3 Day Simple & Delicious Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan (to Make Fasting Easy Peasy)

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Written By

Lauryn

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Want a keto intermittent fasting meal plan?

Look no further than this article to break down all you need to know about intermittent fasting (especially if you follow a keto lifestyle), as well as a simple sample keto intermittent fasting meal plan to get you started in the right direction!

Fasting & Intermittent Fasting 101 

Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan - Healthy Food On A Plate

Fasting and intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of not eating, or just drinking liquids, typically over the course of 12 to 72 hours (or more—sometimes for weeks at a time).

The idea behind fasting is to mimic the “optimal human diet”—how our ancestors would have eaten prior to kitchen dining tables, 9 to 5 work schedules and 24/7 food availability—foraging, scavenging and eating as their bodies cued them to eat.

Fasting is particularly popular for people who follow a ketogenic diet.

In practice, fasting is fairly simple—it is alternating periods of fasting and non-fasting:

  1. Take a break from eating for a pre-determined amount of time.
  2. Consume foods within a pre-determined amount of time.

Fasting and intermittent fasting (IF) can be practiced in several different ways, including:

  • A full 24-hour fast once per week;
  • Eating one day, fasting the next;
  • 12-16 hour window (i.e. not eating from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. would be a 12-hour fast; or slightly longer 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. is a 16-hour fast)
  • Seasonally (such as integrating fasting or intermittent fasting at certain times throughout the year
  • Religiously (fasting from food or another regular activity—like media, spending money, exercise, sugar, alcohol, etc.—during particular holidays or days of the week) 

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

There’s tons of evidence—both scientific and empirical—that claim fasting, especially intermittent fasting, is a game-changer for feeling good and improving your health (1).

A Positive Stressor.

Read: “good” stressor. Also known as a “hormetic stressor” or something that contributes to positive adaptation. Intermittent  fasting promotes “autophagy”—a cellular repair process. Studies show that intermittent fasting is an effective tool for blood sugar management, antioxidant and metabolic boosting, cognitive function, and inflammation and oxidative stress reduction. (Read: disease prevention). 

Makes You Less “Hangry” (Helps Regulate Appetite)

Eating more frequently between meals can send the body on a blood sugar roller coaster—up and down, up and down—activating ghrelin (your “hunger hormone”) the more you get into a regular eating schedule. Fasting and intermittent fasting on the other hand increase leptin (fullness hormone)—the opposite of ghrelin. In a study of both lean and obese subjects, over 3 days of fasting, ghrelin gradually decreased (i.e. the patients were far less hungry despite not having eaten for the past 3 days) (2).

Enhances Energy & Mental Clarity

Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan - A Happy Energized Woman Drinking Water

As long as you are eating enough (not under eating for your energy needs), fasting is like an exercise for your body and brain (3). Similar to how exercise works your muscles to improve your overall health, fasting “works” your metabolic and cognitive functions through the production and release of certain chemicals like glucocorticoids and norepinephrine that boost energy, alertness, and focus. Intermittent fasting also causes an increase in a molecule known as BDNF (brain-derivated neurotrophic factor) which plays a role in important aspects of brain function relating to mood and cognitive function such as regulating serotonin metabolism, improving synaptic plasticity, and increasing the brain’s ability to resist aging.

Balances Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels

Insulin seems to respond extremely well to intermittent fasting. Although many of the initial studies on the benefits of fasting were done on animals, a recent human study showed improvement in insulin sensitivity. When you eat glucose and insulin levels spike, it triggers a number of actions in your body, such as helping cells in the liver, skeletal muscles, and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood. Once that is fulfilled, insulin signals the liver to take up glucose and store it as glycogen (stored energy) and then fat. If you keep spiking that insulin, you can get insulin resistance (cells get less sensitive to insulin) and in turn get inflammation, increased fat storage. By giving your body a “break” from the spikes, intermittent fasting allows the body to have better insulin sensitivity when you do eat. 

Allows Your Gut to “Rest & Digest”

The process of digestion takes work—upwards of 12-24 hours per meal. Optimal digestion occurs in the “rest and digest” state. Fasting allows time between meals to push food through your GI tract and repair the gut lining during the fast. Studies show that fasting also contributes to a more diverse gut microbiome and higher resistance to low stomach acid (4).

Saves Money on Groceries and Time on Meal Planning & Cooking

Simply put: One meal down during the day means less planning or work in the kitchen. 

