Intermittent Fasting Meal Ideas: What to eat while intermittent fasting for weight loss?
This is an extremely important question that will determine the success of your program. First, your intermittent fasting goal will plan a role in this decision. My goal was weight loss and maintaining my health at the same time. I had no other specific medical conditions or goals (though having over 100 pounds to lose is surely a medical condition in itself). If you are fasting to relieve a certain condition, you may need to tweak your meal plan. If you are fasting to lose weight, some of my experience may be useful to you. I have been able to stay on the diet for over five months with this approach. I find it do-able and flexible. I have traveled and lost weight. I have celebrated the holidays away from home and lost weight. I do so by sticking to these rules.
In terms of what to eat while intermittent fasting, these are the rules I live by::
From these rules, follow the most typical meal ideas I have used to stay healthy and to lose weight:
I’ll work on building out some specific recipes for you guys.
If you don’t know well the carbohydrate content of foods, your first task is to make a study of it and avoid foods high in carbohydrates — bread, pasta, potatoes, sugars of any kind. Carbohydrates are metabolized like sugars — like the simple sugars like those found in a soda pop. Your body is using sugars and carbohydrates as its go-to source of fuel, rather than burning the fat you are wearing around. If you deprive your body of its go-to-fuel — sugar — it will have no choice but to burn fat. You push your body into fat-burning mode (ketosis) when you do not give it any sugar to burn. Ideally you will stay in this fat-burning mode for weeks and months as you drop pounds. I have been in ketosis for months, to my best knowledge. I do not eat anything that might bump me out of it. If I did fall off the wagon and eat too many carbs, I’d get right back on the wagon but the shift back to ketosis can take a few days and I don’t want to give up those days of fat burning to eat a piece of bread. With all of the pounds I have had to lose, it just is not worth it.
If you are just getting started and eat a lot of high-carb foods, you probably want to start your diet approach by first simply reducing your intake of carbohydrates. That is a big and painful job in itself. You really need to get to the point where you are never even considering drinking a soda, eating a slice of bread, or grabbing a French fry. (OK, so we might “consider” eating those things by the minute, but you need to get to the point where you are actually eating something else.) You need to be so low carb that you are avoiding the carrots on your plate and even, shudder, using fewer onions in your cooking. Eat mountains and mountains of greens, okra, cabbage, and broccoli instead.
Below is a “Getting Started” guide for you. Here’s a food list in PDF format — Amanda’s Food List!
The vegetables are my survival tools. My go-to at home is to eat a giant coleslaw in my one hour window. I use a giant stainless steel bowl for the actual slaw. The bowl is probably an 8-cup size — it’s very big. I fill it up with cabbage and a homemade dressing (yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, stevia, salt, pepper) and I eat the entire thing. I will typically have some sort of protein as well — salmon, meatballs, meatloaf, sardines, eggs. That’s what I eat. The coleslaw is very healthy and digests for hours. In fact, I feel fuller than I’ve felt in my entire life after eating a meal like this. I feel satisfied and I have energy. It works well for me and it is worth you giving it a try.
I also make liberal use of romaine lettuce-based salads, typically dressed with olive oil and vinegar and topped with red onion and something like a tuna salad (or canned salmon or sardines). The tuna/salmon/sardine salad typically has a bit of mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. It’s very basic.
To change things up a bit from the salad experience, I also roast or sauté vegetables like okra, broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans and have a large serving of one on the side of a protein (again the meatloaf, salmon, egg sort of protein).
If I eat as I describe above, I lose weight. I lose weight easier and faster than I ever have — a couple of pounds a week. That’s a powerful amount of weight loss over time for what is not a difficult program to implement, in my opinion. However, when you have a whole bunch of weight to lose, you may want to step it up just a bit. What I have done for myself is I go through periods of trying to lose faster by cutting my calories in my one hour window, usually every other day or so. If you’ve followed my story you know I’ve also fasted completely, cutting calories back to nothing for multiple days and, as you might guess, you will lose weight like crazy with that model.
If you eat a low calorie ketogenic diet anyway, the main calories you are going to cut will be the fat you’ve been eating. You’re not going to dress your salad in a bunch of mayonnaise or olive oil, you’re not going to sauté your broccoli in much oil, and you will be hunting for lean meats like chicken breast and shrimp. This is where you need to get creative with your cooking and be very mindful of any fats you are adding. I have some extremely slick recipes in this regard that I will work on getting on this website for you.
Amanda Rose, Ph.D. lives in the Giant Sequoia National Monument with her husband and two sons. She founded the Eat Like A Bear website to support the awesomely inspiring community on Facebook, Eat Like A Bear!