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Meal Plans for Different Forms of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting meal plans: get examples of what and when to eat
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Summary

Confused on what to eat and when for the many forms of intermittent fasting? Read this article as we describe some of the more popular forms of fasting and provide a meal plan example for each one.


Written by
Christine Richardson, PhD
Clinical Project Manager at Becton Dickinson

Intermittent fasting is incredibly popular but there are so many different forms of it. This can make knowing what and when to eat confusing, especially for those who are just starting this dietary pattern.


Having an intermittent fasting meal plan example can really help provide some clarity as to what you should eat and at what time, so we’ve created some for you!


What is Intermittent Fasting?


Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern that incorporates different periods of fasting into our routine. 


This type of eating schedule is very popular because of its ability to help individuals lose body fat, reduce inflammation, decrease their blood pressure, all while decreasing their risk for metabolic diseases like type II diabetes, cancer, and more (1,2,3,4). 


There are many different types of intermittent fasting and they all have different lengths of the fasting and feeding periods.


This is great because this means that there is a type of intermittent fasting that can work with anyone’s busy schedule. What’s important is that you are consistent with your eating window.


This also can mean that understanding what and when to eat during the feeding window can be a little confusing, especially if you’re new to fasting. 


In this article, we discuss the different types of intermittent fasting and provide an intermittent fasting meal plan for each type.


The 16/8 Diet

White clock on a blue background.

The 16/8 diet is one of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting. This is likely because it’s one of the simpler forms of intermittent fasting and because it is something that is practiced daily, which makes it easier to instill as a habit.


This is a great intermittent fasting routine if you are new to fasting. You can try this form out and stick with it or dabble with some of the more “extreme” versions if you feel up for it.


The 16/8 diet is also nice because there is some flexibility with the schedule because you can pick your eating window to accommodate your schedule. For example, some people may pick an eating window of 12pm-8pm, while others pick 9am-5pm. 


Below, we’ve laid out a 16/8 intermittent fasting meal plan example.


  • 5-7am: Coffee/tea with no cream or sweetener
  • 12pm (breakfast): Egg and veggie wrap with a side of fruit
  • 2pm (lunch): Chicken and mixed veggie stir-fry over brown rice
  • 4pm (snack): Yogurt and/or mixed nuts 
  • 6pm (dinner): Meatballs with whole-wheat pasta and a side salad
  • 8pm (snack): Dark chocolate-covered almonds or a few squares of a dark chocolate bar


16/8 and Keto

Eggs, avocado, tomatoes and vegetables on a blue plate.

Many people who do the 16/8 diet also adhere to a ketogenic diet, “keto diet” for short. Incorporating both a keto diet and intermittent fasting can really accelerate your weight loss goals. Keto diets have also been shown to help individuals regain control of their blood sugar levels.  


A ketogenic diet is when people drastically restrict their carbohydrate intake and increase their fat intake to about 70% of their daily caloric needs. 


But eating keto can be a little tricky, especially in the beginning. That’s because eating a diet so high in fat and low in carbs can be tricky but it gets easier once you’ve made it a habit. A good way to make keto easier is to meal prep.


Keto can also be hard because there is a transition period. Most people eat a significant amount of carbohydrates, so our bodies are “used to” using carbs (glucose) for energy. Significantly restricting carbs forces the body to use fat for energy by creating ketone bodies (hence the term “ketogenic diet”). However, your body has to “learn” how to increase the production of those pathways that create those ketone bodies (5). 


This transition period is often referred to as the “keto flu” and it usually goes away after about 2 weeks (6). Doing keto with intermittent fasting can help with the transition into keto because fasting also forces the body to use stored fat for energy. Doing both at the same time can be a good strategy for those trying new to the ketogenic diet. 


Here’s an idea of what a 16/8 intermittent fasting keto meal plan would look like.


5-7am: Coffee/tea with no cream or sweetener

12pm (breakfast): Bulletproof coffee, scrambled eggs with veggies, bacon, and avocado

2pm (lunch): Lemon-butter salmon with side salad

4pm (snack): String cheese

6pm (dinner): Grass-fed cheeseburger (no buns) with grilled broccoli

7pm (snack): Mixed nuts


One Meal A Day

Fish with green asparagus and vegetable rice.

One meal a day, or commonly referred to as OMAD, is another form of intermittent fasting. This is when individuals consume one very high-calorie meal each day.


What is important to remember with OMAD is that you do want to ensure that you are getting enough calories. You also want to make sure that you are consuming enough fiber and nutrient-dense foods. 


Many people find eating such a big meal difficult at first, but over time, they say their bodies adapt and they have no trouble eating such a large, calorie-dense meal.


With OMAD, you can eat your one meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner-it’s completely up to you!


Below are examples of an OMAD intermittent fasting meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Breakfast

  • Coffee (cream and sweetener optional)
  • Eggs sautéed in butter with some spinach, red onion, and bell pepper
  • Avocado toast with wheat bread
  • Bacon
  • Fruit


Lunch:

  • Chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat toast
  • Apple with peanut butter
  • Kale chips


Dinner: 

  • 10oz grilled steak
  • Baked potato with butter, sour cream, and cheese
  • Sautéed asparagus and mushrooms


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20/4

Clock showing 3:40h

The 20/4 diet is basically an in-between of OMAD and the 16/8 diet. You eat for only 4 hours of the day and fast for the remaining 20 hours.


