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What to Eat in Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (IF) has gained popularity as a dietary approach for promoting weight loss, improving metabolic health, and enhancing overall well-being. Unlike traditional diets, IF focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat. By cycling between periods of eating and fasting, IF offers numerous health benefits.

What to Eat in Intermittent Fasting

Different Types of Intermittent Fasting

1. 16/8 Method

The 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and limiting the eating window to 8 hours daily. Most people find it convenient to skip breakfast and have their first meal around noon.

2. 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet calls for eating regularly five days a week and substantially cutting calories (by about 500–600 calories) on the other two days that are not consecutive.

3. Eat-Stop-Eat

In this method, you fast once or twice a week for a complete 24 hours. For instance, from supper the day before until dinner the next day.

4. Alternate-Day Fasting

Alternate-day fasting consists of fasting every other day, followed by regular eating days.

5. Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet involves fasting for 20 hours and consuming all daily calories within a 4-hour eating window at night.

What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting

Maintaining balanced nutrition is essential during IF to ensure you get the necessary nutrients. During your eating windows, concentrate on eating nutrient-dense foods.

Importance of Balanced Nutrition

During the eating window, aim to include a variety of foods that provide a good balance of proteins, healthy fats, fiber, and carbohydrates.

What to Eat in Intermittent Fasting

Foods to Include

  • Lean proteins including tofu, beans, fish, chicken, and turkey.

  • Examples of good fats include olive oil, avocados, almonds, seeds, and nuts.

  • Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are examples of foods high in fiber.

  • Complex carbohydrates for sustained energy.

Foods to Avoid

  • Sugary snacks and beverages.

  • Processed and fried foods.

  • Excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates.

  • High-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

Meal Ideas for Intermittent Fasting

Breakfast Options

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes.

  • Greek yogurt topped with berries and almonds.

  • Muesli with chia seeds, almond milk and fruit.

Lunch Suggestions

  • salad made of grilled chicken, mixed greens, and vinaigrette.

  • Quinoa and vegetable stir-fry with tofu or lean meat.

  • Lentil soup is provided alongside a side of whole-grain bread.

Dinner Recipes

  • Baked salmon with steamed broccoli and quinoa.

  • Turkey chili with kidney beans and a side of salad.

  • Stir-fried vegetables with tofu and brown rice.

Hydration During Intermittent Fasting

Staying hydrated is crucial during fasting periods to support bodily functions and prevent overeating during eating windows.

Importance of Staying Hydrated

Keep hydrated throughout the day by drinking enough water to prevent confusing hunger for thirst.

Recommended Beverages

  • Water

  • Herbal teas (unsweetened)

  • Black coffee (without added sugar)

Snacking Strategies

Healthy Snack Choices

  • Sliced cucumber with hummus.

  • Apple slices with almond butter.

  • Carrot sticks with Greek yogurt dip.

Avoiding Overeating

Practice portion control during snack times to prevent consuming excess calories.

Combining Intermittent Fasting with Exercise

Best Exercise Practices

  • Engage in a mix of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises for overall fitness.

Pre and Post-Workout Nutrition

  • Consume a balanced meal containing proteins and carbohydrates before and after workouts to support energy levels and muscle recovery.

Tips for a Successful Intermittent Fasting Journey

Start Slowly

  • Gradually increase fasting periods to allow your body to adjust to the new eating pattern.

Listen to Your Body

  • Pay attention to hunger cues and make adjustments as needed to avoid feeling overly deprived.

Stay Consistent

  • To benefit from intermittent fasting, you must be consistent. Stick to your chosen method and schedule.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Overindulging During Eating Windows

  • Avoid overeating or consuming unhealthy foods during your eating periods, as it can negate the positive effects of fasting.

Ignoring Hunger Signals

  • Listen to your body and break your fast if you feel excessively hungry or unwell.

The Mental Aspect of Intermittent Fasting

Dealing with Cravings

  • Find healthier alternatives to satisfy cravings and practice mindful eating.

Mindful Eating Techniques

  • Eat slowly and savor each bite to become more aware of your food choices.

How to Break the Fast Safely

Importance of Gradual Eating

  • Ease into eating after a fasting period by starting with a small, balanced meal.

Recommended Foods for Breaking the Fast

  • Choose easily digestible foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to ease your body back into eating.

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

Understanding the Connection

  • IF can promote weight loss by reducing calorie intake and increasing metabolism.

Realistic Expectations

  • Never forget that it takes time and effort to lose weight in a continuous manner. Be patient with the process.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with a history of eating disorders, and those with certain medical conditions should avoid IF.

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

  • Before beginning intermittent fasting, discuss with a healthcare provider if you have any health issues or medical conditions.

Intermittent fasting is an effective and flexible approach to improve health and support weight management. By understanding what to eat during fasting and eating windows, staying hydrated, and combining it with regular exercise, you can make the most of your intermittent fasting journey. Remember to be mindful of your body's signals and consult a healthcare professional if needed to ensure a safe and successful experience.

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