7 Intermittent Fasting Mistakes That Could Make You Gain Weight


I suggest a few days of intermittent fasting with my clients from time to time. Once their body is cleaned out with a totally nutritious detox and then it gets used to getting all of its nutritional needs met through clean ketosis, the initial quick weight loss can slow down a bit. The body is relieved to know it's getting all the nutrients and gladly burns fat, where it was holding on before, when it wasn't getting what it needs. Eventually, however, the body might get so content to use the keto foods and quantity and may plateau. Intermittent fasting once or twice a week can help shake things up and get their body back into fat burning mode. It's also said to inspire cellular regeneration, which contributes to better health. For some people, however, it doesn't seem to have much weight loss benefit. This often occurs in people who have been in a long time habit of starving the body and then bringing on large amounts of junk once a day. Their body thinks healthy I.F. is just going back to those old, bad habits. This article gives some other suggestions for why I.F. might not be working for some people.   


How to train your brain to meet your weight loss goals in 2018


To many, January 1st is the start of a familiar cycle. The initial few weeks of the year, you’re a paragon of health. You make it to the gym four times a week and stick to your diet plan. But then, Valentine’s Day rolls around, and you give into the office candy jar—three times in one day. Then in March, the cruise you’ve had planned since last June lures you in with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Before you know it, you’re even farther off the healthy-eating wagon than you were back in December.

“Weight loss is the least likely New Year’s Resolution to be achieved,” says Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, New York Times Best-Selling author and founder of Bright Line Eating. “Research shows that fewer than one percent of people with a serious weight problem are going to get into a right-sized body in any given year.” A 2015 study published by the American Journal of Public Health illustrates this point: over a nine-year period, the probability of obese subjects attaining a normal weight was 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women. The probability shrinks even further—just 1 in 1290 for men and 1 in 677 for women—among those considered morbidly obese.

The odds for an obese person who starts doing Bright Line Eating? An astounding 1 in 5. On average across all gender and weight categories, the program is 55 times more successful than other approaches.

Why do people struggle so severely to achieve their weight loss resolutions?

Dr. Thompson, who was once obese herself, says significant weight loss is a goal that’s closely tied to identity. “Studies show that it’s a major deal to totally change your life, to go from obese or overweight to slender. The fear of failure is huge. So, a lot of people don’t even get started,” she says.

Another reason is that people have a fundamentally flawed mentality about the process. They think it’s simply about eating less and exercising more. The reality, Dr. Thompson explains, is that in order to make a lasting change you essentially have to reprogram your brain.

Several years ago, the term “decision fatigue” became a prominent feature of think pieces and tech blogs, which touted the trend of Silicon Valley CEOs wearing the same outfit every day. This phenomenon is based upon the theory that deciding what to wear in the morning eats away at a finite amount of decision power in your brain.

The same hypothesis can be applied to willpower, explains Dr. Thompson. “The seed of willpower is this little part of the brain right behind the prefrontal cortex called the anterior cingulate cortex,” she says. “It’s kind of like a battery pack that has only 15 minutes of charge at any given time.”

So, when you’ve used up your willpower on, say, a stressful work meeting before you have to figure out what you’ll eat for lunch that day, the odds you’ll opt for a burger and fries skyrocket.

The solution, says Dr. Thompson, is to make your eating choices as automatic as brushing your teeth twice a day. This automaticity is governed by the basal ganglia—an entirely different part of the brain.

“You need to get your eating into that part of the brain so you’re not making choices on the fly, which makes you vulnerable to what I call the ‘Willpower Gap,’” she says. The "Willpower Gap" refers to the difference between how people want to eat and the reality of the unhealthy choices they tend to make.

“There’s this huge difference between the kind of eating that’s in alignment with our goals and our high standards of self-care, and the way we actually do eat when life gets busy or stressful, or when we’re under pressure,” she says.

And, despite mixed opinions on whether New Year’s resolutions are effective or simply a gimmick, Dr. Thompson says there’s real data behind the clean-slate mentality—although vaguely resolving to “eat better and exercise” probably won’t get you very far. “If you take January 1st as an opportunity to entrust yourself into the care of a proven system, then absolutely, [New Year’s resolutions] can be effective,” she says.

