If you want to be doing intermittent fasting but don’t have the time or the ability to work out, don’t fret. I’ve worked with a lot of people who had great results with intermittent fasting without exercising. I have even done that myself for a couple of months
Intermittent Fasting balances your hormones and makes you burn more calories even without exercising, resulting in weight loss. Moreover, fasting can raise your growth hormone levels even higher than working out does. However, for faster results, exercising alongside other nuances are recommended.
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that it is kind of a diet on its own. It’s true that intermittent fasting means only changing the times you are/aren’t eating, however, it can balance your hormones enough to speed up your metabolism and make you lose weight even if you still ate the same things as before and didn’t change anything other than the times you eat at.
But should you? Should you continue with your bad habits you’re used to, and rely only on fasting to do the miracles?
Well, No. You shouldn’t.
You shouldn’t try to do everything at once, but you also shouldn’t change one thing and believe that it can, on its own, fix your life.
That being said, if exercise is not on the table for you for some reason, should that be medical or even related to lack of time, let me give you some advice on what you can add to your daily routine to compensate for not working out.
1- Prolong Your Fasting Window
One of the best ways to speed your metabolism up in intermittent fasting once you’ve settled in and are ready for upping your game, is by extending your fasting window.
It’s important to only attempt that once you’re comfortable with what you have been doing.
Fasting gradually for more hours will help you spike your growth hormone levels higher and for longer, resulting in lower insulin levels, which result in preserving more muscle and burning more fat.
2- Get Your Carbs Intake To the Lowest Threshold
This is usually 20g per day for most people. However, you should do some testing and figure out the best threshold for you. 20g can be too much for you and need to settle for less for the best results, or you might find that you can go a bit higher and still be both feeling good and achieving the milestones you have set for yourself.
On the other hand, when you have more carbs than your body can take, especially if these are high glycemic index foods or sugary snacks, you will be spiking insulin too much within your eating window, that it can override the GH spike in your fasting window, which can even lead to weight gain.
It might be a bit lower than that to the degree that they cancel each other’s effects out and you end up staying right where you are.
#Bonus Tip: Make Sure You’re On The Right Track
It can be overwhelming to learn about nutrition from all angles, but it’s a must if you want to put your life back on track, and keep it there. The good news is that you don’t have to be going through it by yourself.
I, Nabeel Kallas, the doctor writing this article (Hi!), am offering one-on-one consultations to give you advice tailored to your journey and your needs. I’m running an incredible offer right now that will be gone soon. Find out more about it here.
Such an investment can pay off big time when it shows you how to achieve what you want sooner, easier and more reliably. So I encourage you not to waste this rare opportunity.
If that’s not in the cards for you, you should aim to do more and more research to know more about what your body needs from you on a daily basis, and why you’re not seeing the results you’re working hard to achieve.
Some of these things you’ll learn more about throughout the remainder of this article.
3- Lower Your Calorie Intake
There’s one equation we can not ignore when it comes to weight loss. It’s nothing new. It’s actually one of the oldest theories that still holds up until today, although we have been learning how to manipulate it and play with one or both of its parts to get better results.
It’s Calories In VS. Calories Out.
There is no going around the fact that if you ate more calories than your body needs, those calories will be stored in some form within your body. If you exercise well and eat enough protein, these calories will be stored as muscle. In most other cases, this surplus of calories will get stored as fat.
Aren’t there ways you can cheat the process by making your body need more calories to be able to get away with eating more? Sure there is. Intermittent fasting is one of those ways. And working out is another.
But at the end of the day, even if you’re doing both but overeating in calories you will gain weight.
Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself over-treating yourself and then wonder why you’re not seeing satisfying results.
4- Focus More On Micronutrients And What Goes Into Your Meals
I still stand for what I just said about the importance of calories and macronutrients, but micronutrients can be as important, if not more.
This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way, as I had to suffer from almost all the consequences of these vitamins and minerals deficiencies in order to realize how important it is to keep them in mind when I’m planning out my meals.
Sodium deficiency will cause you headaches and make you foggy. It can even make you want to break your fast before time, thinking that you’re hungry.
And the fix can be as simple as adding a pinch more salt to your meals.
