Healthy Diet Plans That Work Best for Intermittent Fasting
- November 01, 2020
If you want to lose weight and improve your health, it’s best to choose an eating plan that you can stick to over the long term. To lose weight and keep it off, you’ll need to change your lifestyle. That’s why temporary diets don’t work. Whichever regimen you choose to help you lose weight, if you pair it with intermittent fasting, you can see increased benefits. There are pros and cons to even the healthiest diet plans, which is why it’s essential to choose the one that works best for you.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet mimics the traditional diet of the people who live in the Mediterranean, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. It’s high in healthy fats like high-quality olive oil, nuts, fish, and poultry. A 2020 study found participants stuck with the Mediterranean Diet for over 12 months. And both the Mediterranean Diet and intermittent fasting were found to be the most successful for weight loss. The Mediterranean Diet and intermittent fasting both can have positive effects on weight loss and may reduce your blood pressure and blood sugar. Combining the two diets could be a powerful, healthy option.
Mediterranean Diet Pros:
- Limiting red meats is healthy and good for the environment.
- It may be easier on your digestive tract to eat less dairy.
- No food group is banned entirely.
Mediterranean Diet Cons:
- You may not digest whole grains easily.
- The focus is on the prevention of heart disease, not weight loss.
- The healthiest olive oils, fish, and nuts may be cost-prohibitive.
Low Carb Diets
If weight loss is your goal, a low-carb diet may be your best bet, but keep in mind that some low-carbohydrate eating plans aren’t sustainable long-term. You need complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for fiber, energy, and to help you stay full.
There are many different low carb diets, but all of them limit refined carbohydrates, starches, grains, and sugars while focusing on proteins and fats. Refined carbohydrates are the carbs that you want to cut back on or eliminate. Diets low in refined carbohydrates have been proven effective in randomized weight-loss trials, and are more useful for healthy weight loss than low-fat diets. A low-carb diet can especially reduce your visceral abdominal fat. So, when you combine a low carb diet with intermittent fasting, it could improve your weight loss progress by reducing your overall caloric intake and by contributing to an overall reduction in visceral fat.
If you’re following the Keto diet or a low carb diet that’s high in fat, Intermittent Fasting can help boost the ketogenic state you’re seeking. By grouping your meals, IF promotes ketosis and can increase the amount of fat you burn.
Low Carb Diet Pros:
- More effective for weight loss than low-fat diets.
- It can reduce belly fat.
- Significantly reduces sugar intake.
Low Carb Diet Cons:
- Proteins and fats are generally more expensive than carbohydrates.
- Emphasizing animal protein can raise your cholesterol.
- If you’re on diabetes medications, a low carb diet may be contraindicated and should be watched by your doctor.
- You need complex carbohydrates for energy.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet mimics how our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate before the onset of agriculture. The emphasis is on foods that can be foraged or hunted, such as nuts, berries, vegetables, seeds, meats, and fish. Dairy, legumes, grains, and processed foods are strictly forbidden. The Paleo diet works well with intermittent fasting. Both Paleo and IF reduce inflammation. The Paleo diet will also support the gains you have made in decreasing blood sugar via intermittent fasting. The Paleo diet is filling. Those on the diet report less hunger, which makes it an ideal time for you to try intermittent fasting.
Pros of the Paleo Diet:
- Excellent to help you lose weight and reduce belly fat.
- Eliminates processed foods.
- Participants say they’re less hungry.
Cons of the Paleo Diet:
- Very restrictive – no dairy, legumes, grains, or processed foods.
- It’ challenging if you’re a vegetarian.
- Difficult to order restaurants.
The DASH Diet
The DASH Diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a low sodium diet that helps fight high blood pressure. It’s not specifically a weight loss diet, but some individuals reported weight loss when they followed the DASH guidelines. This low sodium, low-fat diet suggests vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.
On the DASH Diet, you’ll avoid saturated fats found in meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils. Sugars and sweets are limited, but not eliminated. While it may be easy to choose foods that are low in sodium, it can be tedious to weigh food or measure portions. Intermittent fasting can support your weight loss while on the DASH diet by helping you avoid overeating.
DASH Diet Pros:
- Low in sodium to fight high blood pressure.
- Very flexible – requires minimal changes.
- Recommends walking after meals.
DASH Diet Cons:
- Not necessarily a weight loss diet.
- Requires counting calories or measuring serving sizes.
- Low salt diets aren’t beneficial for everyone.
- Promotes low-fat dairy products, which are typically high in sugar.
The Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a weight loss plan that focuses on teaching you new, healthy behaviors. There are two phases to the Mayo Clinic Diet. The two-week “lose it” stage, kick starts your weight loss, and the “live it” phase, concentrates on the long-term maintenance of your new eating and exercise habits. A crucial step for you to maintain your weight loss.
The Mayo Clinic Diet teaches you to break five unhealthy habits and learn five to 10 new healthy habits. Intermittent fasting can be one of those new, healthy habits. When you pair the Mayo Clinic Diet with intermittent fasting, it can be especially beneficial if weight loss is your goal. The Mayo Clinic Diet requires that you measure your daily food servings. Intermittent fasting can make this more comfortable because it decreases the number of meals you have per day.
Mayo Clinic Diet Pros:
- No food groups are eliminated.
- Allows unlimited snacking on whole fruits and vegetables.
- Encourages 30-minutes per day of exercise.
Mayo Clinic Diet Cons:
- Serving sizes must be measured.
- No restaurant meals or take out can be challenging for some.
- The “lose it” phase restricts several food groups and keeps calories very low.
The MIND Diet
The MIND diet focuses on the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. MIND is an acronym for Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. A fusion of both the DASH and the Mediterranean Diet, the MIND Diet encourages you to eat foods that are beneficial for your brain health. The diet promotes the consumption of berries, but not other fruits. It suggests you eat vegetables daily, in addition to three servings of whole grains. Poultry and fish are suggested over red meat. Nuts and beans are recommended as snacks. Studies indicate the MIND Diet slows age-related cognitive decline.
Intermittent fasting also has positive effects on the brain. IF can improve your memory and helps your brain function better as you age. If you combine IF with the MIND Diet, your brain and your waistline will benefit.
MIND Diet Pros:
- Focuses on foods that promote brain health.
- Blends two proven diets, the DASH, and Mediterranean diets.
- Allows for a glass of wine daily.
MIND Diet Cons:
- The science on whole grains and brain health is mixed.
- Not a weight loss diet.
- Minimal guidelines and meal plans are available.
Intermittent Fasting Can Enhance Any Diet
If you’ve found one of the above diets works for you, you can enhance your results by combining your eating plan with intermittent fasting. IF works well with any weight loss plan. You can add an IF protocol any time you feel you’ve reached a plateau with your current diet. For maximum results, use IF alongside your diet for the long term. When you eat and what you eat can work together to help you achieve better health and more significant weight loss.
Sara-Mai is a writer who specializes in physical and mental health, nutrition, and fitness. She has 20 years of professional experience in the health and wellness industry and is a certified yoga instructor.