The Best Foods to Eat During Intermittent Fasting for Optimal Benefits

In this video, Dr. Ekberg discusses the best foods to eat during intermittent fasting to maximize the benefits while minimizing hunger and suffering. He highlights the importance of intermittent fasting for numerous health benefits, such as blood sugar control, reversing diabetes, reducing inflammation, improving brain function, and reducing the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. Dr. Ekberg explains that the two mechanisms behind intermittent fasting are decreased insulin levels and autophagy, which is the body’s process of recycling resources. He recommends low-carb foods that are nutrient-dense, high in fat, low in protein, and low in insulin response, such as fatty meats, fatty nuts, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and fats like butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. He also discusses the timing of meals, suggesting using pure fat like butter or MCT oil in a „bulletproof coffee“ to extend fasting hours and maintain autophagy benefits. Dr. Ekberg emphasizes the importance of tuning into individual preferences and expanding the list of suitable foods based on personal needs and experiences.

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Key Insights:

  • Intermittent fasting has numerous benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, improved brain function, reduced risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, improved immune function, and increased lifespan.
  • The two main mechanisms behind the benefits of intermittent fasting are reduced insulin levels and increased autophagy, which is the body’s process of recycling and detoxifying resources.
  • While long-term fasting can provide high levels of autophagy, intermittent fasting is a sustainable lifestyle choice that allows you to eat on a regular schedule and fast on a regular schedule.
  • A low-carb approach is recommended for intermittent fasting because it helps lower insulin levels more quickly and reduces hunger and cravings.
  • Foods that are filling and promote satiety during intermittent fasting include fatty meats, fatty nuts, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and foods rich in healthy fats like avocado and coconut.
  • Timing is key in maximizing the benefits of intermittent fasting. Consuming small amounts of pure fat during fasting periods, such as bulletproof coffee with butter or coconut oil, can help extend the fasting period without significantly affecting autophagy.


Hello Health Champions. Today I want to talk about the best foods to eat during intermittent fasting to get the most benefits with the least amount of hunger and suffering. Coming right up!

Hey, I’m Dr. Ekberg. I’m a holistic doctor and a former Olympic decathlete, and if you want to truly master health by understanding how the body really works, make sure you subscribe and hit that notification bell so you don’t miss anything.

There are so many benefits to intermittent fasting, and weight loss is probably the number one reason people do it, but in my mind, there are much more important reasons, such as lowering blood sugar, reversing diabetes, reducing inflammation, reducing brain fog, reducing the risk of heart disease, having less risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer. We can also improve immune function and live longer. Not only that, but we can have more health and more joy during those extra years.

So the list can go on and on, but whatever the reason you’re doing it, whatever the benefit you’re getting, it all comes down to two common mechanisms. The first one is that during the time you’re not eating, your insulin goes down. Insulin is released in response to food, so when you don’t put food in the body, insulin keeps dropping for the duration. If you do that consistently for weeks, months, and years, you will reduce even stubborn cases of insulin resistance and you can reverse type 2 diabetes in virtually every case.

The second mechanism by which this works is called autophagy. During the time that you’re fasting, you’re not putting new resources into the body. The body has to get better at utilizing the resources that are already there. So, the body upregulates the crew that goes around recycling, scavenging, looking for resources, and it gets really good at figuring out what’s good, what we want to keep, and what’s junk that we need to get rid of. In that process, we actually improve our detoxification significantly. Our immune system also improves during fasting, and our growth hormone increases, which improves fat burning.

But because the body gets really good at determining what it needs to keep and what it needs to lose, protein becomes really precious, and the body wants the protein for muscles, enzymes, and hormones. When you don’t put protein into the body, it uses the protein effectively and burns fat for energy.

Some people think of long-term fasting when they hear fasting, like going days or weeks without food. That’s not a bad thing to do. You could fast for three days, five days, a week, or ten days every two to three months a couple of times a year because that will create very high levels of autophagy. You can reverse many disease conditions with that.

But it’s not sustainable as a lifestyle. It’s not something you do all the time. This video is about the best foods for intermittent fasting, which is a lifestyle where you can eat on a regular period and fast on a regular period. You might be eating once a day, maybe eating for four or six hours, maybe every day, maybe every other day. Whatever gets you to your goals. And when we do it this way, it’s sustainable. We can do this all the time, every week, year after year.

The foods we’re looking for are the ones with the most nutrition, that maximize our satiety, our fullness, and set us up for success and reduce the suffering during the fasting period. While intermittent fasting can never achieve the massive levels of autophagy that long-term fasting does, we can still get some autophagy on a regular basis. That’s the whole point. If we can do it all the time and get just a little bit, it’s still very valuable.

