Firth Fitness
Queen's University Belfast Physical Education Centre Botanic Park, Belfast BT9 5EX

What to Eat when Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that has been around for hundreds of years, originating from religious festivals. Yet the benefits to a healthy lifestyle and as a partner to a training programme have only come to light over the past few years due to people starting to talk about it on the Internet. Clients and gym members are aware that I use this eating pattern as part of my daily routine and bombard me with questions of how it works and how to implement it. When I started to look for an article to refer people to I found lots of information on intermittent fasting but not how to implement it. The aim of this article is to delve further into intermittent fasting through my own experiences and to give examples of what types of meals I would consume after coming out of a fast.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

IF for short is the term used for going with out food ( fasting ) for a certain length of time. There are variations on the length of the fasting period anything from 12 – 24 hours, but I only want to cover the fasting periods that I use and how they have worked for me. I personally use a fasting period of between 12 – 16 hours from Mon – Fri and take the weekends off to allow myself to relax a little and consume a few more carbohydrates.

The way I cycle my fasts is fairly simple, I consume 2 meals per day, my first meal between the hours of 12 – 2pm and the second meal between 8 and 10pm. I pick these times purely because they fit in perfectly with my daily routine. I start work every morning at 6.15am and finish the first part if my day around 11am and head home for a few hours. This is when I have my first meal. The second part of my day finishes around 8pm, then it’s back home, feet up and my second meal – very consistent and very manageable. I’ll admit I love the simplicity of fasting. Not standing in the kitchen preparing meal after meal affords me extra time to devot to other things. And of course I have seen huge benefits to my physique with a reduction in body fat without any muscle loss.

Ghrelin

You would think coming out of a fast that your appetite would be out of control and just the thought of food would have you drooling uncontrollably. Well yes for the first few days until your body adjusts to fasting, this is more than likely going to be the case. This is due to a chemical called Ghrelin.

Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach and its job is to tell the brain that the body has to be fed. Thus, the level of the hormone increases before eating and decreases after. It is known to be influential in the development of obesity, given that on stimulating the appetite, it causes an increase in body weight.

This is where intermittent fasting comes in, once you get over the initial adjustment period, which in my experience is 2 – 4 weeks, the hunger and increased appetite ease as the chemical Ghrelin is not released as regularly. The body stops craving foods as often, in turn leading to less snacking between meals, a reduction in calories, less sugar and lowered insulin levels.

What do I eat?

Now to my favourite part of the day. I only consume two meals a day with the exception of the weekends. On Saturday and Sunday I add in an extra meal – breakfast. It is essential for me to ensure that I meet my nutritional needs, by eating an adequate amount of protein, low to moderate glycemic carbohydrates and essential fats. In addition to this I want to keep in mind calcium for strong bones. (this is especially important for females)

I have found reading articles about IF really interesting but found it difficult to find examples of meals when following this meal plan, so to try to help others along their IF journey I have included examples of what I eat day-to-day. These are not set plans and when setting out to try this eating regime you must consider your daily nutritional requirements. I have an extremely active lifestyle, which includes two intense training sessions per day and I also have a averagely high metabolic rate. Due to this I can probably eat a little more than the average male. And for those females opting into this routine remember portion size is still an important consideration. If you would like advice on an individual eating plan, please contact me here.

Below are examples of meals

This first meal is porridge oats, made with skimmed milk, flax seeds, peanut butter and mixed berries. I also have six scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs 4 whites), 2 scoops of whey protein (reflex instant whey deluxe) with water and and a tablespoon of optimum oil blend (3,6,9).

Another example of a meal after coming out of a fasting period, is Thai Green Curry which is one of my favourites. I have added the recipe to my blog, just follow the link for full details. As I previously mentioned, training twice per day allows me to have a large portion of carbohydrate, in this case basmati rice, along with a generous portion of chicken 2 – 3 chicken medium breasts.

This meal was made after a very intense 1 hour kettle bell class. I had to ensure I was getting an adequate serving of carbohydrate and protein. The meal consists of basmati rice, a large baked potato, a large sweet potato, 1 chicken breast in a PeriPeri marinade and a fillet steak with a side of broccoli.

It is difficult to get a balanced meal and do it perfectly and I will admit I don’t always get it right. I struggle with varying my vegetables as there aren’t a great range that I am a fan of. If you are currently trying this style of eating and have some tasty meals you would like to share, please send them to me at my email firthfitness@gmail.com and I will compile a guest post of the meals and tips you send me.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Andrew

I would like to highlight that any information and evidence provided on this article (or in any article on my blog) is through my own experiences and not from regurgitating information from other websites.

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