Meal Replacement Shakes & Intermittent Fasting
Are Meal Replacement Shakes Suitable for Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular health and fitness trends of the moment. There are no restrictions on what foods you should eat per se, unlike many other diets.
So this begs the question, what should I eat when intermittent fasting and are meal shakes a good choice?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting does not specify which foods you should eat, rather when you should eat them. So it’s not a diet, more a pattern of eating.
Fasting is not a new concept, but intermittent fasting for weight loss certainly is. Intermittent fasting allows a more flexible approach, and has been hailed to provide many benefits aside from weight loss, ranging from prolonging lifespan, aiding digestive disorders and managing blood sugar levels.
Understanding Eating Windows & Fasting Schedules
There are several different methods of doing intermittent fasting - all of which involve splitting the day or week into fasting and eating windows. During fasting periods, you either eat very little or nothing at all.
Some of the most popular intermittent fasting methods include:
- The 16/8 Method: This involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day. This is one of the more extreme methods, so may not be suitable for new intermittent fasters.
- Time-Restricted Eating: Involves fasting for 12-20 hours per day (as a prolongation of your overnight fast) on each day of the week. The 16/8 method is a version of this.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: The basic idea is that you fast on one day and then eat what you want the next day.
- 5:2 Fasting: This method involves consuming only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days.
- The Warrior Diet: Involves eating all desired calories within a four-hour eating window each day.
What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting
One key factor is to ensure you are not compromising on your nutritional needs when you are intermittent fasting.
Research has shown that following an intermittent fasting plan and restricting calories drastically or not prioritising high-quality, well-balanced foods, may result in muscle loss when fasting.
So it is key to keep tabs on your overall protein intake during your eating window to ensure your body isn’t breaking down muscle as a source of fuel.
Can you drink Meal Replacement Shakes while fasting?
Yes. But meal replacement shakes should be consumed during the eating window as they will break the fast, just like any other food or drink that contains calories.
Consuming a meal shake can be a great way to conveniently boost micronutrient intake after a long fast and ensure you fill any nutritional gaps. Just make sure that the meal shake you choose contains all essential micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and is high in protein in order to replenish nutrient and amino acid stores.
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