Want to lose weight with Intermittent Fasting (IF)? Have you been following an Intermittent Fasting protocol, but aren’t seeing the scale go down? If this resonates with you, keep reading. I’ll fill you in on What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight.
In general, following an Intermittent Fasting regimen is used to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There certainly are some great benefits to following this protocol! Whether you’re doing it for heart health, to reduce cholesterol, for cancer prevention, or for weight loss, intermittent fasting is a great choice.
Of course, this is assuming you have consulted with your doctor to ensure this protocol is a good choice for you. I’m a firm believer that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to anything having to do with the human body. So, it’s always great to check with your doctor first.
Last Friday, I published a post about how to determine your best intermittent fasting schedule. This week I want to share with you what to eat during your fasting and feasting periods to ensure that you lose weight.
WHY CAN’T I EAT DURING THE FASTING PERIOD?
In this post, I’m not referring to the Warrior Method, where limited consumption of fruit and veggies is allowed during the 20 hour fasting period. To maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting, the recommendation is to only consume non-caloric drinks or foods (but show me a non-caloric food). And most importantly, you need to hydrate.
You see, as blood level regulators, your insulin levels increase when you consume calories. They’re supposed to, this helps break down those calories (energy) you consumed.
First, it uses some as fuel to help you move around and do what you do all day long. Then, it stores the remaining calories as fat for later energy expenditure.
If you continue to consume more calories than you can expend, you keep storing it as fat. That’s what makes you gain weight.
So, what you’re trying to accomplish when you’re fasting is to use up those fat stores. If you’re consuming calories, your insulin is spiking again, minimizing the effect.
Now, some believe that it’s negligible if you’re consuming 50 calories or less when fasting.
RELATED POST: How I lost 23 lbs with intermittent fasting.
WHAT IF I JUST HAVE TO EAT SOMETHING?
If you have a day that you must eat a little, it’s okay. Just don’t go overboard. It’s not worth throwing in the towel because you consumed a few calories.
In my opinion, no weight loss regimen should be so rigid that you stress about it. Then it’s not sustainable and you’ll end up gaining back more than you lost.
That being said, try to ease into it by starting with only a 12:12 (12-hour fast and 12-hour feast) schedule. You can then increase each fasting hour as you feel comfortable.
If you’ve been eating every 2 – 4 hours, as we’ve been trained, you’ll notice a difference even if you start fasting only 12 hours at a time.
Of course, this is only going to happen if you eat a healthy diet during your feasting periods. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
WHAT TO EAT DURING INTERMITTENT FASTING: THE FAST
#1 DRINK WATER
It’s necessary to hydrate during a fast. Drink a lot of water to help release toxins and feel fuller. In terms of hydration, consider the fact that you’re not eating other foods to help hydrate you for an extended period. So, water becomes even more necessary.
#2 DRINK TEA
This is what I do every morning. There are quite a few benefits to drinking tea during your fast. It has less caffeine than coffee. It’s heart healthy, decreasing your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. It’s full of antioxidants (catechins) that help burn more fat. Green tea extract is especially helpful to help achieve this last benefit.
#3 DRINK COFFEE
If tea is not your thing, then drink coffee instead. It also includes reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease as a health benefit. While in the past coffee was thought to cause cancer, now it’s considered to prevent uterine and liver cancer. It also helps decrease the risk of gout and Type 2 diabetes.
#4 DRINK BONE BROTH
It has fat and protein, with few calories and dense in nutrients and minerals. Some people don’t drink it during their fast, but Dr. Fung, the author of The Obesity Code and IF expert, recommends it as an option during fasting.
I personally try to stick to the first three items on the list, But I would be open to having bone broth instead of other foods if I’m still feeling very hungry during my fast.
HOW TO EAT DURING FEASTING TO LOSE WEIGHT
If you read my post about How Intermittent Fasting helped Me Lose 23 lbs, you know fruits and veggies are highly recommended. The point is to eat healthily and not stuff yourself with high-calorie foods.
Some people believe that the whole calories in calories out theory is out the door. I personally have not counted calories since April 2017. But, if you’re trying to lose weight with IF, it does help to try to consume fewer calories than you burn every day.
Now, I don’t think you should go into major calorie restriction for this. If you do, again, this will not be sustainable in the long-term. Just try to eat the filling and natural foods that aren’t extremely high in calories. Eating real food is even better!
Another thing to consider is that some people try to make weight loss quicker by eating low carb high fat. That’s also an option. While I generally eat low carb high fat, I have not been following the ketogenic diet because I don’t want my diet to feel restrictive.
But, many people pair the ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting to drop pounds faster. If you decide to do so, please make sure you believe this will be sustainable for you, or slightly increase your carb intake after you reach your weight loss goals.
One way to make IF and healthy eating sustainable is to introduce delicious recipes to your diet that you really enjoy. For example, if you love eating bread, or you’re used to eating sandwiches every day, eat low carb bread. That’ll help you sustain a low carb lifestyle with less effort.
Meal planning and batch cooking also have a huge impact on making this lifestyle change sustainable. And it doesn’t have to take a crazy amount of time or a high budget!
