So you’ve jumped on the intermittent fasting diet bandwagon and are ready to start tackling your weight loss goals. But what exactly should you be eating to see the best results on your intermittent fasting diet?
Best Foods When Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been praised by many as a useful tool in controlling your calorie intake and has been linked with a few possible health benefits. However, getting the most out of your intermittent fasting efforts requires better meal planning and nutrition.
As it turns out, what you choose to eat is still more important than when you eat. And you could end up gaining weight or negatively impacting your health if you aren’t choosing the right healthy options for you - even while following strict eating and fasting windows.
Worst Foods When Fasting
To help you get a handle on what to eat during intermittent fasting, here are the best and worst foods to eat while following an intermittent fasting diet.
Timing Your Nutrition for Intermittent Fasting
Whether you fast for 16 hours every day or only a couple days a week, any intermittent fasting diet uses the process of restricting your food consumption to only certain time periods.
Restricting your eating window is an easy way to cut back on food intake, but this also means you are potentially limiting your nutrition. This can be from eating less food in general or from simply limiting your nutrition window in addition. This is especially true for longer fasting windows or alternate day fasting.
There are many essential nutrients that your body needs and it is not possible to satisfy all of your daily requirements in a single food or meal. Certain nutrients can interact with one another either helping to increase or decrease their absorption potential. In other words, fewer meals or eating opportunities per day may cause you to be deficient in some nutrients.
Outside of general nutrition and health needs, there are some other key considerations when building intermittent fasting meal plans. Such as managing your appetite, energy levels, mood, and cravings. Choosing the right can impact all of this and make losing weight and achieving your goals much easier.
What to Eat and Drink During Your Fasting Window
For most, the goal of your intermittent fasting window is to restrict all food and beverages except water. However, some may find that having some other beverage options or even a few very low-calorie foods to snack on can help them maintain their intermittent fasting window better - especially if they are just getting started.
Of course, if the hunger gets to be too uncomfortable, or you are feeling lightheaded and dizzy, you may want to consider ending the fast and building up to a longer intermittent fasting window over time. You can also start with a juice fast or consuming only fresh fruits and vegetables during your intermittent fasting window.
If you are feeling the hunger pains and need a little something to get you through to your next eating window, try some of the following calorie-free (or very low-calorie) foods and beverages.
- Water with Lemon
- Unsweetened Sparkling Water
- Unsweetened Tea
- Black Coffee
- Unsweetened Gum or Mints
- Pickles or Cucumbers
- Unsweetened Coconut Water
- Unsweetened Electrolyte Drinks
What to Eat During Your Eating Window
The best foods for intermittent fasting are nutritious foods that you enjoy eating - don’t feel like you need to change all of your food preferences just to lose weight. The goal is to find a healthy balance of options that you will want to continue eating for more than a few weeks.
Whole foods tend to be some of the most nutritious options because they contain natural nutrition and help you cut back on calories from ingredients like added sugar, fat, and other processed ingredients. Choosing simple foods with ingredients you recognize is a great approach to finding healthier options.
Nutritious foods can also help manage your appetite and cravings by supplying your body the nutrients it needs. Increased protein intake, dietary fiber, and healthy fats may also play a role in maintaining hunger, energy levels, and mood (1,2,3,4,5,6,7).
Some of the best nutritious foods you can include in your meal plan are:
Protein is one of the best things to eat when trying to lose weight due to its ability to help reduce hunger and cravings. It is also essential to support your lean muscle mass and numerous other bodily functions - making it a requirement for proper nutrition.
The best types of protein are lean proteins and plant-based options that help cut back on saturated fat and extra calories. These options include:
- Lean Red Meat
- Low Fat Dairy
- Beans and Legumes
Fat is essential for storing nutrients in the body and also serves as a key component in many hormones. Eating enough fat is also associated with improved appetite control. However, not all fats are created equal, and it can be easy to overdo it.
Healthy fats are the best option because they not only support your daily needs, but also support heart health, brain health, and much more. Healthy fats are unsaturated fats that primarily come from plant-based foods and seafood sources.
Here are some great healthy fat choices to consider:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Fatty Fish
- Plant-Based Oils
Fruits and Vegetables
Arguably some of the best foods you can eat on any diet are fruits and vegetables. They are packed full of essential nutrients that support bodily functions and good health.
They are also a great source of fiber that promotes healthy digestion and heart health. Additionally, high-fiber diets can help you manage hunger better and support blood sugar control.
Pretty much all fruits and veggies are an excellent options to consider in your meal plan, but here are some of the most popular nutrient-dense choices:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fresh Herbs
- Stone Fruits
- Citrus Fruits
Whole grains are another nutritious food category to look for. They supply a quality source of carbohydrates to fuel your brain and muscles and tend to be high in fiber and essential nutrients.
Look for whole food grain foods or options with “whole grain” listed early on in the ingredients label - the fewer and simpler the ingredients the better.
Some great whole-grain foods to reach for are:
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Ancient Grains
- Whole Grain Bread
- Whole Grain Cereal and Granola
What Foods and Drinks Avoid During Your Eating Window
While no food is “bad” or completely off limits, there are certain types of foods that can negatively impact your health and nutrition when you overdo it.
This mainly includes items high in empty calories, sodium, processed ingredients, saturated fat, and trans fats. These foods typically provide little to no nutritional value and sometimes are associated with negative health outcomes like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight gain, and poorly controlled blood sugar levels (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
The top foods and drinks to avoid while following an intermittent fasting diet are:
It can be much easier to drink a lot of calories than eat them - a single milkshake can have the same amount of fat and calories as a super sized fast food meal. Not to mention, the majority of caloric beverages get their calories from empty sources like added sugar and alcohol.
If you are choosing caloric beverages, opt for 100% fruit juice, pressed vegetable juices, or low fat milk, and limit your intake of the following:
- Fruit Flavored Drinks
Added sugar is found in many foods, especially processed foods, and can be an easy source of extra calories. While a little bit of sugar is just fine, many people tend to get way more than they need. Excess sugar intake can lead to sugar cravings, poor blood sugar control, poor dental health, and increased body fat.
The most common sources of added sugar to look out for include:
- Caloric Beverages
- Desserts and Pastries
When cutting back on processed foods, start with heavily processed items that contain few whole food ingredients. This is an easy way to improve your nutrition and cut back on empty calories.
While not all fried foods are “bad”, they tend to be fairly high in calories and depending on the quality of the oil used, may also be a source of trans fats.
Consider limiting some of the following to help save on empty calories in your diet:
- French Fries
- Fried Meat and Seafood
- Funnel Cake
Building Your Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan
Get started on a Trifecta meal plan that supports your health and nutrition goals no matter what diet type you choose. Our ready-to-eat recipes are made with nutritious ingredients and shipped to your door for the ultimate convenience.