Intermittent fasting has gained popularity as the next best weight loss plan but it's just a term used to describe having regular extended breaks from eating - which should basically be a normal way of eating. It’s something that we used to do before dietary guidelines recommended that we eat every 2-3 hours.
There’s a growing body of research into the benefits of intermittent fasting with studies showing significant improvements in metabolic markers, fat loss and cellular repair and renewal (autophagy). More information, regarding intermittent fasting and autophagy can be found here.
It’s important to note the research shows that fasting is no more effective for weight loss than calorie restriction – it’s just easier to follow because it help reduce appetite and it has greater health benefits than calorie restriction.
The safest way to incorporate fasting into your routine is by having an early dinner e.g. at around 6pm and not eating anything until breakfast the next day e.g. at around 8am. This is normal, this is how we should be eating, and this pattern of eating is associated with a range of health benefits that bring the body back into a natural state of function. But whether you achieve any significant health benefits depends on what you eat during the eating window.
Here are the top ten foods and drinks to incorporate either into your fast, or into your meals to achieve the best results.
During the fast
Unsweetened herbal teas such as ginger, turmeric, earl grey and green tea, contain active polyphenols which assist with autophagy. Naturally occurring antioxidants in these teas have also been shown toreduce inflammation, enhance weight loss by promoting fat burning, accelerate metabolism and improve immune function.
Don’t forget to drink enough filtered water to keep you hydrated during the fasting period.
First meal after fasting period
For the first meal of the day it is best to choose anti-inflammatory foods that are high in antioxidants to continue the process of removing toxins.
Protein switches off autophagy and begins cell growth and regeneration so it’s important to include this too. Plant proteins are less inflammatory than animal protein, so a smoothie with a plant protein is a good start to the day.
Best ingredients for your smoothie:
Pea protein in a powder form is a vegan friendly source of protein which has anti-inflammatory properties and is hypo-allergenic. It stimulates muscle growth and is known to curb cravings as well as feelings of hunger.
These nutrient dense fruits are high in fibre and contain anti-inflammatory organic compounds. They are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats as well as metabolism and immune boosting anti-oxidants.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT Oil)
Medium-chain triglycerides are commonly extracted from coconuts. They are known to boost metabolism and enhance mitochondrial biogenesis, whereby cells grow and increase mitochondria, especially whilst a person exercises or fasts. MCT oil aids weight loss and reduces inflammation whilst boosting your immune system.
Green vegetables & herbs
Green vegetables and herbs such as celery, cucumber, spinach and mint are highly nutritious and great for detoxification. They contain immune strengthening antioxidants and an abundance of phytochemicals called polyphenols that help to reduce damage to your body’s cells.
Berries are rich in fibre, antioxidants and nutrients including Vitamin C, K, B6, copper, potassium, folate and manganese. The antioxidants in berries are known to reduce inflammation and accelerate the clearing out of toxins and damaged cells, whilst promoting a healthy immune system aiding in weight loss and increased metabolism.
Throughout the day
Only eat when hungry and keep meals small and balanced. Meals should contain healthy fats as well as clean proteins and vegetables.
Some good options to continue the benefits are:
Wild-caught salmon is a favourable source of protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic disease. Other health benefits include promoting weight control, boosting your immune system and metabolism.
Bone broth is rich in anti-inflammatory amino acids that aid in regenerating the lining of the gut wall, fighting obesity and promoting joint health. The gelatin in bone broth can be beneficial for individuals with inflammatory bowels diseases including leaky gut and irritable bowel.
Coloured vegetables including starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot and peas aid in the synthesis of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and improve sleep. Serotonin is produced when tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in protein, is consumed in conjunction with carbohydrates, resulting in a reduction in cortisol levels. It is therefore best to consume a limited portion of starchy vegetables at dinner time.
Olive oil contains antibacterial properties and is rich in antioxidants known to fight chronic inflammation. Additional health benefits include reduced risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes, it boosts immunity and can improve bone and brain health.
Ideally, before attempting any fasting protocol, your body should be in a healthy, balanced state with some degree of metabolic flexibility. The Biome Protocol is able to provide this foundation by helping restore gut function, replenish nutrient stores and enable the body to mobilise fat stores for energy if needed. Therefore, on completion of the 6-week protocol participants are provided with information regarding three safe options for intermittent fasting along with appropriate food choices and supplements that will help maintain the benefits achieved during the protocol, while also enjoying the health benefits of fasting.
For more information, please go to our Fasting blog here.
1. Prasanth MI, Sivamaruthi BS, Chaiyasut C, Tencomnao T. A Review of the Role of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) in Antiphotoaging, Stress Resistance, Neuroprotection, and Autophagy. Nutrients. 2019 Feb 23;11(2):474. doi: 10.3390/nu11020474. PMID: 30813433; PMCID: PMC6412948.
2. Wang Y, Liu Z, Han Y, Xu J, Huang W, Li Z. Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PLoS One. 2018 Feb 8;13(2):e0191182. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191182. PMID: 29420554; PMCID: PMC5805166.