intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting: What to eat and What to avoid!

Intermittent fasting is one of the popular weight-loss strategies. It is a regulatory meal plan that helps you manage when you eat rather than what you eat at a set period of time. A period set aside just to fast and eat at a particular time. The main purpose of intermittent fasting is for losing weight, it also has other amazing health benefits. During this period of fast, the time you eat and also the diet plan must be carefully considered.

How my husband lost 3kg through intermittent fasting

I remember when my husband was on intermittent fasting, he did it for close to a month and he was taking mixed fruits in the afternoon and eating a proper meal at night. During this period he lost 3kg. He was on Warrior Diet, a type of intermittent fast that involves taking raw fruits or vegetables during the day and eating heavy food at night, the eating window was between 4-5 hours a day. Trust me, with the fast, he was bouncing well and looking fresh, hahaha.

Read also: Why I Love To Cook – My First Blog Post

The benefit of intermittent fasting (IF)

  • It reduces obesity– Is a healthy way of losing weight and belly fat. It helps to burn body fats.
  • Insulin resistance– It will help your body limit the amount of fat stored and also help to lower blood glucose levels in the body. 
  • It helps to reduce the need for insulin and cholesterol in the blood
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • It reduces inflammation

How intermittent fasting is done

Intermittent fasting is done within a period of time and after which you can go back to your usual everyday diet plan. Intermittent fasting has to be intentionally planned, you have to regularly restrict yourself to eating at a particular time of the day so that your body and mind can get used to the process. 

There are various methods and styles you have to inculcate in this period of fast, the meal plans and also when to eat them must be carefully planned.

For the intermittent program plans the following methods are common;

1. The 12-hour fast a day

The 12:12 intermittent fasting is a good option for beginners. It is the easiest of the intermittent fasting methods. What makes this type of fasting the sweetest is because, within the 12hours fasting window, you can include the period of sleep into it. It doesn’t have to be from morning till evening, you can run it from evening through the morning.

For example, the eating window can be between the hours of 8 am -8 pm. If you decide to have the fast during the day rather than at night, it is best you keep yourself busy during the 12 hours fast, you can take a nap or have a day out so that you don’t think of food. Depriving yourself of food every day takes discipline and courage. The most amazing thing about this 12:12 is that if you are consistent with it you will notice a weight loss before 30days.

2. The 16-hour fast a day

Source: Very Well FIt

It is known as the 16:8 diet and it is the most common of the intermittent fasting method. Fasting for 16 hours and eating window is within 8 hours.

Before embarking on this type of fast ensure your body is used to not eating for long, it will be much easier for someone that has been into the 12 hours IF.

Also for this fasting, you can include the hours of sleep within the fasting window. It is a day to day fasting but if you are just getting used to IF, you can make it 2-3 times weekly just to get used to it, once you have done that for a while then you can go on with the 16-hour daily fast.

3. 2 Days a week

Fasting two times a week which is otherwise known as the 5:2 or the Fast Diet intermittent fasting. This type of intermittent fasting is a very effective way to lose weight. You will eat normal healthy foods for 5days and reduce calorie intake for 2days within a week.

The recommended reduction in calories for these 2days of fasting is 500 calories for women and 600 for men which is like a quarter of the daily calorie requirement, while the other 5days should be normal but with healthy eating so that it can cover for the 2days with restricted calorie.

When planning the 5:2 IF, make sure there are non-fasting days in between the 2days of fasting, for example, fasting days can be on Tuesdays and Fridays every week.

The 5:2 IF is highly effective for those that want to reduce obesity and it helps to reduce insulin resistance and some other health benefits.

4. Eat-Stop-Eat

This type of intermittent fasting is done for 24 hours (a complete day) once or twice a week. For example, when you don’t eat from 5 pm a day until 5 pm the next day and continue with regular eating for a few days before repeating the fasting window. Anyone doing this must have been involved in any of the above-mentioned types of IF.

The eat-stop-eat type of intermittent fasting should be a choice, it is not considered better or worse than the other types of IF. Just like the 5:2 IF, you shouldn’t fast for 2 consecutive days if you are doing this IF and during the fasting days you should take some few calories like 500-600 and also ensure you stay hydrated during the fasting window.

According to Brad Pilon, the founder of Eat-Stop-Eat, on the other days you are not fasting make sure you eat responsibly and in moderation, you can eat anything you want to eat but it should be healthy.

5. Alternate-day fasting

ADF is fasting every other day which is a full 24 hours fast every other day. This type is quite extreme and is not advisable for beginners. Although, you can take some calorie-free beverages and even take up to 500 calories of food during the fasting window which means that you will eat but restrict your calorie intake.

ADF is considered a very effective weight-loss regimen if combined with exercise and includes a few calories on fasting days.

6. The warrior diet

This is otherwise known as the 20:4, it was founded by a fitness specialist, Ori Hofmekler. The warrior diet is a type of intermittent fasting that has only a 4 hours eating window within a day. Within the 20 hours fast you have the option of taking a small portion of veggies/ fruits and eating anything heavy (healthy food) at night within the 4 hours eating window.