Intermittent Fasting Cons

Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan - A Man Suffering From Stomach Pain

Fasting and intermittent fasting is not for everyone, which is where the “cons” come into play:

 May Disrupt Your Hormones

Fasting and intermittent fasting is a hormetic stressor (positive stressor), until that stress becomes too much for your body to handle. Energy and nourishment keeps your body going. Lack of energy sends stress signals to your HPA Axis (hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenals) (5). If your HPA Axis is already stressed out (read: under-slept, over-caffeinated, overtrained, high screen exposure, exposed to endocrine disruptors, etc.), then your hormone production also gets out of sync—in some women, leading to increased progesterone and estrogen dominance, in other women leading to suppressed progesterone production and low estrogen (6, 7). There are lots of anecdotal stories of women who have experienced changes to their menstrual cycles after starting intermittent fasting.Such shifts occur because female bodies are extremely sensitive to caloric restriction. When calorie intake is low — such as from fasting for too long or too frequently — the hypothalamus (“mothership hormone”) is affected. This can disrupt the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a hormone that helps release two reproductive hormones: luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), setting you up for irregular periods, infertility, poor bone health and other health effects. In animal studies, after two weeks of intermittent fasting, female rats stopped having menstrual cycles and their ovaries shrunk while experiencing more insomnia than their male counterparts (though the male rats did experience lower testosterone production) (8).

Exception: Some women with hormone imbalance—particularly PCOS, insulin resistance, PMS or menopause, all characterized by higher cortisol levels—may actually benefit from fasting—at least therapeutically, in the short term. A study in women (20-40 years old) with PCOS and no other known medical conditions experienced a significant decrease in cortisol and adrenaline levels after just 26 days of intermittent fasting, despite concurrent sleep deprivation during Ramadan, an Indian holiday (9). This study also displayed the positive effects of connection to others, spirituality and mindfulness in health as a whole. 

Overdosing on Coffee

Bulletproof and butter coffee are staples in the diets of many who practice intermittent fasting regularly (especially ketogenic diets—many starting their day off with a cup of Joe and dollop of butter, MCT oil or both, and nothing else). Coffee is not necessarily bad, but just like most things, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. For one, frequent consumption and daily dependence on coffee may disrupt our HPA Axis—namely cortisol and insulin levels. One 12 ounce cup of coffee alone contains 200 mg of caffeine—increasing  blood cortisol levels by 30% in one hour; moreover cortisol can remain elevated for up to 18 hours in the blood. Considering intermittent fasting and fasting can be a stressor on the body already (especially if you are not eating enough or maintain a stressful or busy lifestyle), your Bulletproof coffee habit may not do a body good for feeling your best. 

May Cause Accidental Dieting & Nutrient Deficiencies

Contrary to popular belief, fasting is not necessarily a restrictive or low calorie diet. It is a break from food for a period of time, followed by a period of re-feeding to supply your body with its daily energy needs. Unfortunately many people run into the roadblock of a accidental dieting or under eating. Although some people may benefit from this, many of the health conscious individuals who adopt intermittent fasting as a trend or the cool thing to do do not. As a baseline, a moderately active relatively healthy woman requires anywhere from 1800 to 2200 calories per day, and for men, this bumps up to 2400 to 2800 calories. Many intermittent fasters get half of that between two meals, and initially, while they may feel great, over time—maybe a month, maybe two months, three or four months—they begin feeling significantly worse. Their sleep quality decreases and energy plummet. Maybe if they had a pre-existing thyroid condition, metabolic or blood sugar issue, or autoimmune condition, it gets worse. If this happens, many won’t suspect that the fasting is what caused the problem because, after all, they initially felt better with it. In this case, fasting is yet another stressor that the body has to deal with. If you already have multiple stressors in your life, the positive adaptation that can occur with intermittent fasting may not happen. It may actually take you in the wrong direction.

May Cause Binge Eating, Food Obsession or Trigger a Disordered Eating Mentality

Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan - Woman Binge Eating Unhealthy Food While Using Her Laptop

The natural response to food deprivation or body hunger is thinking about food—a lot. This is particularly true if you are not eating enough during the day. The Minnesota Starvation Study is a perfect example of this (10). In it, 36 healthy men were fed a “normal” calorie diet for 12 weeks (approximately 3200 calories per day of a varied, balanced diet), followed by half the amount of calories for 24 weeks and finally a recovery phase of their normal diet. During the 6-month semi-starvation period, each subject’s dietary intake was cut to approximately 1,560 kilocalories per day and their meals and food options were more limited, composed of foods that were expected to typify the diets of people in Europe during the latter stages of the war. Over the course of 24 weeks, researchers observed the men slowly become more and more preoccupied and obsessed with thoughts about food.

