What to eat during intermittent fasting

What to eat during intermittent fasting

Fast weight loss, wellness, simplicity. Intermittent fasting seems to be the answer to the prayers of all the thinners in the world. Alas, there is no such thing as magic. I will tell you who intermittent fasting really suits, what schemes exist for beginners and advanced, and how to avoid mistakes on this style of dieting.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but an eating regimen, a schedule.

A day or week (less often large stretches) is divided into periods or cycles – fasting and food window.

Every one of us has tried interval fasting before it became mainstream. The experience is based on periods of sleep and wakefulness. Nighttime is just when we don’t eat, and in the morning we usually “open” our food window.

This practice has existed for thousands of years in virtually all cultures. Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists deliberately fast. Conscientiousness is an extremely important component of interval fasting for both women and men. The basic idea is that food is available to you, you can eat, but you choose not to do it at a certain interval. If food is deprived of you by force, there is no talk of beneficial effects. And further on it will be clear why.

The benefits of intermittent fasting

Both the great sages of the past and today’s successful businessmen are able to pump up their productivity and think more clearly with this approach to nutrition. And it’s not esoteric. Studies on animals, particularly rats, have found that long breaks between meals (within reasonable limits, of course) stimulate cognitive abilities. After the experiments, feedback from scientists suggests that intermittent starvation improves people’s brain function and prevents age-related changes.

There’s a nuance, though. If you decide right now to go 24 hours without food for the sake of brain health and productivity, you probably won’t feel the effects. Instead of clicking IQ tasks, all you’ll be thinking about is where and what to eat. That’s why it’s important to know how to practice intermittent fasting, and remember that results come with practice.

In addition to mental clarity, the interval diet is effective for:

  • Lose weight, and specifically at the expense of fat;
  • Reducing chronic inflammation;
  • Normalizing blood glucose and insulin levels;
  • Improving health indicators for type 2 diabetes, up to – possibly – long-term remission;
  • Increased energy levels.

Many studies prove that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on brain function, body condition and quality, and even seems to promote longevity. For women, the convenience lies in the fact that intermittent fasting does not involve developing a special menu. And that’s a definite plus of this style of eating. You don’t have to give up certain foods and specifically include others in your diet. It’s not what you eat that matters, but exactly when you eat it.

How intermittent fasting for weight loss

To understand why fasting is a completely natural way to lose weight, we have to look back 2 million years. Without supermarkets or delivery services, our ancestors unwittingly observed interval fasting hours when they went without food for many days at a time. They successfully stored fat when food was available and then expended it during periods of starvation. Our internal fat is an excellent source of energy, which plugs in when no food is available.

The essence of interval fasting is explained by the following mechanisms. When we eat, insulin, the hormone responsible for getting energy into the cell and for storing fat, is released. When we are hungry, insulin levels drop significantly and the body goes into a mode of consuming the fuel stored in the body.

Modern eating is a constant chunkiness: first breakfast, second breakfast, snack – there are simply no conditions for the consumption of fat deposits. When we turn on an interval diet and stop “topping up” fuel, we naturally access the body’s stores. In addition, fasting also affects the levels of other hormones and processes going on in our bodies. For example, the concentration of growth hormone increases by a factor of 5, which promotes fat loss and muscle mass accumulation.

Gene expression: interval starvation activates the expression of genes, including those associated with longevity and protection against certain diseases.

How much weight can I lose on intermittent fasting?

Someone chooses this system for recovery, but many people strive to lose weight on interval fasting. And it is more than realistic. But the main question that worries all women is how many pounds can be lost if you apply intermittent fasting. Let’s tell you how it all works and what the prospects are.

  • Because of the limited intervals during which food can be eaten, people usually begin to consume fewer calories. This has an effect on weight – it begins to decrease.
  • As insulin levels decrease and growth hormone production increases, noradrenaline production increases, which accelerates the burning of fat reserves.
  • Metabolism is accelerated because of the hormonal changes, which can increase by 3-14%.
  • One study calculated that switching to intermittent fasting can lead to 3-8% weight loss over a period of 3 to 24 weeks.

