- REUTERS/Henry Romero
- Intermittent fasting allows you to eat for eight hours of the day.
- Protein is important for achieving results on the intermittent fasting diet.
- It is important to eat the same amount of protein you would regularly.
Although intermittent fasting is said to improve blood sugar and be a helpful tool in weight loss, it’s important to eat the right foods during your eight-hour feasting period, otherwise, you could wreck your health goals altogether.
Aside from keeping your junk food cravings at bay during your feasting window, registered dietitian Taylor Stolt, RDN, LD, CLT explained that getting enough protein is equally important, as it helps preserve muscles as they shed fat, and also works to keep the immune system in tip-top shape.
To make sure you are getting enough protein while intermittent fasting, we spoke more to Stolt and other experts about ways to make sure you make the most of your eight-hour feasting window.
Make the most of your eight-hour eating window
“It is important to provide your body with quality sources of micro- and macronutrients during the eating window, so looking for quality protein sources such as well-sourced meats, seafood, and high-protein dairy are good options,” said registered dietitian Molly Devine, RD, LDN, founder of Eat Your Keto, and advisor to Remedy Review. If you break a fast by eating a high-sugar doughnut, you will spike blood sugars, leading to weight gain and inflammation, she added.
Make sure you are eating the right amount of protein
“Most people should be able to consume adequate protein amounts during an eight-hour feeding window,” said Devine. Aiming for 4 to 6 ounces of a complete protein source such as beef, chicken, pork, or fish at each of two meals will provide sufficient protein for bodily function and to prevent muscle wasting, she said.
Make sure you are performing bodyweight exercises while fasting
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“You are at risk for muscle loss if you use intermittent fasting for weight loss without performing weight-bearing exercise, and without eating enough protein,” said registered dietitian Beth Auguste, MS, RD, CSOWM, WFS. When the body loses weight, it takes from both your fat and your muscle, she said. If you eat enough protein and perform bodyweight exercises, you can preserve muscle while losing fat, she added.
Your protein goal should be the same as your non-fasting state
“Your protein goal should remain the same as your non-intermittent fasting state,” said Auguste. The quick math here is your weight (in kilograms) multiplied by a factor ranging from 0.8 to 1.3 (the more active you are, the higher the factor you should multiply by), she added.
Just because you have a small eating window doesn’t mean you should eat a lesser amount of protein
“Just because you are eating in a smaller window does not mean that you should eat a lesser amount of protein,” Auguste told INSIDER. “I recommend aiming for three meals with at least 20 grams each of protein within your eight-hour eating window,” she said.
Get creative with protein-rich foods
“Try to include a serving of animal or plant-based protein on your salad at lunch, add a clean protein powder to a smoothie, snack on a yogurt with chia seeds and berries, and choose a lean protein, whole grain, and a veggie for dinner,” said Rachel Daniels, senior director of nutrition at Virtual Health Partners, MS, RD. This way, your body has sufficient protein stores to carry you through the fasts and you will maintain your muscle mass, she said.
Set a protein alarm
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“An alarm is helpful for any health goal you may be trying to reach,” said registered dietitian Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN. “Set your alarm for every two hours during your eating hours so you can make sure to meet your daily protein goals,” she recommended.
Add lean proteins to your diet
“Great choices of lean proteins would be egg whites, low-fat dairy, cottage cheese, white meat poultry, and tofu,” said Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition.
Get help from a professional
“It is important to note that intermittent fasting diets don’t define energy or protein needs; so it’s important to tailor your daily regimen necessitates by employing a registered dietitian to make sure you don’t over or under-nourish yourself,” Auslander Moreno told INSIDER.