Today’s focus will be discussing some intermittent fasting menu ideas and drilling down on what to eat when you can eat. For me this is a very important topic since it’s a matter of survival. If I don’t eat, I die, and who wants that? But, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about menu and meal planning.
Here, I will look at some differing approaches to menu planning, ways to achieve some balance in our plan and keep ourselves sane, my thoughts on just how much to eat or not eat, and finally conclude with my suggestions for a path forward.
Calorie Focused Approach
There are many ways to approach structuring our meal plan and overall menu. When I think about the goals of intermittent fasting, I think that taking a calorie focused approach to planning is certainly appropriate. The overall goal is to eat less frequently and thus not cause a spike in our bodies which leads to fat storage. But, does that mean during my “eating time” when I have broken my fast, can I just eat whatever I want? Should I try to eat all my calories for the whole day during that time or should I also cut calories and reduce eating.
I have read that a man should eat about 2000-2200 calories a day and a woman should eat between 1600-1800 calories depending on activity level and many other factors, but as a general rule I believe that to be true. I was actually a bit surprised by this since it is so easy to hit this number. Heck, a bag of chips could easily have 500 calories and that’s just a snack.
Anyhow, focusing on calories, I think it is important to give your body the baseline energy it needs and that while cutting calories may lead to quicker loss, it may also lead to more feeling of starvation and not being satisfied during the narrow “feeding time” and thus not allow me to continue the fasting and derail my efforts.
Nutrient Focused Approach
Okay, so if there is little to no calorie restriction beyond not exceeding the recommended daily intake (2000 calories for me), what should I be eating during my feeding time. Here, I think that taking a nutrient focused approach is necessary. By nutrient focused approach, I am speaking to making sure that I get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and fats in the diet.
It sounds like a lot to think about, but actually it is not too bad. Let’s start with what I consider to be the most important macro nutrient to my diet, that being protein. Some of my top choices will be chicken, shrimp, ham, and turkey. I do enjoy the occasional steak, but generally I not a fan of red meat. I know it’s a bit strange, but I have some phobia of choking on a piece of gristly meat and thus I don’t like most red meat. Another approach I have used in the past is to use protein shakes.
Being that I like to treat myself special when I can, I had my protein powder personalized for my tastes and needs. It wasn’t even very expensive. It worked out to be ~$1.50 per serving. Definitely something to look into if you prefer to get quality protein in your diet and are short on time or short on protein from other sources.
So that takes care of the protein aspect and now onto the carbs. I am going to keep my carbs low, except for fruits and vegetables. In saying that, I will eliminate rice, potatoes, and most grains from my diet and focus more on eating green leafy vegetables and non-root vegetables as they generally have lower GI levels and less spike in blood sugars. For my fruits, I will focus on berries since they can be eaten in high volume, but are low in calories and packed with vitamins.
Lastly, to get my fats in my diet, I will be eating mixed nuts, salad dressing, and the occasional avocado. Fats are an area of caution for me because they are very easy to over eat on and the calories are more dense than other nutrients. Remember, 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate contains 4 calories while 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. To illustrate this point, 100g of chicken (1 chicken breast) has 400 calories, while two handfuls of almonds (46 almonds) contains 324 calories. Almonds being one of the better nut choices to make. Anyhow, you see the issue with fats, so be careful when planning to eat them.
Vitamins and minerals are something that I plan to come by naturally through the fruits, vegetables, proteins and fats, but if I start feeling that I am not getting enough, I could also take a one-a-day vitamin, but have been told in the past that they might not really be delivering on the promise and most passes through the body. Instead, I will check out the specialize vitamins at Invite Health. They have the right vitamin combinations pre-made for whatever benefit you need to achieve. Find your highest quality vitamins and supplements here!
Having a balanced meal or meals is important for me. If I eat only one thing or one way all the time, I will quickly go crazy and quickly quit this fasting plan. I am someone that can eat the same thing every day, but having variety is nice as well. Of course, I have to consider the preparation time in my planning and thus, I usually go for planned meals. In the past, this has meant eating fast food and making unhealthy choices. Now, it means I will need to pre-plan my meals and prepare for several days so when I am ready to eat, I can just quickly throw it all together and chow down.
My plan is to have chicken breasts precooked and ready to slice for a salad, lettuce washed and chopped, some bell pepper pre-sliced, a jar of nuts, some berries washed and ready to eat, and some salad dressing to spice it up. I can always make little changes, but this should be a pretty complete meal plan as a base for each day. As I get used to preparing things and want variety I can add or subtract things, but I want to keep a balance to my meals to make sure I am giving my body all it needs to shred the fat and keep the muscle.
Am I Eating Too Much? Enough?
Since I am only eating 4 hours a day (usually 12-4pm) and not allowing myself any outside eating or snacking times, I have wondered if I am eating enough during that time or if I might be overeating at that time. When I think about it, it doesn’t seem like I am overeating, but when I am physically eating the food, it is sometimes difficult to eat that much at once and I easily feel hungry and think I should stop eating. So sometimes I will not eat all that I had planned and then that makes me wonder if I am eating enough because then I don’t eat again for 20 hours.
I think maybe I need to plan and eat at the beginning of my feeding window and then again toward the end of the window even if I might not be hungry at that time. Maybe splitting the eating up will make a difference. I will have to experiment with different ways of eating my meal plan. I don’t think eating less than what I am eating is healthy.
I will continue to focus on getting the right mix of macro and micro nutrients into my body during the feeding time and restricting myself during the fasting times. I will experiment with changing the way I eat during feeding times and possibly with what I am eating to see if it makes a difference in my fullness. I will also be cautious not to exceed or cut too much my calories for the day. My goal is to keep my calories between 1500-1800 calories. I don’t feel I need more than that and I AM trying to slim down and reduce the fat on my body.
Slowly, but surely I am slimming!
Please comment and if you should ever have a question or something I can help you with, please let me know and I would love to be your support.