Here are a few daily practices that can help you finally achieve your weight loss goals in 2018.

Focus on diet over exercise. If the first item on your weight-loss checklist is to renew your gym membership, you’re prioritizing the wrong piece of the puzzle.

The biggest problem with overemphasizing exercise is the “compensation effect,” says Dr. Thompson. Essentially, the “I deserve this muffin” mentality that tends to accompany a trip to the gym. Exercise also erodes willpower and can be a time-suck, which means you’re more likely to fall back on fast, unhealthy foods at mealtime.

Dr. Thompson does concede that working out is great for plenty of things: it boosts self-esteem, increases longevity, improves memory and cardiovascular stamina, etc. But, she says, research is very clear: it does little—if anything—to help you drop pounds.

Make the right thing to eat the easiest thing to eat. To make your food choices automatic, make them as easy as possible.

When it comes to weight loss, “the danger of focusing on the goal is enormous,” says Dr. Thompson, noting that an obsession with the scale is only setting yourself up for failure. “Focus on a process, rather than on a goal,” she explains. “Instead of saying, ‘I want to weigh 120 pounds by August 1st,’ you’re better off saying, ‘I want to write down my food the night before each day.’”

She suggests doing just this: writing down planned meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—the night before, and sticking to the list no matter what. By doing this, “You’re going to make the right thing to eat the easiest thing to eat at any given time,” she says. “So instead of being a free-range eater, you’re going to teach yourself to eat in a systematic way. The difference is huge.”

Practice self-care and gratitude. Dr. Thompson suggests wearing your “bunny slippers” and treating yourself to whatever self-care practices make you feel best—like taking a warm bubble bath, making a list of three things you’re grateful for every night, or meditating daily. These supplemental, feel-good exercises go hand in hand with working toward a healthy weight and staying there.

Eat three meals a day. Sticking to your “Bright Lines”—or the hard-and-fast, no-exceptions rules at the core of Bright Line Eating, which include stipulations, like no added sugars or flour—becomes exponentially more difficult when you’re eating small meals many times throughout the day.

“If you’re eating six small meals a day, you’re a sitting duck for the donuts in the break room,” says Dr. Thompson. “What you need to learn is to say, ‘No, thank you,’ to all food if it’s not mealtime.”

Research shows that most people who lose weight and keep it off follow a specific system. The Bright Line Eating Boot Camp is an eight-week online program that can help you start training your brain for healthy eating habits. People from more than 100 countries have gone through the program. The Clean Start process walks you through the beginning part of the journey step by step, from suggesting supplies to buy—like a digital food scale to make sure you eat enough (the portions are large and filling)—to Customized Care Weekly Coaching Calls, access to social support through the Bright Line Buddy System, and 24/7 interaction and engagement.

“It’s a very intensive, thorough, and amazing Boot Camp,” says Dr. Thompson. “On average, people lose 17 pounds in the eight weeks. And on average, people keep that weight off and continue to lose.”

Unlike traditional diets, which tend to make people more obsessed with food, Dr. Thompson says that data from the Bright Line Boot Camp shows participants experience the reverse: “Almost all [participants] say that their peace and serenity around food has gone up, their hunger has gone down, and they experience little to no food cravings anymore,” she says.


Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, and author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free.

Why You Need to Eat Fat to Burn Fat

It gets a bad rap, but adding some fat to your diet may be the key to a slimmer you


For a long time, we thought avocados were good for nothing but ready-made guac and a decent California burger every now and then. But these little nutritional hand grenades were having an explosive impact on our diets for all that time. How so?

They’re infused with a key nutrient for maintaining healthy weight: fat.

Wait…fat can help us maintain our weight? Fat doesn’t make us fat? In a word: exactly.

Fat is not something to avoid. For starters, it’s essential for normal growth and development. Dietary fat also provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients. Even better, it helps the body burn fat, says nutritionist and owner of Nutritious Life meal system, Keri Glassman, RD, who recommends that about a third of any weight-loss plan’s calories come from dietary fat.

