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What To Eat During Intermittent Fasting: 9 Foods For Optimal Health

Living sustainably: What to eat during intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting can be an effective way to lose weight, reduce inflammation and boost brain function. However knowing what to eat during intermittent fasting is essential to ensuring your body gets the right mix of protein, fibre and healthy fats. 

If you’re stuck for what to eat during intermittent fasting, focusing on these 9 foods will ensure your diet is balanced for optimal health.

What is intermittent fasting?

While fasting normally means going without any food for a period of time, intermittent fasting is a modern, easier approach where you stop eating for a part of each day or restrict your calorie intake for a few days each week. 

There are two main methods we incorporate at The Fast 800, which can be utilised together depending on your lifestyle: 

  • 5:2 approach where you restrict your calorie intake to 800 calories for two days a week, and eat a healthy diet for the other five days; and 
  • Time Restricted Eating (TRE) which encourages you to extend your normal nighttime ‘fast’ by eating an early dinner, or skipping breakfast, to condense your eating period into an eight, ten or 12-hour windows

What to eat during intermittent fasting

Ultimately, it comes down to balance of protein, fibre and healthy fats, which is essentially the Mediterranean Diet. The good news is, whether you incorporate intermittent fasting or not, a low carb Mediterranean Diet has unique power not just to restore your body’s ability to reach its ideal weight and stay there, but also to cut your risk of serious disease. It doesn’t come from a place of restriction but rather it’s about eating more of the right foods. Not only will these foods keep you feeling full, they offer important nutrients and health benefits, and taste delicious.

Start the day with eggs

Boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelette – they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer compared to cereal or toast. Delicious with greens and parmesan or smoked salmon and a sprinkle of chilli.

Full-fat yoghurt is good

Choose a plain Greek-style yoghurt and add berries, like blackberries, strawberries or blueberries for flavour. Or a sprinkling of nuts.

Have high-quality proteins

Oily fish, prawns, chicken, turkey, pork, beef and, of course, eggs. Other protein-rich foods include beans, especially edamame beans, dairy and nuts and seeds. Processed meats (bacon, salami, polony) should be eaten sparingly and in small quantities.

Eat more healthy fats and oils

Along with oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), consume more extra virgin olive oil. A splash makes vegetables taste better and improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Use olive, or coconut oil for cooking. Avocado is another great source of healthy fats that will keep you feeling full and satiated.

Eat plenty of different coloured veg

From dark leafy greens to bright-red and yellow capsicum. More variety of colours means more variety of nutrients.

Fibre is good

A low carb Mediterranean diet does not mean no carbs at all. Not only is this very hard to achieve, but can be detrimental. This is why complex carbs and fibre are still important and can easily be gained from vegetables, legumes and wholegrains.

Dairy products are back in

Recent research has found that these do not cause diabetes. They are a good source of calcium and protein. Dairy helps you feel fuller for longer. Choose full-fat but eat in moderation as it can be high in calories. A scattering of parmesan can be used on baked vegetables to add flavour and protein.

Nuts are also included

They provide a good source of protein, minerals and vitamins, contain healthy fats and have a high fibre content. You nibble them, chuck them in salad or stews. They make a good low carb alternative to flour for baking by using almond or coconut flour.

A little bit of dark chocolate and red wine is fine!

Research shows that resveratrol, a compound present in red wine (as well as in blueberries, cranberries and cocoa) can contribute to the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. So, if you would like to complement your recipes with the occasional glass of red or piece of dark chocolate, you can. Just be more mindful on fasting days as the calories can be significant.

What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?

Short-term fasting activates a process within the body called ‘autophagy’ whereby dead, diseased or worn-out cells are broken down, consumed and excreted (autophagy means ‘self -eat’) to make way for the shiny new cells that keep us young.

If following a 5:2 approach, with the incorporation of a lower carb Mediterranean-style diet and two fasting days of only 800 calories, you can expect:

  • A greater loss of fat than on a conventional calorie restricted diet
  • Reduced inflammation 
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced blood sugars and insulin resistance
  • A nutritious, high-fibre diet which can improve bowel function
  • Possible improvements in brain function and mood
  • Bolstered immunity

About Gabrielle Newman – BHSc (Nutritional Medicine) 

Gabrielle Newman is a Clinical Nutritionist, BHSc (Nutritional Medicine), with a special interest in weight management, hormonal and metabolic health. She has a love of food that stemmed from her previous career as a short order cook, as well as a Permaculture Design Certificate. 

Gabrielle is the Nutritionist and Recipe Developer for The Fast 800. She has a passion for making good health attainable and sustainable through educating people to make the right health choices for them. 

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