16/8 intermittent fasting 7-day meal plan for beginners
Intermittent fasting (IF) can be super effective for losing weight and can have profound health benefits.
But to unlock those benefits, we need more than just fasting. We need guidance on what to eat and the ability to hit those high-quality food choices more often than not.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how to kick butt at 16/8 intermittent fasting with a well-constructed, goal-aligned, health-promoting, 7-day meal plan.
We’ll dive into what 16/8 intermittent fasting is all about and how to write a meal plan that can take your IF results to the next level.
- 16/8 intermittent fasting is a popular fasting method where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window.
- You get to choose the fasting and eating window that best suits your lifestyle.
- During the 16-hour fasting period, you can drink water, black coffee, or unsweetened tea.
- There are many benefits of 16/8 fasting, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and inflammation.
- Eating foods that support your goals is key to getting the most out of 16/8 intermittent fasting.
16/8 intermittent fasting 7-day meal plan
Having a meal plan that takes out the guesswork around what to eat during intermittent fasting can be the difference between hitting your goals and not.
So we thought to ourselves, how can we help here? We can teach you how to write an intermittent fasting meal plan, of course, but could we do better? This is what we came up with:
A satisfying, balanced, easy-to-follow 16/8 intermittent fasting 7-day meal plan that does all the thinking for you, so you can simply focus on prepping and eating!
Following this intermittent fasting 16/8 meal plan will not only make it easier to stick to your new fasting schedule, but it will also ensure that you are properly fueling your body.
Click here to download this image as a printable PDF.
Let’s be clear, this is simply an initial blueprint for you to customize to your tastes. Feel free to make adjustments as you learn what you like and don’t like, what keeps you full, what’s easy to prepare, and so on. For example, if:
- you’re vegetarian or vegan, swap in more plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh
- quinoa gives you a grumpy belly, brown rice, bulgar wheat, or barley are solid switcheroos
- shrimp gives you the ick, all seafood options (as well as any other lean protein you enjoy) are on the table
What is intermittent fasting 16/8?
As we’ve seen, intermittent fasting on a 16/8 split involves abstaining from food for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window.
How you schedule this is completely your call. Want to have your last meal at 6 PM and breakfast at 10 AM the next day? Cool. Or maybe you’d prefer to eat dinner later, say 8 PM, and fast till the following midday. Whatever works for you works.
During the fasting period, ideally no calories shall pass your lips. However, drinking plenty of water will be crucial. If plain water doesn’t float your boat, we’ve got more ideas on what you can drink while fasting here (black coffee, all the teas you can imagine, even a couple diet sodas — all good to go).
Once the fasting period is over, you’ll have eight eating hours to meet all your nutrition needs. 16/8 fasting is designed to be used as a tool to improve your health and take care of your body, so be sure to eat enough calories and nutrients to support your health and well-being — even if your goal is to lose weight. (Eating too little is one of the reasons why, for some people, intermittent fasting feels like it’s not working.)
How does intermittent fasting 16/8 work?
Intermittent fasting 16/8 works for weight loss because it allows your body to enter ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose (aka sugar).
When you’re eating as normal, your body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which is your main source of energy. When you fast, though, your body burns through your stored glucose, and so it has to switch to using your fat stores instead.
By eating your meals in a shorter window, you also have less time to eat your usual amount of food. Maybe that after-dinner snack gets skipped, and over time your hunger and fullness cues adjust to be satisfied with smaller meals.
Benefits of 16/8 intermittent fasting
Let’s check out how intermittent fasting can benefit your health. The 16/8 fasting method is well studied, and there’s a fair amount of evidence to show that intermittent fasting this way can have some positive effects.
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight by reducing how much you eat.
If you’re wondering, “Does intermittent fasting slow metabolism?” that’s a great question! Truth is, all weight loss may eventually slow our metabolism. But for IF specifically, the evidence currently isn’t conclusive. Some studies show that it doesn’t , whilst others show that it might. But consuming enough protein and doing regular strength training alongside IF seems to help.
Better blood sugar levels
Intermittent fasting 16/8 can improve your body’s response to insulin, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes and other health problems, like metabolic syndrome.
Intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with many chronic conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Improve heart health
Following a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule may help to improve systolic blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduce our risk of heart disease.
If all these benefits have you itching to start your intermittent fasting journey, take our SIMPLE quiz, and get started today!
Risks of 16/8 intermittent fasting
As with anything in life, there are some risks to be aware of. Before you jump into 16/8 intermittent fasting, let’s take a look.
Hunger and cravings
Going for a long period without eating can make you hungry, irritable, and full of hard-to-ignore cravings. These intermittent fasting side effects are par for the course when you’re getting started, but they will calm down. (Especially if you are being consistent.)
You can help this process along by doing a couple things. Eat a full, varied diet during your eating window and notice which foods trigger your hunger and cravings and which settle them. Eat more of these helpful, hunger-n-craving-settling foods, and over time both will show up less.
Here’s something that’ll help with hunger, irritability, and headaches:
Drink lots of fluids.
If you don’t get enough, you risk becoming dehydrated when you’re fasting. So drink up, and feel free to make your water fancy using herbal teas, fruit slices, and good old coffee!
Low blood sugar
If you have diabetes or other health conditions that influence your blood sugar levels, don’t try IF unless you have your doctor’s permission, as fasting will naturally cause your blood sugar levels to drop.
Because of the shortened eating window, it can be harder to get all the nutrients you need to thrive.
That said, this is exactly the situation a well-put-together meal plan can help someone following intermittent fasting 16/8 avoid!
Intermittent fasting may trigger disordered eating behaviors for some. Not everyone gets on well with having “rules” around eating. So if intermittent fasting doesn’t help you feel confident and at ease with your eating habits, give it a pass.
What should I eat during 16/8 fasting?
First off, let’s briefly cover what to eat during the fasting window by learning what breaks a fast. Here’s the TL;DR version: Anything with calories breaks a fast. So what to eat during the fast itself? Nada. (Calorie-free beverages are very much your friend here.)
Now let’s think about what to put into your meal plan for the eating window, to help you hit your goals as well as feel and perform at your best. To get the most from the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting, include the following in your 7-day meal plan:
Apples, bananas, berries, oranges, peaches, pears, etc. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help keep your gut happy and boost your health.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, leafy greens, etc. These foods are low in calories and high in nutrients, particularly fiber, that help keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
Chicken, fish, turkey, tofu, etc. Packed with essential amino acids, these foods help you build and repair muscle tissue, in addition to keeping you feeling full.
Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, etc. These complex carbohydrates will provide you with sustained energy, helping you curb hunger pangs and stay satisfied for longer.
Avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, etc. Chock full of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and improve health.
Calcium rich foods
Live yogurt, kefir, cheese, cow’s milk, fortified plant-based milks, tofu, etc. These are great sources of calcium, which are key for keeping our bones strong. Calcium is important at all ages, but especially when trying to lay the foundations of bone mass throughout our 20s and for women in their 50s and beyond.
You’ll notice these foods run through the 16/8 intermittent fasting 7-day meal plan PDF we shared with you earlier.
What should I avoid during 16/8 fasting?
When you’re new to fasting, it’s easy to fall into some classic intermittent fasting mistakes, like making food choices that trip you up or eating more than you need due to oversized hunger.
If this happens to you, no sweat! We’ve all been there. Over time, so long as you get to know which foods don’t help you reach your goals, it becomes easier to eat less of them.
Some of the usual goal-thwarting suspects include:
- drinks like soda, alcohol, and fruit juice
- high sugar and fat foods, like cakes, candy, and chocolate
- ultra-processed foods, like deli meats, chips, and ready-made meals
Nothing is off-limits, and we’re certainly not here to tell you what you can and can’t eat. This is simply a list of foods that often get in the way of goals like losing weight. If you can, aim to eat these foods less often, and your results will likely speed up.
Is intermittent fasting right for you?
If you’re a newcomer to IF, even with a supersonic meal plan, intermittent fasting 16/8-style might be a stretch too far. For you, maybe a gentler fasting protocol, like 12/12 or 14/10, could work well. (Our intermittent fasting for beginners could be a useful resource too.)
