September 02, 2020

The How and What I Eat While Intermittent Fasting


I've gotten several questions lately about how and what I eat while doing intermittent fasting, so I thought I'd post some more details here. I always hate writing about my particular food intake because there are always people who "scold" me for eating carbs/sugar/not enough vegetables/etc. 

I am a firm believer that everybody should eat what makes THEM feel best; what works for them both mentally and physically. We are all trying to find out that perfect balance, but that's just it--none of us is perfect. I would never tell someone how I think they should eat!

That said, I am very happy with the way I eat (and with what I eat) so I am not looking for advice or criticism about what I eat. I never delete comments--even the ones that are mean just to be mean for no reason--but for this post, I won't publish comments that are rude and critical of my diet. They just aren't helpful.

You can totally disagree with what and/or how I eat, and that's fine. But the purpose of this post is just reply to those that are curious about how I've been working the intermittent fasting into my life. 

So, that said... here are some details about how I've been doing intermittent fasting for the last six weeks.

First, I have to say that I LOVE this way of eating. This is definitely a lifestyle, something that I could see myself doing forever. Jerry feels the same way, so it's great that we're on the same page.

There are lots of different methods of intermittent fasting, and I won't get into them all here. I choose to do a 20:4 ratio of fasting to eating. That means I fast for 20 hours and then eat my day's worth of calories within a 4 hour window. 

Lots of people do their fasting periods differently, some allowing certain beverages or bone broth, but I do a "clean fast"--meaning I only drink plain, unflavored water. (To understand more about this and the purpose behind it, I suggest reading 'Delay, Don't Deny' by Gin Stephens. -Amazon affiliate link) I also allow plain black coffee or black tea, but I very rarely drink those. I stick with water.

If you're considering intermittent fasting, I'd recommend reading the above book to learn about the different types of fasting. What works for me may not work for you. And what works for you may not work for me.

I usually choose 4 pm to 8 pm as my "eating window". If I'm very hungry at, say, 2:00, then I might have decaf coffee with heavy cream and sugar to fill me up and then I'll cook dinner a little later at 5:00 or so. And then I'll close my window at 6:00. Otherwise, I plan to cook dinner to eat at 4:00. 

I make large, filling dinners to ensure that I'm getting enough calories for the day. I make a lot of the same dishes that I always have--I just look for ways to add calories. I cook with more fat, I add some side dishes I normally wouldn't (roasted cauliflower with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese, for example), and I eat bigger portions.

A common misconception of intermittent fasting is that the weight loss comes from eating less calories--if you're only eating one meal a day, for example, people think that of course you're eating less calories and you're going to lose weight. That's not necessarily true. I highly recommend Dr. Jason Fung's book, 'The Obesity Code' and another called 'The Complete Guide to Fasting', (Amazon affiliate links) which explains this very well.

My weight hasn't dropped a ton--in fact, I didn't lose anything for the first two weeks! But my body composition changed and I lost inches. I was able to wear clothes I couldn't before, but my weight was only down a couple of pounds.

So anyway, I want to make it clear that I am eating a "normal" amount of calories. I haven't calculated, but because I know calories like the back of my hand, I would guess that I eat anywhere from 1400 to 1800 calories a day.

On most days, I break my fast with my dinner. I'll eat a filling meal and usually I am too full to want anything else. (I'm not stuffed, because I hate that feeling of being super full, but I definitely feel like I've had enough.)

After dinner, I will usually have decaf coffee with cream and sugar--and I sip this for probably about an hour. Sometimes I'll make dessert for the family (I made a peach crisp with ice cream last week) so I'll skip the coffee and eat the dessert a couple of hours after dinner. 

Most of the time, I don't eat all throughout the entire four-hour window. I usually have the one meal and then a dessert or snack if I feel I want it before my window closes.