It is also a very effective way of losing body weight and fat. This is done by taking a few calories of food during the 20 hours of fast and most of the calories at night within the 4hours eating window.

According to some nutritional experts, the warrior diet is not for everyone and it should not really be considered due to the limited eating window.

Foods to eat during intermittent fasting

During intermittent fasting the focus is not really what to eat but when to eat. This doesn’t mean that you should not eat healthy during this period because what you eat will really determine if the plan will work for your weight-loss goals or not.

One of the special ways to stay committed to the IF for weight loss is to choose what to eat rightly. Your diet at this time really means a lot, you have to plan your meal schedule with nourishing and healthy energy-giving foods.

The following are the everyday diet to make you feel healthier during intermittent fasting and also to enhance the benefits of the intermittent fasting program.

1. Eat protein foods, vegetables and complex carbohydrates

These combinations of food will make you have a steady flow of energy even when you are fasting. You should combine the protein given food with vegetables and also with some starchy food.

Meat and fish as a protein source.  Such as;

  • Chicken                      
  • Mackerel                            
  • Tilapia
  • Tuna                                       
  • Turkey
  • Prawns                                   
  • Squid                               
  • Salmon                                   
  • Haddock 
  • Catfish
  • Smoked mackerel
  • Crayfish
  • Scallops                                
  • Swordfish

Vegetables such as

  • Broccoli                                          
  • Avocados
  • Carrots                                           
  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage                                        
  • Peas
  • Spinach                                          
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage                                        
  • Squash
  • Celery                                            
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic                                             
  • Red chillies
  • Red, green and yellow peppers    
  • Celeriac
  • Green beans                                 
  • Salad leaves
  • Spring onions                                
  • Rocket

Starchy food such as

  • Potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Wheat flour
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Gluten-free flour
  • Oats
  • Whole grain bread
  • Millet flakes
  • Pasta (Whole grain or whole wheat)
  • Healthy cereal like barley, corn and tapioca
  • Navy beans
  • Bananas
  • Sweet corn e.t.c
  1. Take food with essential fat: Fat is a very important part of our diet. You also need fat to lose some fat. Take less saturated fat and more of the essential fats that the body needs to function well like Omega 6 and Omega 3.

They include;

  • Avocado oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Egg
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Sardine
  • Almond
  • Herring
  • Cashews
  • Tuna
  • Tofu  e.t.c
  1. Take fruits even as snacks- Taking fruits as food or snack is a great way to lose weight. It is very essential in controlling and losing weight. They have to be included in the intermittent meal plans

Fruits such as;

  • Apples
  • Berries (Blueberries and blackberries)
  • Grape
  • Banana
  • Pineapples
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Kiwi
  • Limes
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Apricots
  1. Include dairy products in your intermittent fasting meal plans- Such as Yogurt, Milk, Tofu, cheese, quack, buttermilk e.t.c.
  1. Take plenty of water- It is very important to stay hydrated during intermittent fasting, take at least 1.5 liters a day or even more. Water is a vital part of our body, it helps to keep our body organs functioning properly and it also helps to regulate our body temperature.

READ ALSO: How To Cook Tomato Fried Rice

Food to avoid during intermittent fasting 

1. Sugar

Sugar is in many forms and they are present in the food we eat. The simple carbohydrates given food are converted into glucose in the body faster than the complex carbohydrates. If you take too much-refined sugar or any simple carbohydrates during intermittent fasting, it will only help you to gain more weight and not lose much. Examples of such foods include; table sugar, beverages, sweets and baked goods, canned foods, bread toppings, sauces, ready-made meals, cakes, breakfast cereals, granola, chocolates, ice cream e.t.c

2. Caffeine and Alcohol 

Caffeine is found in some of the drinks we take every day, like; tea, cola, coffee, chocolate drinks, chocolate bars and energy drinks. Caffeine during intermittent fasting will only make you feel tired and hungrier.     

Limit or avoid the intake of alcoholic drinks during intermittent fasting.  If you must take any drink during intermittent fasting it should be calorie & caffeine free drinks such as water, unsweetened yoghurt, unsweetened tea, fruit drinks, and apple cider.

3. Processed food

Processed food is generally not good for the health, taking it during IF is bad as well. They are low calorie-food and some substances such as modified starch, excess salt and preservatives are added to them. We need nutritious food during intermittent fasting and many of these processed foods lack nutrients and they contain additives that are not healthy.

Others are processed meat, salty food, trans fat and unhealthy snacks.

Watch: How To Cook Nigerian Tomato Fried Rice

Final note

Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose body fat but when you are at it make sure you do some exercises with it. Exercise and healthy eating are very essential for our health.

Have you heard of intermittent fasting before? What was your experience when you did intermittent fasting? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Thank you for reading.

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