Many women, like me, struggle with bloating and other digestive issues. It’s no fun to be bloated and uncomfortable, with a puffy face and belly. And your clothes don’t fit well, either, which is just adding insult to injury for women and men alike. Bloating, along with gas, irregularity and any number of other unpleasant digestive issues are a real problem. They can all be symptoms of serious health conditions. But if your doctor says there’s nothing to be done, it’s just something you have to live with, maybe you should consider intermittent fasting for bloating.
(Updated July 31, 2018) I have struggled with bloating and digestive troubles for my entire adult life, and I know there are other women like me who would love to never feel that uncomfortable, gassy feeling again. I’ve experimented with tons of different diets, eliminated just about every potential food intolerance I could think of, tracked my food intake religiously and generally made myself miserable trying to track down the source of the bloating. Even while eating a very clean Primal-style diet, I continued to experience bloating, irregularity and a host of other unpleasantness. Enter intermittent fasting for bloating.
If you’d like some information about intermittent fasting and it’s benefits, Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple is one of my favorite go-to resources for all things Primal and health-related and he’s written a nice piece highlighting the benefits. The way I go about intermittent fasting is based on the work of Martin Berkhan at LeanGains, and he has great information debunking myths surrounding intermittent fasting. And while I have not experienced any symptoms of hormone imbalance, women in particular should use caution and proceed slowly, as the female body is very sensitive to energy imbalance. As I detail below, I always make sure that I eat enough during my eating window, and I believe this is one of the keys to intermittent fasting success.
Intermittent fasting has been a life-changer for me. While there are lots of ways to go about it, here’s how I do it.
My DOWN AND DIRTY Intermittent Fasting Plan
Intermittent Fasting for Bloat – How I do it
1. I don’t eat after 8:00pm.
I sit down to my last meal of the day around 7 to 7:30pm. There’s nothing special about it, I don’t eat extra to stock up or anything like that. I just eat a normal, healthy meal, which for me means a serving of protein, lots of colorful vegetables and a high (by conventional widsom’s standards) amount of good, high quality fat. Think chicken with cream sauce, Brussels sprouts with bacon, spaghetti squash with olive oil, a glass of homemade kombucha or maybe red wine and chocolate avocado mousse for dessert. Yum!
2. My next meal is around Noon.
I don’t eat or drink anything with any calories for about 16 hours most days. About 8 of those hours are spent sleeping, though, so it’s really not that big a deal. I do take a shot of organic, raw apple cider vinegar right after I wake up in the morning, followed by my first tall glass of water of the day.
3. During the fasting window, I drink lots of water, tea and some black coffee.
Lots and lots of water is important, as part of what is going on while you fast is toxin removal and cellular repair. Both make lots of waste that needs to be flushed out of the body, and you need water to do that. Herbal teas are good, as they have no calories but do provide micronutrients and other health benefits. Two of my favorites are EveryDay Detox by Traditional Medicinals, which support liver function and Chaga Mushroom Elixir Mix by Four Sigmatic, which supports the immune system. I also add a few drops of ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops to my water because I believe our soil is depleted of these important nutrients and flushing the body with lots of water can also flush out vital minerals. I use this supplement to make sure I have adequate amounts. I also drink black coffee. While I adore coffee with heavy cream (organic, please!), I save that for my 8 eight hour eating window.
4. I exercise during the fasting window.
I’ve always been a morning exerciser, and I’ve never been one to eat before my morning workout so exercising on an empty stomach is nothing new to me. Some days I do very high-intensity interval training, some days I do slower strength training, and some days I practice yoga. I also walk my dog, play with my kids, and work on my feet in the kitchen for a good amount of the day.
5. My first meal of the day is usually a large one.
My body is really ready to eat! After fasting for 16 hours (give or take, depending on the day) and exercising, my body is ready for calories and primed with insulin sensitivity. Not only do I often eat a big meal, if it’s a carb cycling day, it usually has the highest amount of carbs of any meal I eat. Think pork roast with avocado slices, mashed sweet potatoes with grass-fed butter, steamed broccoli with olive oil and traditional balsamic vinegar, and coconut butter fat bombs made with rich, dark cacao powder. (I love chocolate, can you tell?)
6. I eat a snack a few hours later.
This varies a lot, but I’m usually a little hungry for something around mid-to-late afternoon. Sometimes I’ll make some chai tea and put heavy cream in it, along with Collagen Hydrolysate from Great Lakes. (I use this collagen supplement in something every day – great for skin and joint health!) Sometimes I’ll have some Kelley’s Chocolate Cheese Fudge. (Did I mention I love chocolate?) Or maybe I have raw vegetables with full-fat sour cream dip (organic, please!)
7. I eat my normal dinner around 7 to 7:30pm.
See step #1.
8. I don’t purposefully restrict my calories at any time during my eating window.
I don’t need to lose weight, so I don’t restrict my calories on purpose. I will say, though, that eating only within the 8-hour time window has cut down on my snacking. I no longer grab something out of boredom or habit. The eating window has really helped me focus my food choices in a way I didn’t expect. I haven’t tracked my food intake since I started this daily intermittent fasting routine, but I’ve tracked enough in my life to guess that I eat about 2000 calories most days.
9. Lather, rinse, repeat.
This is my (mostly) daily routine. The times change a bit depending on my day. If I can’t eat dinner until a little later, then I adjust when I eat my first meal the next day. If my morning is crazy busy, sometimes I stretch the fasting window longer. If we have dinner plans or date night, I don’t worry about what time it finishes up. I roll with it, and sometimes my fasting window is shorter.
10. About once a week or every other week, I stretch the fasting window to 24 hours.
Everything stays the same, except instead of my first meal happening around noon, I wait until evening. And that one is always a big one! While I don’t experience much feeling of hunger during the majority of my days when my first meal is at noon, I definitely have hunger pangs during the 24-hour fast. Interestingly enough, they happen at the times when I normally eat (noon and mid-afternoon) but pass pretty quickly. This is due to the habitual cycles of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which tell our body to feel hungry around the time we normally eat but then fade once that time passes.
MY INTERMITTENT FASTING RESULTS
Intermittent fasting works great for me. I feel fantastic, I’m rarely bloated, and my digestive system is much more regular than it’s been in a long time. I have plenty of energy throughout the day, and I even think I’m sleeping better. I have not lost weight, though I can easily see how this could help you reduce your total caloric intake if weight loss is your goal. Actually, I’ve gained a couple of pounds in the last month, as I’ve been working through an intense strength training program and eating plenty of calories, so I’ve put on some muscle. Score!
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love my article on Common Intermittent Fasting Mistakes.
Founder Advantage Meals
Angela earned her Master's Degree in Holistic Nutrition 14 years ago and began her lifelong journey of nutrition and wellness learning. She began keto meal planning and cooking over a decade ago when she began working with local clients who were under the direct supervision of a medical doctor. Angela is the author of No Cook Keto, the easiest keto meal plan available.
Disclaimer: I am neither a licensed nutritionist nor medical professional. I never prescribe diets. I only share my personal experiences and those of my clients for informational purposes only. Nutrition details are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical nutritional data. You should consult your medical professional before making any major changes in the way you eat.