What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting: Meal Plan and Food List

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Updated on

Intermittent fasting offers many benefits. But meal timing alone isn’t enough to ensure IF success. Knowing what foods to eat while intermittent fasting is as important as knowing when to eat them. This intermittent fasting food list will help you chose what to eat during intermittent fasting. 

Sticking with the best foods to eat while fasting can increase the science-backed benefits of IF including reduced inflammation, boosted metabolism, improved cognitive function. [1]  

In this article, we’ll explore the foods to eat while fasting and the research behind our recommendations. 

Table of Contents

Why Food Matters When Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting activates a process called autophagy where your immune system destroys old, damaged cells, then recycles their individual components into new, healthy cells. [2] Think of it as cellular spring cleaning. 

Feeding these new forming cells with optimal energy sources is critical. 

Healthy fats and complete proteins found in superfoods sourced from animals are the best foods to break an intermittent fast. 

Failure to nourish your regenerating cells with whole animal foods can promote metabolic dysfunction and increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer. [3

What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting

When eating during intermittent fasting it is crucial to avoid foods that damage your cells.

Unfortunately, most foods on the Standard American Diet are processed, and loaded with added sugar and vegetable oils, making them highly inflammatory.

Here’s a list of foods to avoid while practicing IF:   

Intermittent Fasting Food List

Avoiding the above foods and food groups isn’t nearly as limiting as you might think. check The following intermittent-fasting-friendly options provide a variety of nutrient-rich options.

Foods to Eat While Intermittent Fasting

It is no surprise that these healthy whole foods have been the cornerstone of traditional cuisines for millenia. 

Thanks to pioneering researchers like Weston A. Price, we know that peoples who practiced nose-to-tail eating lived longer and had extremely low incidences of the chronic inflammatory diseases that kill most people today like heart disease and cancer. 4

These are also the foods featured in modern ketogenic and carnivore diets.  

It is worth noting that combining intermittent fasting and keto have been shown to mutually increase the benefits of each dietary approach. 

Now let’s take a closer look at the nutrition and benefits of specific foods to eat while fasting. 

Healthy Fats

Intermittent fasting causes your body to reduce its reliance on carbohydrates and switch into fat-burning mode. 

Maintaining the benefits of fat-burning throughout your daily eating window is simple: Focus on high-fat, low-carb whole foods. 

For many people a high-fat recommendation will raise some eyebrows. But contrary to popular belief, whole-food saturated fats are not responsible for heart disease. 

A landmark 2020 paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that “whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, eggs, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods […] that are not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.” [4]

On the contrary, recent research shows that some saturated fats are in fact great for human health. [5] The stearic acid contained in beef and dark chocolate, for example, activates the energy-producing mitochondria within your cells en route to boosting your metabolism and fostering weight loss. [6]

While olive oil, butter, ghee, and many other fats are all great choices, two of our favorite IF-friendly fats are tallow and coconut oil.

Tallow 

Tallow is a type of animal fat (most often from beef) that’s been cooked down into a shelf-stable form. [4

Tallow is rich in fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients. Grass-fed tallow’s nutritional profile is even better — it’s higher in vitamin E and omega 3’s. [7]

MacronutrientPer tablespoonPer 100 grams
Calories115 calories902 calories
Carbohydrates0 grams0 grams
Total Fat13 grams100 grams
Saturated 6.4 grams (59%)49.8 grams
Monounsaturated5.4 grams  (42%)41.8 grams
Polyunsaturated0.5 grams  (4%)4 grams
Omega 3 0.08 grams (0.6%)0.6 gram
Omega 60.4 grams (3.1%)3.1 grams
Protein0 grams0 grams

Tallow’s unique blend of nutrients and fatty acids makes it among the most pro-metabolic foods. 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the most saturated whole-food fat sources. It’s rich in medium-chain triglycerides, a special type of fat that gets metabolized in the liver as if they were carbohydrates. 

The MCT content of coconut oil makes it a great compliment to intermittent fasting. Consuming coconut oil during your eating window can keep your ketone levels elevated.[8

Some people find that a coconut oil-rich diet allows them to eat 100+ grams of carbs a day and remain in ketosis. [9

One word of caution about coconut oil: it can have a laxative effect if you’re not used to it. Start off with consuming just a teaspoon or two a day, then add more over time.  

Ruminant Meats

The meat from ruminant animals (beef, lamb, bison, etc) is a crucial addition to any intermittent fasting food list. These meats are extremely satiating and packed with important unique nutrients. 

