16/8 Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan: 7-Day Menu for Beginners

The 16/8 intermittent fasting is the most popular because it is the easiest to follow and the most effective. People often find it overwhelming or challenging to start their 16/8 journey, so we created this beginner-friendly 7-day intermittent fasting meal plan, specially curated for faster results.

Key Takeaways:

  • The 16/8 intermittent fasting is the easiest yet most effective intermittent diet method and offers weight loss, autophagy, muscle gain, improved metabolic health, fertility, cognition, and gut health benefits.
  • Incorporating the keto diet with the 18/6 intermittent fasting allows faster results, especially with weight loss.
  • Focusing on nutrient-dense foods and avoiding starchy and processed foods will offer more benefits.
  • People with certain medical conditions should consult their healthcare providers when considering diet. 

Table of Contents:

16/8 Intermittent Fasting 7-Day Keto Meal Plan

Following a keto diet while intermittent fasting will boost your weight loss by speeding up ketosis.

Since people often find it difficult to know how to start and what to eat, here’s a simplified, keto-friendly 7-day meal plan to start your intermittent fasting journey.

Before diving in, here are a couple of rules that you have to keep in mind to reap the best benefits:

  1. Stick to your chosen fasting/eating time.
  2. No snacks during fasting, but you can have a keto-friendly snack within the eating period.
  3. Hydrating is essential. Make sure that your drinks do not contain sweeteners.
DayFirst MealSnackSecond Meal
SundayGrilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Avocado,
Olive oil and lemon dressing
Handful of AlmondsBaked Salmon with Lemon and Dill Steamed Broccoli with Butter
MondayCobb Salad with Turkey, Bacon, Avocado, and Blue Cheese,
Olive oil and vinegar dressing
Cheese Cubes with Cherry TomatoesZucchini Noodles with Pesto SauceGrilled Shrimp
TuesdayGreek Salad with Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olives,
Grilled Chicken Breast
Avocado Slices with Sea SaltBeef Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Bell Peppers,
Cauliflower Rice
WednesdaySpinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast,
Mixed Greens with Olive Oil Dressing
Celery Sticks with Cream CheeseBaked Cod with Garlic and Herbs,
Asparagus with Parmesan
ThursdayAvocado and Bacon Egg Salad,
Deviled Eggs on the side
Keto-Friendly Smoothie with Coconut Milk, Berries, and MCT OilKeto-Friendly Chicken Alfredo with Zucchini Noodles
FridayTurkey and Avocado Lettuce Wraps,
Cherry Tomatoes on the side
Sugar-Free Dark ChocolateGrilled Lamb Chops with Rosemary,
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
SaturdaySmoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups,
Cucumber Slices
Keto Trail Mix (Almonds, Pecans, and Coconut Flakes)Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Cream Sauce,
Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

Disclaimer: This is a guide you can follow, but you can add more ingredients or remove some, depending on your preference and health status. However, sticking to keto-friendly food options will help your body achieve your goals faster.

What Is Intermittent Fasting 16/8?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) in the 16/8 format is the most effective type of intermittent fasting.

It structures daily eating into specific windows, consisting of a 16-hour fasting period followed by an 8-hour eating window.

The fasting window typically involves refraining from caloric intake, encouraging the body to tap into stored energy reserves, primarily fat.

How Does Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Work?

The 16/8 intermittent fasting is easy to follow and provides the most health benefits. Here’s an overview of how it works and affects the body.

  1. Fasting Period (16 hours)
  2. Glycogen Depletion: The body exhausts its glycogen1 (stored glucose) reserves during the initial hours of fasting.
  3. Ketosis Initiation: Scientific evidence states that the body starts mobilizing fatty acids after 12 hours of fasting.2 As glycogen depletes, the body shifts into a state of ketosis, which begins using stored fat for energy.
  4. Eating Window (8 hours):
  5. Nutrient-Dense Consumption: During the 8-hour eating window, individuals consume their daily caloric needs.
  6. Emphasis on Nutrient Density: Focus on nutrient-dense foods, including proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables, to support overall health.
  7. Consistency is Key: Regularity in the daily fasting and eating cycle helps the body adapt to the routine, maximizing the metabolic benefits over time.

Benefits of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting meal plan

Weight Loss:

Intermittent fasting in the 16/8 format is widely recognized for its efficacy in weight loss.3 The daily 16-hour fasting window naturally restricts caloric intake, promoting a caloric deficit essential for shedding excess weight.

Moreover, the extended fasting period induces a metabolic shift toward fat metabolism,4 facilitating the utilization of stored fat for energy, ultimately contributing to weight loss and enhanced body composition.


One of the distinctive advantages of intermittent fasting is the activation of autophagy,5 a cellular cleanup process. During fasting, cells undergo a self-repair mechanism by removing damaged components, supporting overall cellular health.

Animal studies have linked autophagy to longevity,6 and its activation through intermittent fasting may play a crucial role in promoting cellular resilience and longevity.