BUT: Not all fatty foods are created equal. While pizza, French fries and hamburgers can contribute to weight gain and deterioration of health, the dietetic community is learning that the overall nutritional content of these foods — not their saturated fat — is what’s to blame. Sure, research from 50 years ago found that saturated fatty acids, a type of fat that’s “saturated” with hydrogen and typically solid at room temperature, raised LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

But a reevaluation of that research has shown that they raise HDL (good) cholesterol just as much, if not more, protecting the body from unhealthy cholesterol levels and heart disease, says nutritionist and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association Tara Gidus, RD. “Instead of making any one thing in the diet a villain, we need to look at total caloric content as well as quality of food, what are we eating that is ‘good’ and helping our body’s immune system and cells to stay healthy.”

Most of the fat that you eat — especially if you want to lose weight — should come from unsaturated sources, both monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA), Glassman says. Why?

These good-for-you foods (like fish, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, olive oil, and of course, avocados) pack tons of nutrients. Besides removing LDL cholesterol from arteries and promoting a healthier heart, unsaturated fat can help you burn fat big time without cutting calories.

A 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that participants who consumed the most unsaturated fatty acids have lower body-mass indexes and less abdominal fat than those who consumed the least. Why?

The unsaturated folks ate higher-quality foods. Not long ago, manufacturers marketed low-fat and no-fat everything, and consumers responded by chowing down. It’s healthy, right?

Wrong. All wrong. Besides stripping our bodies of a much-needed nutrient, low- and no-fat diet movements have increased obesity rates. Why?

It turns out that fat provides a big component to the foods we love: Taste. When food manufacturers removed fat from their foods, they had to load the foods with sugar and salt, which are nutrient-free, to increase flavor.

Here are other crucial ways fat can help you slim down:

Fat Burns Fat

The body needs three macronutrients for energy: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A gram of fat packs more than twice the energy of a gram of the other two. “When you don’t have any fat in your diet its like you don’t have fuel to burn calories,” Glassman says. The body requires energy to keep its metabolism properly functioning, and a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming fatty acids can boost metabolic health.

What’s more, “old” fat stored in the body’s peripheral tissues—around the belly, thighs, or butt (also called subcutaneous fat)—can’t be burned efficiently without “new” fat to help the process, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver.

Think of mealtime like baseball spring training: young, hungry players (new fat) hit the field and show the general manger (the liver) that it’s time to send the old, worn-out players (subcutaneous fat) home. And away they go.

Fat Keeps You Full

Fat isn’t the easiest nutrient to digest, so it sticks around in the digestive system for more time than many other nutrients. MUFAs may also help stabilize blood sugar levels, according to Mayo Clinic. That means you feel full longer, and you won’t feel the stomach-growling urge to raid the refrigerator after mealtime.

In fact, diets with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of PUFA that the body can only acquire through food, create a greater sense of fullness both immediately following and two hours after dinner than do meals with low levels of the fatty acids, according to a 2008 study from University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. It’s no surprise that dieters who consume moderate levels of fat are more likely to stick with their eating plans than dieters who consume low levels of fat.

The result? More weight lost.

Fat Makes You Happy

Everyone says that dieting, not to put too fine a point on it, stinks. Eating yummy foods makes you happy, and it turns out low-fat versions just don’t do the trick for one surprising reason: We can taste the fat — not just the salt, sugar and other goodies in food.

Recent research from Purdue University shows that our taste buds can detect fat in food, which helps explain why low-fat foods don’t curb our fat cravings. According to the research, fat may be an entirely different basic taste than what we’ve long considered the four mainstays: sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

On an even happier fat note, omega-3 fatty acids can boost serotonin levels in the brain, helping to improve mood, increase motivation and keep you from devouring a large pizza like it’s your job. 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men have suffered from diagnosed binge-eating disorders, while millions more people are occasional emotional eaters, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Fat Builds Muscle

“Eating good fats along with an effective exercise program can increase muscle,” says trainer and owner of Results Fitness, Rachel Cosgrove, CSCS, who notes that increasing muscle mass is vital to increasing metabolism and burning calories both in and out of the gym. In a 2011 study published in Clinical Science, researchers examined the effects of eight weeks of PUFA supplementation in adults ages 25 to 45 and found that the fat increases protein concentration and the size of muscular cells in the body. Previous studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and can mediate muscle mass loss due to aging.