This basically leaves enough time for 2 meals or an extended meal with multiple courses that lasts for a few hours. Much like OMAD, you can have your main meal around breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 


Here are some examples of a 20/4 intermittent fasting meal plan for an early, mid-day, and late eating window. 


Early:

  • 7am (Breakfast): Green smoothie and oatmeal
  • 11am (Lunch): Turkey chili with side of cornbread 


Mid-day:

  • 12pm (Breakfast): Chia pudding with fruit, nuts, and granola
  • 4pm (Lunch): Cheese tortellini with chicken and a cup of vegetable soup


Late:

  • 3pm (Lunch): Turkey burger with a side salad
  • 7pm (Dinner): Beef tacos with all of the toppings and side of black beans


Alternate Day Fasting

Calendar with one page per day.

Alternate day fasting is when individuals will alternate between days where they fast completely and days where they eat ad libitum


This is definitely a more “extreme” version of intermittent fasting but individuals who stick to this form report really enjoying it. Studies have also shown that alternate day fasting can really improve your overall health by decreasing blood sugar levels, decreasing inflammation, and increasing autophagy (7, 8). Because alternate day fasting increases autophagy, it is thought that it also promotes longevity and who doesn’t want to live longer?!


This form of fasting can take some getting used to but after the transition period, it shouldn’t be too difficult.


Here is an example of an alternate day fasting eating plan.


  • 6am: Coffee or tea (sugars and cream optional)
  • 7am (breakfast): Egg sandwich and side of fruit
  • 10am (snack): Yogurt
  • 12pm (lunch): Chicken quesadilla with black beans
  • 3pm (snack): Pita chips and veggie sticks with hummus
  • 6pm (dinner): Pork chops and applesauce with mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini
  • 8pm (snack): Popcorn


Modified Alternate Day Fasting

A small bowl with mixed nuts.

Modified alternate day fasting is very similar to normal alternate day fasting except individuals will have a small meal consisting of about 500 calories. You can choose to eat this meal at any time of the day, but most people tend to prefer to eat around dinner time.


This form of intermittent fasting is a great step into normal alternate day fasting. It’ll help you get used to going such a long time without eating without having to dive right in.


Even if you choose to never transition over into regular alternate day fasting, this is still a great form of fasting because the fasting window is so large-it’s similar to OMAD.


Here is an example of a modified alternate day fasting eating plan.


  • 6pm (dinner): Zucchini noodles (zoodles) with red sauce, meatballs, and parmesan cheese with garlic bread and green beans


Summary


There are many different forms of intermittent fasting, which means that there is a form that can fit into anyone’s schedule.


Each form has a different eating window, which can make planning out what to eat a little confusing. Hopefully the intermittent fasting meal plans provided in this article help clarify what and when to eat.


If you have other questions or are looking for other people trying intermittent fasting, join our community of women only all doing intermittent fasting! Being a part of a community can help you not feel alone during your fasting journey! 


References:

1. Ganesan K, Habboush Y, Sultan S. Intermittent Fasting: The Choice for a Healthier Lifestyle. Cureus [Internet]. Cureus, Inc.; 2018 [cited 2021 Jun 19];10. Available from: https://www.cureus.com/articles/12903-intermittent-fasting-the-choice-for-a-healthier-lifestyle

2. Paoli A, Tinsley G, Bianco A, Moro T. The influence of meal frequency and timing on health in humans: The role of fasting. Nutrients. MDPI AG; 2019. 

3. Jane L, Atkinson G, Jaime V, Hamilton S, Waller G, Harrison S. Intermittent fasting interventions for the treatment of overweight and obesity in adults aged 18 years and over: a systematic review protocol. JBI database of systematic reviews and implementation reports. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep; 2015. p. 60–8. 

4. Deligiorgi M V., Liapi C, Trafalis DT. How far are we from prescribing fasting as anticancer medicine? [Internet]. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. MDPI AG; 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 9]. p. 1–30. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7730661/

5. Dhamija R, Eckert S, Wirrell E. Ketogenic diet. Can J Neurol Sci [Internet]. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences; 2013 [cited 2021 May 17];40:158–67. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/

6. Bostock ECS, Kirkby KC, Taylor B V., Hawrelak JA. Consumer Reports of “Keto Flu” Associated With the Ketogenic Diet. Front Nutr [Internet]. Frontiers Media S.A.; 2020 [cited 2021 May 17];7:20. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7082414/

7. Trepanowski JF, Kroeger CM, Barnosky A, Klempel MC, Bhutani S, Hoddy KK, Gabel K, Freels S, Rigdon J, Rood J, et al. Effect of alternate-day fasting on weight loss, weight maintenance, and cardioprotection among metabolically healthy obese adults: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. American Medical Association; 2017;177:930–8. 

8. Cui Y, Cai T, Zhou Z, Mu Y, Lu Y, Gao Z, Wu J, Zhang Y. Health Effects of Alternate-Day Fasting in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis [Internet]. Frontiers in Nutrition. Frontiers Media S.A.; 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 2]. p. 586036. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7732631/


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