Muscle Gain:

Contrary to common concerns about muscle loss during fasting, the 16/8 method aims to preserve lean muscle mass7 while promoting fat loss.

One can achieve this by strategically incorporating nutrient-dense meals during the eating window and engaging in regular resistance training.

Improved Metabolic Health:

The 16/8 intermittent fasting approach offers notable improvements in metabolic health.8 Studies indicate that it enhances insulin sensitivity,9 and improves lipid profile results10 even in patients with impaired lipid metabolism.


While research on intermittent fasting’s impact on fertility is ongoing, some studies suggest that it may positively influence hormonal balance11 among women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

However, individual responses may vary, and medical guidance is recommended for those with existing hormonal issues who want to try intermittent fasting.


Intermittent fasting and the keto diet have been associated with cognitive benefits,12 including improved focus, clarity, and overall brain health, and even have neuroprotective effects13 against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The metabolic switch to ketosis during fasting may provide the brain with a more stable and efficient energy source,14 potentially supporting cognitive function and resilience.

Gut Health:

Intermittent fasting may positively impact gut health by promoting a balanced microbial environment.15 The fasting periods allow the digestive system to rest and reset, potentially contributing to improved gut microbiota diversity and overall digestive well-being.

Easy Approach to Health:

The straightforward structure allows individuals to integrate it seamlessly into their lifestyles, fostering long-term adherence and sustainable health benefits.

Drawbacks of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting

Adaptation Period:

One of the primary drawbacks of 16/8 intermittent fasting is the initial adaptation period,16 during which individuals may experience hunger, headaches, fatigue, and irritability.

Note that these symptoms are temporary, and as the body adjusts to the fasting routine, it becomes easier to deal with them.

Social Challenges:

The strict eating and fasting windows of 16/8 intermittent fasting may pose social challenges. Mealtime constraints can disrupt social gatherings, family meals, or work-related events that revolve around traditional eating schedules.

Individual Variability:

Intermittent fasting is not universally applicable, and individual responses can vary widely. While many individuals benefit from this diet plan, some may experience negative effects on mood, energy levels, or overall well-being.

Age, gender, and underlying health conditions can influence how the body responds to fasting.

What to Eat on an Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

Now that we have established that intermittent fasting with the keto diet should be easy to follow, you may be wondering what other foods you can eat during your eating period.

As a general keto rule,17 the macronutrient distribution typically ranges from approximately 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein, and only about 5% to 10% carbohydrates.

To maintain this, here are the food you should have:


  • Beef (preferably grass-fed)
  • Pork (especially loin or tenderloin)
  • Lamb
  • Eggs
  • Poultry (chicken thighs, duck, turkey)
  • Fish (salmon, trout, sardines)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)

Healthy Fats:

  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Pastured meat
  • Pasture butter
  • Organic lard
  • Free-range eggs
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts

Fiber-Rich Vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell peppers

Low-Carb Fruits (in moderation):

  • Avocado
  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Lemons
  • Tomatoes (technically a fruit, low in carbs)

Dairy (if tolerated):

  • Greek yogurt (unsweetened)
  • Cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese)
  • Heavy cream
  • Cottage cheese (in moderation)
  • Butter

Herbs and Spices:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger

Hydrating Beverages:

  • Water
  • Herbal teas (peppermint, chamomile, green tea)
  • Black coffee (plain or with a splash of unsweetened almond milk)

What to Avoid on an Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

Processed Foods:

  • Chips
  • Sugary snacks
  • Packaged convenience foods

Highly Refined Carbohydrates:

  • White bread
  • Pastries
  • Sugary cereals

Excessive Sugars:

  • Candies
  • Sodas
  • Sweetened beverages

Highly Processed Meats:

  • Processed sausages
  • Bacon with added sugars

High-Calorie, Low-Nutrient Foods:

  • Fast food
  • Fried foods
  • High-calorie desserts

Alcohol (in excess):

  • Excessive alcohol intake can interfere with the fasting benefits.

High-Sugar Condiments:

  • Ketchup
  • BBQ sauce
  • Sweet dressings

Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?

While intermittent fasting is safe for most, it is not for everyone. One should strictly consider health status, lifestyle, goals, and individual preferences before getting into intermittent fasting.

Moreover, people with certain health conditions should first consult medical advice before getting into any diet plan. These include the following population:

  • People with diabetes
  • People with other blood sugar or lipid metabolism problems
  • Are taking medications
  • Have low blood pressure
  • Are already underweight
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

Essential Meal Planning Tips to Start 16/8 Intermittent Fasting

Starting 16/8 Intermittent Fasting requires thoughtful meal planning to maximize its benefits. Here are essential tips to ease the transition:

  1. Balanced Nutrition: During the 8-hour eating window, prioritize nutrient-dense foods and avoid processed foods.
  2. Hydration: Stay hydrated, especially during fasting periods to help curb hunger and support overall well-being.
  3. Meal Timing: Experiment with different eating window timings to find what suits your daily routine best. Some individuals prefer a noon to 8 p.m. window, while others may choose a later timeframe. Tailor the schedule to fit your lifestyle.
  4. Avoid Stress: Stress results in hormonal imbalance, which often leads to weight gain.
  5. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is a powerful tool to maintain body metabolism, so proper and quality sleep is essential in getting into intermittent fasting.

