Weight regain is a common concern. Nobody wants to do all that fasting and then end up gaining the weight right back!
Let’s look at why some weight can come back after a fast, and how you can prevent it or at least minimize it.
Why does the weight come back?
First of all, it’s important to remember that weight gain and fat gain are not the same thing. Gaining weight doesn’t always mean you’ve gained fat.
Many things can lead to an increased weight reading on the scales. It’s normal for your weight to fluctuate by as much as three or four pounds a day. That won’t mean that you’ve regained three or four pounds of actual fat!
Fluid retention (“water weight”) is the most common cause which can happen as a result of electrolyte imbalance, inflammation or hormonal shifts.
Food reintroduction after fasting adds weight in the form of waste products in your digestive tract.
And if you do strength training, then you’ll know that muscle gain also reflects as a weight gain on the scales.
How much weight can be regained?
It depends on what you eat, how much you eat, and how quickly you eat it.
Some people don’t gain anything back at all. And some even lose more weight after the refeed.
In the first few days after your fast, it’s common for the scale to go up by a few pounds after a refeed. But that’s mostly water weight and waste products from the reintroduction of food. Follow safe refeeding guidelines to make this period easier.
The next few weeks after that are more important. The possibility of weight regain will depend on your lifestyle.
Because remember what caused you to gain the fat in the first place: eating around the clock. And possibly eating the wrong kinds of foods. You can’t go back to doing that again and expect the weight not to come back.
How can I maintain my new weight post-fasting?
Now let’s talk about actual fat gain. The most important thing to note is that fasting is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
If you don’t want to regain the fat, you’ll need some form of maintenance plan.
Many people find that intermittent fasting like OMAD (One Meal A Day) or ADF (Alternate Day Fasting) works great for maintenance. Or you might choose to eat normally five days a week and fast for two days a week.
Another option is to go Keto or low-carb and throw in a fasting day here and there.
Experiment until you find a diet or a fasting protocol that helps you to maintain your weight.
What can be done to minimize the regain?
Here are a few other tips to help you minimize the amount of weight you gain back after fasting:
Keto / Low-Carb
Going Keto or low carb will help to keep you in ketosis and make it harder for your body to store fat or to retain fluids.
Avoid high-carb foods during the refeed
Even if you don’t want to go full-on Keto, try to avoid high-carb foods during your refeed phase. Carbs absorb a lot of water and this will make that number on the scale go up.
Get those electrolytes in! Continue your electrolytes during the refeed phase. Not getting enough electrolytes can cause you to retain fluids.
Phosphorus and B-vitamins
If your fast was 14 days or longer, supplement with phosphorus and B-vitamins during your refeed to help your digestive system re-adjust back to normal eating
It sounds counterintuitive, but if you don’t drink enough water your body will hang onto fluids
Be Cautious during your Refeed Phase
If you break a fast, especially an Extended Fast, and suddenly have major fluid retention, get checked out by a doctor. This is not normal and you could be having some refeeding issues such as refeeding edema or even refeeding syndrome.
Try not to worry about regaining a little weight
Consider this part of the process, and know that it doesn’t mean you wasted your time fasting. It just means that your body is doing what it’s supposed to do.
Fasting is a journey and each fast brings you closer to your destination!