Intermittent fasting has become a popular way to lose weight, improve metabolism, and boost overall health. This approach to eating involves restricting calorie intake for a set period of time, followed by a period of regular eating.
- Intermittent fasting involves restricting calorie intake during certain periods of the day or week.
- During your eating window, focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Avoid processed and sugary foods, which can spike your blood sugar and cause cravings.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day with water and other non-caloric beverages.
While the fasting period can help improve insulin sensitivity and encourage fat burning, many people wonder what they should eat during the eating window to support their health and well-being.
In this blog, we’ll explore what to eat during intermittent fasting, including which foods to focus on, which foods to avoid, and tips for making the fasting process easier and more enjoyable.
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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an approach to eating that involves alternating periods of fasting and regular eating. The fasting periods can range from a few hours to several days and can be done in various ways.
Some of the most common types of intermittent fasting include;
- The 16/8 method – where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window each day
- The 5:2 method – where you eat normally for 5 days and restrict calories to 500-600 for 2 days
- The alternate-day method – where you alternate between eating normally and fasting every other day
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve metabolism, aid in weight loss, and provide a range of other health benefits. You may take help from a dietitian to make a diet plan for achieving your weight loss goals.
Best Food to Eat During Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to what to eat during intermittent fasting, the focus should be on nutrient-dense whole foods that provide sustained energy and satiety. Here are some examples of the best foods to eat during intermittent fasting:
1. Fruits and Vegetables during Intermittent Fasting
Fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice for what to eat during intermittent fasting.
They are low in calories and high in fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied while also providing important nutrients. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can help regulate digestion and promote healthy bowel movements.
Some examples of fruits and vegetables to include in your intermittent fasting diet include:
- Berries: These are low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants, making them an excellent choice for intermittent fasting. Try adding strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries to your meals or snacks.
- Leafy greens: These include spinach, kale, and collard greens that are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. They are also low in calories, making them a great option for intermittent fasting.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are high in fiber and vitamins. They can also help support healthy liver function and promote detoxification.
- Citrus fruits: These include oranges, grapefruits, and lemons that are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and can add a refreshing flavor to your meals or snacks.
2. Whole Grains during Intermittent Fasting
Whole grains are high in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates, which can help you feel full and satisfied throughout the day. Whole grains provide important nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and magnesium.
Some examples of whole grains to include in your intermittent fasting diet include:
- Brown rice: It is a great source of fiber and can help regulate digestion. It also provides important nutrients like manganese and selenium.
- Quinoa: It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber and provides important nutrients like iron and magnesium.
- Whole-grain bread: Look for bread made from whole grains like wheat, barley, or oats. These types of bread are high in fiber and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Oats: These are high in fiber and can help lower cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of protein and provide important nutrients like iron and magnesium.
3. Lean Proteins while Intermittent Fasting
Lean proteins are high in protein, which can help you feel full and satisfied, and can also help preserve muscle mass while you are in a calorie deficit.
Some examples of lean proteins to include in your intermittent fasting diet include:
- Chicken: Skinless chicken breast is a great source of protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways, from grilling to baking to sautéing.
- Fish: Salmon, tuna, and tilapia are high in protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They can be baked, grilled, or sautéed for a delicious and nutritious meal.
- Eggs: These are nutrient-rich and affordable sources of protein. They can be boiled, scrambled, or fried and can be incorporated into a variety of meals.
- Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are high in protein and fiber, making them an excellent choice for intermittent fasting. They can be used in salads, soups, and stews, or as a vegetarian protein source in main dishes.
4. Healthy Fats in Intermittent Fasting
Healthy fats are an essential part of a balanced diet, even during intermittent fasting. They provide important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals.
They can help regulate hormones and support brain function. Some examples of healthy fats to include in your intermittent fasting diet include:
- Avocado:It is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels. It can be added to salads, and sandwiches, or used as a spread.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are high in healthy fats and can be incorporated into snacks or meals. They can be added to oatmeal and smoothies, or eaten as a snack on their own.
- Olive oil: It is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats and can be used in cooking or as a salad dressing.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and support heart health.
5. Water during Intermittent Fasting
Staying hydrated is important during intermittent fasting, as it can help you feel full and energized throughout the day. Drinking water also helps support digestion and can help flush toxins out of the body.
It’s recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, but you may need more if you are exercising or in a hot environment. Additionally, drinking herbal tea or infused water can provide added flavor and hydration benefits.
During your fasting window, it’s important to avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice, as well as caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea, which can cause dehydration. Instead, opt for water, herbal tea, or black coffee, which can help suppress hunger and provide a boost of energy.
Overall, staying hydrated is an important part of any healthy diet, especially during intermittent fasting. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit sugary or caffeinated beverages during your fasting window.
What to Avoid During Intermittent Fasting?
Here are some things to avoid during intermittent fasting
- Processed foods
- Sugary drinks
- Excessive snacking
- High-calorie meals
Tips for Making Intermittent Fasting Easier
Here are some tips to help make the transition to intermittent fasting easier:
- If you are new to intermittent fasting, start with shorter fasting periods and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable.
- Plan your meals ahead of time and make sure they are balanced and nutrient-dense.
- Incorporate healthy fats and proteins.
- Keep yourself busy during your fasting window to help distract yourself from hunger.
- Be patient. It can take some time for your body to adjust to intermittent fasting, so be patient with yourself.
Intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for weight loss and overall health, but it’s important to make sure you’re still getting the nutrients your body needs.
With a little planning and some mindful food choices, you can successfully navigate intermittent fasting and fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive. You may take help from a nutritionist if you need a diet plan for your weight loss journey.
1. Is it better to fast for 12 or 16 hours?
Experts advise leaving at least 12 hours, ideally more, between meals on a regular basis for those who wish to fast in order to enhance their metabolic and general health.
2. How long does it take for intermittent fasting to work?
It will take some time for your body to adjust to this new eating schedule. Up to 4 weeks may pass before you start to notice or feel any effects.
3. What happens after 16 hours of intermittent fasting?
Your body will turn to its fat reserves for energy if you go 10 to 16 hours without eating, and fatty acids known as ketones will be released into the bloodstream. Studies have shown that this can slow the progression of disease in the brain as well as protect memory and learning abilities.