Fat Makes Food Better for You

Many nutrients including vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning that the body can’t absorb them without fat. If your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly, that can lead to vitamin deficiencies and bring on dry skin, blindness, brittle bones, muscle pains, and abnormal blood clotting, according to Gidus.

These vitamins are also key to maintaining energy, focus, and muscle health, all of which contribute to a healthy weight. Vitamin E, for example is a powerful antioxidant and helps maintain your metabolism, while the body’s levels of vitamin D predicts its ability to lose fat, especially in the abdominal region, according to a clinical trial from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

So while you can pile your salad high with nutrient-rich spinach, tomatoes and carrots, you really need to thank the olive oil for sending the salad’s vitamins your way.


Low Carb Stuffing



  • 1 loaflow-carb bread, crumbled or cut into cubes (Sami's Bakery)
  • 1 T coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6-7 cups chopped celery - about 2 small bunches
  • 1 green Bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning, such as Bells
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Sea salt - start with 1/2 teaspoon, or 1 T chicken or turkey soup base (see below)
  • 1 cup low sodium organic chicken broth, plus more according to moisture needed
  • 1egg (if a loaf like stuffing is desired)


1) 1 - 1½ lb loaf of low-carb bread if you have access to it. Different types of bread will bring different results, so you may have to adjust the amount of liquid, seasonings, etc. Allow the bread to dry out for a while, either on the counter on in a low heat oven. It doesn't have to be totally dry, just kind of stale-level dry.

2) Sauté onion, celery, and pepper in oil until soft. Add parsley and cook for a minute or so, until wilted. Add seasonings.

3) Mix together the vegetables and the bread. Add a cup of broth, stir, and taste. Adjust seasoning and moisture. If you're going to stuff poultry with it, leave it on the dry side because it will absorb a lot of juices during cooking. You can eat it just as it is, but if you bake it, the flavors will come together better. Adding egg will make it come together in more of a melded-together form. Mix well and bake at 350 F. for about half an hour, or until browned on top.


Should we consider skipping breakfast?

For years we have always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It is the meal that jump starts our metabolism.

Where is all this evidence?

In a recent paper, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers approached the breakfast question with a healthy dose of skepticism.

They analyzed dozens of studies looking at one particularly interesting relationship: breakfast and body weight. And asked the question: Is the evidence really that strong?

A little background first.

Many nutrition experts claim that breakfast is so important because it helps with weight management. (They also think that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain and obesity.)

Interestingly, it’s this supposed causal relationship between breakfast and body weight that forms a cornerstone belief of the “most important meal of the day” movement.

Unfortunately for this movement, the link is weak. And it’s correlational, not causal.

In essence, we know there’s some relationship between breakfast and body weight. But we don’t know what the relationship is. Or whether it’s important.

With that said, back to the study.

In analyzing dozens of individual papers — called a meta-analysis — the researchers concluded that the link between breakfast and body weight is “only presumed true.”

In other words, the idea that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is more of a “shared belief” than a research proven conclusion.

Here’s how it works.

Since we’ve heard it so often — heck, some of us have even said it — the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” becomes part of our cultural lexicon.

Then, because we believe in it culturally, any information that runs counter it is assumed to be wrong. Even before we evaluate the evidence.

Interestingly, according to this published research, it’s not just regular people who commit this error. Nutrition experts and researchers do the same thing.

In fact, when they really dug into the literature, they found four extremely serious problems:

1) researchers were offering biased interpretation of their own results,
2) researchers were improperly using causal language to describe their results,
3) researchers were misleadingly citing others’ results, and
4) researchers were improperly using causal language when citing others’ work.

All this to say that researchers aren’t immune to bias.

In fact, when it comes to the relationship between breakfast and body weight, many researchers are so committed to the shared belief that eating breakfast is the right thing to do that they — often unintentionally — misrepresent their results and the work of others.

How important is breakfast really?

