Last year, I saw a pretty incredible transformation in my body. There was a particularly stressful period of my life where I gained 40 pounds, so when I was ready to get my health back on track, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I wanted to lose weight everywhere, but especially around my midsection, because that's the part of my body I'm most insecure about. For example, I'd never been comfortable just wearing leggings and a sports bra.
After trying all kinds of rigorous exercise, different diets like Paleo or Mediterranean, and even juice cleanses, I still wasn't seeing my stubborn belly fat go away. That all changed when I started doing intermittent fasting, though, where I eat all my meals in an eight-hour window (I chose 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and fast for the rest of the day.
My belly fat started coming off quicker than I ever thought possible, and it turns out there is a very real explanation for that. Certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition says that intermittent fasting "gets your body out of 'storage mode' and mobilizes fat stores for energy." This means that without having a constant food source, your body will dip into the fat it already has stored as its energy source, and in my case, that fat was in my belly.
Similarly, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, a celebrity nutritionist and longevity expert, adds that when you fast for 16 hours, "Your blood sugar and insulin levels lower," and the human growth hormone increases. He says this increases your metabolic rate "by up to 14 percent in some people." When this happens, your body has no other choice but to start burning your body's stored fat for energy — and my body started burning fat around my belly.
"Belly fat can be stubborn to lose because the abdominal area contains more alpha-2 receptors that slow down your ability to burn fat, compared to beta-2 receptors that increase your fat burning potential," Dr. Gioffre continued. IF lowers insulin levels, "activating your b-2 receptors and shutting down your a-2 receptors, allowing you to burn targeted fat in your belly area."
Pretty amazing, right? IF isn't necessarily for everyone, but it could work for you. Speak to your doctor before making any significant changes. If you find that IF is a good fit, you might just find that it blasts away your belly fat sooner than you expected, as long as you're still maintaining a healthy calorie deficit and also exercising regularly.