If you don’t like the idea of fasting every day, you might prefer the 5:2 diet, where you only fast for two days each week, or alternate day fasting, where you fast every other day. (For both of these, fasting means eating only 500/600 calories.)
If you’re already into intermittent fasting and looking for something a little tougher, you could try eating across a 6-hour window and then fasting for 18 hours, as described in the 18/6 intermittent fasting plan, or hit the 20-hour fast of intermittent fasting 20/4.
(There are a few IF plans we wouldn’t suggest you try, too, like eat stop eat, water fasting, and OMAD. These are very restrictive and make it pretty tricky to support your body nutritionally.)
Not everyone’s body responds the same way to fasting, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for your body and lifestyle. Get started with our SIMPLE quiz, and we’ll help get you on the right path.
One final important note here: intermittent fasting isn’t the right fit for everyone. Make sure you have your doctor’s permission before you try it if you:
- are under 18 or over 65 yrs old
- have a medical condition
- take prescription medications
- have a Body Mass Index (BMI) < 18.5
- have (or are at risk of having) an eating disorder, or have a history of one
- are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive
- are extremely active
5 beginner’s tips for success when meal planning for 16/8 intermittent fasting
Learning how to meal plan can feel like a daunting task. Making a 7-day meal plan that works for intermittent fasting even more so. It’s not something we learn at school, huh?
That’s OK. You can get started with your intermittent fasting using the meal plan for 16/8 we gave you. Once you’re in the swing of things, use these tips to help you meal plan for success.
Factor in hydration
Sometimes we focus so much on the food that we forget to drink! Just as you would explore what you like to eat and which foods make you feel good — do the same with drinks.
Figure out your meal frequency
For some, a couple meals a day works great. For others, spreading their food out over three meals and a snack or two is ideal. Find what works for you and plan accordingly.
Get creative with your meals
Your meals don’t have to be the same every day or every week. Break out your creative side, try some recipes, and add some spice to your life!
Make your life easier
Every solid meal plan has some staple meals and snacks in rotation — it doesn’t always have to be about being creative and different. Find the meals you love, the recipes you can cook blindfolded, and the easy grab-and-go snacks for busy days and pepper them into your meal plans.
Book your planning and prep time
Part of winning at meal planning is having your food-prep steps factored into your life. Book some time in your calendar to plan, shop, and prep what you need.
SIMPLE’s expert opinion and final thoughts
If you’re ready to try something new to hit your health / weight loss goals, 16/8 intermittent fasting may just be the solution you’ve been looking for.
And, if you add meal planning to the mix, you can take it to the next level.
Limiting your eating window to eight hours a day and packing your diet full of nutritious, delicious food gives you a double whammy of both burning fat and optimizing your health.
If you’re curious to give it a try, take our SIMPLE quiz, and get started today!
Frequently asked questions about 16/8 intermittent fasting & a 7-day meal plan
How much weight can I lose with 16/8 intermittent fasting in a week?
How much weight you can lose with 16/8 intermittent fasting in a week comes down to various factors like your current weight, lifestyle, food choices, activity level, and so on. On the whole, shooting for around 1–2 lbs. per week is a safe bet.
What should I eat on a 16/8 fasting meal plan?
On a 16/8 fasting meal plan, you can eat whatever you want. That said, we recommend health-promoting, nutrient-rich whole foods to keep you satisfied, energized, and feeling good.
How to lose weight in 7 days with intermittent fasting?
How to lose weight in 7 days with intermittent fasting: aim to lose a pound or two, make healthful food choices, and move your body. To get more of a handle on this, check out our guide to fat loss vs. weight loss.
How many meals can you eat while 16/8 fasting?
You can eat as many meals as you want while 16/8 fasting — it’s all about finding what works best for you and your goals.
Can I eat whatever I want after 16 hours of fasting?
Yes, you can eat whatever you want after 16 hours of fasting. That said, it’s important to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs. So, go ahead and enjoy your favorite foods, but be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein too!
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