Intermittent fasting: health benefits

There are many studies on interval fasting, so its health benefits can be considered scientifically proven:

  • Weight loss;
  • Reduced insulin resistance;
  • Heart benefits;
  • Reduced risk of developing some forms of cancer;
  • Slowing down the aging process.

What types of intermittent fasting are there?

Depending on which hours you choose to do interval fasting, there are several varieties. Let’s list a few of the most popular patterns.


  • Intermittent fasting 16/8 is suitable even for beginners. This is the classic and most common option. The food window takes 8 hours, and 16 hours you need to do without food. It is practiced daily. Possible variations are 14/10 and 18/6. About half of the fast you sleep, so it is very easy to follow this regimen.
  • OMAD (one meal a day), the warrior diet, 20/4 or 23/1 are types of intervals that leave only one meal. While the 16/8 interval fasting scheme is not dangerous to the health of beginners (if there are no contraindications), this type is more restrictive and is not designed for the unprepared body.


  • 5/2 is a type of interval fasting for a week. With it 5 days you can eat as usual, but 2 days are 100% starvation or strong caloric restriction – up to 500-600 kcal. It is important that in this scheme, the days of starvation do not follow each other. For example, you cut calories on Wednesday and Saturday, and eat a full meal on the other days.
  • 36-hour fast. For example, you eat breakfast at 8 a.m. on Monday and dinner on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
  • 48 hours or more are advanced formats that are better done under the supervision of specialists. In any case, the latter two patterns are unacceptable for novice women and men who only dream of trying intermittent fasting.

Jason Fung, a physician and one of the foremost experts on fasting, does not recommend going without food for more than 14 consecutive days. And while there are examples of longer fasts, it is an extreme format for most.

Fasting can be a water fast and a dry fast

In the first case, liquids – without sugar and calories, i.e. water, tea, coffee without sugar and milk, herbal infusions – are not restricted in any way. In the second, people refuse not only to eat, but also to drink. It sounds scary, but in fact literally billions of people in the world regularly practice dry fasting.

What you can drink on intermittent fasting.

Jews are supposed to abstain from water and drink for 24 hours on Yom Kippur, while Muslims hold such a fast from sunrise to sunset every day during the month of Ramadan. And depending on the hour of search and time of year, intervals of intermittent fasting can be very significant. Interestingly, dry fasting is more effective for weight loss. The body begins to break down fat cells more actively to get water.

The menu for intermittent fasting

Followers of this format do not consider it a diet. For them it is a way of life, which they adhere to for many years, choosing gentle schemes. For beginners, the menu can be designed in such a way that intermittent fasting consists of a facilitated regimen. For example, not eating for seven days for 10 hours rather than eight. Some people are comfortable choosing an interval from 12 to 8 p.m., others from 9 to 17.

We said the emphasis was on time, not diet per se. But real testimonials from people suggest that intermittent fasting works for weight loss if certain limits are followed. It is advisable to eliminate fast carbohydrates, smoked foods, salty foods, and processed foods. It is better to give preference to dishes that maintain stable blood sugar levels. These are meats, whole grain cereals, nuts, and vegetables. What should be left on the menu:

  • Protein and healthy fats: lean meat, eggs, avocados, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sugar-free dairy products, yogurts without additives, kefir, natural cottage cheese, legumes.
  • Foods rich in fiber, vitamins and trace elements: berries, fruits (apples, oranges, grapefruit), green vegetables, red tomatoes and peppers.

Let’s imagine what a sample interval diet designed for a week might be, according to the 16/8 scheme. Many people start the day with lunch, so let’s settle on this option. Naturally, you can adjust the menu to suit you.

First day

  • Lunch: baked lean meat, baked eggplant.
  • Afternoon snack: coffee, some bread with cheese, preferably low fat.
  • Dinner: vegetable salad with egg and tuna, handful of fresh berries, nuts.

Day two

  • Lunch: baked chicken breast, steamed buckwheat
  • Afternoon snack: green tea, unsweetened fruit salad.
  • Dinner: beef meatballs and lentil porridge.