Some people say that carbs are not a problem in intermittent fasting, and they keep eating pizza, pasta, and bread as long as they keep a fasting period. Well, that could work for some people, but for others, it will be a disaster. Here’s why I think that low carb is way better if you’re trying to go from a high insulin level to a low insulin level. It’s going to take a certain amount of time for insulin to drop and for you to reverse insulin resistance and get into autophagy. If you eat every meal with high carbs, you’re going to jack up that insulin, and you’ll have a backlog to compensate for each time you go into fasting.

When you eat refined carbs like sugar, bread, pasta, and starches, you trigger a lot of insulin. When you eat protein, you trigger some. When you eat fat, you hardly trigger any insulin at all. Protein is very sensitive, depending on the amount you eat. If you eat a lot, the body turns some of it into glucose and triggers insulin. If you eat smaller amounts of protein, the body doesn’t turn it into fuel, and it triggers much less insulin. But if you eat a low carb diet, every time you start fasting, you start off from a much lower insulin level. It’s like you’ve got a head start, and you’ve given yourself a huge advantage. You will get to that low point much faster, spend a longer time in autophagy, and reach a much deeper level of autophagy.

Carbs also trigger hunger and cravings. If you eat mostly fat, protein, and fiber, your glucose and insulin levels will stay in a narrow range. If you start eating sugar, starch, and processed foods, your blood sugar spikes, and your body makes a lot of insulin to push the blood sugar down quickly. This creates peaks and valleys in blood sugar, and it can lead to reactive hypoglycemia, causing lethargy, tiredness, headaches, and more importantly, massive hunger and cravings. Carbs create unstable blood sugar, and some carbs have drug-like effects on pleasure receptors in the brain. Overcoming addiction while fasting is not easy. Going low carb makes it much easier, reduces hunger and cravings, and makes fasting less difficult.

Now, let’s talk about the only thing that makes this a little tricky: satiety. Insulin is straightforward. To get full, we eat protein with fat, add fat to our meals, and eat foods with fiber. To control insulin, we can eat moderate amounts of protein. However, autophagy is very sensitive to protein. Even small amounts of protein can shut off autophagy because the lack of protein makes the body efficient at recycling resources.

Animal foods like fatty fish, grass-fed meat, and eggs are the most filling. They’re low to moderate on the insulin response and moderate to high in protein. They’re not the best for autophagy because they’re higher in protein. Fatty nuts, like macadamia nuts and pecans, are better. They’re low carb, low protein, high fat, high fiber, and have a low insulin response. Leafy greens, cabbage, and non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are very low in carbs, protein, and fat. They hardly trigger any nutrient sensors or insulin, but they’re high in fiber. Combining them with fat, like butter and olive oil, can make them more filling.

When it comes to timing, we can tweak the benefits a little bit. For example, if you have dinner at 6 pm and eat a large meal with lots of protein, fat, and fiber, and make it through the night, you might start getting hungry around noon the next day after 18 hours. Autophagy and the benefits of reversing insulin resistance start kicking in after 12-14 hours. So, if you could get another six hours out of it, you could triple the benefits. If you had a small amount of pure fat or very low amounts of protein and sugar to get through those extra six hours, you could maintain the benefits of autophagy. It might break the fast in the strictest sense, but from a practical standpoint, you’re still getting most of the benefits of intermittent fasting. Bulletproof coffee is a great option for this. It’s black coffee or black tea with added fat like butter, MCT oil, or coconut oil. It has zero carbs, zero protein, and a very high fat content with almost zero insulin response. While it breaks the fast, it still provides most of the benefits.

Other forms of fat like butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and lard are filling, have zero to trace carbs and protein, and hardly trigger any insulin response. They can be used in bulletproof coffee or on vegetables. Coconut cream is also filling, low carb, low protein, high fat, and can be used as a creamer in coffee or tea. It can also be used in smoothies or to make hot chocolate. Avocado is known as nature’s perfect food. It’s filling, low carb, low protein, moderate fat, high fiber, and has a very low insulin response. It meets most of the criteria on our list.

This list is not perfect, but it’s a good place to start. Understanding the principles and mechanisms behind these foods allows you to expand and find what works best for you based on your own preferences and needs. Individual differences make certain foods more filling for some than others.

If you enjoyed this video and want to learn more about how health really works, make sure to watch the next video, as it will provide more valuable information. Thank you so much for watching. I’ll see you next time!