What to eat when intermittent fasting for health and hunger pains

What to eat when intermittent fasting for health and hunger pains

  • Intermittent fasting does not cut out food groups but it's important to follow a healthy diet while trying this popular weight-loss plan.
  • A good eating guide to follow while intermittent fasting is what's recommended by the Mediterranean diet.
  • This article was reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
If your goal this year is to stay healthy or lose weight, you have probably considered intermittent fasting, a feeding pattern that involves cycling between fasting and eating periods.

While there are no technical restrictions on what you can eat when you fast intermittently, some foods are better than others and will help you optimize your health and fight hunger pain more easily.

How intermittent fasting works and what to eat

To be considered as an intermittent fast, the fasting period must trigger a change in your body when the energy reserves in the liver, called glucose, are depleted and the fat reserves are used, says Mark Mattson, PhD, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins

When this happens, the fat molecules are released into the bloodstream and enter the liver, where the cells convert them into ketones. This is called ketosis, which researchers say could be beneficial for body and brain health.

Mattson tells Insider that the liver can store a maximum of about 600 to 700 calories of glucose. During normal daily activities, these glucose stores generally run out within about ten to twelve hours of inactivity, and more slowly during sleep. Whenever someone eats, their liver glucose stores are replenished.

That's why avoiding carbohydrates, especially added sugars and refined grains, is a good idea during the feeding period, says Monique Tello, MD, MPH, a doctor and instructor from Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

A meal rich in refined sugars and cereals, such as a frappuccino and a simple bagel, quickly breaks down into sugar and will not keep you full for long. In addition, this will increase blood sugar and insulin levels faster than a meal containing fiber and whole grains such as fresh fruit with a bowl of oatmeal, made from traditional oatmeal, not oatmeal instant.

"Don't worry about sugar in a fruit, go crazy, eat the fruit, it's actually full of fiber and antioxidants," says Tello. "Instead, worry about sugar in the juice, sodas, coffee drinks, baked goods, as well as many [flavored] yogurts and yogurt drinks."

Eating fiber-rich foods during the feeding window will also keep you longer because your body digests them more slowly. Fiber-rich foods include nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables and protein-rich foods, including meat. The optimal calorie intake and specific food plan needed to lose weight will depend on a person's activity level and current body mass index.

Eating protein with every meal is another good strategy, as protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, eggs and legumes (beans and legumes) also help control hunger. A big meal includes about half a plate of vegetables, about 4-6 ounces of protein, a portion of starchy vegetables or whole carbohydrates of the size to suit your needs (often about ½ to a cup) and some healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds or avocado. This gives you an idea of ​​how to eat to fill when intermittent fasting, but the quantities of individual foods can vary, depending on your body and goals.

Why follow a healthy diet when intermittent fasting

If you are looking for intermittent fasting to lose weight, it is important to eat well to keep your insulin levels stable and avoid spikes.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that lowers blood sugar by moving it into our cells, where it can be used as fuel or stored as body fat. Research shows that higher insulin levels prevent fat from degrading for energy. And if you're not tonic or not very active, much of that extra sugar will end up in your liver, where it can cause a fatty liver and weight gain.

It is also important to get enough nutrients, which can help you sleep better, regulate mood and compensate for difficult diseases. In fact, if you are looking for a food plan to follow during intermittent fasting, recent studies support the use of a Mediterranean diet for better general health.

The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of fruit, vegetables, wholemeal bread and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds, moderate quantities of fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products and red meat once a week or less. These foods provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that help you stay healthy, so it's a good food guide during intermediate fasting.

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