They dreamed about food and fantasized about high calorie/high fat food items they couldn’t access. They spent much of their time talking about food, recipes, agriculture. They became agitated if the timing of the meal schedule was changed or if a meal was delayed. Some of the men reported experiencing pleasure just by watching others eat or smelling food; others had urges to overeat, extending their eating experiences as long as they could, not wanting the pleasurable experience to end (note: the food served was actually tasteless, cafeteria food). With unlimited access to coffee and chewing gum between meals, many of the men chewed and drank constantly; up to 40 sticks of gum and 80 plus ounces of coffee each day. Any opportunity to gain access to food, meant that the men would binge eat, consuming thousands of calories in a seating. Once re-feeding began during the last phase of the experiment, the men had extraordinary calorie needs – requiring over 4000 calories per day in order to slowly restore weight. A subset of the men were allowed to re-feed without a controlled protocol and these men engaged in extreme overeating.

Not Good for Supporting Muscle Growth & Fitness

To some, the thought of working out without a pre-workout protein shake is unfathomable. Wont my performance suffer? To others, fasted workouts are a must-do for amazing results—fat loss, lean gains and energy. So who’s right? Fasted vs. unfasted workouts really depend on your goals, energy output and body type. In short: Reasonable durations of fasting do not cause muscle loss; you can do a few days of fasting without incurring any significant muscle loss (11). That said, muscles need fuel to grow, tone and develop. End of story. Exercise is a catabolic process (i.e. it breaks muscle down). Without appropriate fuel, muscle has nothing to fuel it to enhance your body composition—no, not just “bulking” either, but healthy lean muscle. As for stamina, endurance and output, those who train unfasted experience better, longer lasting prolonged exercise output, while those who train fasted have significantly less stamina and strength to push through (12).

But what about fat loss?! The consensus is still out on whether fasted workouts are really best or not, and the current answers don’t show evidence. A meta analysis of five studies (12) on fasted found that, in both men and women, weight loss and fat loss from exercise is not influenced by fasted or fed states, but rather the quality and quantity of fuel over time (ie. fasted cardio is kind of a bust). While those who have significant amount of extra body fat and weight, who maintain a moderately active (but not too intense) fitness routine, may feel good going for an early morning walk or workout before breakfast, it is not necessarily a deal breaker. The bottom line: If you want to enhance your performance, train for the game, strengthen or tone your muscle or shed body fat, fasted exercise or not eating enough will not support your goals. 

Is a Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan Best for You? 4 Considerations.

Although fasting and intermittent fasting has many potential benefits for autoimmunity and other chronic illness, IF is not for everyone. Whether or not you should try a Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan depends on several factors.

Consideration 1: Your Conditions

Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan - Woman Holding A Positive Pregnancy Test

Intermittent fasting (IF) is generally contraindicated (not recommended) for the following people:

  • Pregnancy
  • Subclinical Hypothyroidism (Poor T4 to T3 conversion, since low stress, energy and calories help with this conversion)
  • HPA Axis Dysregulation
  • Eating Disorders/History of Eating Disorders
  • Children & Teens
  • Hypoglycemic tendencies
  • Weaker constitution (“Vata” body types)
  • Hormone imbalances

Intermittent fasting has been shown to help these individuals:

  • Sickness (such as stomach flu, cold or flu)
  • Weak immune system
  • Chronic infections (i.e. parasites, Lyme, etc.)
  • Weight loss
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Metabolic problems
  • Neurological issues
  • Generally healthy individuals for optimizing longevity, mental acuity and digestion (practiced occasionally)

Remember: Every body is different. Just like no one diet is best for everyone, the same thing goes for intermittent fasting—particularly if you have multiple conditions (such as being overweight with hypothyroidism and HPA Axis Dysregulation; in this case, you’d want to first address the HPA Axis Dysregulation to then benefit from the intermittent fasting positives for your there conditions).

Consideration 2: Your Relationship with Food

Determining whether fasting is or is not for you greatly comes down to your relationship with food—food rules, diet mentality, “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.”

Are you a person who gets caught up in legalism with food and guilt if you don’t stick to the rules? Or do you listen to your body? Do you tend to use food as a distraction or emotional coping mechanism, or eat to fuel your life?

For those both with histories of disordered eating or simply the diet mentality, intermittent fasting may become just one more food rule to add to your list—leading to more stress and boxes than freedom and connection to your body.

Consideration 3: Your Daily Needs

Simply put: Undereating can contribute to HPA Axis Dysregulation, fatigue, metabolic, hormone or blood sugar imbalances over time. You may feel great at first, but if you are unable to meet your caloric needs, then say goodbye to the benefits fasting.