Unlike the nutrients found in most plant products, ruminants have done the work for us and converted their nutrient contents into the most bioavailable forms. Ruminants have four-part stomachs that are perfectly suited to digesting plants — it makes more sense to let them eat plants and then eat them. [17

Ruminants can even convert any PUFA (polyunsaturated fats) present in their feed into healthier saturated fats. [18]

Ruminant meats are generally rich in vital  B vitamins, zinc, heme iron, stearic acid, and more. Below are the nutrient stats for beef rib eye:

Nutrient225g Rib EyeRecommended Daily Value (RDV)% RDV
Calories655 cal250018.6%
Protein54g60g (Standard Diet, not Keto)90%
Fat50g30g (Standard Diet, not Keto)166%
Saturated Fat23g20g (Standard Diet, not Keto)115%
Monounsaturated Fat25g
Carbohydrates0g1200g (Standard Diet, not Keto)0%
Niacin (B-3)13.5mg16mg30%
B 61.4mg2mg70%
Selenium56.25 mcg67mcg84%
Iron3.24mg20mg16%
Magnesium144mg420mg34%
Zinc9.45mg11mg86%
Potassium666mg4000mg17%
Phosphorus400mg700mg57%

Perhaps it’s telling that even the godfather of 16/8 intermittent fasting himself, bodybuilder Martin Berkah, advocated for high ruminant meat consumption during the eating window. Don’t skimp on the meat if you want to experience similarly great results from your own IF plan. [19

Organ Meats

For most people organ meats are taboo, or exotic at best. 

Yet, organ meats account for many of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. So it’s no surprise that when we look at the role of diet in human evolution, we see that organ meats were the most important fuel source for humans for most of our existence. 

We also see that during most of human history, our species ate far less frequently. In fact, it’s likely that intermittent fasting was the norm. When our ancestors enjoyed a successful hunt they feasted. In between hunts they fasted. 

So, from an evolutionary perspective organ meats are likely the best foods to eat during intermittent fasting. 

Different organ meats have different nutrient profiles, but selecting the right organ meat can be quite simple. Based on the like-supports-like concept, eating any particular organ meat may strengthen the corresponding organ(s) of your body. [10

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular and accessible organ meats. 

Liver

Beef liver is a natural multivitamin. It’s so high in certain nutrients, in fact, that it shouldn’t be eaten too often. View liver as more of a supplemental food. [11

If you don’t enjoy the taste or smell of liver you can still get its benefits from quality, grass-fed Beef Liver Supplements

Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bready, but what they lack in etymological sense they make up for in nutrition. The term sweetbread can refer to any of several beef organs, including the thymus and pancreas. [12]

Can’t find sweetbreads at your local health food store or farmer’s market? Not a problem. They can also be consumed in quality Organ Meat Supplements.

Kidney 

Beef kidney is rich in unique peptides, antioxidants, and blood-boosting factors that may directly improve your own kidney health. [13

Most people don’t exactly enjoy the taste of beef kidney, but like the other organs on the list you can get them in freeze-dried tablets. 

Brain

Though not as common in American diets, brain as food is a staple around the world. 

Beef brain is nature’s very best source of cholesterol — even better than egg yolks. [14

Fittingly, this cholesterol serves as the precursor to brain-boosting hormones (pregnenolone, progesterone, DHEA, and more). [15] Beef brain provides a perfect fuel source for our own energy-hogging human brains. [16

Unfortunately, sourcing and buying high-quality brain can be a logistical hassle. That’s where Dr. Kitlz’s Nutritional Solutions Organ Meat Supplement comes in. It’s  one of the few on the market that features beef brain alongside more common beef organs. 

Full-Fat Dairy

High in quality fats and proteins, while low in carbs, full-fat dairy can be a  fantastic addition to your intermittent fasting food list. .  

Nutritional analysis has found that butterfat is comprised of more than 400 beneficial fatty acids. [20] One such acid is butyric acid, which has been shown effective in blocking the growth of colorectal cancer, and to reduce symptoms of Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. 1 2 

One common full-fat dairy product is Parmigiano Reggiano, an aged cheese that’s still made according to old-world standards: 

Nutrient100g of  ParmaRecommended Daily Value (RDV)% RDV
Calories420 calories2,500 calories17% 
Protein32 grams50 g (standard diet, not keto)64%
Fat30 grams30 g (standard diet, not keto)100%
Carbohydrates3.4 grams120 g (standard diet, not keto)2.8%
Niacin.3 milligrams16 mg2%
Selenium24 micrograms70 mcg34%
Iron0.9 milligrams20 mg5%
Magnesium47 milligrams420 mg 11%
Zinc2.9 milligram11 mg37%
Potassium221 milligrams4000 mg4.7%
Phosphorus737 milligrams700 mg105%

Other great dairy products include:

Fish and Seafood 

Fish makes a great addition to your intermittent fasting meal plan. It’s keto and carnivore friendly, and it provides many of the benefits of  ruminant meat

Fish is also lower in iron than red meat. This can be beneficial because iron — while a truly vital nutrient — is surprisingly easy to overdo. [21

Below is the impressive nutrient profile of salmon roe, considered the most nutritious part of the fish:

Nutrient100g of Salmon RoeRecommended Daily Value (RDV)% RDV
Calories250 calories2,500 calories10% 
Protein29 grams50 g (standard diet, not keto)58%
Fat14 grams30 g (standard diet, not keto)47%
Carbohydrates2.9 grams120 g (standard diet, not keto)2.4%
Niacin1.8 milligrams16 mg20%
Selenium40 micrograms70 mcg73%
Iron0.6 milligrams20 mg3.3%
Magnesium20 milligrams420 mg 4.8%
Zinc1 milligram11 mg9%
Potassium221 milligrams4000 mg4.7%
Phosphorus402 milligrams700 mg57%

And if salmon roe proves too hard to find, eating the salmon itself–especially the fattiest kind called King Salmon–is a close second in terms of nutrition. 

