Blog Diets Fasting What Can I Eat During Intermittent Fasting?

What Can I Eat During Intermittent Fasting?

The “what” of Intermittent Fasting is pretty straightforward – it’s a pattern of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. When it comes to the “how,” you’ve heard of various methods, from the popular 16/8 method to the 5:2 diet. Some even go as extreme as fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. 

You’ve also heard that there are no food restrictions during your eating windows, so theoretically you could eat whatever you want. But what exactly should you be consuming for optimal results? Could you dive into a pile of donuts after a 16-hour fast? 

Here’s what you need to know about what to eat during intermittent fasting, to maintain a balanced diet and achieve your health goals.

Can You Eat Anything During Intermittent Fasting?

Yes, you can eat, but only during the designated eating windows. The word “intermittent” means you’re not just fasting non-stop; you’re taking breaks to eat.

How long your eating window is depends on the type of intermittent fasting you’re doing. For example, with the popular 16/8 method, you fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window.

Knowing which foods to eat while fasting 16/8 or any other type of intermittent fasting can increase the effectiveness of this pattern of eating.

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What Foods Should You Eat During Intermittent Fasting?

During your eating windows you should consume the kind of nutrient-dense foods that will provide your body with the necessary fuel and nourishment.


Foods rich in protein such as lean meats (chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef), eggs, and plant-based proteins (lentils, quinoa, chickpeas) are excellent choices for satiety (14). 

These foods also help in maintaining muscle mass which is important when using intermittent fasting for weight loss (19).

See also
How Your Fasting Windows Can Make Or Break Your Intermittent Fasting Experience

Fruits and Vegetables

Leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli), starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash), and colorful fruits (berries, oranges, apples) are essential sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber (8).

Eating fruits during intermittent fasting window can also help replenish glycogen levels in your body, providing energy for your workouts.

Healthy Fats

Avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are packed with healthy fats. These are great for heart health and can also help to keep you satisfied (4) (24). 

Some intermittent fasting benefits, such as reducing inflammation (12), may be amplified by eating healthy fats (20).

what can i eat during intermittent fasting  

Whole Grains

Foods like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain bread are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates for your intermittent fasting food list. They provide the body with slow-releasing energy, which can be beneficial during your fast and are health-friendly (7).


You’re only allowed to drink zero-calorie beverages during your fasting period, so you can use your eating window to enjoy other options outside of water and black coffee, in moderation.

Bear in mind that intermittentfasting is not a diet in the traditional sense; it’s more of an eating pattern. 

Know that there are no restrictions on what types of foods you can eat. However, there are consequences to regularly consuming a lot of unhealthy, high-calorie foods during your eating windows – these can hinder your weight loss goals and may negatively affect your overall health.

Research backs some of these consequences:

Increased Cravings

Unhealthy foods, especially those high in added sugar and refined carbs, can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes that may lead to increased cravings, making it harder to maintain your fasting schedule.

Poor Nutrition

Regularly consuming a lot of nutrient-poor foods and a few nutrient-dense foods can result in deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, leading to a range of health problems, from fatigue and poor immune function to serious conditions like osteoporosis or anemia (13).

See also
When Does Intermittent Fasting Start Working?

Weight Gain

High-calorie foods, particularly those rich in unhealthy fats and added sugars, can cause weight gain (22). Even if you’re maintaining your fasting schedule, you could still be consuming more calories than you’re burning.

Digestive Issues

Ultra-processed foods, lacking in fiber, can lead to digestive problems such as constipation or irregular bowel movements if they take the place of fiber-rich foods in the diet (6).

Lower Energy Levels

While sugary foods may provide a quick energy boost, this is usually followed by a crash that leaves you feeling drained and lethargic.

Read more: Intermittent Fasting Meals That Will Fit Your 16/8 Schedule

Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases

A diet high in ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats may increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (21).

To get the most out of intermittent fasting, experts recommend focusing on whole, minimally processed foods such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (2).

In fact, some of the healthiest diets can be incorporated into your intermittent fasting meal plan for example (1):

  • The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes lean proteins, healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and promote overall health.
  • The DASH Diet focuses on consuming whole, nutrient-rich foods and limiting processed and high-sodium foods. It’s designed to lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.
  • The Flexitarian Diet advocates for mostly plant-based meals with occasional meat consumption. Plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

what can i eat during intermittent fasting  

What Foods Should You Avoid During Intermittent Fasting?

Although there are no specific food restrictions during intermittent fasting, it’s still important to avoid or limit foods that could potentially hinder your progress or cause discomfort. These foods to avoid or limit while intermittent fasting include:

  1. Sugary Drinks and Snacks: Foods and beverages high in added sugars such as sodas, candy, and pastries are high in calories and low in nutrients, and can contribute to weight gain.
  2. Processed Meats: Foods like hot dogs, bacon, and salami are high in sodium and unhealthy fats. They may increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems (15).
  3. Fried Foods: Foods like french fries and fried chicken are high in unhealthy fats and calories, potentially contributing to weight gain and negatively affecting heart health (5).
  4. Refined Grains: White bread, pasta, and rice lack the fiber and nutrients found in their whole-grain counterparts, so they are digested quickly and don’t keep you feeling full.
  5. Alcohol: While moderate consumption may be acceptable, excessive intake can lead to dehydration and interrupt your fasting cycle. It also has empty calories with low nutritive value.
  6. High-Fat Dairy Products: Foods like full-fat cheese and cream are high in saturated fats, which may increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess (16).
  7. High-Sodium Foods: Consuming high-sodium foods like processed snack foods and canned soups can lead to water retention and contribute to high blood pressure (9) (17).
  8. Fast Food: High in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium, fast food can negatively impact your weight loss goals and overall health (18). In addition, it often lacks the essential nutrients found in whole foods.
See also
Is Vegan Intermittent Fasting the Right Choice for You?

