What to Eat with Intermittent Fasting
Hey what’s up, Happy Tuesday….it’s a gorgeous day and I’m sitting here writing this blog post for you on my back porch with a nice breeze overlooking the golf course. I just finished up a sprint session at Harvard Stadium and my legs are just a tad jello-like.
I just realized as I’m writing this post that I’ve got a few hours left on my long fast of the week. Typically I’ll have a cheat day on Sundays so I will then fast for 36-38 hours but this week I decided to push to 40 hours. The hardest part is Monday night when I’m just about approaching 24 hours and after that it’s actually okay.
So, I was talking with a couple clients about intermittent fasting and they were really excited to try it. One of the things that becomes a bit tough is figuring out what to eat. Sometimes you just have to experiment because everyone’s fasting and feeding windows are going to be a bit different. Today I wanted to give you some guidelines and simple starting points to figure out what to eat during that glorious 8 hour window. Remember, this is not an excuse to eat whatever you want, but you do want to make sure you’re getting enough calories when you’re eating only 2-3 times.
First let’s lay some groundwork. If you need a bit more information on intermittent fasting you’ll want to back up a bit and read this post….
Now we need to figure out what you’ll need for calories, carbs, protein and fats. I’m not a huge number counter but you do want to have a baseline because otherwise stuff can get out of hand. Most people are taking in too many calories overall and they are not timing their nutrients up correctly. This means very, very slow results.
Here is how you want to break down your overall calories. This is going to be based on what your lean body mass is currently. If you want to lose fat then you will want to drop these numbers just a bit, probably 300-400 calories.
Your lean body mass is your total body weight minus your fat weight. This includes muscle, bones, organs and other body mass that’s not body fat.
So for example if you weigh 140 pounds and you have 22% body fat that means you have 30.8 pounds of body fat. So take 140 and subtract 30.8. That leaves you with 109.2 for your lean body mass. Let’s use 109 just to make it even.
To figure out what your total daily caloric intake should be, here is a good scale. If you don’t know your body fat percentage you can have a qualified trainer measure it using calipers or if you are lucky enough to get access to a Bod-Pod that’s pretty awesome too….
6-12% body fat = 17 calories per pound of LBM (lean body mass)
12.1-15% body fat = 16 calories per pound of LBM
15.1-19% body fat = 15 calories per pound of LBM
19.1-22% body fat = 14 calories per pound of LBM
22.1 or above = 13 calories per pound of LBM
In the example used above, this person would want 14 calories per pound of LBM which is 1,526 calories. This is simply to maintain that weight and body fat. If you were looking to lose body fat you should drop that number by roughly 300 calories each day. If you are getting within 5% of these numbers you’re going to be doing really well so don’t get too hung up on everything.
The number above should be used for strength training workout days. If you are doing conditioning work or taking an off day, drop that above number by around 400.
Now let’s move on to the carbs, proteins and fats.
A good rule of thumb for your protein intake is 1 gram to 1.5 grams per pound of LBM. So if we’re again using the example above that would be 109-163 grams per day. Anywhere in that range is going to be really great and you’ll want to push to the higher end of the range on strength training days.
For carbohydrates, this one can get a bit trickier. Carbs are going to be an important source on your strength training days and you’ll want to keep them lower when you’re conditioning only or on your off days.
On a strength training, heavier workout day you’ll want to have .5 to .75 grams of carbs per pound of LBM. On conditioning and off days keep your carbs between 30-50 grams total.
For fat intake it also depends on when you’re having your carbs. A general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to combine high amounts of fat with high amounts of carbs in the same meal. Keep your fat intake around 1/2 of your LBM so the example above would be about 50 grams. Ideally you want to go a bit lower fat on the higher carb days so drop that number by about 20 grams.
Remember, don’t get too hooked on the numbers but use these to help your own preparation of food each day.
With intermittent fasting figuring out what to eat can be tricky. Here’s a simple way to do it…..
Meal #1- break your fast with a shake.
For me, my first meal comes around 11am-12pm. If I am within 1 hour of completing a strength workout, I have a post workout shake. If I did a conditioning workout, it’s my off day or if I trained early that morning, I keep it as a low carb shake. The goal here is to keep your carbs down during the day, but if you have just completed that strength workout you can go a bit higher on the carbs to recover.
For example, if you trained from 7-8am and you weren’t eating until 11am, you’ll want a low carb shake. If you trained from 7-8am but your fasting window was ending at 9am you can go with your post workout shake.
I like the shake just because it’s easy, digests quickly and I just really like the taste. Here’s a good example:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop whey protein powder (flavor of your choice)
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
handful of baby spinach
1 tablespoon of all-natural almond or peanut butter (optional)
2-3 ice cubes
Blend and enjoy. This shake should be around 200-300 calories.
Meal #2 – Low Carb Snack
Again we want to keep the carbs low during the day so your body can really keep up the fat burning potential. When insulin levels are low, fat stores are prime locations for fuel.
This snack should be around 200 calories for most females and 300-400 for guys. It should be focused on lean protein and veggies. Keep your fat under 10 grams here.
I usually have 2 hard boiled eggs and some green veggies (snow peas, green beans, spinach, peppers, etc)
You can also do eggs scrambled with veggies or some beef jerky and veggies.
This meal will come 2-3 hours after your shake.
Meal #3- The big feast
Many old school myths will tell you not to eat a lot at night. This is somewhat true, you don’t want to eat a lot a night if you’ve been eating a lot all day. That makes you fat, plain and simple.
If you keep your calories and carbs low during the day, your body has no choice but to burn fat. Then you can pump up your calories at night, enjoy a satisfying meal and actually socialize with your family and friends instead of being a dieting hermit that can’t enjoy life.
This is not a ticket to go overboard and eat whatever you want. You’ll be eating the remainder of your calories during this meal. So, if you ate 200 calories then 300 calories and your daily intake is 1400 you get to eat 900 at night. Pretty cool, huh?
I’m going to break this down into two parts. You’ll have your strength training days and your conditioning or off days. Just as I noted below, your strength training days will allow you higher carbs and less fat.
Here’s a typical strength training day dinner:
- A huge mixed greens and spinach salad with tons of veggies and a very light dressing (olive oil & vinegar is preferred)
- 8-12 ounces of lean protein source (chicken, beef, steak, fish, whatever you like)
- 1 serving of simple carbs (avoid breads and pastas here), the best options are sweet potatoes, yams and white rice.
*A side note, I know most of you are thinking, I thought whole grain was better than white….well in the case of this meal plan you want quick digesting carbs at night and things like bread, whole grain and pasta will simply slow down the process and give you some serious bloating.
- Follow this up with a protein shake if you need extra protein and some berries for dessert
A conditioning or off day dinner:
This will be virtually the same except you will cut out the serving of carbs and berries for dessert. You’re focusing on protein and green veggies. You can add an extra protein source to make up for the left-over calories. For example, I typically have a grass fed burger with no bun and a chicken sausage as my main protein sources but on the days that I cut out my carbs, I have two chicken sausages.
I know a lot of this is going against the norm and what you’re used to hearing but I’m just putting this out there for your knowledge. I won’t come on here and say that this is the only way to eat, but I will say that it’s successful, it’s practical for a busy person and think about what you’re doing now. Is pumping your body full of food every 3 hours without giving it a break to digest or to actually burn fat instead of just sugar over and over, really working for you?
Give this a try 2-3 days per week for 2 weeks and see how your body feels. Your energy levels will improve, your sleep will improve due to the higher calorie intake at night and your muscles will be primed with energy for the next day’s training session.
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