King Salmon (Wild)Amount per 4 oz. % RDA
Fat12g 
Saturated Fat2g 
Cholesterol61mg 
Protein20g 
Vitamins  
Vitamin B12 7.4µg308%
B38.4mg53%
B6.3mg21%
B51gm21%
Vitamin A453.0IU15%
B1.2mg13%
B2.2mg13%
Vitamin E1.5mg10%
Minerals  
Selenium31.0µg56%
Phosphorus 208.0mg21%
Potassium 370.0mg10%
Magnesium24.0mg6%

Oysters make another great seafood addition to an intermittent fasting food list. They’re loaded with nutrients. 

A 3.5 ounce serving contributes only 68 calories while providing more than 100% of your RDV for vitamins B12, zinc, and copper — and over 75% of your RDV for vitamin D and selenium. [2]

RAW OYSTER CALORIES68 CALORIES% RDV
PROTEIN7 grams8%
FAT2.5 grams1%
CARBS3.9 grams4%
VITAMIN A100 IU2%
VITAMIN D320 IU80%
VITAMIN E1 mg4%
VITAMIN K0 mcg0%
VITAMIN B10.1 mg7%
VITAMIN B31.4 mg7%
VITAMIN B1219.5 mcg324%
IRON6.7 mg37%
MAGNESIUM47 mg12%
PHOSPHORUS 135 mg14%
ZINC90.8 mg605%
COPPER4.5 mg223%
MANGANESE0.4 mg18%
SELENIUM63.7 mcg91%

Low Toxicity Vegetables

Not all vegetables are created equal. Surprisingly, not all veggies are even good for you. The best veggies on your intermittent fasting food list are low in both carbs and plant toxins and antinutrients

It’s worth noting that some veggies like broccoli contain compounds like sulforaphane that have been studied for their beneficial and anti-cancer properties. But these same compounds can also cause cellular damage. 2

Consider that these are naturally occurring pesticides meant to kill predators. In our bodies they can act like chemotherapy, a benefit in targeted doses. But subjecting yourself to chronic low-dose chemotherapy is not a good idea.

When considering what these chemicals are and how they affect our cells explains why there are no reliable studies confirming a net positive for eating vegetables. 

That said, consuming the following veggies in moderation and when prepared properly is likely fine. 

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado (technically fruit, but functionally a veggie)
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • watercress
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts

Low Toxicity Fruits

When it comes to fruit, berries make the best addition to your intermittent fasting food list. They’re low-ish in sugar — most berries are less than 10% carbs by weight. 

They’re also loaded with enough antioxidants to prevent the glycation that might otherwise result from their sugar content. The chart below shows just how different berries are from most other fruits. 

NutrientApple (1 large)Pear (1 medium)Blackberries (1 cup)Fruit Juice (200mL)
Fructose25 grams16 grams12 grams17 grams
Fiber5 grams6 grams13 grams0.7 grams
Antioxidants8% Vit. C RDA10% Vit. C RDA 71% Vit. C RDA24% Vit. C RDA 

Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are among the best berries to eat during intermittent fasting. 

Pair them with cream or creme fraiche for a truly tasty and nourishing fast-breaking treat. 

Sample Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

This sample intermittent fasting meal plan is an example of what two meals a day within a restricted eating window can look like over a single week.

Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
LunchRibeye Steak and 2 eggs 

Asparagus sauteed in ghee

3 scrambled eggs with creme fraiche & ½ avocado80z. Lamb chops

3 Eggs

½ cup strawberries

8 oz. Pork belly and 2 eggs with creme fraicheGround bison with butter and 2 eggs

and ½ avocado

4 scrambled eggs with  tallow and creme fraiche

Sweetpotato

8 oz Tri-tip roast

1 medium potato baked in tallow

Dinner8 oz Tri-tip roast

Sweet Potato with 1tbls ghee

blackberries with 3 tablespoons of heavy cream

8 oz bison burger

½ cup 

1 kiwi

12 oz. Beef short ribs Ribeye steak with 2 tbls tallow and raw

Oysters (3)

6 oz. Bone marrow

Asparagus sauteed in ghee

8 oz wild salmon baked with creme fraiche

1 kiwi

6.5 oz Bison burger with 1.5

oz liver blended in 

1 Kiwi

What to eat during intermittent fasting: the takeaway

Intermittent fasting is more than just a way of eating. It’s a way of life. 

While a large part of this lifestyle’s health benefits comes from meal timing, carefully considering the best foods to eat while intermittent fasting can have an equal impact on your health and wellness goals.

Focusing on nutrient-dense whole animal foods brings intermittent fasting into an ancestral approach to eating that humans are evolved to thrive on. 

 

 

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED