Since intermittent fasting is about when you eat rather than what you eat — and you get to customize the experience according to your needs, goals, lifestyle, and preferences — it can be an ideal food routine for people who don’t love complicated shopping lists and micromanaging calories, nutrients, and ingredients.
But you know that feeling that can happen when you try to choose a TV show to watch or a book to read — the one where you’re simultaneously happily spoiled by and anxiously overwhelmed by extensive options? Choice can be both liberating and intimidating.
That sentiment can be especially true when it comes to figuring out which intermittent fasting recipes will satisfy both your cravings and nutritional needs while also supporting you in whatever goals you have for fasting in the first place.
Whether you’re a seasoned faster or part of the intermittent fasting for beginners camp, and whether you’re recipe hunting for specific scenarios (like fasting recipes for weight loss) or just looking for general intermittent fasting menu ideas, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite fasting recipes to help you maximize the fasting experience and boost your overall health without compromising on flavor, enjoyment, or well-being.
- What and when you eat during intermittent fasting is your choice.
- No food is completely off-limits during intermittent fasting, but you want to ensure you’re giving your body all the nutrition it needs.
- That means finding fasting food ideas for your eating windows built around health-promoting, nutrient-dense ingredients like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- A successful intermittent fasting schedule is one you can stick to without causing yourself stress or hassle — so make sure to be kind to yourself, choose recipes that involve foods you actually enjoy, and leave room for mindful indulgences.
- Some eating routines aren’t for everyone, so before you make any changes to what, when, and how you eat, you should always check with your healthcare provider.
Scheduling meals while intermittent fasting
We aren’t stuck in a high school cafeteria here (phew!): Scheduling and planning recipes for intermittent fasting isn’t like only having access to a handful of meal options and only being able to eat during the same specified window every day. You (and your nutritional needs, fasting goals, personal preferences, lifestyle factors, daily schedule, and budget considerations) get to determine when and how you approach each eating window.
Need a hearty breakfast to incentivize waking up? Have a lighter, earlier dinner rather than forcing yourself to fast through both the night and your favorite meal time. Can’t eat dinner until 8 p.m., and munching while watching a soothing baking show is crucial to your sanity? Start fasting after that and break it at lunchtime the next day.
There are endless ways you can tailor your fasting schedule to work for you, and it may take some trial and error to figure out your ideal fit. Plus, no matter what or when you eat, intermittent fasting may not be safe or right for you, so we always recommend speaking with your primary care provider before making any changes to your eating habits or testing out our intermittent fasting meal ideas below.
If fasting is on the table for you, we’re ready to help you set it according to your needs and wants. Let us get to know you through our SIMPLE quiz, and we’ll explain the basics (like what to eat during intermittent fasting and what you can drink while fasting) before guiding you in how to build a meal plan around health-promoting ingredients that fuel your unique body, mind, and soul.
Intermittent fasting recipes
When it comes to meal ideas for intermittent fasting, there are two things to keep in mind for achieving the best results and benefitting your overall health:
- prioritizing nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean and plant-based protein, dairy (or calcium-fortified, dairy-free foods), and healthy fats like nuts and seeds; and
- limiting processed foods, refined carbs, and trans / saturated fats.
You also want to meet your daily caloric needs (which you can estimate with our calorie counter) and get everything you need during your eating windows to support you through your fasting windows.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes to get you started.
Protein helps preserve muscle mass and keeps you feeling full and satisfied by supporting both stable blood sugar and steady energy levels.[1,2] Packing some lean protein into your breakfast (or whatever meal is your first of the day) will be a powerful kickstart to your eating window.
Breakfast pie (serves 2)
1 can of tuna, drained and flaked
6 cups (~200 g) spinach
2 cups (~200 g) grated cheese
1 onion, chopped
drizzle of olive oil
oregano, salt, and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. In a skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until translucent (~5–10 mins).
3. Add spinach to the skillet and cook until wilted (~2 mins).
4. In a bowl, beat eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Place one tortilla at the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle half the cheese over the tortilla.
6. Add the second tortilla on top of the cheese layer.
7. Spread the sautéed spinach evenly over the tortilla.
8. Sprinkle tuna over the spinach layer.
9. Pour beaten eggs over tuna and spinach.
10. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, followed by a pinch of oregano.
11. Bake in preheated oven for about 25–30 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted and golden. Cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Nutrition information (per serving):
– Calories: ~705 kcal
– Protein: ~56.5 g
– Fat: ~43 g
– Carbohydrates: ~19.75 g
No-bake yogurt oat muffins (serves 6)
¾ cup (67 g) quick oats
¾ cup (75 g) almond meal
2 tbsp agave syrup
5 tbsp tahini
¼ cup (36 g) mixed seeds (such as chia seeds, flax seeds, or pepitas)
2 tbsp shredded coconut
18 tbsp soy yogurt (3 tbsp per muffin)
1 cup (175 g) fresh fruit (such as berries or sliced banana)
1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almond meal, agave syrup, tahini, mixed seeds, and shredded coconut. Mix until the mixture sticks together when pressed.
2. Divide the mixture into 6 portions. Press each portion into a muffin cup, ensuring you press firmly into the bottom and sides.
3. Place the muffin tray in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
4. Gently remove each muffin and top with a dollop of soy yogurt and fresh fruit.
Nutrition information (per serving):
– Calories: ~250–300 kcal
– Protein: ~10 g
– Fat: ~20 g
– Carbohydrates: ~15 g
These intermittent fasting lunch ideas could work equally well as dinner options, and you can always swap in different proteins or add a side of roasted veggies for a heartier meal.
1 cup (185 g) quinoa, rinsed
2 cups (473 mL) water
15 oz. can (475 g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup (30 g) spinach, chopped
½ cup (15 g) Italian parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 cup (180 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup (150 g) feta, crumbled
½ cup (60 g) pepitas
For the dressing:
⅓ cup (71 g) olive oil
⅓ cup (95 g) tahini
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
2 cloves garlic, mashed
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a saucepan, add rinsed quinoa and water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on low heat for 15–20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
2. While that’s cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
3. Once the quinoa is cooked, let it cool slightly before transferring to a large jar or salad bowl.
4. Add chickpeas, spinach, parsley, green onion, cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and pepitas to the quinoa.
5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss until well-coated. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to five days.
Nutrition information (whole salad):
– Calories: ~900–1,000 kcal
– Protein: ~35–45 g
– Fat: ~55–60 g
– Carbohydrates: ~75–80 g
Lemon garlic Greek chicken (serves 4)
2 lbs. (907 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup (59 mL) olive oil
1 cup (153 g) Greek yogurt
juice of 1 large lemon (about 2 tbsp)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup (22.5 g) grated parmesan cheese
1. Rinse and pat dry chicken. Transfer to a ziplock bag.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, spices, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan. Reserve ¼ of this mixture and pour the remaining ¾ into the ziplock bag with the chicken. Close the bag and shake / turn to coat chicken on all sides. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. Keep the reserved marinade in the fridge until serving time.
3. When you’re ready to cook your chicken, preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) or your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
4. Bake the marinated chicken for 17–20 minutes or air fry for 12 minutes.
5. To serve, drizzle the remaining marinade over the cooked chicken and use as a dipping sauce.
Nutritional info (per serving):
– Calories: ~ 562–638 kcal
– Protein: ~52–63 g
– Carbohydrates: ~4.5–5.5 g
– Fat: ~36–47 g
Even if you prefer one or two big meals rather than lots of smaller ones, we recommend factoring in a snack or two when you’re thinking of fasting meal ideas in case you get a case of the munchies and want to avoid “snackcidents.”
Garlic parmesan zucchini chips
1 small zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch coins
½ cup (96 g) almond flour
½ cup (45 g) grated parmesan
3 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
2. Combine almond flour, parmesan, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper.
3. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg.
4. Use tongs to coat each zucchini slice in the egg wash before dredging in the coating mixture.
5. Place each coated slice on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy to your liking.
Nutritional info (for the full recipe):
– Calories: ~ 500–600 kcal
– Protein: ~25–30 g
– Carbohydrates: ~35–40 g
– Fat: ~30–35 g
1 tsp matcha powder
1 cup (153 g) Greek yogurt
½ a kiwi
handful of berries
2 tbsp granola
2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
1 tbsp large coconut flakes
1. Combine yogurt with matcha powder and mix well.
2. Place granola, berries, and kiwi on top.
3. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and top with agave / maple syrup.
Nutritional info (for the full bowl):
– Calories: ~470 kcal
– Protein: ~25 g
– Carbohydrates: ~68 g
– Fat: ~10 g
These intermittent fasting dinner ideas could make equally good weekend lunches, too. Just make sure that if dinner is your last meal of the day, you’re getting enough protein and whole grains to keep you full throughout your fasting window.
Miso sweet potato chickpea tacos (serves 2)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1½ inch pieces (about 4 cups or 416 g)
15 oz. can (475 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
drizzle of olive oil
2 tsp Za’atar seasoning
2 tsp mellow white miso
1½ cups grated green cabbage
tzatziki or sauce of your choice
1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
2. Boil sweet potato until tender, then drain and pulse with miso in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
3. Transfer the chickpeas to a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and Za’atar. Toss to coat evenly.
Optional: For crispier chickpeas, rub chickpeas between a dish towel to remove excess moisture before placing on a baking sheet.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing halfway.
Optional: For super crispy chickpeas, broil or grill for 2 more minutes.
5. Spread sweet potato filling on flatbreads and top with chickpeas. Finish with the optional cabbage and/or sauce.
Nutritional info (per serving):
– Calories: ~700–800 kcal
– Protein: ~20–22.5 g
– Carbohydrates: ~120–130 g
– Fat: ~12.5–15 g
Salmon laksa (serves 2)
2 skinless salmon filets
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili flakes, to taste
13.5 oz. (383 mL) can light coconut milk
3.5 oz. (99 g) egg noodles
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 green onion
2 carrots, julienned
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp honey
1 cup (237 mL) chicken stock
Optional, to taste:
crispy chili oil
1. Preheat your oven or air fryer to 390°F (198°C).
2. Season salmon filets with salt, garlic powder, and chili flakes. Air fry for 8 minutes or bake for 12 minutes until cooked.
3. While the salmon is cooking, heat the curry paste for a few minutes in a deep pan over medium heat until you hear it sizzling. Add green onion, soy sauce, and fish sauce and mix until combined.
4. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
5. Mix in peanut butter.
6. Pour in chicken stock and add egg noodles and half of the julienned carrot. Simmer until noodles are softened.
7. Grate in lime zest and add half of its juice along with the honey. Add more lime, soy sauce, or fish sauce to taste.
8. Portion noodles and sauce into bowls. Top each bowl with a salmon filet and fresh carrots. Finish with optional cilantro and chili oil.
Nutritional info (per serving):
– Calories: ~350–400 kcal
– Protein: ~17.5–20 g
– Carbohydrates: ~37.5–42.5 g
– Fat: ~15–17.5 g
If you’re craving a piece of cake, we get that a handful of berries isn’t going to cut it, but there are some nutrient-dense sweet tooth fixes that may be a good compromise if you’re trying to cut back on high-fat, high-sugar desserts.
1 pack tofu (about 2 cups or 248 g)
1½ cups (255 g) dark chocolate chips (75% or darker)
5 pitted medjool dates
½ cup (118 mL) plant-based milk
1. Melt dark chocolate using a water bath or microwave.
2. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
3. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to set before serving.
Nutritional info (for full container):
– Calories: ~433 kcal
– Protein: ~7 g
– Fat: ~24 g
– Carbohydrates: ~54 g
½ cup (100 g) cottage cheese
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup (32g) peanut butter cup protein powder
2 tsp (10g) powdered peanut butter
2 tbsp plant-based sweetener, like stevia (or to taste)
Butterfinger pieces, to taste
1. Blend base ingredients until smooth and pour into a freezer-safe container.
2. Freeze for 24 hours.
3. Run the container under hot water for 30–60 seconds to soften.
4. Process the mixture twice on the light ice cream setting of a blender.
5. Stir in Butterfinger pieces before serving.
Nutrition info (for the whole pint):
– Calories: ~340 kcal
– Protein: ~40.5 g
– Carbohydrates: ~23.5 g
– Fat: ~9.2 g
Whether you’re eating out for a special occasion or just enjoying an average Wednesday night, your eating routine should never feel like a collar that’s on too tight. Remember: you get to choose when and what you eat, and no food choice is inherently bad.
If you eat out regularly but still want to stick to your day-to-day meal plan as much as possible, you can absolutely find ways to channel those intermittent fasting meal ideas into your restaurant order.
Look for dishes that are:
- high in lean protein (like chicken, turkey, beans, lentils, pork, or tofu)
- involve whole grain carbs (like quinoa, brown rice, oats, or whole wheat pasta) rather than refined ones like white rice / bread
- fruit- or vegetable-forward
- roasted, baked, or poached instead of fried
Check out our intermittent fasting food list for a full run-down of health-promoting food choices to seek out on menus.
Meal plans for different types of intermittent fasting
While you can always choose what meals you eat and when — who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner or leftover curry for breakfast? — your menu and how many meals you eat during your eating window may shift depending on what intermittent fasting schedule you follow.
Before you start gathering intermittent fasting food ideas, consider your schedule and think through what meals you will actually need to plan for each week — and don’t forget to factor in any social events, takeout nights, or eating out plans.
Intermittent fasting 12/12 and 14/10
Intermittent fasting 12/12 and intermittent fasting 14/10 only involve slightly extending the natural 7–8 hour fast you have overnight when sleeping. You can probably just squish your standard meals slightly closer together. That means maybe having a slightly later breakfast and an earlier dinner but still meal planning for your standard number of meals.
Intermittent fasting 16/8
Intermittent fasting 16/8 involves a slightly longer fast and a slightly shorter eating window, so you may need to skip a meal … but you don’t have to.
Intermittent fasting 18/6
For intermittent fasting 18/6 — or for any schedule where you’re fasting for 18 or more hours (which we don’t recommend unless you’ve gotten medical approval) — you’ll need to skip at least one meal because eating the equivalent of three meals in six hours is not super comfy and could lead to overeating.
The 5:2 diet or alternate day fasting
The 5:2 diet and alternate day fasting both involve eating as you normally would for certain days of the week and fasting for others. While it may sound like less planning and discipline, it’s actually more. Fasting days involve hefty calorie restrictions (500–600 calories, or roughly 25% of your usual daily intake), so it’s a lot of work to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients. Plus, you can’t exactly treat the other days like an all-you-can-eat buffet, either. We strongly recommend giving other approaches a try first — but if you really want to give it a go, get your healthcare provider to review and safety-check your plan.
SIMPLE’s expert opinion and final thoughts
Everyone at SIMPLE agrees: The best intermittent fasting meal plan is one that works for you and your unique needs — and one you can stick to.
That means discovering recipes you actually enjoy. Whatever your reasons for fasting (yes, even if you’re after fasting recipes for weight loss!), life is too short to deprive yourself of the foods you love or force yourself to stomach something you don’t.
Even if the freedom to choose what you eat is a welcome one, we know it can be overwhelming to face endless grocery store aisles and infinite troves of recipe blogs when you’re trying to plan recipes to support specific fasting- or health-related goals.
If you’ve gotten the okay from your healthcare provider to start fasting, tag us in, and we’ll do the heavy lifting in creating a customized plan and meal guide. Take our SIMPLE quiz to get started!
Frequently Asked Questions about what to eat when fasting
Is it okay to eat anything while intermittent fasting?
Yes, it’s okay to eat anything while intermittent fasting — nothing is completely off-limits. However, depending on your fasting goals, you may want to prioritize certain foods and limit others. For example, a meal plan based on intermittent fasting recipes for weight loss may look different from a meal plan for muscle bulking.
Do eggs ruin a fast?
We don’t like the word “ruin” since breaking a fast isn’t a failure, but technically, eggs do “ruin” a fast in the sense that they have calories and consuming anything with calories breaks a fast. Eggs are a super health-promoting and nutrient-dense food choice for eating windows, though, so have them after your fast.
How can I control my hunger when fasting?
You can control your hunger when fasting by staying hydrated and focusing on fiber- and protein-rich foods during your eating windows. Check out our guide on ways to hack hunger while fasting for more tips!
Is it better to skip breakfast in intermittent fasting?
Everyone’s fasting needs are different, so whether it’s better to skip breakfast in intermittent fasting depends on your needs and preferences — and you may not have to skip a meal at all. When you have your first meal of the day depends on what fasting schedule you’re following and when you had your last meal.
Can I have a cheat day with 16:8 intermittent fasting?
No food is inherently bad, so we don’t like thinking in “cheat day” terms — plus, mindful indulgences are part of any sustainable intermittent fasting experience. But yes, you can have a “cheat day” with a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule; there’s no universal rule that defines how often you need to follow fasting diet recipes to see benefits.
- Nunes EA, Colenso-Semple L, McKellar SR, Yau T, Ali MU, Fitzpatrick-Lewis D, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of protein intake to support muscle mass and function in healthy adults. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2022 Apr;13(2):795–810.
- Morell P, Fiszman S. Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety. Food Hydrocoll. 2017 Jul 1;68:199–210.