Blog > Dietary meal plans

Beginner Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan: Benefits & Tips for Success

Beginner Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

Intermittent fasting is a weight management program that involves eating within a specific time window and fasting the rest of the time. It can be an effective way to manage your weight but comes with loads of other benefits, including better health, hormonal balance and longevity. Our beginner intermittent fasting meal plan tips can help you understand better this dietary regimen, so you can choose the right way of applying it safely to your daily life.

There are loads of different intermittent fasting approaches to pick from, in terms of the number of fast days and the calorie allowances. Such variations mean you can find one that works for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Intermittent fasting offers a flexible approach to eating patterns, allowing you to choose a schedule that fits your lifestyle.
  • It can be an effective tool for weight management, as it often leads to a reduced calorie intake and may help with weight loss.
  • Intermittent fasting has been associated with several health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and potential longevity advantages.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that moves through periods of fasting and eating. There are no specifics about the type of foods you should eat. Instead, it specifies when you should eat, hence the name eating pattern rather than diet.

It involves periods of entirely or partially abstaining from eating. Common intermittent fasting methods include fasting for 24 hours, twice a week, or daily 16-hour fasts.

We’ve been fasting throughout human evolution and have evolved to function without food for extended periods. Fasting from time to time is more natural than the 3-4 or more meals we tend to eat now.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Image by Kiwilimon Recipes

There are several different roads you can take on your intermittent fasting journey. Pick the right one for you depending on your lifestyle and goals. Let’s look at the most popular approaches.

5:2 Fasting

With this approach, you eat normally for five days a week and for the other two, you cut back to 20% of your normal daily calorie intake.

16:8 Fasting

The 16:8 method involves fasting every day for 16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to eight hours. Typically, this means not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast, eating between noon and 8 pm, for example.

14:10 Fasting

This method is remarkably like the previous method but involves fasting for a 14-hour window and eating for 10. It’s a little easier to stick to because the eating window is longer.

Eat-Stop-Eat Plan

With this method, you fast for a full 24 hours a couple of times a week, however, the fasting days shouldn’t be in a row.

Alternate Day Fasting

As you can imagine, this method involves fasting every other day. There are different versions of this plan, some allowing five hundred calories on the fasting days while others encourage you to eat fewer or close to zero calories on your fasting days.

5 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Image by Harvard

The research into intermittent fasting is limited, but there have been some promising results. According to recent studies, you can expect the following benefits if you follow an intermittent fasting (IF) plan.

1. Weight management: IF can help you lose weight and belly fat, without the need to consciously restrict calories. 2. Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31%. Such reductions should protect against type 2 diabetes. 3. Heart health: IF may reduce “bad” LDL blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, and blood sugar, which are all risk factors for heart disease.
4. Healthy aging: Intermittent fasting can have a positive effect on longevity. 5. Brain health: IF increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Intermittent fasting is not something anyone needs to do, however, it’s great for some people, not others. The best way to find out which group you’re in is to try it out. If you feel good when fasting and find it’s a sustainable way to eat, you might also find it an immensely powerful tool for losing weight and improving your health.

Preparation for Intermittent Fasting

If you’re preparing for intermittent fasting, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

How Should a Beginner Start Intermittent Fasting?

For a beginner starting intermittent fasting, it’s crucial to set realistic goals and ease into the practice. Begin with a simple and sustainable approach, such as the 16:8 method. Adjust your fasting period to align with your daily routine, whether that’s skipping breakfast or dinner, and gradually extend the fasting duration as your body adapts. Listen to your body, stay hydrated, and focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods during your eating window to maximize the benefits.

Be prepared for potential challenges, such as hunger and irritability initially, but they often subside as your body adjusts. Remember, consistency and patience are key to a successful intermittent fasting journey.

7 Tips for Intermittent Fasting Success

Here are some practical tips for beginners that will help make intermittent fasting more manageable.

  • Start your fast correctly: The best way is to have a low-carb meal, with healthy fats and high-quality protein. This allows your body to activate satiety hormones that have long-term effects and mean you won’t experience hunger for a long time.
  • Stay hydrated: When you’re fasting, your body requires extra hydration because low levels of insulin lead to slight dehydration. Alcohol, however, is not recommended while fasting.
  • Take salt or drink mineral water: When you fast, your body is actively using your stored reserves of minerals, so you need to replace them. If you don’t replace them, their deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Good sleep: A good night’s sleep is essential when you’re fasting. Poor sleep decreases the beneficial effects of fasting and makes you hungry.
  • Drink tea and coffee: Tea, especially green tea, and coffee have important antioxidants to fight inflammation in the body as well as natural hunger suppressant components.
  • Supplements: Some supplements can help you through fasting, for example, magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc.
  • Listen to your body: Eat more some days, eat less on others. Vary your window length and live your life. Trust your satiety signals.

Perfect for your beginner intermittent fasting meal plan are Cookunity's fresh and healthy dishes, prepared with love by top chefs near you! Order our low-calorie meal delivery service today to help you get the right nutrients during your fasting window! From local specialties to seasonal meals, Cookunity's flexible weekly meal delivery services cater for everyone's taste and dietary needs!

Related: 15 High Protein Meal Prep Ideas to Achieve Your Nutritional Goals

A Beginner's Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

A Beginner's Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

-Image by_ Mariska Richters

Embarking on an intermittent fasting journey as a beginner can be both exciting and challenging. Crafting a well-balanced meal plan is essential to ensure you make the most of this approach. In this next section, we’ll provide some ideas to help you navigate the fasting and eating windows while nourishing your body with wholesome, satisfying foods. Take your step toward a healthier, more mindful way of eating and living.

