Stock Up on Nutrient-Dense Produce to Support Fasting Periods
Carbohydrates in the form of produce (fruits and vegetables) give you the fuel your body needs for bursts of energy. Whether you eat cookies or kale, your body transforms the carbohydrates into glucose.
Your brain and your cells use this glucose for fuel for your daily activities, which means the quality of your health and how lean you become depends a great deal on what carbohydrates you choose to use as fuel.
You can compare it to fueling your car: The better the gas you use, the better your car will run, and the more you'll get out of it. Consuming healthier carbohydrates is particularly important when you're fasting, striving to get your body in a fat-burning mode, and training your body be an efficient fat burner long-term.
If you want to stay lean and healthy, you have to be savvy when it comes to carbohydrates. Where there is excess insulin, there is fat. As a result, knowing what carbs to eat is key in burning fat and feeling your best.
When choosing produce, think variety, color, and in-season whenever possible. Creating a meal with two vegetables is a great way to bring nutrients to your plate. Consider these options:
Leafy greens: High in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, leafy greens are some of the best veggies to put on your plate. Try beet tops, bok choy, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, Napa cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip greens.
Hearty vegetables: Roasted, sautéed, or steamed, these veggies serve up plenty of flavor and nutrition. Dig into artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, fennel, onion, parsnips, spaghetti squash, summer squash, turnips, and zucchini.
Salad vegetables: Fresh, crisp, and filling, a salad can be a meal in itself or a tantalizing side. Toss in alfalfa sprouts, arugula, bell peppers, celery, cucumber, jicama, lettuce (such as romaine, Boston, Bib, iceberg, escarole, or red leaf), mushrooms, radicchio, radishes, red cabbage, sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, and watercress.
Carb-dense vegetables: These starchy and carbohydrate-dense vegetables play an important role in helping you recover from exercise and stress. Roast a batch of acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, or yams. Toss some jicama, kohlrabi, or beets in a salad. You can even sauté some plantains for a yummy treat!
Approved legumes: Although these vegetables are technically legumes, (legumes aren't one of the approved fasting window foods because they cause digestive distress for those people not accustomed to eating them), they include more pod than bean — and they're green! Snap into green beans, string beans, snap peas, snow peas, and wax beans.
Legumes are beans, peas, and lentils. With the exception of the approved legumes just mentioned, you probably should pass on legumes to lose weight, perform better, and heal conditions. If you're a vegetarian and don't eat fish or eggs, you have to get some source of protein in your diet, so you can eat legumes.
But for most people, legumes are a very starchy food, with not much protein, so you're getting a lot of starch, with small amounts of protein, which isn't good for your health. Also, most people find them very hard to digest and experience gut disturbances, such as bloating, after eating them. If you're looking to get fiber, fill your plate with some vegetables, and you'll be good to go.
Fresh herbs: Leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme add a big dose of flavor to any meal.
Fruits: Eaten whole or in salads, raw or cooked, colorful fruits are a good source of vitamins and taste oh so sweet. Savor every bite, from apples to kiwi. Dark-colored fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and cranberries, are filled with antioxidants and low in natural sugars.
Satisfiingly sweet friuts you can eat include apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, grapefruits, grapes, honeydews, kiwis, kumquats, lemons, limes, mangos, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelons.
Eat dried fruits, which are high in sugar, in moderation. You can add them to stews, sautés, and vegetables to add texture and a hint of sweetness. Always check labels for preservatives and sulfites, preservatives that aren't healthy. They're commonly found in dried fruits. Also think of dried fruit as a natural sweetener and not as a food to aimlessly munch on.
With produce, your budget has a little more leeway. What's most important is that you just eat your vegetables. However, quality can make a difference with the nutrients and even reduce the toxins or pesticides that may be found in your produce. Ideally, you want to purchase local and organic vegetables and fruit.
If your budget is tight, you can purchase mainstream. Just make sure you rinse the vegetables to remove any possible pesticides.