The Bottom Line

16/8 Intermittent Fasting is a structured eating pattern with a 16-hour fasting window followed by an 8-hour eating window. It may offer benefits like weight loss, improved metabolic health, and cellular repair.

However, individual suitability varies; consultation with a healthcare professional is advisable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best eating plan for intermittent fasting?

The 16/8 balanced approach eating plan has shown to be the best and most effective method of intermittent fasting.

What should I eat during intermittent fasting?

Focus on whole foods such as lean meats, fatty fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated with water, herbal teas, and black coffee. Consider a keto-friendly approach for added benefits.

What is the eating schedule during intermittent fasting?

The 16/8 method typically involves a 16-hour fasting and an 8-hour eating window. The timing can vary; for example, eating from noon to 8 p.m. and fasting from 8 p.m. to noon the next day.

What is the food idea for intermittent fasting?

Plan meals rich in protein and healthy fats to support satiety. Incorporate low-carb vegetables and, if desired, small portions of low-carb fruits. Choose nutrient-dense options that align with your dietary preferences and goals.


1Brocchi, A., Rebelos, E., Dardano, A., Mantuano, M., & Daniele, G. (2022). Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain Metabolism. Nutrients, 14(6). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061275

2Anton, S. D., Moehl, K., Donahoo, W. T., Marosi, K., Lee, S., Leeuwenburgh, C., & Mattson, M. P. (2018). Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 26(2), 254. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22065

3Welton, S., Minty, R., Willms, H., Poirier, D., Madden, S., & Kelly, L. (2020). Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review. Canadian Family Physician, 66(2), 117-125. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7021351/

4Sanvictores T, Casale J, Huecker MR. Physiology, Fasting. [Updated 2023 Jul 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534877/

5Shabkhizan, R., Haiaty, S., Moslehian, M. S., Bazmani, A., Sadeghsoltani, F., Bagheri, H. S., Rahbarghazi, R., & Sakhinia, E. (2023). The Beneficial and Adverse Effects of Autophagic Response to Caloric Restriction and Fasting. Advances in Nutrition, 14(5), 1211-1225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.advnut.2023.07.006

6Locatelli, A. G., & Cenci, S. (2022). Autophagy and longevity: Evolutionary hints from hyper-longevous mammals. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2022.1085522

7Keenan, S., Cooke, M. B., & Belski, R. (2020). The Effects of Intermittent Fasting Combined with Resistance Training on Lean Body Mass: A Systematic Review of Human Studies. Nutrients, 12(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082349

8Vasim, I., Majeed, C. N., & DeBoer, M. D. (2022). Intermittent Fasting and Metabolic Health. Nutrients, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030631

9Albosta, M., & Bakke, J. (2021). Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? A review of the literature and guide for primary care physicians. Clinical diabetes and endocrinology, 7(1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40842-020-00116-1

10Yuan, X., Wang, J., Yang, S., Gao, M., Cao, L., Li, X., Hong, D., Tian, S., & Sun, C. (2022). Effect of Intermittent Fasting Diet on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Insulin Resistance in Patients with Impaired Glucose and Lipid Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of endocrinology, 2022, 6999907. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/6999907

11Cienfuegos, S., Corapi, S., Gabel, K., Ezpeleta, M., Kalam, F., Lin, S., Pavlou, V., & Varady, K. A. (2022). Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Reproductive Hormone Levels in Females and Males: A Review of Human Trials. Nutrients, 14(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14112343

12Gudden, J., Vasquez, A. A., & Bloemendaal, M. (2021). The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function. Nutrients, 13(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13093166

13Morrison, S. A., Fazeli, P. L., Gower, B., Willig, A. L., Younger, J., Sneed, N. M., & Vance, D. E. (2020). Cognitive Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Neurocognitive Impairment in Adults Aging with HIV: A Pilot Study. The Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care : JANAC, 31(3), 312. https://doi.org/10.1097/JNC.0000000000000110

14Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutrition, Trauma, and the Brain; Erdman J, Oria M, Pillsbury L, editors. Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. 11, Ketogenic Diet. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209323/

15Pérez-Gerdel, T., Camargo, M., Alvarado, M., & Ramírez, J. D. (2023). Impact of Intermittent Fasting on the Gut Microbiota: A Systematic Review. Advanced biology, 7(8), e2200337. https://doi.org/10.1002/adbi.202200337

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17Masood W, Annamaraju P, Khan Suheb MZ, et al. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2023 Jun 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.

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