Potassium deficiency can make you plateau way too early and hinder your muscle-building progress.
The fix? More leafy green foods.
Magnesium deficiency can cause that annoying muscle pain, especially in your calf, known as a muscle spasm. Solution? More nuts and seeds, like almonds, chia, and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C Deficiency can make you feel tired and sleepy during the day and cause you to be less productive.
Magic fix? Eat more kale and broccoli.
5- Know How Much Fat Is Too Much For You
This goes back to the calories equation.
Fat becomes more of a problem for two reasons: 1- people who do intermittent fasting tend to do Keto/low carb alongside it, which means they eat more fat. and 2- fat has more than double the calories compared to protein and carbs (gram to gram)
However, what makes fat a great macronutrient that is advised to be included in our diets if added through healthy sources is that it takes longer to digest within our bodies, making us feel satiated for longer, in addition to it being a very steady source of energy that results in fewer ups and downs of energy within the day.
However, you can eat too much of anything. And although it’s harder to overeat fat than to overeat sugary foods, you can still overeat and end up on a plateau or even gaining weight.
6- Not Enough Protein vs. Too Much Protein
Protein is be considered a make-it-or-break-it macronutrient.
It is super important to eat enough of it, or else your muscles can shrink and you’ll end up looking older and feeling weaker even if you’re losing weight. This is one of the most famous ways people manage to lose weight “unhealthily”.
On the other hand, if you ate way more protein than you need, your body will go through a process called Gluconeogenesis, where it basically converts protein to glucose. And if that glucose is a considerable amount, it might kick you out of the fat-adaptation stage and mess up the hormones you worked so hard on balancing.
7- Drink Coffee During Your Fasting Widow
This is an amazing thing you add to your routine when you do it right. While coffee is not scientifically proven to make you lose weight, it’s been found that it promotes the feeling of fullness for some people.
This can make you feel more satiated for longer, and thus help you fast more if you drink it towards the end of your fasting window.
Adding butter or coconut oil to and making it a bulletproof cup is not recommended if you’re looking for better and faster weight loss results, although it can be awesome to be added in the first stages of Fat-adaptation, as it can make the transformation smoother and faster.
8- Exercising Is Not As Limited As You Think
Don’t think about exercising as only going to the gym 5 days a week and working on each and every muscle throughout the week. While that’s kind of ideal, it doesn’t need to be the case for you.
For whatever reason you think you can’t exercise, thus you landed on this article, and your reason might be legit enough that any of the alternatives I’m about to offer will also not work for you.
But they might.
I used to be so caught up in everything I had to get done as a medical student living on my own. Between doing house chores, going to the hospital, keeping up with my medical studies, and striving to have a bit of time left to meet up with my friends, I went through times where I didn’t think it was an option to renew my gym membership.
But I decided that I shouldn’t be ok with the idea of not moving. This was after I went through a period of time where I had that no-moving, static, sedentary lifestyle and I had to learn the hard way that this lifestyle is not good for my body nor for my mental state.
So I decided no more.
I started to look into the little details, the few minutes here and there.
Instead of taking the bus between my college and the hospital, I decided to walk there.
Instead of staying on the bus when heading back home, I decided to get off the bus early and have a daily 20-minute walk.
Instead of gluing to 5 days of the gym a week or nothing at all, I decided on a compromise in that specific period and got myself a 2-day-per-week membership.
Every now and then, I go play tennis with a private coach, go swimming, or go running in the morning while listening to a podcast on whatever I’m trying to improve myself in.
Exercise can be very harmonically added to your lifestyle if you plan that smartly.
9- Make Effort To Sleep For At Least 7 Hours Per Night
Man, how these subtle changes can really make or break your diet.
Sleep is one of those.
Sleeping less than your body needs can make you crave food more the following day, especially carby and sugary foods. So it has some indirect effects on weight loss that can become significant in the long run.
Some people have also associated their feelings of tiredness and exhaustion with fasting, not their lack of sleep, which made them decide to discontinue the diet altogether.
This is why looking into how much sleep you’re getting, and how good that sleep quality is can play a big role in whether or not intermittent fasting is working best for you and getting you closer to where you want to be.