Intermittent fasting has been the ONLY thing that got me to lose my belly fat and deliver some serious results. Had I found intermittent fasting earlier, I would have avoided YEARS of having a an uncomfortable amount of belly fat despite putting in strenuous workouts.
I had even given up drinking alcohol a couple of days before my 35th birthday. I was hoping that avoiding the excessive calories frodm alcohol and the poor food choices that I’d make the day after drinking would result in a trimmer me.
I took progress photos a month later and hoped to see a huge difference. And I saw a difference — but the results disappointed me. I wanted more results for the effort that I was putting in.
I felt like a shitty vegan. An example of why not to go vegan — you’ll be pudgy. I wanted to do better. So, I started reading more and more about why belly fat persists. Mine always had. My legs and arms would get muscular, but my stomach would not budge.
I came across intermittent fasting while researching. Within 24 hours, I adopted it as my eating pattern nearly every day moving forward. Here are my before and after results and how I adopted this habit in the long-term. Please consult a doctor before you dive in yourself!
INTERMITTENT FASTING BEFORE AND AFTER RESULTS: 2 MONTHS AND WAY LESS BELLY FAT
The results were amazing. At age 35, as my metabolism slowed down, I was finally losing belly fat.
I learned so much during this process — like that there are alpha and beta receptor fat cells. Stomach fat tends to have alpha cells, which are more resistant to being mobilized and broken down. The bastards!
However, it was comforting to know that it wasn’t my imagination. My belly fat was indeed more stubborn. However, intermittent fasting helped me finally make a dent in that problem. Here are the main tips and tricks that I learned on my fasting journey, along with the basic 411.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating.
You decide how many hours a day you allow yourself to eat and how many hours you do not eat. Why do you do this? To have your body enter a “fasted” state. The following section explains why this is desirable for your body to achieve if you want a flatter tummy.
It can vary how long it takes every single body to enter a fasted state. For weight loss, 12 hours is the minimum. There are other benefits to fasting that require longer fasts. But for here, I’m focused on losing belly fat. I recommend people at least start with a 12-hour fast. But to be on the safe side, 15 or 16 hours is a safer bet.
Also, this is important: the common wisdom says that if you exceed 50 calories, you break your fast. And yes, many experts believe that if you consume ANY calories, you break your fast. I opted for about 15-20 calories just to be on the safe side. So, feel free to have your coffee — just refrain from creamer. Instead, I opt for unsweetened almond milk in mine.
I aimed for 16 hours off, 8 hours on (or 16:8, for those in the know) — meaning that I didn’t eat for 16 hours and then would for 8 hours a day. Many people do 14 hours off, 10 hours on. Some do 20 hours off, 4 on (which doesn’t feel as sustainable to me).
INTERMITTENT FASTING BEFORE AND AFTER RESULTS: 1 MONTH
I aimed for something sustainable for my lifestyle. I would often alter my fasting I aimed for something sustainable for my lifestyle. Therefore, I would often alter my fasting schedule slightly on some days (e.g., 15:9 or 17:7) based on my schedule. However, I mostly kept to the 16:8 schedule.
Remember: 12 hours is the minimum needed to enter a fast. And each body is different. So, figure out what makes sense for you. But you can be confident you’re in a fasted state by around hour 15.
How Intermittent Fasting Drives Results for Belly Fat Weight Loss
When you are in a fasted state, your body’s insulin level drops. Your body then starts pulling from your fat (not glucose) when acquiring energy to do its thang. (Yes, I just said “thang”… apologies.)
Even if you are working out tons and are in a caloric deficit (exerting more calories than you consume) and are eating high-protein foods — just as I was — if you are eating too often, then your body will have a lot of insulin in it. So, your body will continuously pull energy from the sugar in your system and not your belly fat.
Even when I was eating a healthy, high-protein vegan diet and working out a lot, I was eating ALL THE TIME. So, my body always had insulin to use as energy.
The better I got at achieving a fasted state and functioning in a fasted state, the more frequently I’d also exercise in a fasted state. So even if I didn’t go as hard in my workouts, I’d still be pulling energy for the workout right from MY BELLY!