Day three

  • Lunch: lean beef cutlets, vegetable salad
  • Afternoon snack: natural yogurt and 1-2 oranges or grapefruit.
  • Dinner: salmon and pumpkin puree.

Day four

  • Lunch: bulgur porridge with vegetables and mushrooms.
  • Afternoon snack: coffee, bread and eggplant caviar.
  • Dinner: Greek salad.

Day five

  • Lunch: boiled chicken breast and brown rice
  • Afternoon snack: oatmeal pancakes, two slices of dark chocolate
  • Dinner: borscht with lean beef broth.

Day Six

  • Lunch: salad with chicken breast and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Afternoon snack: green tea, yogurt, scrap of nuts.
  • Dinner: baked fish, vegetables.

Day seven

  • Lunch: whole wheat noodles
  • Afternoon snack: oatmeal pancakes with banana.
  • Dinner: vegetable pie with chicken and egg.

But before you move decidedly away from eating and drinking, let’s talk about who intermittent fasting is contraindicated and what mistakes can turn a beneficial practice into a crippling one.

The disadvantages and harms of intermittent fasting

People began adjusting to eating three meals a day when the country developed an eight-hour workday. Scientists later proved that this approach is more beneficial for the cardiovascular system than six meals. But it’s important for each of us to navigate our biological clock and rhythm of life so that our bodies work like clockwork. A schedule that involves intermittent fasting is not appropriate for everyone. It’s not uncommon for prolonged refusal to eat to lead to negative consequences.

Real testimonials from people tell of how intermittent fasting provoked eating disorders, GI problems, and anemia in them. They noticed, especially at first, that they were haunted by headaches, discomfort, and weakness. The lack of food slowed down the metabolism, depleted physical and moral resources of the body.

If your work schedule is irregular or designed for shifts, or you are used to having late dinners with friends and frequent visits, even a week of interval fasting can be difficult.

How to practice intermittent fasting

You have already understood that it is impossible to eat at three o’clock in the afternoon so that it hurts to breathe, and then all of a sudden to refuse to have dinner. The “fasting” option doesn’t work here. Learn how to start intermittent fasting and stick to it competently.

Three to four weeks before you start (you can skip it)

Intermittent fasting goes faster and more fun for those who stick to a low-carbohydrate diet or keto diet. This makes sense: during fasting, the body is deprived of any food, including carbohydrates, which means it begins to use its own fats as an energy source and enters ketosis. Ketogenic people enter ketosis due to the diet, their body knows how to use fats as a fuel source, so they tolerate hunger more calmly.

However, this is not a prerequisite for periodic starvation. In any case it makes sense to reduce refined carbohydrates to a minimum and start gradually increasing the intervals between meals.

The day before you start

Prepare the food you’ll eat after you get out of hunger. It is better to open the food window with a protein-fat option, you can with vegetables, rather than a generous portion of carbohydrates. Keep evolutionary logic in mind. Our ancestors lived by hunting and gathering. After a long period without food, they could feast on prey-meat, herbs, roots-but certainly not oatmeal and certainly not croissant. Still, intermittent fasting is not synonymous with sweeping away everything at a certain hour.

The day you start

Put an app on your phone. I use Zero. The functionality is minimal – a timer. Started fasting – hit start. Decided to eat – stop. But it is important at this point to take time to record: what were the feelings, was it easy to endure, what with mood and sleep. Such analysis will allow you to understand whether intermittent fasting suits you, how it is tolerated, whether it is harmful or beneficial.

While fasting

Drink water, eat salt, get busy. Definitely don’t start intermittent fasting dry. On the contrary, you need to drink, and on the contrary, you need to drink, and you also need to sip salt (or 1/4 spoonful of salt can be added to water). This is the number 1 remedy for headaches and discomfort that can come with not being used to it. Don’t fixate on thoughts of food – distract yourself, take a walk.

In the food window

Eating. The most, the most, the most important point: in the food window you must eat. You categorically cannot combine intermittent fasting and low-calorie diets! That said, an 8-hour food window doesn’t mean you have to chew non-stop. You can have 2-3 meals in that time, without snacks, a piece of cake, a latte, or the like. Discover more information about healthy nutrition at https://builtbybeauty.com.