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Updated: Sep 12, 2022

“Doc, I’m doing all the right things, eating healthy and exercising, but I just can’t seem to lose weight.” This is a common complaint that I often hear. This person may have hit a metabolic wall.

Metabolic walls can result from many things, including medications, illnesses, lifestyle, and hormones. For example, thyroid abnormalities, sleep deprivation, or women experiencing the change of life may hit metabolic walls.

I recently hit a metabolic wall. I was eating fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. I was exercising. But, my weight just wasn’t budging. I decided to try a new technique that I had read about called intermittent fasting (IF). My IF approach was not eating breakfast until late morning or early afternoon, allowing me to go 16-18 hours without eating. Over 3 months, I dropped 10 pounds and 2 inches off my waistline. Then, I hit another metabolic wall. So, I altered my IF approach to fast 16-18 hours on only 3-4 days per week, alternating every other day with normal eating (3 meals per day). My weight and waistline started to drop again.

In my case, it seems as though my metabolism has certain set points depending upon my lifestyle. I had changed my diet and exercise habits before with short-term results, but it always seemed that my body wanted to go back to the weight (the set point) that it was before. However, with intermittent fasting, it seems as though my body is actually changing my set point. I recently went off my IF plan for a weekend, splurging regularly over a 48-hour span (feasting). I gained 5 pounds. When I went back to my alternating IF schedule, my weight quickly began dropping back down toward my previous weight.

For further explanation of metabolic walls and set points, check out Dr. Jason Fung’s book on intermittent fasting called THE OBESITY CODE. Intermittent fasting often helps with weight loss as well as lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

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