From this article, you can download our Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan PDF.
Intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that doesn’t define what you eat but instead when you eat it. It’s grown in popularity in recent years for weight loss, reducing insulin resistance, lowering inflammation, and even anti-aging.
What’s amazing is that intermittent fasting studies show you don’t have to change your diet whatsoever to lose weight.
But, we’re here to tell you that it is much, much better if you do to receive all of the health benefits. Here is our typical intermittent fasting meal plan.
intermittent fasting meal plan (pdf included)
Think about it, let’s say you’re on the popular 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule (16-hours of fasting with 8-hours of eating).
If you’re chowing down on a burger and a milkshake up until the last minute of your eating window, your body only has 16-hours to process all of those carbohydrates.
If — depending on what else you ate that day — your body doesn’t burn through all of those carbohydrates for energy, your insulin levels won’t reset and your body can’t move onto burning fat.
Whatever your goal, there are ways to reach your goals faster — and get better health — by being selective of what you eat during your eating windows.
In this article, we’ll break down the different intermittent fasting schedules and which ones are best for your goals.
We’ll also share a downloadable intermittent fasting meal plan to make sure you’re fasting safely, effectively, and healthily.
experiment with your intermittent fasting schedule
Intermittent fasting isn’t just one hard-and-fast thing. Instead, everyone does it differently.
We encourage you to experiment for at least 3 weeks before changing it up to gauge the full benefits. Generally, if you’re fasting between 12 hours or more a day, it’s considered intermittent fasting. And yes, that includes the time you sleep!
Disclaimer: Intermittent fasting controls when you eat, not what you eat. The healthier your diet, the better your results. If you’re taking any medications or have diabetes, low blood pressure, are pregnant, or have a history of an eating disorder, consult your doctor before starting intermittent fasting.
Which Intermittent Fasting Plan should i begin with?
How do you know which schedule to start with and if that’s the best one for you?
In our article, ‘Intermittent Fasting How To Guide,’ we dive into this step-by-step, including how to define your goals, calculate your daily caloric needs, and build intermittent fasting into your routine. Don’t miss it!
Below are two popular fasting schedules, including example times and meal plans:
- Daily Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Schedule
- Alternate Day Fasting (24 hours on, 24 hours off)
If you’re looking for an hour-by-hour meal plan for breaking extended fasts, see our article, ‘How (and Why) to Do a 3-Day Fast.’
Don’t forget that while fasting, it’s incredibly important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Intermittent fasting puts your body under some healthy stress, but don’t add to the stress by allowing yourself to become dehydrated.
Generally while fasting, you can consume beverages under 50 calories, which includes black coffee, unsweetened tea, and lemon water.
The Daily Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Schedule
Most people follow a daily intermittent fasting plan of 16/8: 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of eating. For us, this was the most simple and sustainable to get started with. We’ve followed the schedule since March 2018.
+ Allows for better flexibility around social and work schedules
+ Is similar to most people’s daily eating habits already
+ Sustainable and easy to get started with
– Full health benefits only seen with a very healthy diet
Here’s an example of a popular eating window according to a 16/8 intermittent fasting eating schedule:
Below is one week of daily meal plans to follow while 16/8 intermittent fasting. The Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan PDF is also available to download if you prefer to print the meal plan.
What’s great about the 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule is that you’re likely nearly there today. If you’re getting in 8-hours of sleep a night, and not eating before bed, you’re nearly there.
For us, we opt to eat later in the day, skipping breakfast as opposed to skipping dinner. This seems like the most popular route, but do what makes the most sense for you and your body.
The big fault we find with this 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule is that it only works best if you already have a good diet.
Most people intermittent fast to lose weight, reset insulin levels, and start burning fat. Therefore, a poor diet never gives you a chance to reset or get near to ketosis.
Ketosis is the state when your body has run out of carbohydrates to burn for energy and therefore move onto fat. This is the basis of the popular keto diet, which, we do not recommend, as explained in our article on why fad diets are problematic.
The Alternate-Day Intermittent Fasting Schedule
Alternate-day intermittent fasting is when you eat one day, but not the next. Repeat.
+ Most similar to how our ancestors naturally ate
+ More fasting time for your body and hormones to rebalance
+ Cheaper grocery bill (don’t pretend you didn’t think of this, too!)
+ Not as necessary to optimize your healthy diet
– Less flexible schedule around work and social events
– Not as necessary to optimize your healthy diet
This style of feasting and fasting is the most studied, as it mimics how our ancestors likely ate. Talk about a paleo diet.
The research is incredibly compelling, showing that putting our bodies under stress in a natural feast-or-famine state builds resiliency, better ensures that our blood sugar levels reset, and alleviates our bodies of oxidative stress.
For most, alternate-day fasting is a challenge because of work and social schedules and norms. However, for the ones who can be more flexible (anyone else working from home?) the health benefits are immense.
Here is an hourly schedule of how alternate-day fasting is typically done:
Here is an example of a meal plan for alternate-day fasting:
Below is one week of daily meal plans to follow for alternate-day fasting. The Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan PDF is also available to download if you prefer to print the meal plan.
Breaking your fast
No matter the style of intermittent fasting you choose, always be thoughtful of how to break your fast.
When breaking your intermittent fast, ease into it. The best practice is to avoid high-sugar, high-carb foods that undo all of the hard work you’ve just done.
Instead, focus on nutritious foods likes vegetables and foods high in healthy fats like avocados.
About half an hour before your meal, start with our favorite digestive infusion to perk up your digestive system.
Digestive Enzyme Distraction Drink:
- One cup of hot water
- One half a lemon squeezed (excites digestive enzymes)
- Two caps full of apple cider vinegar (balances pH levels in the gut for healthy bacteria growth)
- A pinch of cinnamon (to stabilize blood sugar levels)
What favorite meals would you add to our intermittent fasting meal plan?
I have questions. What do I do?
Leave any specific questions in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible and update this article accordingly.
Here’s our fasting page for more support along your fasting journey.
Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan (Printable PDF)
Download and instantly access the intermittent fasting meal plans, including a printable meal planner to create daily menus.
Plus, we’re just an email away for support.
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