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-Mind Your Damn Fitness-
Intermittent fasting may sound like a fast track to constant hunger… until you consider that the fasting is, well, intermittent. Even so, delaying a meal for just a few hours can be uncomfortable for most. The key to calming cravings and taming hunger is in knowing what to eat when intermittent fasting.
It’s true that a main benefit of intermittent fasting is that you can eat what you want and in the quantities that you want. However, if you’re seeking to lose weight with intermittent fasting, this eating method isn’t an open invitation to eat junk food.
Occasional treats are certainly okay. In fact, that’s what makes intermittent fasting an approach that can be adopted as a way of life (and sets it apart from restrictive diets, which are designed for the short-term).
But for optimal weight management, the best intermittent fasting foods are well-balanced meals that provide good nutrition and help control hunger during fasting periods. This is especially important for the last meal before your fast, as it will help sustain you until you break your fast.
When it comes to satiety, or the feeling of fullness and loss of appetite that occurs after eating, not all foods are created equally. A scale called the satiety index was developed in 1995 to test the ability of different foods to satisfy hunger. Generally speaking, foods that tended to satisfy hunger the longest were high in fiber, protein, and water.
Knowing which foods have the highest satiety is helpful in determining what to eat when intermittent fasting.
Learn more about a novel intermittent fasting weight loss program that will help you CRUSH your weight loss goals!
Filling up on fiber
One of best-kept secrets for satiety is eating foods rich in fiber, making high-fiber choices some of the best intermittent fasting foods.
Fiber is the part of plant foods that cannot be digested or used for energy. It may be more commonly known for its ability to keep us “regular”, but there are lots of health benefits of a high-fiber diet, including:
- Feel fuller and more satisfied after eating a meal for longer than foods with low or no fiber
- Lower cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
- Slow absorption of sugar to help control blood sugar levels
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 to 30 grams a day (from food, not supplements). Fiber comes in a variety of food sources, including grains, cereals, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Below are some foods that are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Keep in mind that fruit juices do not contain fiber, so eat whole fruits (with the peel if possible) instead of drinking juices. Also, whole foods generally offer more nutrition than processed foods. So when thinking of which fiber-rich foods to eat when intermittent fasting, opt for ones that are as close to their natural form as possible.
|Lentils (1 cup, boiled in water)||
|Chia seeds (1 ounce)||
|Artichoke (1 medium)||
|Avocado (1 cup, cubes)||
|Lima beans (1 cup, boiled in water)||
Raspberries (1 cup)
|Pear (1 medium)||
|Oatmeal (1 cup, cooked in water)||
*For adults or children aged 4 or older, based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.
Eating foods high in protein
The second category of the best intermittent fasting foods includes options that are high in protein.
Protein serves as building blocks for various tissues in the body, including bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. Approximately 20% of the human body is comprised of protein.
Eating foods high in protein is an effective way of managing hunger and reducing cravings by making you feel fuller for longer. In fact, one study found that women ate nearly 450 fewer calories per day when 30% of their diet was comprised of protein. These women also lost an average of 11 pounds in 12 weeks, all by simply eating more high-protein foods.
Another study showed that when protein comprised 25% of daily calories, people’s desire for late-night snacking was cut in half, and obsessive thoughts about food were reduced by 60%.
It’s probably clear that protein can have a powerful impact on appetite, making it a staple within any intermittent fasting regimen. However, an added bonus of protein-rich diets is that protein boosts the body’s metabolism.
Whenever we eat food, our bodies burn calories to digest, absorb, and process the various nutrients in these foods. This requirement for energy is known as the thermic effect of food. Of the three types of macronutrients contained in food (carbs, protein, and fat), protein produces the greatest thermic effect during digestion. Whereas the thermic effect of fat is 0–3%, and 5–10% for carbs, protein boosts your metabolism by a whopping 15–30%!
The recommended daily allowance of protein is quite modest at roughly 46 grams for an average, sedentary woman (closer to 71 grams for pregnant or lactating women). However, weight loss studies like the ones I mentioned above suggest that consuming 25-30% of your daily calories in protein is ideal for weight loss. This would amount to between 125 and 150 grams of protein per day.
High-protein plant foods
The benefits of protein on weight management are true for both animal- and plant-based protein sources. So in addition to meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, keep in mind the various high-protein plant foods when you consider what to eat when intermittent fasting. Some great intermittent fasting foods include:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Chick peas and other beans
- Green peas, broccoli, and other protein-rich vegetables
- Soy milk
- Wild rice
- Chia seeds
Staying hydrated during fasting periods
It’s just as important to stay hydrated during fasting intervals as it is to eat healthful, filling foods during feeding intervals. Therefore, I’ve covered some of the best intermittent fasting drinks in this section.
However, in order to avoid breaking your fast, all beverages consumed during fasting intervals need to be non-calorie beverages. Certain beverage options can even enhance the benefits of your intermittent fasting plan.
Also, steer clear of artificially sweetened beverages, even if they have no calories. Artificial sweeteners can negatively impact your insulin levels, which may undermine some of the benefits of fasting.
Water is a staple during both fasting and feeding intervals. Plain water or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime can be quite refreshing during fasting periods.
Black coffee (no sweetener, milk, or cream) naturally has no calories, which is great for those of us who need our morning boost! Caffeinated or decaffeinated options are both okay. Some people experience an upset stomach or a racing heart when they drink coffee during fasting periods, so be mindful of how your body responds and adjust accordingly.
Tea is a nice complement to any fasting plan. All types are okay to drink, including herbal, black, oolong, and green. As a bonus, green tea aids in appetite suppression to potentially enhance weight loss, so drink up! Just as with coffee, no sweeteners can be added, but spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are fair game.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contributes to weight loss in a number of ways, making it a go-to beverage while fasting. It suppresses appetite, aids in digestion, controls blood sugar and insulin levels, and stimulates your metabolism.
Start with adding 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water to see how you respond. If tolerated ok, gradually increase to adding 1 tablespoon to water and drink 2-3 times throughout the day.
Intermittent fasting can be a powerful and effective weight loss tool. Being armed with the knowledge of what to eat when intermittent fasting sets you on a path towards successful, long-term weight management!
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