Meal Planning while Intermittent Fasting

Meal Planning while Intermittent Fasting

If you have started intermittent fasting, or are even thinking about getting started, I am sure you want to know what the heck you should be eating when your fasting window closes. Seriously, you have just spent multiple hours avoiding food, sipping on black coffee (or tea), and trying not to count the mintues until you can eat again. If you are anything like me, you are starting to feel pretty hungry during that last fasting hour. And, when the eating window opens,  it is super tempting to grab for the easiest, yummiest food in sight. Believe me, I have done it…and then regretted it! Not only did I partially undo the benefits I gained during my fast, but I also felt bloated and lethargic afterwards.

So, to avoid overeating or making food choices, like foods high in additives and toxins, that will potentially diminish the positive impact of intermittent fasting, give some thought to the following: 

Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan:

Decide which fasting schedule works best for you. Typical daily fasting schedules are 14/10 (14 fasting hours/10 non-fasting hours) and 16/8 (the most commonly practiced and studied schedule). Then there are weekly fasting schedules that include fasting for 24 hours either every other day or every third day. Think about your schedule, your goals, and your lifestyle to determine which plan you believe you can do consistently and then ease into it! Trying to go without food for 24 hours if you have never practiced fasting before could be a setup for failure. And, don’t be afraid to play around with different eating windows to find one that works for you. Noon-8pm works great for me, but it definitely doesn’t work for everyone. Remember that intermittent fasting is a lifestyle choice; it is not a quick-fix diet, so consistency over time is super important! 

Personally, I do the daily 16/8 schedule. I have been doing it for about 18 months and love having increased energy, improved mental clarity in the mornings, decreased cravings for sugar and alcohol, and a better understanding of how to fuel my body. 

Plan ahead. To avoid the impulsive eating that often comes when we are hungry, make sure you have some nutritious, easy foods around. You most definitely don’t want to be in the middle of a donut shop when your fasting window closes! In fact, breaking your fast with highly processed, high-glycemic foods (sugary drinks, white bread, pasta, bagels, cereals, cookies, cakes and  pastries) will send your glucose and insulin sky-rocketing, leaving you feeling yucky, tired and, unfortunately, still hungry. 

Keep the first meal relatively small. After hours of rest, your digestive system will be slow to get back up to speed so consuming a large quantity of food right out of the gate will not feel good. Think of this first meal more like a large snack. This is hard for me, but do your best to eat it slowly and remember to chew!

Eat a mix of macronutrients. This means that this first meal should have some good fat, some lean protein and some carbs.You will want to go heavier on the fats and proteins and make sure the carbs are complex carbs from fruits and vegetables. Of these three macronutrients, protein is the most important to make sure you include (we should have a highquality protein in every mea, by the way)l. Protein is not easily accessible while fasting because the body isn’t able to store it like it does fats and carbs, so replenishing the protein is super important. 

Focus on minimally processed, whole foods. This is a great rule of thumb for everyone all the time, and it is no different when we practice intermittent fasting.

Continue to drink water. I know, I know, you have just had hours of nothing but water and coffee/tea. The great news is that you can spruce up your water with lemon, lime, cucumbers, berries, whatever sounds good to you during your eating window! Go crazy ;)

Incorporate some nutrient-dense foods.

These include:

  • Eggs - high in complete protein (that means is has all nine essential amino acids), vitamin A, vitamin D, folate and antioxidants.
  • Bone broth - rich in electrolytes (potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium) and collagen protein.
  • Avocado - filled with monounsaturated fat, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, Vitamins B, C, E and K.
  • Cooked vegetables - they have less fiber than raw vegetables but still have essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Fish - easy to digest, high in protein, potassium, vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fermented foods - natural source of probiotics that decrease gut and systemic inflammation and help with digestive issues (among other things).
  • Low-sugar fruits - high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

Intermittent Fasting Meal Ideas:

Now, let’s put this all together and talk about some meal ideas! 

I typically alternate between these two favorite meals. You can use these as a starting point and change them up to fit your personal tastes!

Two eggs (pasture-raised when possible) sprinkled with black pepper and nutritional yeast fried in EVOO. I top them with sauteed spinach and tomatoes and then add half of an avocado. 

Plain whole milk Greek yogurt (organic if possible) sprinkled with raw pumpkin seeds, flax seed, walnuts, dried goji berries, frozen blueberries and frozen black cherries. Sometimes I’ll add half a banana, just to spice things up a bit! Wild, I know!

Some other meal ideas are:

Salad with a rainbow of vegetables and protein (chicken, fish, lean beef, hard boiled eggs, tuna, turkey, tofu, edamame). Ideally, use EVOO and balsamic vinegar as a dressing. If that’s not going to work for you, try for a dressing that is made with EVOO or avocado oil.

Protein shake. You can get really creative with shakes! Think frozen fruits, leafy greens, nuts, nut butters, seeds, Greek yogurt, protein powder (watch out for those high in sugar or with lots of additives).

Roasted vegetables and a protein. I love roasted broccoli and cauliflower, but throw a few red onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and peppers on the tray, and things can get exciting very quickly!

Remember that everyone has different tastes and different nutritional needs, so one diet will not work for everyone. Play around with these meal ideas and find what works best for you! The overall goal is to find a way of eating that you enjoy, that makes your body feel good, and that you will stick with for a long time.

Let me know if you have any questions or have an awesome “breakfast” that you can share. I’m always up for trying new things!