What Is the Best Intermittent Fasting Diet for Beginners?

You might want to start with the 16:8 method first. Many people consider this the simplest and most sustainable way of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting Meal Ideas

Here is a sample meal plan for a full day of intermittent fasting for beginners, with balanced and nutritious meals within the fasting window. Remember to stay hydrated with water, herbal teas, or black coffee during fasting hours.

Fasting Window (16 hours)

Hydration: Start the day with a glass of water and sip of herbal tea or black coffee throughout the morning to stay hydrated and curb your appetite.

Eating Window (8 hours)

Savory Crepes with Spinach

Image by Cookunity

Breakfast (12:00 PM)

  • Scrambled Eggs with Spinach: A protein-rich choice to keep you feeling full
  • Whole-Grain Toast: High in Fiber for sustained energy

Or why not save time and order Cookunity's Savory Crepes with Creamy Spinach, or Pumpkin Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon, both perfect for a nutritious high-protein breakfast.

Lunch (3:00 PM)

Snack (5:00 PM)

  • Greek Yogurt with Berries: A protein-packed snack to keep you satisfied until dinner

Dinner (8:00 PM)

  • Baked Salmon: Rich in healthy omega-3 fats and protein
  • Steamed Broccoli: A nutrient-sense, low-calorie side
  • Brown Rice: A complex carbohydrate for sustained energy

Hydration: Keep drinking water, herbal tea, or black coffee throughout the evening. Avoid sugary or calorie-laden beverages.

Related: 15 High Protein Vegetables You Should Add to Your Diet

What Is the Best Food to Break an Intermittent Fast?

The best way to break an intermittent fast is with foods that are gentle on your digestive system while providing essential nutrients. Opt for light, easily digestible options to prevent discomfort and sudden blood sugar spikes.

Start with a serving of Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries. The yogurt is rich in probiotics, aiding digestion, and the berries offer antioxidants and fiber. A small bowl of oatmeal made with water or unsweetened almond milk is another excellent choice. It provides complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients.

Another option is a vegetable-based soup or salad with a lean protein source, like chicken or tofu. These options are low in calories, which helps you control portion sizes and prevent overeating.

When breaking your fast, remember the importance of portion control and mindful eating. Savor your food, eat slowly, and pay attention to hunger and fullness cues. This will ensure a satisfying yet healthy transition back into eating mode.

Related: How to Meal Prep a Salad: Dos & Don'ts (+ Recipes)

Common Intermittent Fasting Mistakes to Avoid

Intermittent Fasting Mistakes to Avoid

Image by Insider

Reducing your eating time may sound simple enough, but you can easily break your fast if you don’t do your research. Here are some of the most common mistakes made with intermittent fasting.

  • Not easing into it: If you normally eat every three to four hours and then suddenly shrink your eating period to an eight-hour window, you’ll likely feel hungry all the time and very discouraged.
  • Consuming too many calories: It can be easy to overeat when a fast breaks because you’re feeling ravenous or to justify yourself that you’re making up for lost calories.
  • Drinking soda: The carbonation in soda can mask your feeling of hunger, which sets you up for being too hungry at your next meal and leads you to overeat.
  • Not keeping track of water intake: In general, you should drink around two liters of water per day.
  • Breaking a fast with low-protein, low-fiber foods: Protein helps you feel full and maintain your metabolically active lean body mass. Fiber slows the digestion and absorption of the carbs you eat, so you stay full and energized for longer between meals.
  • Going too extreme: There’s no need to starve yourself. Taking in less than 1,200 calories per day might cause greater weight loss, but also greater bone and muscle loss, which is not healthy or sustainable.
  • Being too rigid: Intermittent fasting is less of a diet and more of a new way of thinking about and consuming food. It’s not a rigid program but should feel like a natural part of your routine.
  • Giving up: Don’t throw in the towel or beat yourself up just because you’ve eaten at the wrong time. You won’t undo all your work with one meal.

Intermittent Fasting: Safety and Considerations

Intermittent fasting is generally safe for healthy and well-nourished individuals. However, people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney stones, gastroesophageal reflux, diabetes, or other medical problems, should talk with their doctor before starting.

To make intermittent fasting safer, it is recommended to choose a plan that suits your individual metabolism and activity levels, drink plenty of water, eat nutrient-dense whole foods, increase your salt intake, and eat more fat.

Side effects of intermittent fasting can include hunger, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, and headaches. However, these tend to go away within a month.

Beginner Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan: FAQs

Q: How many hours should a beginner intermittent fast?

A: For beginners, it’s often recommended to start with a 12-hour fast. This is because the fasting window is small, much of the fasting occurs during sleep, and you can consume the same number of calories each day. Once you’re comfortable with 12-hour fasts, you can slowly lengthen the time of the fast.

Q: Does coffee break a fast?

A: Coffee does not break a fast, as long as it’s black and contains no calories, carbs, or protein.

Q: Why am I not losing weight on 16:8 fasting?

A: There are many potential reasons why you’re not losing weight including:

  • Not being in a calorie deficit
  • Not following the protocol correctly
  • Not getting enough sleep or exercise
  • Being resistant to weight loss

Q: Can you drink Coke Zero while intermittent fasting?

A: Technically, you can drink Coke Zero because it has no calories. However, the scientific community is debating the impact of artificial sweeteners, like those in Coke Zero, on two key components: insulin and hunger.


Before embarking on a beginner’s intermittent fasting journey, keep a few key takeaways in mind. Start with a straightforward, well-balanced meal plan, ensuring your meals are rich in nutrients and satisfying to maintain your energy throughout your fasting window. Remember to stay hydrated, embrace a gradual transition, and listen to your body’s cues for hunger and fullness.