As far as what I eat... I literally eat anything that I want to! I have found that while intermittent fasting, my tastes change. When I haven't eaten all day, I look forward to a filling meal. I don't crave sweets (at least not until after I've eaten "real food". Interestingly, I crave healthier foods. Once I've satisfied that craving, then I may or may not be interested in dessert. If you know me at all, I used to live for sweets! And I still love them... but I have to be in the mood for them.

All of that said, I went grocery shopping today so I made a list of dinners to have in the upcoming week. These are nothing special... just things that are in my go-to homemade recipe book. Most of the recipes are on my blog, so I'll link to them. (Depending on how filling it is or if I am getting in enough calories, I may make a side dish to go along with them.) I cook a lot of skillet meals or one-pot meals, so I mix a lot of stuff together rather than serve the typical meat/potato/vegetable type of thing.

Ground Turkey and Cabbage in Spicy Peanut Sauce



Hawaiian Fried Rice


Keema with Rice



Beef Stroganoff
(I'll have to post this recipe in the future--I made it today and it was delicious!)

Also, there were a lot of mushrooms in this, but hardly any of them made it from the stove to the bowls. I love mushrooms! The rest of the family doesn't like them, so I just picked them out and ate them while I was cooking ;) 



Moroccan Meatballs Over Orzo 
(This is shown with rice, but that was likely because I didn't have any orzo on hand)



Shipwreck Skillet Dinner
(I haven't made this before, but I found it in a cookbook today; I'll post the recipe if it's any good)

Sausage, Peppers, and Corn Hash with an Egg on Top
(I think I forgot to add the corn on the day I took this photo! But the corn is one of the best parts.)


And that's it--a week's worth of dinners. These are all foods that I made before--before I lost weight, while I lost weight, after losing weight. 

If any of you do intermittent fasting, I'm curious about your method and how you like it! Please feel free to share :) Likewise, if you have questions, I'd be happy to do a Q&A post later. Although I'm not sure how much more I can really say!


14 comments:

  1. I love this! I first heard of your website when you were on the Half Size Me podcast. I started IF in April 2019, and after awhile, I just didn’t enjoy the podcast much because it was always “calories in/calories out, create a deficit and you’ll always lose weight (until you don’t), etc. And the shaming of fasting- one guest was like, Some people say just don’t eat- isn’t that so ridiculous??” (Totally dismissing and not understanding the science behind fasting.) After that, I just couldn’t listen. Sounds like you have created a great routine. One other book I think you’d really like is Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens. Good luck to you!

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    1. Delay, Don't Deny is what made me decide to give the intermittent fasting a good chance! I really loved that book and it explained everything so well (including why you don't see results on the scale right away and why you lose inches before pounds).

      I stopped listening to the "diet" podcasts a while ago because I found that it made me question everything I already believe and know about myself. I'd learned SO much about myself while overweight, then while losing weight, and then trying to maintain weight. I learned lessons constantly! So hearing about others' stories made me question if what I was doing was "right". And that's what made me obese in the first place! hahaha. I was always trying something new.

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  2. Hello from Austria :-)

    I do intermittent fasting but a little bit differently. I am an "early bird", I have got most energy in the mornings and I cannot imagine skipping breakfast! Actually - when I do (because of oversleeping, haha) - I start feeling sick and feel weak, cannot concentrate or get anything done.
    Skipping dinner, on the other hand, comes easy - as soon as I get used to my IF rhythm. I normally eat dinner not so much because I'm hungry, but because it is so comfy to sit at the table with my loved ones, cook for them, chat...
    Now I just sit down with some unsugared tea.

    I normally have my breakfast between 6 and 8 in the morning, then a snack at 10 or eleven, and lunch at 1pm (2pm latest). Then I just drink water with lemon juice or tea the rest of the day.

    I think this helps me lose weight, but the best thing for me is - I have much more energy - I don't get so tired in the afternoon, and I get up in the morning feeling so fresh (getting up early is easy for me, but after a late dinner I feel full and kinda "chubby").

