Does fasting reduce belly fat? (2023)

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Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is not only unsightly, but also leads to many health risks, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Many people choose intermittent fasting to reduce their excess belly fat. However, does this eating pattern really work as expected?

1. Some facts about belly fat

Most of us have a certain amount of belly fat, even those with flat abs. However, having too much belly fat affects your health in different ways.
Some fat is located just under your skin, others may be deeper inside or around your heart, liver, lungs and other organs. The deeper fats, called visceral fat, act as a cushion, helping to support the organs in the body.
In fact, our body only needs a small amount of visceral fat. Too much of this fat can lead to dangerous conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, colon and breast cancer.
When your weight increases beyond the allowable limit, the body will start to store fat in certain areas, especially the organs around the heart. Even in thin people, they can still store a lot of visceral fat. The amount of excess fat you have will depend on factors such as your genes, lifestyle, and physical activity level.
Visceral fat tends to occur more in people who do not exercise regularly or have an unhealthy diet. Therefore, whether you are thin or overweight, it is important to participate in sports activities every day to avoid storing belly fat or other unhealthy fats in the body.

2. How do you know how much belly fat you have?

The most accurate way to help you determine how much belly fat or visceral fat you have is a CT or MRI scan. In addition to the above methods, you can also check your belly fat at home through a tape measure.
You can take a measuring tape, then wrap it around your waist and check your waist circumference. For the most accurate results, you should stand upright when measuring. For women, the ideal waist size is under 35 inches and less than 40 inches if you're a man.

Does fasting reduce belly fat? (1)

3. Does fasting reduce belly fat?

Intermittent fasting for weight loss is becoming a popular weight loss method in recent years. When applying this eating pattern, you will still eat normally on some days of the week and only spend a few days to significantly reduce your calorie consumption.
Some studies show that intermittent fasting has short-term effects. People who followed this diet were able to lose weight, belly fat as well as markers of inflammation.
When you fast, the body's cells are under mild stress. On days when you consume less calories will help cells strengthen their ability to cope with stress and fight some diseases.
Does fasting reduce belly fat? Within 12 hours of not eating, the body will begin to change to save energy and work more efficiently. The empty stores of glucose or sugar burn fat and create chemical byproducts, called ketones. This substance will circulate throughout the body, helping to improve insulin sensitivity, nourish the brain and reduce inflammation. In addition, blood levels of sodium and the compound TMAO (which is linked to heart disease) also plummeted, while a red blood cell count increased, which promotes heart health.
Furthermore, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein essential for the healthy maintenance of nerve cells, spiked. Meanwhile, cells switch from an active to a resting state, repairing and cleaning up faulty mitochondria (the cell's energy-producing furnace) and reducing oxidative stress (the cell damage that causes cell damage). aging tissue).
When we eat again, the cells have adapted and better use fats, proteins and carbs. Nutrition experts say that switching back and forth between fasting and eating again can bring many health benefits, including weight loss, reducing belly fat. However, to lose belly fat and get the nutrients you need, you should eat healthy, limiting sugary desserts and processed foods.

4. Some risks of fasting to reduce belly fat

A lot of people use fasting to reduce belly fat, but sometimes it can unintentionally become a habit of binge eating and fasting.
For people with diabetes or those on blood sugar control medications, fasting can cause blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels. And for people who are thin or elderly, fasting can lead to bone and muscle loss.
Ideally, if you have any health conditions, you need to consult a nutritionist before trying to apply the method of intermittent fasting to lose weight.

5. Ways to help "break" belly fat effectively

Belly fat or visceral fat is considered the main cause of increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a number of other diseases. Instead of following a weight loss intermittent fasting diet, you can still significantly lose your excess belly fat through the following lifestyle and dietary changes:

5.1. Add more soluble fiber

Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like mixture, which slows down the digestion of food in the body. Studies have shown that this type of fiber helps promote weight loss by making you feel fuller faster, thereby curbing cravings naturally. In addition, it also helps reduce the number of calories that your body absorbs from food.
In particular, soluble fiber has the ability to fight belly fat. Results of a study in more than 1,100 adults showed that every 10 gram increase in soluble fiber resulted in a 3.7% reduction in belly fat over a five-year period. Therefore, you should try to add more soluble fiber-rich foods to your daily diet, including:
Blackberries Flaxseed Legumes Brussels sprouts Avocado noodles (Shirataki noodles)

Does fasting reduce belly fat? (2)

5.2. Avoid consuming foods containing trans fats

Trans fats are commonly found in some margarine and packaged foods. Consuming a lot of these fats can lead to inflammation, heart disease, increased belly fat, and insulin resistance. An animal experiment showed that adopting a diet rich in trans fats resulted in a 33% increase in belly fat.
To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, you should read nutrition labels carefully and stay away from foods containing trans fats. They are often listed on product labels as partially hydrogenated fats.

5.3. Don't drink too much alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can make you gain belly fat. Therefore, when limiting alcohol consumption will help you significantly reduce your waist size.

Does fasting reduce belly fat? (3)

5.4. Eat a high protein diet

Protein is an extremely important nutrient, helping you manage your weight.
When consuming a lot of protein will increase the level of the hormone PYY, which helps reduce appetite and promote feelings of fullness. In addition, protein also increases the body's metabolic rate and maintains muscle mass during weight loss.
Many studies have shown that people who eat a lot of protein tend to have less belly fat than people with a low protein diet. Here are some protein-rich foods that you should choose, including:
Dairy products Meat Fish Eggs Beans Whey protein

5.5. Control stress levels

Stress can increase belly fat by stimulating the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone cortisol. Experts believe that high levels of cortisol will increase appetite and promote the accumulation of excess fat in the abdomen.
On the other hand, women who already have large waistlines tend to produce more of the hormone cortisol in response to stress. To help lose belly fat effectively, you should engage in enjoyable activities that help manage and manage your stress.

