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Intermittent Fasting: How It Works, Meal-Planning & More

Fasting is all the rage these days – and for good reason. Research shows that it can have a positive impact on blood sugar regulation in some people, and help other people achieve their weight loss, body composition, or overall health goals.

If intermittent fasting sounds like something you’d like to try, you can definitely find an intermittent fasting meal plan that works well for you! Today, we’re diving into how to set up your intermittent fasting meal plan, what to consider, and what to expect. (And stick around to the end to learn how Noom can help you achieve your health goals, whatever diet you choose.)

Benefits & science of intermittent fasting

Whenever you’re trying to do something kind of hard, you need a good reason to keep going. Not eating for long stretches of time is hard, so we’re giving you some food for thought to chew on. Intermittent fasting has been linked to:

And the best part is that you don’t need to necessarily cut out any of the foods you’re currently eating. 

The reasons why intermittent fasting works so well are quite complex. To put it in a nutshell: when you eat food, your body produces insulin to process the food and move sugar into your cells to be used as energy. When you eat lots of small meals throughout the day, your insulin level never really drops. That means that your body always has enough sugar to burn and doesn’t need to use up fat sources. 

Furthermore, your digestive tract never really catches a break. But breaks are helpful for the gut biome to stay in balance. This is necessary for both good digestion and a strong immune system. 

What counts as intermittent fasting? 

While the most common method prohibits calorie intake between during a 16 hour time window each day (for instance between 8pm and noon), some people consume all their daily calories within a six or even just a four hour window. This method is usually called 16/8 or 18/6 method, depending on your rhythm. 

Apart from fasting for a longer period each day, it is also possible to fast for two 24-hour windows per week. This method is often referred to as “eat-stop-eat”. 

The basics of meal planning

Have you ever been too busy to eat breakfast? Then you know what often happens when you skip a meal – you might overload your plate the next time you get around to eating. When you skip meals or even entire days, your remaining meals will get a little larger. However, the total amount of calories you eat should not exceed your daily requirements. 

This is where your meal plan comes into play. Good planning is half the battle – so let’s get you started with some meal ideas. Eating healthy food that keeps you satisfied for many hours is essential for your success with intermittent fasting. 

Remember, no foods are technically forbidden, but sticking to nutritious, high-protein meals will help! 

Option one: 16/8 meal plan 

Monday

  • Noon: Pasta with spinach, chicken, and tomato sauce
  • 3pm: Avocado toast
  • By 8pm: Red lentil curry with rice

Tuesday

  • Noon: Salmon or tofu steak with sweet potatoes and asparagus
  • 3pm: Banana ice cream topped with chocolate chips
  • By 8pm: Potato soup and a side salad

Wednesday

  • Noon: Hard boiled eggs, pita, veggies, and hummus
  • 3pm: Apple slices with almond butter
  • By 8pm: Big green salad with chicken, avocado, almonds, and lemon dressing

Thursday 

  • Noon: Broccoli soup, bread, and a side salad
  • 3pm: Smoothie with banana, cashew butter, spinach, and almond milk
  • By 8pm: Red vegetable curry with tofu or chicken and quinoa 

Friday 

  • Noon: Gnocchi with pesto and a side salad
  • 3pm: Dried mango and almonds
  • By 8pm: Chili sin or con carne

Saturday 

  • Noon: Mixed veggies, chicken or tofu, and rice topped with soy sauce and sriracha
  • 3pm: Trail mix
  • By 8pm: Beef or seitan steak with steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes

Sunday 

  • Noon: Chickpea salad with lemon dressing and a green smoothie
  • 3pm: Dark chocolate
  • By 8pm: Spaghetti with meatballs or lentil sauce and a side salad

Option two: “Eat-Stop-Eat”

To modify the meal plan above to fit the eat-stop-eat scheme, simply replace the afternoon snack by breakfast and skip two days of eating, such as outlined below: 

Monday 

  • Breakfast: Overnight oats with berries and almonds
  • Lunch: Pasta with spinach, chicken, and tomato sauce
  • Dinner: Red lentil curry with rice

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs or tofu with mushrooms and bell pepper 
  • Lunch: Salmon or tofu steak with sweet potatoes and asparagus
  • Dinner: Potato soup and a side salad

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Avocado toast
  • Lunch: Hard boiled eggs, pita, veggies, and hummus
  • Dinner until 7pm: Big green salad with chicken, avocado, almonds, and lemon dressing

Thursday – fasting day 

  • Dinner after 7pm: Red vegetable curry with tofu or chicken and quinoa 

Friday 

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs or tofu with mushrooms and bell pepper
  • Lunch: Gnocchi with pesto and a side salad
  • Dinner: Chili sin or con carne 

Saturday 

  • Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions
  • Lunch: Mixed veggies, chicken or tofu, and rice topped with soy sauce and sriracha
  • Dinner before 7pm: Beef or seitan steak with steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes

Sunday – fasting day 

  • Dinner after 7pm: Spaghetti with meatballs or lentil sauce and a side salad

It’s important to remember that intermittent fasting has the same downside as every other diet: It only works as long as you can stick to it. Eventually, when you give up the diet, you’ll probably gain back the weight you lost – and lose whatever other benefits the diet offered. 

Noom is different. If intermittent fasting is the path you want to follow, we can give you the coaching, community support, and recipe ideas that make it possible. We’ll also help you explore if whether this is a sustainable option for you. With Noom, you’re never limited by rigid plans or strict diets. Our team of nutrition and psychology experts can help you find sustainable, long-term solutions that are flexible enough to meet your lifestyle while still delivering the incredible health benefits you’re looking for. Come learn what we’re all about!