Fasting is an integral part of Navratri celebrations. And not for just Navratri, people are now taking up fasting for weight loss, body detoxification, better sleep and numerous other reasons. In this article, we are going to talk about intermittent fasting and how you can meet nutritional requirements during fasting. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle plan that involves fasting and eating phases. Ideally, people follow intermittent fasting by eating early dinners – say around 7 or 8 pm – and then fast for 12, 14 or 16 hours.
Lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho says that duration of the fasting period may entirely depend on how a person is feeling. According to Luke, it is important to listen to your body and not fast for longer durations just because the internet says so. It is important to feed yourself when you feel hungry or lack of energy.
Intermittent fasting: Why it is important to follow it with the right technique
Intermittent fasting benefits include weight loss, body detox, better sleep cycle and lesser digestion problems (acidity, bloating, constipation, etc.) to name a few. However, you can reap these benefits of intermittent fasting only if you follow it in the right way.
Intermittent fasting can help in getting rid of digestion problems like acidity and bloating
During the eating phase, you are not supposed to restrict any food group. Proteins, fats, carbs, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and all other food groups should be a part of your diet in your eating phase of intermittent fasting.
Similarly, Luke suggests that during the fasting phase, you are not supposed to eat or drink anything apart from plain water. Tea or coffee are also off the table during the fasting phase of intermittent fasting.
How to meet nutritional requirements during intermittent fasting?
Delhi-based nutritionist Nmami Agarwal recently took to Instagram to share a few tips on how you can meet your nutritional requirements during intermittent fasting. Here’s what she suggests:
- Keep yourself well hydrated: Now this is something that you must follow whether you’re fasting or not. Being well-hydrated is important to prevent fatigue, headaches and even unnecessary hunger pangs. During your eating and fasting phase, you should drink sufficient water. Also, you can have buttermilk, lemon water or coconut water during your eating phase to improve your hydration.
- Have more fruits: Fruits are low in calories and full of dietary fibre. Eating fruits during eating phase in intermittent fasting can be beneficial for weight loss. Eat fruits rather than drinking fruit juice. “It also ensures a slow release of sugar in the body,” writes Nmami in her blog shared on Instagram.
Including more fruits in eating phase of intermittent fasting for sustainable weight loss and good health
- Eat fibre-rich foods: Fibre-rich foods can fill you up quickly and keep you full for longer. They reduce overall calorie intake, thus aiding weight loss. What’s more is that fibre-rich foods can prevent constipation as they help in forming the bulk of stools and ease bowel movement. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lentils, legumes, whole grains and leafy green vegetables are all rich sources of fibre. “Beetroot and carrot juice will be a great option to be included and it can also be flavoured with lemon and rock salt,” suggests Nmami.
- Do not forget protein: Protein is an important macronutrient for weight loss and muscle build up. You can fulfil your protein requirement even during Navratri fasting. “Sabudana or tapioca is the healthiest food choice when observing a fast. It is a great source of protein, calcium and iron that are responsible for healthy bone growth and development,” she writes. Other protein-rich food sources are eggs, soy products, milk and dairy products, chicken, nuts and seeds and lentils and legumes to name a few.
- Avoid added sugar: Refined sugar is processed and is a food with empty calories. During your eating phase in intermittent fasting, you can switch to healthier sugar alternatives like sugarcane, jaggery, dates, honey etc. You can also prepare a dessert with yogurt and top it with fruits, suggests Nmami. Make sure you practice portion control.