. I don't expect it to last forever, but I do think the 16:8 eating window will likely be a permanent fixture for me.
Would any of you consider taking 6 months to try a different WOE, then come back? I personally know that even when I have non-fast days on IF, I will not be able to go without counting calories, because I don't experience fullness, and would just keep eating.
Liz
Interesting topic on one of the 'million dollar questions'. Wish I could add something from my own experience, but I am afraid I can't (really fasted continuously for only 3 month to reach goal, at a stage where fasting would still result in weekly loss of more than a pound (even at BMI of 21), easy maintaining at TDEE of around 2200). So, I'm in a totally different ballgame. Can imagine that having to fast rigorously AND sticking close to 1500 on non-fast days would be very difficult mentally and fysically. So perhaps one way to change/ease things would be to consider upping your TDEE by burning more daily calories in a systematic way (by increasing activity level, not only by exercise but also by leading a less 'sitting life').
@P-JK, Alas, exercise doesn't have the same impact on many of us post-menopausal ladies that it does on males and the young. For long periods of time over the past 12 years I have gone to the gym almost daily and done what I could do in the way of exercise without seeing any change in my weight. If anything, exercising ramped up my hunger and made it tougher to maintain.

And now I'm at the delightful age when the discs dry up and rupture, the spine shrinks, and the joints and tendons can be damaged doing damn near anything. I can (and have) injure myself just walking around for an hour. When chirpy young "personal trainers" who have no idea what I'm dealing with tell me it's safe to do various exercises, I've learned the hard way they have no idea what they are talking about. The one trainer who had a disc problem similar to mine got me all revved up about overcoming it, only to end up herself in the hospital in very bad shape which made her have to give up her trainer job!

Truly almost nothing is known about the real impact of diet and exercise on menopausal and post-menopausal women. Almost all the research is conducted in Universities using study groups made up of students in their early 20s.
Great thread and very pertinent for me .i too am short ,older and dieted all my life so metabolism very low.
I an re trying 5/2 yet again having lost weight two years ago and then regained all plus more.this time it's just harder .i lose 300 g on a fast day and then re gain 200 g on a normal day and that normal day is what some people would consider a diet day. I am not an emotional eater ...my big treat is rice cakes and cream cheese
This is all very hard .
I think I will have to try 4/3
Peebles ,have you tried pilates ...in a studio with someone trained to deal with your issues.
I hardly know what to say--all I wanted when I started was to get to back to the dress size (US 12) from the size 14 that I had been for 5 years. It took only a few months to lose the 14 pounds (actually that last 4 pounds was just to make the final point a "nice round number") and I'm lucky enough to find maintenance easy. And I've never been overweight. So it seems I have no commonality with those who are struggling.--no experience with months or years of "dieting" or "yo-yo dieting" I can't imagine the discipline required and the disappointment so many feel.

Yet, I am older than anyone else I know of here (74), so I perhaps should be having post-menopausal problems with weight. But I'm using the estrogen patch and the progesterone capsule--maybe that makes a difference?

As for exercise, I mostly use the Leslie Sansone walking videos, doing 2 miles in 26 minutes--sometimes I throw in an old low-impact Jane Fonda or Weight Watchers video instead. Then I participate in Strength Training classes twice a week at our local senior center where the instructors are trained and experienced in working with seniors. We all modify the exercises to accommodate our "issues"--in my case, I don't do much bending over because of back problems and I use lighter weights for shoulder work. Most participants are in their 70's. I don't do these things things to control weight, but to maintain strength and agility.

As for IF changing my eating patterns on non-fast days, it's the knowledge that I've gained here that has caused me to virtually eliminate potatoes, rice, pasta and bread every day. I don't want to "waste calories" on such things, saving a few instead for premium ice cream and dark chocolate as a small dessert--things that I really, really like. Otherwise, I eat virtually the same on non-fast days as I did every day before IF.

Sorry to go on--I think my purpose is to say that we are all so different, in our makeup, in our experiences, and in our goals. I am so admiring of those of you who struggle, yet persevere.

Thank you, @peebles for getting this discussion started--an excellent exchange of views and experiences.
@Sarahg,

If you lose any more weight eating 4:3 you will have to be prepared to keep eating 4:3 to avoid not only regaining, but regaining more fat. The ugly truth about dieting is that most of us have to keep eating the amount of calories we were eating when our weight loss stalls out to maintain. No additional calories. That stall IS maintenance. And if we do regain, we end up with more fat on us a than we had the last time we were at that weight.

I knew all thist going in. But I had such an easy time fasting for a good 9 months that I figured it would be no problem at all to maintain. That's why it is such an unpleasant surprise to find that fasting is getting harder, not easier. I was ravenous most of the time today, while fasting, even with a project to keep me busy. And that has been true for all my fasts of the the last few weeks. The only time I haven't been really hungry has been when I had a stomach virus. <sigh>

I had planned to keep fasting until my fastiversary, which is Feb 23, but I am thinking that is a pretty arbitrary way to do things. My eating on non-fast days has ramped up along with the hunger while fasting. This is new and needs to be nipped in the bud!

Honestly, it has been feeling a bit during these last two weeks like aliens have taken over my brain and are ordering me to eat. That reeks of brain chemistry to me. I found myself eating literally twice as much for breakfast as I have eaten, daily, for the last 10 years. (I usually eat very much the same breakfast.) And I've been nibbling all day long, something I don't usually do. And now here I am starving.

I like figuring things out, so I am going to figure this out.

Right now I'm thinking I will do a 735 calorie fast on Monday instead of 435 might be a good place to start. I will have my usual breakfast for the extra calories, and a bit more protein.

I'll try that for a few weeks, and if I am still ravenous all the time, I may just have to try something else. Perhaps an "all you can eat" Atkins diet, since I don't gain weight on "all you can eat: Ketogenic diets, even when I eat a lot--though I don't lose anything on them, either. The only way I lose weight is by cutting way, way back on calories.
Thank you @Marybeth. Your thoughtful post resonates with me. I'm off to bed but will respond at the weekend. :sleepy: :sleepy: :sleepy: :sleepy: :sleepy: :sleepy: :sleepy: :sleepy:
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