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What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a new trend for healthy lifestyle lovers all around the globe, but as a concept, it isn’t all that new. Fasting has been a part of many religions and cultures for thousands of years. That being said, there are thousands of methods of fasting to choose from and it can be overwhelming to figure out which one works best for your body. It doesn’t help that many of these methods don’t include details about what to eat during intermittent fasting, either!

At Within/Without, we’re all about helping people live their best and most healthful lives. That’s why we’re compiling a mindful plan to the intermittent diet craze allowing you to learn more and choose a path that’s right for you. But first, let’s go over some fasting basics.

What’s The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting?

There’s not a whole lot of difference between intermittent fasting and simple calorie restriction. In essence, they both reduce your total caloric intake which can lead to weight loss, but there’s a bit more to intermittent fasting than that.

According to Harvard Health, making a plan to intermittently fast throughout your diet allows your insulin levels to drop, which in turn help your fat cells release stored sugar converting it into energy. With intermittent fasting, in particular, your insulin levels will ideally drop far enough to allow more and more fat to be burned over time.

Restricting your calories through fasting increases the norepinephrine levels in your blood and can help jump-start your metabolic rate, which stimulates the metabolism and breaks down body fat. Note that this is not the same as continually restricting calories and putting your body in “starvation mode.” If you fast for periods longer than 48 hours, you will actually decrease your metabolism’s natural fat-burning capabilities because your body will store fat for fuel since it doesn’t know when it will be fed next.

A plate of healthy french toast with Within/Without granola as an example of what to eat during intermittent fasting.

The Most Popular Ways to Intermittent Fast

Before you choose what to eat during intermittent fasting, you first have to decide how you want to fast. There’s a huge range of options for fasting and we’ve outlined the three most popular methods below.

16:8 Diet

Common in many intermittent fasting diets, this plan allows you to choose an 8-hour window throughout the day to consume all of your calories and then fast for the remaining 16 hours. This should be conducted in a consecutive 8-hour time chunk such as a 9 AM - 5 PM or Noon - 8 PM window. Your body needs time to digest, so plan your last meal to be at least 2-3 hours before bed. Everyone has a different schedule and bodily rhythm, but try to keep your eating and fasting times consistent throughout the week.

5:2 Diet

With a 5:2 intermittent fasting plan, you eat a normal calorie intake for five days out of the week, but for two non-consecutive days, you restrict your calorie intake to approximately 25% of your normal total. While what to eat during 5:2 intermittent fasting can vary, it generally looks like 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men per day.

Eat-Stop-Eat

This is one of the hardest intermittent diet plans to follow because it involves a full 24-hour cycle of fasting one to two times per week. Unlike the 5:2 diet, instead of just restricting your caloric intake on the fasting days, you cut out eating entirely. Some people, like Halle Berry, have tried this and loved it, but the difficulty of its real-world applications make it unsustainable for many people.

Whatever method you choose, you’ll need to decide what to eat during intermittent fasting, and how you’ll eat mindfully to make sure your plan holistically contributes to your overall well being.

 A pomegranates and its seeds on a white counter

Our Suggestions For What to Eat While Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting works differently for everyone. While a 5:2 plan may work great for some, for others a 16:8 routine will help them feel their best. There is no right or wrong answer to intermittent fasting. Listen to your body and do what feels best for you.

Since a 16:8 plan is most commonly used (and the one we personally follow!), we’ve drawn up an example below to show what you might eat during a single day while intermittent fasting:

  • Breakfast - 9:00 AM
    • One slice grain-free or gluten-free toast
    • ¼ Avocado
    • Egg fried in extra virgin olive oil or ghee
    • Tea or black coffee
  • Snack (Smoothie) - 11:00 AM
    • ¼ Avocado
    • 1 cup of coconut milk
    • Handful of spinach or kale
    • Handful of berries of your choice
    • Sprinkle of Within/Without’s paleo granola as a topping
  • Lunch - 1:00 PM
    • 1 grilled portabella mushroom cap
    • 1 grilled red pepper
    • 50g of feta cheese or vegan cheese substitute
    • Handful of spinach or kale
    • ¼ red onion
    • Whole wheat gluten-free wrap
  • Snack -- 3:00 PM
  • Dinner -- 5:00 PM
    • 1 grilled chicken breast (or ½ a block of extra firm tofu) with seasoning
    • ½ cup of roasted sweet potatoes
    • 1 cup of roasted brussels sprouts

Smoothie bowls with Within/Without granola as an example of what to eat during intermittent fasting

How To Start Intermittent Fasting Safely

Many people see great health benefits from following an intermittent diet plan, but it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. It might go without saying, but do not start intermittent fasting if you’re pregnant, have Type 1 diabetes, suffer from an eating disorder or otherwise need regular nutritional intake for blood sugar and energy levels.

Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to sudden changes. What you eat during intermittent fasting should make you feel good and nourished throughout the day. If during fasting you find yourself feeling lightheaded, unusually tired or experiencing any side effects, do not continue fasting and/or increase your meal size. Also, don’t let yourself get dehydrated! Drinking lots of water and other hydrating liquids like seltzer or herbal tea will not only keep you hydrated but can also curb hunger pangs!

Lastly, when you resume eating after your fasting period, do not binge eat a massive meal. This could cause your blood sugar to spike to an unhealthy level. Instead, try eating normal portions at mealtimes and healthy sweet or savory snacks as needed to keep your energy stable.

How Within/Without Granola Complements Intermittent Fasting

When you’re not fasting, you need nutrient-dense foods full of healthy fats that keep you full. Whether you’re thinking about changing your diet to include an intermittent fasting plan, or are just curious about healthy snacking, our range of all-natural granola gives you all the health benefits of granola -- such as high-fiber ingredients that keep your blood sugar stable and digestive tract regulated -- without the artificial fillers or nutritionally-empty ingredients.

Within/Without granola is a low-carb, non-GMO, and gluten-free snack option that’s perfect for a variety of healthy lifestyle choices like Paleo and Keto. We use only clean ingredients and always free-from dairy, seeds, soy and grains. But how healthy our granola is means nothing if it doesn’t taste good! That’s why we focus on flavor just as much as nutrition with options like dark chocolate peanut butter granola and cherry almond granola that are crazy delicious.

If you have more questions about what to eat during intermittent fasting, read our FAQs or leave a comment below. We’d love to chat!


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