The list above may be longer, depending on which type of intermittent fasting you’re doing. Our Low-Carb Intermittent Fasting guide, for example, also recommends avoiding high-carb foods like potatoes and grains, as well as legumes and most fruits.

Read more: Intermittent Fasting Meals That Will Fit Your 16/8 Schedule

Can I Eat Pizza During Intermittent Fasting?

Yes, you can eat pizza during intermittent fasting, provided it fits into your calorie and nutrient goals for the day. 

See also
How to Fast Properly to Reap Wellness Rewards

However, be mindful of the ingredients and portion sizes – consider opting for a whole wheat crust, lean protein toppings like chicken or seafood, and plenty of vegetables to add fiber and nutrients. Avoid fatty meats like pepperoni or sausage and limit your cheese intake if you want to control calories.

If you’re unsure whether to eat a particular food or not, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it fit into my calorie and nutrient goals for the day?
  • Is it a whole, unprocessed food or a highly processed one?
  • What’s the overall nutritional value of this food?
  • What else have I eaten today and how will this food affect my fasting cycle?
  • Can I make a healthier, homemade version of this food?
  • How much of this food am I planning to eat – is it a reasonable portion size?

By asking these questions and being mindful of your food choices, you can successfully incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle while still enjoying the foods you love.

To see our guide for choosing the right Intermittent Fasting foods, go here: Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan.

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What Not To Do In Intermittent Fasting?

The only thing you shouldn’t do is eat during your fasting period. For your body to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting, you must stay in the fasting state long enough.

That said, there are still some common mistakes that people make while intermittent fasting that can hinder their progress or cause discomfort. These include:

  • Not drinking enough water: Water helps with hunger (3) and keeps you hydrated during your fast.
  • Overeating during feasting periods: Just because you have a restricted eating window doesn’t mean you should overeat during that time. It’s important to still practice portion control and make healthy food choices.
  • Ignoring nutrient needs: Make sure to include a variety of nutritious foods in your meals to ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients your body needs.
  • Not paying attention to your body’s cues: Intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, and you must tune in to how it makes you feel. If you’re feeling unwell or experiencing extreme discomfort, it may be necessary to modify your fasting plan.
  • Obsessing over the scale: Intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss (11), but it’s not just about the number on the scale. Focus on overall health and well-being instead of solely on weight loss.
  • Not consulting with a healthcare professional: If you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting intermittent fasting. They can provide personalized advice and monitor your progress to ensure safety and effectiveness.
See also
A Beginner Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan to Fit Your IF Journey

Remember that the key to success in intermittent fasting is balance and sustainability. By making informed food choices and tuning into your body’s needs, you can reap the many potential benefits of this way of eating.

Read more: A Beginner Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan To Fit Your IF Journey

what can i eat during intermittent fasting  


  • Why Am I Not Losing Weight on 16/8 Fasting?

Not losing weight while on a 16/8 fasting regimen could be due to several reasons. One common mistake is overcompensating for the fasting period by eating excessive amounts during the eating window. 

Consume a balanced, satiating diet without exceeding your daily calorie needs. Also, a lack of physical activity can limit weight loss (23). Consider incorporating moderate exercise into your routine to boost your metabolism and promote weight loss.

  • What Happens After 16 Hours of Fasting?

After 16 hours of fasting, your body enters a state called ketosis, where it starts to burn stored fat for energy because it has run out of glucose. This is thought to help promote weight loss.

  • Can I Drink Coffee and Milk During Intermittent Fasting?

During the fasting window, you should stick to zero-calorie beverages like water or black coffee. Small amounts of milk or cream in your coffee are unlikely to significantly impact your fast, but larger quantities may. If you need milk in your coffee, it’s best to keep it to a minimum.

  • Does Milk in Coffee Break Intermittent Fasting?

Adding a small amount of milk to your coffee doesn’t necessarily break your fast, but it does add some calories and could potentially affect the metabolic state that fasting induces. 

If you’re fasting for weight loss, a splash of milk in your coffee isn’t likely to derail your efforts, but if you’re fasting for health reasons like autophagy, any caloric intake may disrupt the process.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the key to a successful intermittent fasting journey is to focus on whole, nutrient-rich foods and avoid or limit ultra-processed and unhealthy options. 

Remember, intermittent fasting is not a quick fix or crash diet; it’s a lifestyle change that can promote better health and aid in weight loss when done correctly. With this in mind, make sure to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and choose healthy food options during your eating windows.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease (2020,
  2. Eating a Balanced Diet: A Healthy Life through a Balanced Diet in the Age of Longevity (2018,
  3. Effect of Pre-meal Water Consumption on Energy Intake and Satiety in Non-obese Young Adults (2018,
  4. Fats and Satiety – Fat Detection (2010,
  5. Fried Food Consumption and Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Current Evidence (2015,
  6. Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009,
  7. Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses (2017,
  8. Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables (2015,
  9. Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.g)
  11. Intermittent fasting and weight loss (2020,
  12. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects (2012,
  13. Nutrients, Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases (2017,
  14. Protein, weight management, and satiety (2008,
  15. Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus (2010,
  16. Saturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Replacements for Saturated Fat to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk (2017,
  17. Sodium Intake and Hypertension (2019,
  18. The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food (2017,
  19. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance (2015,
  20. The Science of Fatty Acids and Inflammation (2015,
  21. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review (2020,
  22. Ultra-processed Foods, Weight Gain, and Co-morbidity Risk (2022,
  23. Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2004,
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