    Best luck to you, I look forward to reading more about IF and I love your recipes.

    Magdalena

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    1. That's pretty much what Jerry does... but he works night shift so it's a little different. He eats when he wakes up in the afternoon (so it's like "breakfast" for him, only he eats what I cook for dinner). Then he might have another snack before he goes to work. Then when he comes home, he goes right to bed. I don't know how he does that! I am definitely not hungry in the mornings and don't typically start feeling hungry until 2-3:00. It's great that you found a time schedule that works for you and that you like it!

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  3. I started following IF at almost the exact same time as you and we are about the same size I think. I'm so glad you are seeing results! I'm not quite seeing the same but I do feel better! I do 18:6 or and 16:8 on the weekends. That's about all I can do. We shall see where this takes me! I'm interested in possibly trying 75 hard..thanks for all the info on it!

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    1. The 18:6 or 16:8 works well for a lot of people! For me, I know that I can stuff a LOT of calories into that time frame, so I had to make a smaller window, unfortunately. But I really enjoy it how I've been doing it, so I don't mind so much :) It's great you're feeling better, and I'm sure you'll start seeing results soon if you're consistent!

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  4. Hey, just a quick note that if you found a recipe in a cookbook (that wasn't freely available online) then you probably shouldn't post it publicly. Copyright issues!

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    1. Right! When I post recipes, I either modify them and list the source as an "inspired by"; or I post my own recipes that I created. I rarely cook recipes exactly as written. But I definitely wouldn't deliberately post someone else's recipe as written and claim credit for it! If it's something that I make exactly as written I either link to it without posting or I list the book that it's in. I would hate for other people to copy my work (it's happened lots of times!) so I would never deliberately do that to others. Thanks :)

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    2. I think that poster might have thought that the Sausage Peppers and Corn Hash photo/link was for the Shipwreck Skillet Dinner since it was right below it. I had a moment where I thought that too but then realized that you just didn't post any photo or anything for the one from the cookbook.

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  5. Katie, I'm glad this is working so well for you, although I am still trying to wrap my brain around it. Does the book you read talk about IF in relation to running and other sports?

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    1. Yes, and there really isn't much to say about it, actually. Running on an empty stomach forces your body to use fat for fuel--and at first, it feels really tough! But after a while, you can go for a LONG time without having to refuel when you're using fat. I discovered this "accidentally" when I was training. But yes, it does talk about IF and sports! :)

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  6. I've found that I have so much more energy in the mornings, and eat FAR fewer sweets during the day, by pushing my breakfast to 12 or 1. I'd love to have a smaller eating window, but find myself starving by 12-1, and just can't continue. Was it natural for you that you don't get hungry until later in the afternoon? I'm usually done eating by 7 PM, which I guess is a pretty good window. I'll check out those books you recommended. What I've done with IF so far has mostly been intuitive, but I think I'm at a point that I need more information, so appreciate the recommendations!

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    1. At first it was kind of hard... I wanted to eat at the "normal" times. But when I was working in the garage, I found myself so busy that I wasn't able to eat until at least 2 or 3, and then I found that pushing it to 4:00 wasn't much longer. Now, I find that waiting until 4:00 is pretty normal (occasionally I am hungry earlier, so I just open my window a little early and then stop eating four hours later). Definitely check out 'Delay, Don't Deny'... that helped me SO much!!

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  7. I have been doing IF of and on for about 2 years now. I started with 16 - 20hr fasts. Last Sept 22, I decided to try ADF. I began eating every other day fasting 36 to 42 hours in between. I have been consistent with 42hrs since November. I love fasting too, and the ability to eat what I want when it is time to eat. I feel great while fasting but enjoy the food so much more when feasting. I decided to "give it a try" to see what happens but lost 70lbs in the process. I plan to switch through other fasting methods, for about a month each, over the coming year to see what feels the most sustainable. I am 25lbs from my goal and will be practicing IF for life either way!

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