WHAT TO EAT DURING INTERMITTENT FASTING: THE FEAST
There is one general rule I follow when I think about what to eat during Intermittent Fasting. Eat as close to how food comes in nature as possible. Avoid processed foods, refined sugar, foods full of chemicals you can’t pronounce. If you eat very healthy, you won’t have to focus on counting calories so much because you will eat nutrient-dense, filling foods.
Does this mean that you’ll never again have pizza or cake? No! You will NEVER hear that coming from me. But make that the rare exception, not the rule, especially if you want to lose weight. Btw, there are delicious options for low carb pizza and low carb cakes if you want to have some before you reach your weight loss goals.
There are many healthy diets available that pair well with intermittent fasting such as keto, paleo, real food, and gluten-free to name a few. This post goes into more detail about what those diets are and how you can make healthy eating sustainable even if you don’t choose to follow a prescriptive diet.
In general, though, the following guidelines are general and easy to follow. These are not a “diet,” they’re more of a lifestyle:
#1 EAT VEGGIES
You get fiber, nutrients, low calories, vitamins, and a sense of satiety that prevents you from overeating throughout the day. The benefits of eating veggies are extensive too. Improved heart health, prevention of certain cancers, reduced obesity, lower blood pressure, increased energy… I could go on and on.
Because veggies are much lower in calories than other foods, you can eat a lot more. For example, you can eat a large plate of zucchini noodles with olive oil or tomato sauce, feel very full, and only have consumed about a third of the calories of regular pasta.
#2 EAT FRUIT
Like vegetables, fruits are full of nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They have healthy sugars. If you’re trying to eat lower carb, then have berries instead of a banana.
IF has reduced my sugar cravings overall. But, if I’m craving sweets, I eat blueberries with almond butter and cinnamon. Decadent, sweet, but still healthy.
#3 EAT PROTEIN
Whether plant-based or animal-based protein, it’s an important food group. Protein helps build and repair tissue, such as muscle, skin, and cartilage. Eat healthy proteins and you prime your body to build tissue, not deplete it.
Eat nuts, meats, lentils, cottage cheese, beans, fish, and yogurt. All healthy proteins.
#4 EAT HEALTHY FATS
Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, eggs, chia seeds, nuts, and fatty fish are healthy fats that you can include in your diet. All these that I mentioned are in their natural form, not processed at all.
Cheese is healthy, but it’s one of those that stops being healthy when eaten in excess. In other words, cheese should not be the only fat you eat. Make it an addition to the healthy fats mentioned above.
#5 EAT HEALTHY CARBS
Carbs are not the enemy! I totally respect if you’re following the ketogenic diet, I know it works. But, I’m concerned about people feeling like carbs (other than greens) are the worst thing on the planet.
Starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, are healthy and full of nutrients. Rather than swearing off all carbs for the rest of your life, eat healthy, clean and natural carbs. Brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oatmeal can all be part of your diet. Just avoid making carbs the greater part of your diet.
NOTES ON SUGARS OR SWEETENERS
Like I said before, your sugar cravings will probably be reduced with Intermittent Fasting. But, if you’re craving sweets, try eating fruits first. If you feel the need to use a sweetener for a specific food, try stevia. But be aware of chemicals in stevia products. I use SweetLeaf Stevia because it’s not full of chemicals. Other common ones, like Truvia, are more chemical than they are stevia.
Another form of sweetener to be cautious with is sugar alcohols, like xylitol or erythritol. Our bodies do not process sugar alcohols well, some not at all! That’s the reason they cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea when used in excess.
Monk fruit sweetener is another healthy option. Again, just be careful that it hasn’t been mixed with any other chemical or sugar alcohol.
Coconut sugar, raw honey, dates and maple syrup are all great natural sweeteners. They are higher in carbs and have calories, so they may not be the best for a low carb diet. But they’re great alternatives to refined sugar.
RELATED POST: How Intermittent Fasting Reduces Sugar Cravings for Me
If you want a quick fix, then Intermittent Fasting may or may not work for you. For me, it has definitely worked and I don’t feel like it’s a huge effort. But it has also taken me a year to lose 23 lbs.
In the end, our bodies are all different, so the weight may come off faster for you than it has for me. I also pumped my body with fertility hormones for more than a year prior to starting IF. And I’m 42 years old. All these factors can contribute to slower progress. The great thing is that I’m still going down. And that’s priceless to me.
But keep this in mind when you’re thinking about what to eat during Intermittent Fasting. It is not just about not eating during your fasting period. It’s just as much about what you eat during feasts. It’s great because it really isn’t restrictive like a diet. But the point is to increase overall health, not just to lose weight. And to achieve this, hydrating and eating healthy meals are necessary.
I hope you now have a better idea on how to meal plan when you’re following an intermittent fasting protocol. Comment below and let me know what your go-to healthy meals are when you feast.
And don’t forget to sign up for the Fit and Healthy Conversions Cheat Sheets, where you’ll get great healthy baking ingredient substitutes to use during your feasting periods. You will also receive weekly updates from The Fit and Healthy Baker Community to help make your weight loss goals a success.