Probably one of the most popular diet plans to lose weight lately aside from keto is intermittent fasting. People are going crazy about this new effective weight-loss method because it actually gets the job done! With that being said though, not everyone succeeds with intermittent fasting so read on to learn more about intermittent fasting for beginners.
Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
Intermittent fasting is simply a period of fasting followed by a period of eating. It’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating. You basically consume your calories within a certain time window.
- Alternate-day fasting. You eat as you usually would on day one, on day two you eat only once a day and that meal will provide around 25% of your calories. If you’re on a 2000 kcal diet, you get a 500 kcal meal and you’re done for the day.
- 5:2 Fasting. This is when you fast for two days during the week and eat without food restrictions during the other 5 days. On the fasting days, you can again, consume one 500 kcal meal.
- Time-restricted: Examples would be the famous 16:8 split – you eat whatever’s on your meal plan within 8 hours of the day and then don’t eat for 16 hours. For example, if you start eating at 9 am, you stop eating at 5 pm. Other options are 18:6 and 20:4, but I find these more restrictive.
See you can get the results and benefits with all of these schedules, but what you need to do is decide which one works best for your lifestyle. If the 5:2 split is more realistic for you right now than the alternate day or time-restricted fasting, why not start there? The point is to get started, try something new and see what happens.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Now, here are some more benefits of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting can/might:
- improve cellular repair
- promote weight loss
- be beneficial for your cardiometabolic health
- reduce inflammation and oxidative stress
- prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease
- protect against brain damage
- increase lifespan
See there are many benefits to eating this way. But intermittent fasting is not for everyone! Restricting your calories can affect your hormones and is best discussed with a doctor if you have a health condition. For example, intermittent fasting is not for you if you have diabetes, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have an eating disorder related to restricting calories (like anorexia or bulimia).
What To Eat When Doing Intermittent Fasting
1. Leafy Greens & Cruciferous Vegetables
Get your greens in every day! Time-restricted feeding isn’t an excuse to skip those foods. This group of healthy vegetables includes spinach, kale, arugula, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussel’s sprouts. These vegetables are highly nutritious, low in calories, and known for their ability to destroy free radicals and to protect against cancer, cardiometabolic disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Including fatty fish, in your diet 1-2 times, a week is important, because of its omega-3 content. Fish is one of the very few sources of the type of omega-3’s that the human body can actually use. Unfortunately, we can easily not get enough of these fatty acids if we’re not intentional with our diet. This leads to a disbalance of the omega-3/omega-6 ratio which in turn leads to chronic inflammation – the common denominator in all major chronic diseases and weight gain.
I know fish consumption is a controversial topic, but research has found that the health benefits of eating up to two servings of fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and light tuna far outweigh the potential risks They found moderate fish consumption reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 36% and total mortality by 17%.
3. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts are rich in fiber, protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats and will keep you satiated while you’re intermittent fasting. Great options are almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, sesame seeds, cashews, and pistachios.
4. Red & Purple Fruits & Veggies
This group includes vegetables like tomatoes, beets, cabbage, radishes, red bell peppers, and fruits like berries. These fruits and vegetables contain natural pigments like lycopene and anthocyanin that are beneficial for our health and can help protect us from premature aging – on the outside and the inside. So it’s very important to make them a part of your daily diet.
5. Plant-Based Protein Sources
Tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, hemp seeds, and beans are all plants (or made from plants) and are excellent protein sources. Most of these foods provide both – fiber and protein, which makes them an excellent choice to keep you full longer when you’re doing intermittent fasting.
6. Whole Grains
My favorite choices here are oats and quinoa because they’re again – a great source of fiber and protein, they’re also easy to cook with and have great nutritional value. Oats, especially, are pretty well known for their cholesterol-lowering ability and they’re great for your digestion too. Make oats a part of your breakfast and include quinoa in salads, soups, or one-pan meals.
7. Fermented Foods
Last, but not least: don’t forget about fermented foods! They’re rich in probiotics which are great for your immune system and for maintaining healthy gut flora. This is especially important if you’ve been taking antibiotics lately. Some great options are sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, and last but not least: pickles!
By eating a combination of these foods you will feel satisfied and you will stay full, even if you fast for 16 hours every day. You’ll also get all of the nutrients you need for optimal immune function, to maintain a healthy weight and healthy digestion. Consuming fewer calories might be necessary for losing or maintaining a healthy weight, but having all your nutritional needs covered by eating well is even more important long term.