In my previous article, I talked about how intermittent fasting can be a great way to reduce systemic inflammation, through aiding weight loss, supporting blood glucose control and reducing inflammatory cytokines - if you haven’t read the article yet, you can access it here. In the article, I focused on not eating – but what about the feeding period? When intermittent fasting (or more specifically, time restricted feeding), the fasting period is followed by feeding period - usually of around 8 hours, depending on how long you choose to fast. As you only have a limited time to eat, it is important to consume good-quality, wholesome food during that time to replenish and nourish your body.
So, it’s nearly 9am, you’ve not eaten for nearly 14 or 16 hours. It is important to break your fast with good nutrition to extend the benefits of the fast to help you thrive. When breaking your fast, try to balance your meal with a source of high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates and nutrient-dense fats. To help you along, here are my top 3 fast-breaking meals...
1. Smoked salmon, eggs and cucumber – a firm favourite in my house! Serve on a slice of sourdough or rye bread to up those complex carbohydrates. Smoked salmon also provides an added anti-inflammatory omega-3 boost.
2. Chicken and avocado salad – be sure to include lots of lovely greens, roasted veggies and lashings of olive oil to really ramp up the nutrient value. To make this vegetarian or vegan, simply swap out the chicken for beans, nuts, seeds or tofu.
3. Buddha bowl – a great option for when you just can’t decide! Throw in a variety of colourful vegetables and leaves, include tofu, turkey, mackerel or chickpeas for a protein hit – and don’t forget your healthy fats! Try olive, walnut or sesame oil, nuts, seeds, olives or organic cheese.
Remember; intermittent fasting doesn’t mean skipping meals – that would mean skipping opportunities to nourish yourself! Instead, it is simply eating your meals within a shorter time period. It is also a good idea to consider how you are going to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. My first piece of advice would be to ease in slowly if you are not used to this way of eating, as jumping straight to a 16-hour fasting period could leave you feeling hungry, grumpy and sluggish – and nobody wants that. Start with a 12-hour fasting period and 12 hour feeding period; when you feel comfortable, try extending to 14/10 and work your way up to 16/8, 5-7 days a week.
If you're an early riser, try eating dinner early so you can break your fast earlier in the morning; if you’re more of a night owl, try it the other way round. For example, you might choose to finish your dinner at 17:00 so that you can have your next meal at 09:00 the following morning, or perhaps dinner at 19:00 and breakfast at 11:00 would work better for you. Either way, it is important to stay hydrated to prevent headaches and lethargy – adding a little sea salt to your water can support with electrolyte balance to keep you feeling energised through the fasting period.
Most importantly, take your time, find a rhythm that works for you and enjoy the process and the benefits it will bring!