9 Foods you can eat during intermittent fasting

If you aim to lose weight, intermittent fasting is clearly not new to you. This type of diet is one of the most popular health and fitness methods that surely can give you positive results when appropriately followed. 

Basically, intermittent fasting is not just used to regulate weight gain, but it also improves health and builds better eating habits. In fact, many studies have proven the powerful effects of intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting refers to an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Your eating time is being scheduled in a way that you will be fasting and gorging food.

Historically, fasting has been a practice since ancient times. This is because normally, at that time, people didn’t have stores or supermarkets for goods, refrigerators to preserve or food available year-round. Hence, they were left to do fasting, even for a long period of time [1]. 

What foods can you eat during intermittent fasting?

The truth is intermittent fasting is much more sensitive to your eating pattern rather than the actual food you eat.

However, like any other diet plan and method, the goals are to lose weight, improve your wellness and become healthier.

Hence, eating a set of quality foods with your intermittent fasting is most effective for you. Eating these 9 foods while following an intermittent fasting method can surely help you hit your fitness goal. 

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1. Lean proteins

The feeling like your stomach is full can prevent you from consuming more food–and lean proteins can give you just that, most significantly, as you will be fasting for most of the time. With this full feeling, you will restrict yourself from eating. 

Moreover, protein is essential to your overall health, regardless if you are on a diet or not. Proteins in your body help you build immune health and maintain muscle mass.

Generally, muscle plays an important role in optimising blood sugar balance and keeping your metabolism fast.

Without enough proteins in your body can lead you to frailty, higher blood sugar and weight gain.

Some examples of lean proteins that you can definitely eat during intermittent fasting are chicken breast, plain Greek yoghurt, beans, tofu and tempeh.

Red meats are also part of proteins; however, eating a lot of fatty ones, like bacon and sausage, may put you at risk of cardiovascular diseases due to high fat and LDL cholesterol [2]. 

2. ‌‌‌‌Fish and other seafood

During your feeding time, eating fish and other seafood can be a great idea. Salmon and sardines are two of the most helpful to add to your diet as they are high in omega-3 fats and even protein, which can help boost health and reduce cellular inflammation.

Some other kinds of fish and seafood you can consume are anchovies, crab, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, rainbow trout and shrimp. 

3. Fruits with low sugar

Like any other dietary plan and method, fruits are essential in intermittent fasting. Fruits are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre, which are vital in sustaining your health while fasting.

With the nutritional value of fruits, eating them can aid in lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining bowel health.

Plus, fruits are generally delicious snacks with low calories; hence, you can eat them without guilt. 

Nonetheless, a tricky thing with fruits is that they can be really sweet, loaded with fruit sugar called fructose.

Overconsumption can give you metabolic health issues and may negatively impact your intermittent fasting results [3].

Hence, it is better to choose the ones with low to medium amounts of sugar. Some fruits you can consume during your feeding time are apples, oranges, peaches, grapefruits, kiwi, pears, blackberries, strawberries, avocados, tomatoes, lemons, apricots, blueberries and melons. 

4. Vegetables

Of course, vegetables should be part of your diet plan. They serve as prebiotics in our digestive system, feeding your good gut bacteria for optimal function.

Experts suggest that adding leafy greens to your diet decreases your risk of having Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.

Some vegetables you should add to your meals are carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, kale, spinach, seaweed, cabbage, arugula, Brussels sprouts, celery and asparagus [4].

vegetables

5. Whole grains

Here’s another nutrient beneficial for your intermittent fasting–whole grains, which offer your body a complete package of health benefits. 

There are three parts of whole grains, such as bran, germ and endosperm. The bran provides B vitamins, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

While the germ offers healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins; and the endosperm gives carbohydrates, protein and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals [5]. Overall, every part of whole grains is distinctively health-beneficial. 

Some whole grains you can consume are organic oatmeal, organic millet, organic quinoa, organic brown rice, organic black rice and organic wild rice. 

6. ‌‌‌‌Beans and legumes

Eating beans and legumes in your feeding schedule is an excellent strategy while on intermittent fasting.

These two are loaded with fibre, antioxidants, protein, B vitamins and other vitamins and minerals that your body needs while it follows your new eating pattern. 

Furthermore, beans and legumes can aid in balancing blood sugar, reducing LDL cholesterol and promoting gut health. Plus, it keeps hunger and cravings at bay which is perfect during your fasting.

Examples of beans and legumes are black beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), green beans, lima beans, kidney beans and lentils.

7. Healthy fats

Generally, for people who aim to lose weight, fats can be a bad thing. However, healthy fats are essential for your body to function correctly.

They are needed to support cellular health, energy and hormone production. It also helps in insulation that keeps you warm and protects your organs. 

Additionally, healthy fats should be added to your diet as they are necessary for metabolising fat-soluble nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin E and multivitamins.

In digesting herbs and spices like turmeric and rosemary, healthy fats should be present as well. These nutrients from vitamins need fat to be absorbed by your body. 

Some sources of healthy fats are avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, ghee, avocados, nuts and nut butter, chia seeds, flaxseeds and olives. 