Yes, Intermittent Fasting Is Tough at First
The first three days were by far the hardest. I have always been a perpetual night eater. Therefore, I a tough time not snacking those first three nights. Then, when I woke up, I was cranky and hungry. I was a slave to my cravings. Abiding by an intermittent fasting diet forced me to conquer the last frontier of my addictions — food!
I did a SoulCycle class on day 2 when I first started intermitting fasting. I have never had a less joyous SoulCycle ride in my life.
By day 3, I wasn’t craving food as much at night, and the workouts in the AM weren’t so terrible. I grew to not even feel that hungry until later in the day. I’d typically stop eating at 8 pm and start again at noon the following day.
When I took breaks a couple of times from intermittent fasting, I found it very tough again the first couple of days. However, it became way more manageable once I got to day 3 or 4.
My Intermittent Fasting Hack to Combat Cravings
I realized during this process that many sensations that I deem as hunger are actually dehydration, anxiety, or cravings.
Studies have shown that carbs can reduce anxiety and stress by increasing the serotonin in your brain. Some even call food the world’s most popular sedative. Plus, the body can also interpret dehydration as hunger. And also, I just got used to eating at certain times of the day and night. It was hard to break that feeling of “I should be eating now.”
To combat this, I started drinking 0-calorie, 0-sugar, and 0-carb electrolytes (that somehow taste great) and water. My rule for myself was this: If I finished a big 20-ounce cup of water with 2 scoops of electrolytes and STILL felt hungry, then I probably legit was. But I stopped feeling hungry 90% of the time after drinking it.
Below is my favorite brand and flavor of electrolyes, grape. I tried a few different flavors and this was the only one I liked a lot.
It’s Okay to Take Breaks After You Form the Intermittent Fasting Habit
The first month that I was abiding by this eating pattern, I was somewhat religious about it. I believe in forming habits when it comes to any permanent change. So I focus on that and less on the results. For intermittent fasting to stick, I wanted to establish the habit.
I went to Vegas for a wedding my first month of intermittent fasting, and I didn’t abide by it in the slightest (although I also didn’t drink!). There were two additional days in that first month that I took a break. One day, I felt faint, and on another day was depressed and used food as comfort. Despite these two hiccups and one trip, I successfully followed an intermittent fasting schedule 85% of that first month.
Once I had established the habit, I became slightly more lenient. But I still follow this eating pattern most days. And yes, I try to work out while fasted most days!
RESULTS AFTER 5 MONTHS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING (85% OF THE TIME): BELLY FAT REDUCED!
Many questions I got from family and friends seem to be rooted in their black and white interpretation of this eating style. Yes, you should follow it fairly strictly to see results — especially in the beginning. But if you have a week or so that you fall off, just pick yourself back up again.
Intermittent Fasting Helped Me Appreciate Food So Much More
Okay, so maybe I made intermittent fasting seem hard and like something you’ll need a break from now and again. And that part is correct. However, it does become easier. So it’s worth sticking it out because it has its upsides.
Not only did I lose belly fat, but I truly appreciated food so much more. When I’d have my first bite of food after about 16 years of refraining from doing so, I enjoyed basic things like a protein shake more than I ever thought imaginable.
I also started to consider what I was eating in those 8 hours far more. While I’ve never been protein deficient, I started to value high-protein foods far more than anything else. Studies have shown that goods high in protein curb hunger for longer. I’d opt for something like that as my last meal, which helped me quickly reach a fasted state. Foods high in sugar will result in an insulin spike, making it take longer for our bodies to achieve a fasted state.
Parting Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting for Belly Fat Loss
Some people, like myself, have a predisposition to store their fat in their bellies.
I also have some hormonal stuff going on that is great at pumping up testosterone for me. I, therefore, store my fat much like a dude with a beer gut does. I also have a family history of storing fat in the stomach.
Plus, I started getting serious about losing my belly fat at age 35 — right when women’s metabolism starts to slow down FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES. I had the cards stacked against me.
However, I believe that when there is a will, there is a way. For me, intermittent fasting is the way. Following this eating style helped me stack the cards more in my favor.