Fasting itself has been around as long as humans have been around. Hippocrates and Plato were fans of fasting, and most major religions have rituals that involve the practice. However, using fasting to lose weight or other health benefits is relatively new and has attracted more modern philosophers.
There are many ways to go about fasting; most of them fall under one of the three methods:
- In alternate day fasting every other day, you eat a small 500 calorie meal.
- In the 5:2 diet you usually eat for five days and then eat a 500 calorie meal on your two fasting days.
- In the time-restricted diet you typically eat as you would, but you cram it into a 6-8 hour window of time.
Fasting is different than eating less throughout the day.
When we eat, we create more energy than we can use. This excess energy gets stored for later use. There are two places to store this energy.
First, there’s the liver, where the energy is stored as glycogen. The problem is that there is not a lot of storage in the liver. So when it is full, liver turns the excess into fat, which can be exported all over the body. The body has unlimited storage space. But it takes about 10-12 hours for the energy stored in the liver to be used up. So when we fast for longer than that, this lowers our level of insulin, the hormone that helps store energy. This tells the body to begin to release the energy that is stored as fat. The benefits may go beyond weight loss.
When the body switches to use the fat stored for energy, it produces compounds called ketones.
One theory is that Intermittent fasting is beneficial because fasting produces a mild form of stress that activates our cellular Immune system to release protective proteins.
What is stubborn fat, and does intermittent fasting help in stubborn fat loss?
Stubborn fat in men is usually in the lower abdomen right underneath the navel. In women, it is usually the lower abdomen, the butt, and the thighs. You think you got rid of all the fat in your body, and there is no fat left, and you can’t understand why you got a little belly underneath your navel. Well, it is because this is stubborn fat, and it is the very last to get rid of. Sometimes our bodies will even start tapping into the muscle for energy instead of that last bit of fat.
Stubborn fat has greater alpha 2 to beta 2 receptor ratio. This simply means that alpha 2 receptors signal our bodies to hold on to the fat and not release it to be burnt for energy. Beta2 receptors do the opposite. They signal our bodies to release the fat to be burnt for energy. So, if some of your body areas have a greater alpha2 to beta two receptor ratio, it will be a lot easier to store fat there.
Stubborn fat areas have poor blood circulation. Blood flow circulation is also required for mobilizing the fat to be burnt for energy.
Intermittent fasting helps to lose all the stubborn fat in your body.
When we eat, our bodies go into storage mode. Our insulin levels go up, and this signals our body to start storing stuff. When we are in the fasting state, we are in the fat-burning mode. Another thing that happens in the fasting state is that our body releases chemicals such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. These chemicals attach to those beta two receptors to activate them to signal our bodies to release the stored fat to be burnt for energy. This helps to overcome the alpha2 to beta two receptor ratio.
Secondly being in the fasting state helps with the blood flow circulation to the lower abdomen. So this tool helps to mobilize the fat in this area to be burnt for energy.
How much time does it take to lose belly fat with intermittent fasting?
Remember, 80% of your body composition is determined by your diet, while the other 20% is defined by your genetic predisposition to store fat and make supportive lifestyle choices.
The question is, how long does it take to lose belly fat?
Your results depend on where you are at, before you start doing intermittent fasting.
Let us say that you’ve already got a good baseline; you are already eating healthy food.
What prevents many people from losing weight is eating “seemingly healthy food” that is not healthy and prevents them from losing weight. So, maybe you need some direction on what you should be eating and how much of it is to be fat-adapted. These things will trigger your fat-burning mechanism and turn you into an unstoppable fat-burning machine.
On the other hand, if you are entirely new to this, you may be following a standard diet consisting of bread, pasta, chips, cookies, candy, and cereal. You may also be snacking multiple times in a day. Then there is going to be an adaptation period of two to eight weeks. Here you might feel crummy first when you start fasting. This is perfectly normal as your body thinks it is going through carb withdrawals. However, we can shorten this period to just 21 days by doing a complete reset. Here we need to do a thorough purge of your pantry and start stocking in the right food.
So, do the following to turn into a fat-burning machine in just 21 days:
- Put yourself in the best position to succeed.
- Start making supportive lifestyle choices that upregulate your fat-burning metabolism. These changes can be proper sleep hygiene, managing stress levels, incorporating movement throughout the day, and doing appropriate workouts that promote fat burning.
How do I break my weight loss plateau on intermittent fasting?
Hitting the weight loss plateau has got to be one of the most frustrating things that can happen to someone who has been trying to lose weight, especially when you are doing intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting tips that are guaranteed to break your weight loss plateau on intermittent fasting are:
- Don’t have anything during your fast. You have a zero-tolerance policy during your fasting window.
- Stop putting butter or MCT oil in your coffee first thing in the morning.
- Don’t drink pre-workout or BCAA before your workout, even though it is labeled as zero calories.
- Stop consuming diet soda, any zero calorie drink or anything that is artificially sweetened during your fasting window.
Putting butter or MCT oil in your coffee is not bad for you. It can help you even get fat-adapted faster. Consuming some fat during your fasting window is helpful for people who are new to this. Pure fat does not have a lot of effect on insulin levels, and you can still get most of the benefits of intermittent fasting.
But if you’ve hit a weight-loss plateau, then keep in mind that butter and MCT oil still contain calories. A standard bulletproof coffee contains approximately 500 calories. So if you are consuming it, you are potentially stopping yourself from losing an extra pound of fat every week.
Things that are so-called zero calories or artificially sweetened will also inadvertently break your fast. They include stevia and will trigger the cephalic response in your body. When you drink such food, your body tastes something sweet, so it sends signals to your pancreas to produce insulin in anticipation of the food coming in. But there is no food in your mouth. You are just drinking a liquid that is labeled as having zero calories. Your brain gets confused and will send even stronger signals and hunger pangs. In addition, you just triggered an insulin response and switched your body from fat-burning mode to fat storage mode, even though you are not eating. Does that make sense? This is why drinking diet soda, zero calories, or anything artificially sweetened is one of the worst things you can do when intermittent fasting.
- Track the food that you are eating during the fasting window. You cannot control what you cannot measure. It would help if you had a general idea of what you are putting in your body and how much. Awareness is critical with many things in life, but this is specifically true once you’ve hit a plateau. Pen down all the foods you are eating and use an online food-tracker to log in your food.
- Remember, the more processing your food goes through, the higher is the insulin response. If you are struggling hard to lose weight and break the weight loss plateau, you have to moderate the insulin response from your foods. So you want to replace those excess carbs and processed foods with green leafy vegetables. Eat cauliflower rice instead of brown rice. Did you know that cauliflower rice has eight hundred percent fewer carbs than regular rice?
Consider taking a supplement.
Practicing all the tips mentioned in this blog will help you in your weight loss journey and breaking your weight loss plateau. You will get that scale moving in the right direction, but you must have a proven plan that you can follow.
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