8. ‌‌‌‌Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices provide a potent, powerful and anti-inflammatory impact on your health. Yes, those that make your food more delicious are also needed in your diet, so don’t cut them out entirely.

Herbs and spices help in optimising your intermittent fasting; hence, you must still add them to your meals. 

These herbs and spices can be turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, sage, rosemary and thyme. 

9. Probiotics 

Probiotic foods can be really helpful during your intermittent fasting. It generally helps you to have good digestion and metabolism.

Experts suggest that probiotics balance the levels of helpful gut bacteria and reduce irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

While on intermittent fasting, probiotics can improve your glucose tolerance, helping you to achieve weight loss. 

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What not to eat while intermittent fasting?

Now, let’s talk about the foods you should steer clear of when practicing intermittent fasting [6].

While fasting periods allow your body to burn stored fat for energy, consuming the wrong foods can sabotage your efforts and hinder the benefits of fasting. Here’s a practical list of foods to avoid:

1. Sugary foods and drinks

Stay away from sugary foods like candies, pastries, and sugary cereals. These items can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, making it challenging to maintain stable energy levels during your fasting window.

Sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices, and sweetened teas are loaded with empty calories and can quickly break your fast. Opt for water, herbal tea, or black coffee (in moderation) instead.

2. Processed goods

Processed foods often contain unhealthy additives, preservatives, and high levels of sodium.

Avoid items like chips, fast food, and frozen meals, as they can contribute to inflammation and disrupt your fasting goals.

3. Excessive carbs and high-calorie foods

While carbohydrates are essential, consuming too many refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and sugary cereals can lead to rapid blood sugar spikes and make fasting more challenging.

Fatty and calorie-dense foods, such as deep-fried items, creamy sauces, and excessive cheese, can be counterproductive during intermittent fasting as they may exceed your daily caloric needs.

4. Heavy dairy, overly spicy, or greasy foods

Creamy and high-fat dairy products like full-fat milk, ice cream, and excessive cheese can be hard to digest and may cause discomfort during fasting.

Spicy and greasy foods can lead to digestive discomfort and heartburn, making fasting a less pleasant experience.

Remember, the key to successful intermittent fasting is to choose foods that help you stay full, energized, and nourished during your eating window while avoiding items that can lead to energy crashes or overconsumption of calories. 

Heavy dairy, overly spicy, or greasy foods

What is the best eating plan for intermittent fasting?

Let’s put our knowledge into action with some sample meal plans for intermittent fasting. These meal ideas are designed to help you stay on track and make the most of your eating window. 

16/8 Fasting meal plan

Breakfast (12 PM)

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes
  • Whole-grain toast
  • A side of mixed berries

Lunch (3 PM)

  • Grilled chicken breast salad with a variety of colorful veggies
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Snack (5 PM)

  • Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of almonds

Dinner (7 PM)

  • Baked salmon with a lemon and dill sauce
  • Steamed broccoli and quinoa

5:2 Fasting meal plan

On fasting days, aim to keep your calorie intake around 500-600 calories.

Fasting day (8 AM – 8 PM)

  • Herbal tea or black coffee (without sugar or cream) in the morning
  • A small salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and grilled chicken breast (350 calories)
  • A piece of fruit (e.g., apple or pear) in the afternoon (100-150 calories)
  • Vegetable soup for dinner (150-200 calories)

Non-fasting day (Normal eating):

  • Stick to your regular healthy eating routine.

OMAD (One Meal a Day) fasting meal plan

Consume your entire day’s calories in one meal during your eating window.

Dinner (6 PM)

  • Grilled or baked lean protein source (chicken, fish, or tofu)
  • A generous portion of mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers)
  • A small serving of brown rice or quinoa
  • Finish with a piece of fruit for dessert (e.g., an orange or berries)

These sample meal plans should provide you with a good starting point for your intermittent fasting journey.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool for improving your health and achieving your fitness goals.

By strategically timing your meals and making mindful food choices, you can harness the benefits of this eating pattern, such as weight loss, improved metabolic health, and enhanced energy levels.

Remember, while intermittent fasting offers many advantages, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on any new dietary regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or specific dietary needs.

With dedication, patience, and a balanced approach to food, intermittent fasting can become a sustainable and effective part of your overall health and wellness strategy.

FAQs

Is intermittent fasting good for all people?

Intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, especially pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with certain medical conditions, or those with a history of eating disorders. 

Does fasting mean no water?

No. You can drink water, herbal tea, or black coffee (without sugar or cream) during fasting periods. Staying hydrated is essential to help curb hunger and support overall well-being.

What are the best foods to eat while intermittent fasting?

Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods like lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These foods can help you stay satiated and provide essential nutrients.

Are there any food restrictions with intermittent fasting?

Yes, it’s best to avoid sugary foods, processed junk foods, sugary beverages, excessive carbs, high-fat and calorie-dense foods, alcohol, and large, heavy meals before fasting periods.

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[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide 
[2] https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/how-much-protein-do-i-need 
[3] https://www.jci.org/articles/view/96702
[4] https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/slideshows/healthy-fall-vegetables-you-should-eat 
[5] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/ 
[6] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/ 

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