Note: Your needs may change depending on your season of life, age and lifestyle.

For instance, if you’re a 34 year-old mom barely running on 6 hours of sleep, waking up early to feed three hungry mouths and eating whenever you can, chances are IF is not for you. But if you’re a 56-year-old newly retiree with a relatively stress-free lifestyle, wanting to optimize your longevity, IF may be worth a spin. A 29 year-old CrossFit enthusiast? Perhaps workout days you are mindful to eat after your morning workout, but on your off days, you can go until 11 a.m. or noon until your first meal.

Consideration 4: Listening to Your Hunger-Fullness Cues 

Just like our ancestors ate based on their body’s cues, seasons and food availability, you have complete permission to not overthink or over plan IF. Listen to your body. If it’s 9 or 10 a.m. and your stomach is growling…listen. If you’re sick, and can’t stomach a full meal…listen—perhaps sipping some meat broth or homemade Ginger Ale instead. IF is not rocket science, so don’t overthink it.

How to Intermittent Fast for Keto Diets & Beyond

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is simple, whether you eat a ketogenic diet or not:

  1. Stop eating and just drink liquids following a meal (such as around 8 or 9 p.m. after dinner)
  2. Drink water, broth, herbal tea and minimal coffee during your 12-16 hour window
  3. Break the fast 12 to 16 hours later (such as your next meal around 8 or 9 a.m. if you just did a 12 hour fast, or around 12 or 1 p.m. for a 16 hour fast) 

How to Break Your Fast 

During a period of fasting, your digestive agni (“fire”) is dampened. It needs to be rekindled gradually. Consuming heavy foods or too much at once may cause indigestion, cramping, sour belching, acidity, vomiting, loose stools or constipation, unless you take these steps as you begin to break your fast:

  1. Drink a glass of warm lemon water with a pinch of sea salt (bonus: add a few drops of fresh ginger juice, grapefruit juice or apple cider vinegar). Swish it inside the mouth 8 to 10 times. Then swallow gradually. In this manner, drink a whole glassful. If need to drink more, then have another half a glassful.
  2. One hour later, have a moderate-sized, simple meal (i.e. not a whole day’s worth of eating in one meal).
  3. Take digestive enzymes with meals.

3 Day Simple & Delicious Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan

Keto Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan - A Healthy Vegetable Meal

DAY 1

Break-your-fast (10 am-12 pm)

  • 2 cups bone broth
  • Baked fish (wild caught salmon or cod)
  • Sautéed veggies (bok choy, zucchini, carrots) in ghee 

Supper (6-8 pm)

  • Grass-fed beef burger patty
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Baked homemade carrot “fries”
  • Roasted asparagus & sautéed mushrooms

Dessert

  • 100% cacao nibs
  • Coconut ice cream (homemade keto-friendly)

DAY 2

Break-your-fast (8-10 am)

  • Leftover burger patty
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Sautéed rainbow chard & zucchini

Mid-Day Meal (12-2pm)

Supper (5-7 pm)

  • Roasted chicken
  • Roasted delicata squash w/ extra virgin olive oil
  • Sautéed baby bok choy 

DAY 3

Break-your-fast (10-11 am)

Smoothie: Beef broth protein + almond milk + berries + almond butter + greens + MCT oil + cacao nibs + colostrum powder

Mid-Day Meal (3-4 pm)

  • Tuna salad w/ paleo avocado mayo in lettuce or seaweed wrap
  • Pickles
  • Roasted summer squash
  • Rutabaga “chips” 

Light Supper (8-9 pm)

  • Bone broth
  • Leftover roasted chicken
  • Mixed veggies

Summary

Want your own customized keto intermittent fasting meal plan? Reach out to me at my virtual clinic today and we will help you get started today. 

