The rules of intermittent fasting are simple. You restrict your eating time and fast. On your eating window, you FEAST. But can anything be consumed during the period of intermittent fasting?
Since you’ve already entered the world of healthy fasting, spending more time in the kitchen is something you should definitely get used to. Or at least, be aware of what to eat during your eating window. However, depending on your goals, there are things that might benefit you more or less when it’s time to break your fasting period. That’s why it’s important to find out how a perfect food plate should look like.
What is a balanced diet?
In order to function properly, your body needs nutrients. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a perfect ingredient that would contain all the essential vitamins and minerals we need. Because of that, our food ration should be variable and include different additives and elements.
Getting to know macronutrients
We all know that the food we eat often provides us with essential nutrients. Macronutrients divide food into three basic groups: protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Additionally, other minerals and water are inevitable perks of a balanced diet.
Protein is the nutrient that gets the most hype. It’s a building block for your body. Whether it’s your bones, muscles, skin, hair, or even the cells of your body – everything contains protein. They are made of different types of amino acids.
Fats. An excessive amount of them may be dangerous for your body. Too much fat can cause problems for our blood pressure and heart as well as our digestive and respiratory systems. However, according to a study of Harvard Medical School, it was found that fats help the absorption of other nutrients. On top of that, fats play an important role in cell building and muscle movement. If you can consume fats on a controlled basis and burn calories, it will decrease the risk of heart diseases. More importantly, you’ll have a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes.
Carbohydrates serve as food for our brain and central nervous system. High-quality carbs provide energy, fiber, and a host of vitamins that you can’t get from a supplement.
Minerals. Our bodies need essential minerals to properly function. Calcium is a mineral responsible for your strong bones. It helps to transfer nerve signals from one part of the body to the other. It also helps to maintain healthy blood pressure as well as improve muscle contraction and relaxation. Similarly, zinc is your go-to mineral when it comes to boosting your healing factor. It improves your metabolism and strengthens your immune system, also increases resistance against diseases. And iron is responsible for the creation of your red blood cells.
Water plays a huge role in a balanced diet and intermittent fasting. It dominates over 60% of our bodies. It is important to consume fluids regularly to avoid dehydration. Not only that, drinking water throughout the day will highly reduce calorie intake. Usually, people mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking this liquid helps your brain function and cleanses your body of toxins. Apart from that, water also helps in the process of digestion.
A healthy, balanced diet should become your new habit. We’ve made a list of the best foods to include in your IF life.
Your perfect food plate should contain:
Vegetables. Almost half of your plate should contain various colorful vegetables. Choose a variety of colorful veggies.
Lean protein. Lean protein power – ¼ of your plate (e.g. fish, poultry, beans). Try to limit the amount of red meat and processed meat.
Whole grains. Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate (whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta).
Healthy oils. Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and others, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats.
Intermittent fasting & a balanced diet – why is it important?
Like any change in a usual diet, intermittent fasting can have side effects. In the beginning, a sudden change in the diet of the body causes a shock. Unpleasant sensations may be more common for people who are deficient in vitamins or micro-elements. The first week is usually the hardest. You may start to feel tired, a headache. Some feel weak, dizzy, and, in rare cases, nauseous. Occasionally, mood swings also occur.
That’s why it’s important to provide your body with useful nutrients and vitamins in your eating window. Therefore, as much as possible, try to eat more vegetables, fruits, avoid already prepared foods, sugar, flour dishes. It is also important that you do not reduce your daily caloric intake. Especially if you engage in physical activity. Eat as usual, but keep the required number of hours without food.
How to follow a balanced diet?
With this flood of useful information, it is important to adjust it in practice and learn how to productively follow a balanced diet. Learning how to follow a meal plan is like building any other good habit: set yourself up for success and practice until it’s second nature.
Here are a few tips that will come in handy:
Calculate your calorie intake
Calorie intake and energy balance are fundamental for every diet and the first step is to figure out your calories. This is done by calculating your basal metabolic rate. You then have to break down the total calorie need into macronutrient need: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Start cooking at home
You know what’s on your plate. Cooking at home helps you to reduce the consumption of processed food and sugar. It makes you think about what products you use, what kind of nutritional value they have, and how much sugar you add. Step by step, you are turning into a thoughtful eater who’s taste receptors are getting sharper and sharper.
Create a grocery shopping list
Take your time reading labels on ingredients you want to buy while shopping. Make a list of variable foods you’re willing to cook and prepare for the whole week ahead. That way you will not only save money but learn how to buy just the amount you need.
Your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively, that’s when you need a balanced diet. Even if you’re using different methods of fasting, such as 16:8, 12:12, and so on, it is important to consume as many nutritious supplements and foods as possible during your eating window.
Always consider your goals and priorities: intermittent fasting is amazing because of its free will to choose what to eat. Though, if you want to lose weight or stay on a healthy track, it doesn’t mean that you can chug gallons of fizzy drinks or munch on pepperoni pizzas.