Fasting can be a scary word. But as with all things in fitness that appear daunting at first, the answer is to educate yourself. This especially applies when considering weight loss plans that could affect your health, and it is always advisable to speak to a doctor if you have any concerns.
In this article though, we will be discussing how intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and the best foods to include in your diet if you are choosing to do intermittent fasting. Let's start!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Contrary to popular belief, intermittent fasting is not about starving yourself! Intermittent fasting is basically a routine or pattern of meals that involve intermittent periods of taking in minimal to no energy by limiting (or restricting) how much food you eat.
One thing it's not is a randomized period without food. In fact, it comes in the form of a few different routines.
- Alternate day fasting involves either fasting or having a very low-calorie intake for 24-hours, alternated with a 24-hour regular eating period.
- Whole day fasting involves 1-2 days of fasting or very low-calorie periods per week, with the rest of the week eating at a more standard pace.
- Time- restricted fasting involves a fasting period of 16–20 hours and a feeding period of 4–8 hours daily. This is arguably the most common of the three and usually involves a diet of lean proteins and greens.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight?
Intermittent fasting is more about the rules on eating periods as opposed to what you can eat, which is likely why it is sweeping the nation as a popular method for weight loss.
Essentially intermittent fasting helps you lose weight because of the calorie deficit it enforces. So when you skip your breakfast your body breaks down fat stores for fuel rather than getting its fuel from food.
Ultimately, when the energy you take in is less than the amount you are burning off, as in intermittent fasting, the result will be a loss of weight. Simple, huh?
What Are The Best Foods To Eat On An Intermittent Fasting Diet?
There are no right and wrong foods per se, but then again eating nothing but junk food isn’t going to be good for you. You should try to keep the food in your diet healthy and balanced so that you don't undo all your hard work fasting.
A way of doing this is to think of the types of foods you should avoid.
You might be tempted to go for sugary foods or refined carbs to get that give you instant gratification. However, these processed junk foods are essentially empty fuel that won't provide your fasting body with the nutrients it needs, and will likely leave you feeling hungry and irritable.
So when you are approaching an intermittent fast, what are the best foods to have in your fridge and cupboards?
1. Whole grains
Whole grains are full of important fiber and protein and go a long way to help your metabolism. They are an ideal replacement for refined carbs and help towards a healthy digestive system too.
Fish is rich in healthy fats and protein which are essential to building and repairing your body during intermittent fasting. It also contains vitamin D which helps to combat any decline in cognitive function that is quite a common side effect of an intermittent fasting diet, hence why fish is commonly referred to as 'brain food'.
Fasting can upset the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut, and this can result in side effects like constipation. Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir and kraut can help your gut maintain its balance when fasting.
We all know eggs are packed with protein, but one of the real advantages of eggs in your intermittent fasting diet is that eggs are very versatile. You aren't limited to hard-boiled eggs, though they make a handy snack that is ready in minutes when you need it. They can be mixed and made in a whole variety of ways so that you're not eating the same meal twice.
Nuts do come with a comparatively higher calorie count, but they are full of the good kinds of fat that you need as well as protein. They work well as a filling snack in small amounts, and can also be added to other savory plates such as salads and yogurts when you feel like mixing things up.
Vitamin C is essential for your immune system, and fruits such as strawberries or blueberries can give you all that your daily requirement demands, along with flavonoids. And let’s not forget your sweet tooth, which will be calling out to you when you lower your calorie intake. Berries are a great way of getting that sugar fix without sacrificing your diet.
7. Beans & legumes
When you are intermittently fasting, you need to be consuming foods that give you the energy to get through the fasting periods. A great alternative to refined carbs are beans, legumes, peas, lentils, and chickpeas that have been proven to help decrease your body weight without pushing your calorie limit. Awesome!
8. Green leafy vegetables
These veggies are an excellent way to get your body the nutrition it needs in a healthy way. And more than anything, vegetables are an awesome source of fiber that will leave you feeling fuller for longer as well as keeping your bowels and digestion in working order.
Take Home Message
Intermittent fasting is about limiting when you eat more than it is about what you eat. But when the window of opportunity strikes it’s wise to fuel up on the things that your body needs instead of sugary cravings. It’s not about torture or starvation, and with our list of best foods you can mix and match and keep those intermittent meals interesting.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
Victoria has a master’s degree in English Literature. She loves doing unconventional workouts like pole fit, which she’s done for the past four years. She’s also a passionate foodie, so in her spare time, you’ll find her trying out the newest restaurants in her home town.