References 

  1. Nair, P. M., & Khawale, P. G. (2016). Role of therapeutic fasting in women’s health: An overview. Journal of mid-life health, 7(2), 61-4.
  2. Espelund, Ulrick & Krarup Hansen, Troels & Højlund, Kurt & Beck-Nielsen, Henning & Clausen, Jes & Sehested Hansen, Birgit & Orskov, Hans & Jorgensen, Jens & Frystyk, Jan. (2005). Fasting Unmasks a Strong Inverse Association between Ghrelin and Cortisol in Serum: Studies in Obese and Normal-Weight Subjects. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 90. 741-6. 10.1210/jc.2004-0604.
  3. van Praag, Henriette & Fleshner, Monika & W Schwartz, Michael & P Mattson, Mark. (2014). Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, and the Brain. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 34. 15139-49. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2814-14.2014.
  4. Bonk, F., Popp, D., Weinrich, S., Sträuber, H., Kleinsteuber, S., Harms, H., & Centler, F. (2018). Intermittent fasting for microbes: how discontinuous feeding increases functional stability in anaerobic digestion. Biotechnology for biofuels, 11, 274. doi:10.1186/s13068-018-1279-5
  5. Kumar, S., & Kaur, G. (2013). Intermittent fasting dietary restriction regimen negatively influences reproduction in young rats: a study of hypothalamo-hypophysial-gonadal axis. PloS one, 8(1), e52416.
  6. Herrera, A. Y., Nielsen, S. E., & Mather, M. (2016). Stress-induced increases in progesterone and cortisol in naturally cycling women. Neurobiology of stress, 3, 96-104. doi:10.1016/j.ynstr.2016.02.006
  7. Gordon, J. L., Eisenlohr-Moul, T. A., Rubinow, D. R., Schrubbe, L., & Girdler, S. S. (2016). Naturally Occurring Changes in Estradiol Concentrations in the Menopause Transition Predict Morning Cortisol and Negative Mood in Perimenopausal Depression. Clinical psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 4(5), 919-935.
  8. Kumar, S., & Kaur, G. (2013). Intermittent fasting dietary restriction regimen negatively influences reproduction in young rats: a study of hypothalamo-hypophysial-gonadal axis. PloS one, 8(1), e52416.
  9. Zangeneh, F., Salman Yazdi, R., Naghizadeh, M. M., & Abedinia, N. (2015). Effect of Ramadan Fasting on Stress Neurohormones in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Journal of family & reproductive health, 9(2), 51-7.
  10. M Kalm, Leah & D Semba, Richard. (2005). They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment. The Journal of nutrition. 135. 1347-52. 10.1093/jn/135.6.1347.
  11. Nørrelund, H & Sreekumaran Nair, K & Jorgensen, Jens & S Christiansen, J & Moller, Niels. (2001). The Protein-Retaining Effects of Growth Hormone During Fasting Involve Inhibition of Muscle-Protein Breakdown. Diabetes. 50. 96-104. 10.2337/diabetes.50.1.96.
  12. Hackett, Daniel & Hagstrom, Amanda. (2017). Effect of Overnight Fasted Exercise on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology. 2. 43. 10.3390/jfmk2040043.
  13. Wei, et al. (2017). Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Science Translational Medicine. 9 (377). doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8700.
  14. Obembe, Agona & Okon, Victoria & Ofutet, Emmanuel & Ayitu, R.A.. (2015). Effect of Fasting on Intestinal Motility and Transit in Albino Wistar Rats. Trends in Medical Research. 10. 63-68. 10.3923/tmr.2015.63.68.
  15. Finnell, J. S., Saul, B. C., Goldhamer, A. C., & Myers, T. R. (2018). Is fasting safe? A chart review of adverse events during medically supervised, water-only fasting. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 18(1), 67. doi:10.1186/s12906-018-2136-6
  16. Funes, Samanta & Filippa, Verónica & Cid, Fabricio & Mohamed, Fabian & Caviedes-Vidal, Enrique & Chediack, Juan. (2014). Effect of fasting in the digestive system: Histological study of the small intestine in house sparrows. Tissue and Cell. 46. 10.1016/j.tice.2014.06.007.
  17. Kovalenko PL, Basson MD. Changes in morphology and function in small intestinal mucosa after Roux-en-Y surgery in a rat model. J Surg Res. 2012;177:63–69.
  18. Ito J, Uchida H, Yokote T, Ohtake K, Kobayashi J. Fasting-induced intestinal apoptosis is mediated by inducible nitric oxide synthase and interferon-{gamma} in rat. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010;298:G916–G926.
  19. Higashizono, K., Fukatsu, K., Watkins, A., Watanabe, T., Noguchi, M., Tominaga, E., … Seto, Y. (2018). Effects of short-term fasting on gut-associated lymphoid tissue and intestinal morphology in mice. Clinical Nutrition Experimental, 18, 6–14. https://doi-org.uws.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.yclnex.2017.12.002
  20. Hoeks, Joris & A van Herpen, Noud & Mensink, Marco & Moonen-Kornips, Esther & van Beurden, Denis & K C Hesselink, Matthijs & Schrauwen, Patrick. (2010). Prolonged Fasting Identifies Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Dysfunction as Consequence Rather Than Cause of Human Insulin Resistance. Diabetes. 59. 2117-25. 10.2337/db10-0519.
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