Of course, we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

Just because some research is biased — or incomplete — doesn’t mean that it’s meaningless. So let’s start with some of the proposed benefits of eating breakfast.

In the literature, eating breakfast is consistently associated with:

· decreased overall appetite
· decreased overall food consumption
· decreased body weight
· improved academic performance
· improved blood sugar control

If we stopped there, of course we’d presume that breakfast skipping is a dumb move.

However, we can’t stop there. Because the majority of this evidence is observational. It suggests there’s a relationship — a correlation — without proving cause.

For example: It could be that people who are “healthy” for other reasons — like the fact that they work out more or benefit from a higher socioeconomic status — also eat breakfast. While those who are “unhealthy” — because they don’t exercise or live below the poverty line — skip it.

In this case, breakfast just happens to co-exist with health rather than cause it.

So here’s the bottom line: When examining research that actually controls for all the variables and looks at cause and effect, the results are pretty mixed.

In other words, breakfast looks to be beneficial for some of us. But not for others.

The strongest of this evidence suggests that breakfast is most important for malnourished or impoverished children. But, for other populations, it seems to bejust another meal. No better. No worse. Completely negotiable.

Are there benefits to skipping breakfast?

There’s also the new data showing that skipping breakfast might not be so bad after all.

Folks with Type 2 diabeties, for example, did better in this study when they skipped breakfast altogether and ate a larger lunch.

Other folks who were told to skip breakfast ended up eating less overall compared to breakfast eaters.

And skipping breakfast is also just as effective as eating breakfast for weight loss.

Of course, we can play dueling studies all day long. I can show a study suggesting one thing. You can find a study suggesting the opposite. And, in the end, when it comes to the value of breakfast, we’d be at a scientific stalemate.

Which is why I often look at what’s happening outside of the literature.

The breakfast skipping movement.

In the popular media and across the web, an interesting breakfast counter-culture is cropping up. A virtual army of people intentionally skipping breakfast are sharing a host of health benefits they’ve experienced since getting rid of their morning meal.

This movement is part of a larger one known as intermittent fasting; the most popular form involves skipping breakfast each day, extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before until lunch the next day.

There are other types of fasting that involve even longer fasts each day, extending the overnight fast from dinner the night before to dinner the next day. And other types that even suggest skipping meals for one or two entire days each week.

And the reported health effects of an intelligently designed intermittent fasting program read like a laundry list of live longer, live better benefits including:

blood lipids, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer

Cell turnover and repair, fat burning, growth hormone release, and metabolic rate

Appetite control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular function, and neuronal plasticity

And, yes, many experts believe that skipping breakfast is part of the magic here.

(To read more about intermittent fasting, including a review of the most popular types and a summary of my own personal experiments, click here.)

So, will skipping breakfast be better for me?

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Preliminary evidence suggests that skipping breakfast can:

· increase fat breakdown
· increase the release of growth hormone (which has anti-aging and fat loss benefits)
· improve blood glucose control
· improve cardiovascular function
· decrease food intake

However, the truth is, most of this research has been done in animals, with only a few conclusive human studies. So, while intriguing, there’s certainly no guarantee that these changes in our physiology will actually lead to long-term benefits.

In fact, many times, immediate changes are corrected for, and balanced out, later. That’s why acute changes don’t always lead to chronic ones.

Also, anecdotally, skipping breakfast seems to be a mixed bag.

Many report great results from skipping breakfast and having fewer, but larger, meals each day. Others report that it provides no benefit. Yet others report some really negative effects, such as decreased energy, lack of focus, and disrupted sleep.

Clearly eating breakfast — or skipping it — is not a panacea. Of course, no nutritional solution ever is.

What to do now.

The take-home message here is pretty simple: Breakfast is optional.

(Which means it’s not “the most important meal of the day.”)

  • If you love breakfast, are doing well with eating it, and feel like it’s helping you accomplish your health and/or fitness goals: Keep at it!
  • If you’re not a breakfast person, function really well without it, and are accomplishing your health and/or fitness goals: there’s no harm in waiting until later.

Of course, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that  matters too. But that’s another topic for another day.

By: John Berardi, Ph.D.