Intermittent fasting is not a diet itself. The name “intermittent fasting” has caused confusion among people because it sounds like it might be a diet plan, but in reality, it just means that you fast intermittently–you don't consume food for a certain period of time in order to get health benefits.
Meanwhile, you can ask yourself “Shall I have a diet or is just intermittent fasting enough?”. It’s a good question and we will answer it in this article.
Fasting and dieting are completely different terms. Diet tells you what you should eat, but it doesn’t tell you how often you should eat. Fasting tells you about the frequency of eating, but not a word about the food you should or should not consume. When you put into practice both of the factors, you get a much more powerful strategy.
Intermittent fasting works with any diet, it even works without any diet at all, but a good diet plan is a powerful additive to fasting advantage. There are a few reasons why it would be a great idea to add a diet to your fasting routine:
One of the main concerns, when we think about fasting, is hunger. It is an unpleasant feeling and we don’t want to hear our stomach growling and disturbing people around. Here is one tip, which you can use to prevent such a situation and that will make sure that you will accomplish your fast.
Choose a meal combined with healthy fats, protein and vegetables as the last meal before your fast. Fats and protein activate the synthesis of peptides cholecystokinin and tyrosine tyrosine (peptide YY), these hormones are known as satiety hormones. In other words, the right meal will not make you hungry for a long period of time. Fiber from vegetables will activate stretch receptors in the stomach, which give the signal to the brain that it is enough food and we don’t need more (1, 2, 3).
One more important point about the last meal before your fast. Avoid carbohydrates, especially refined ones such as bread, pasta, sweets and so on. It will prevent your blood sugar from crushing, so your body won’t need to stabilize it to a normal level by activating hunger (4).
What does such a meal look like?
We mentioned earlier that we need to replenish micro and macronutrients. There is very simple advice on how you can do it–eat rainbow. Combining different colours of vegetables, different sources of protein and different types of fat ensures that you get a variety of nutrients. This also will give psychological satisfaction, because eating a nice meal is a pleasure and it’s less likely that you will have some sort of cravings (5).
Let’s see how it can look like:
Let your fantasy thrive and use all kinds of veggies, fish, meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, dairy, and fruits. Don’t hesitate to use the internet to search for new recipes and cuisines.
The very first meal, which you will “break” your fast with or your breakfast, even if it will be during lunch time should be light. Keep in mind that your digestive system is in “rest” mode and shrinks when you are fasting, so you shouldn't overload it with heavy or hard food. That's why french fries with a burger or raw veggies with nuts might not be a good idea (6, 7).
Don’t forget to enjoy your breakfast and don’t rush while eating. Try to taste every single piece and let your test bugs give all the feedback from the much awaited meal.
You can make a list of simple rules to ease choice of food to support intermittent fasting benefits:
It is also important to remember that fasting makes you quite sensitive to insulin, so any food high in carbohydrates will be absorbed easily and more likely to be stored as fat. That’s why it’s not recommended to consume carbs after intermittent fasting, especially refined ones. Try to stay away from cereals, burgers, cakes, fries and other similar foods (8, 9, 10).
Intermittent fasting and a diet is a powerful duo. You can achieve better results by eating healthy and you can achieve them much faster, than keeping your old eating habits. Here you can read more about combining fasting and diet plans such as keto and low carbohydrate high fat diet.
Even if it is better to complete your lifestyle with a proper diet, don’t be harsh to yourself and remember that balance is the key, you can still have your favorite dish or dessert from time to time, but don’t make it a daily habit.
Stay hydrated, reduce caffeine slowly, and consume plenty of calories, with an emphasis on healthy fats, to prevent headaches while fasting.
Intermittent fasting offers many benefits for women over 40, but they should keep a few things in mind.