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Intermittent Fasting And Diet Plan With Examples

Combining intermittent fasting and diet gives better and faster results. There are a few main bullet points, read in our article about them.
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Summary

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.

Written by
Vera Bokor
Health and Wellbeing Coach

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.  

Why should I consider a diet with intermittent fasting?

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:

  • Hunger prevention. Correctly chosen meals before fasting will help you to prevent hunger by releasing satiety hormones which have a long effect, so your fasting will go smoothly.
  • Nutrient restoration. When you are fasting, your body uses stored resources of vital vitamins, minerals and microelements. You need to replenish them after a period of fasting to avoid their deficiency, and there is no better way than having nutrient-rich food.
  • Weight loss boost. Many people choose intermittent fasting as a weight loss tool in the first place. A good diet compliments intermittent fasting fat burn mechanisms.
  • Increased benefits. Everyone knows that nourishing eating improves your health, you can straighten the benefits of fasting by combining it with a diet.

How to enter a fast correctly?

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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?

  • It might be a good steak with bbq zucchini and tomatoes.
  • It might be a piece of salmon with spinach and cream sauce and some fresh carrots with hummus.
  • It might be fried halloumi with greek salad. 

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How to make a nutritious meal?

Different kinds of vegetables, such as onions, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers and mushrooms.

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: 

  • For one meal you can make sweet potato sandwiches. Just slice the sweet potato, bake it with a little butter or olive oil, and put on top scramble eggs, tomato and bacon or avocado, cucumber and smoked salmon. 
  • For another meal you can choose a platter of cheese, nuts, chorizo, oats crackers and pate with some cherry tomatoes, sweet baby carrots and celery. 
  • You can also spice up your meal plan and cook coconut cream curry with chickpea, carrots, onions, a bit of peanut butter and a lot of fresh herbs.

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.

How to prepare yourself for a meal?

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).

  • Green leafy veggies salad with olive oil, olives, tomatoes, and shrimps, baked sweet potato and a piece of marinated in mustard and lemon chichen is a great choice.
  • A fluffy omelette, mashed avocado, eggplant rolls with yogurt and herbs is a good alternative.
  • A mix of baked vegetables with olive oil and oregano veggies such as zucchini, carrots, parsley with yogurt-pomegranate seeds sauce, fried cod with pesto is one more option.

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.

What are the main rules about intermittent fasting and diet?

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You can make a list of simple rules to ease choice of food to support intermittent fasting benefits:

  • Chose whole, real, unprocessed foods and avoid refined products
  • Always have a variety of colorful vegetables
  • Buy different sources of protein: fish, poultry, meat, dairy
  • Have different types of healthy fats: butter, olive oil, nuts, seeds
  • Give preference to healthy dessert alternatives: dark chocolate, berries, fruits, nuts
  • Keep a variety of vinegars and oils for making different sauces (avoid processed vegetable oils)
  • Use different spices and condiments to change the taste of a dish
  • Use baked veggies and beans as side dish

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). 

The bottom line 

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. 

Check out how to start fasting by reading this other blog post.

References:

  1. Okonkwo O., Zezoff D., Adeyinka A. Biochemistry, Cholecystokinin. StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan. 
  2. Karra E., Chandarana K., Batterham R. L. The role of peptide YY in appetite regulation and obesity. J Physiol. 2009 Jan 1; 587(Pt 1): 19–25. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2008.164269
  3. Riediger T., Bothe C., Becskei C., Lutz T. A. Peptide YY directly inhibits ghrelin-activated neurons of the arcuate nucleus and reverses fasting-induced c-Fos expression. Neuroendocrinology. 2004;79(6):317-26. doi: 10.1159/000079842.
  4. Gielkens H. A., Verkijk M., Lam W. F., Lamers C. B., Masclee A. A. Effects of hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia on satiety in humans. Metabolism. 1998 Mar;47(3):321-4. doi: 10.1016/s0026-0495(98)90264-5.
  5. Hyman M. M. D. Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? February 27, 2018
  6. Funes S. C., Filippa V. P., Cid F. D., Mohamed F., Caviedes-Vidal E., Chediack J. G. Effect of fasting in the digestive system: histological study of the small intestine in house sparrows. Tissue Cell. 2014 Oct;46(5):356-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tice.2014.06.007. 
  7. Mayer E., Fung J., Ramos M. Life in the Fasting Lane: How to Make Intermittent Fasting a Lifestyle—and Reap the Benefits of Weight Loss and Better Health. April 7, 2020
  8. Larsen TM et al. Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance. N Engl J Med. 2010 Nov 25; 363(22):2102–13.
  9. Sacks FM et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009 Feb 26; 360(9):859–73.
  10. Shai I et al. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. N Engl J Med. 2008 Jul 17; 359(3):229–41.

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