5.6. Do exercise

Vigorous exercise will help you get rid of excess body fat, including visceral fat. Experts recommend that you do moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes a day and do it about 5 days a week.
Some exercises to reduce belly fat that you should apply, such as brisk walking, jogging or cycling. These activities make your heart beat faster, sweat more, thereby helping to burn visceral fat and improve physique extremely effectively.

5.7. Sleep well and get enough sleep

Sleep is especially important for many aspects of a person's health, including weight control. Studies show that people who don't get enough sleep or sleep less than 7 hours a night tend to gain more weight and belly fat than people with good sleep quality.
In addition, sleep apnea can also increase the risk of storing excess visceral fat in the body. This is a sleep disorder that can seriously affect your health if not treated early.

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References: healthline.com, webmd.com

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FAQs

Does fasting reduce belly fat? ›

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. Studies suggest that it may be one of the most effective ways to lose weight and belly fat.

Can I get a flat stomach by fasting? ›

Nutrition experts say that switching back and forth between fasting and eating again can bring many health benefits, including weight loss, reducing belly fat. However, to lose belly fat and get the nutrients you need, you should eat healthy, limiting sugary desserts and processed foods.

Should I fast to lose belly fat? ›

Caloric Deficit and Weight Loss

Studies show that, on average, intermittent fasting can lead to a weight loss rate of approximately 0.55 to 1.65 pounds (0.25–0.75 kg) per week, accompanied by a noticeable reduction in waist circumference, indicating a decrease in belly fat.

How much belly fat can you lose by fasting? ›

When examining the rate of weight loss, intermittent fasting may produce weight loss at a rate of approximately 0.55 to 1.65 pounds (0.25–0.75 kg) per week (23). People also experienced a 4–7% reduction in waist circumference, indicating that they lost belly fat.

What happens to belly fat when you fast? ›

Recent research states that visceral fat often becomes resistant to fat breakdown during intermittent fasting. In fact, your body retrains itself to rapidly rebuild the visceral fat stores before the next fasting period in many cases of long-term intermittent fasting.

Will I lose belly fat if I fast for 3 days? ›

Some people who try the fasting diet for 3 days do it as a way to lose weight. While people do lose weight, it is important to note that the weight loss is water weight and not fat loss. Research has shown a positive correlation between increased water consumption and weight loss.

Where does the fat go when you fast? ›

Fat leaves the body as carbon dioxide when you breathe and is also released as water through urine and sweat. So if you think about it, that backs up why exercise is an important part of weight loss. Your body disposes of fat through sweat, urine, and exhaled air.

Why is 16 hours the magic number for fasting? ›

Both 12-hour fasting and 16-hour fasting can be effective for weight loss, but 16-hour fasting may be more effective because it may lead to a greater reduction in overall caloric intake (through a more condensed eating window) and promote more significant reliance on fat burning.

Which fasting is best for belly fat? ›

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. Studies suggest that it may be one of the most effective ways to lose weight and belly fat.

Do you actually burn fat while fasting? ›

It appears that fasting for a short time can produce ketosis, which is a process that occurs when the body doesn't have enough glucose for energy, so it breaks down stored fat instead. This causes an increase in substances called ketones. This, coupled with fewer calories consumed overall, can lead to weight loss.

How many hours of fasting is best for fat loss? ›

According to some researchers, fasting for 10–16 hours can cause the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream. This should encourage weight loss. This type of intermittent fasting plan may be a good option for beginners.

Will I lose belly fat if I fast for 24 hours? ›

Some research suggests that fasting for up to 24 hours can result in a metabolic shift, leading your body into a fat-burning mode where it will burn stored fats as an energy source instead of glucose. This change, consequently, leads to weight and fat loss.

What can I drink while fasting? ›

The best kind of drinks for your fasting hours are calorie-free. That way, they will not activate an insulin response or break your fast. Acceptable beverages for intermittent fasting include water, teas, coffee, and apple cider vinegar. These zero-calorie beverages are suitable for your fasting window.

Why belly fat is the last to go? ›

One reason belly fat is so hard to lose is that it's considered an “active fat.” Unlike some fatty tissue that simply sits “dormant,” belly fat releases hormones that can have an impact on your health — and your ability to lose weight, especially in the waist and abdomen areas.

How long should you fast for a flat stomach? ›

Best Intermittent Fasting Method For Visceral Belly Fat

14/10 Method: Fast for 14 hours and have a 10-hour eating window daily. That means you restrict your food intake to a specific 10-hour period while abstaining from caloric consumption for the remaining 14 hours.

Will I get a flat stomach by not eating? ›

While intuitively it makes sense that eating fewer calories will lead to a flat stomach, the reality is that because of the effects undereating can have on certain hormones, not eating enough can lead to fat accumulation on your midsection.

How long does it take to get a flat stomach by not eating? ›

As discussed above, getting a flat stomach is 100% depending on being in a caloric deficit for 6-12 weeks, through eating less and burning more calories.

What are the best fasting hours for belly fat? ›

However, the studies on eTRF do consistently show that starting the fast before 8pm (and therefore having your last meal before 8pm) is ideal. An example of eTRF could be a 16 hour daily fast with an eating window of 10am-6pm.

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