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An Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan for Women over 40

Have you heard about intermittent fasting and wondered if it could work for you, especially now that you’re over 40? I found myself asking the same question when my mum decided to give intermittent fasting a try. She enlisted me as her research partner and here’s what we discovered.

Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s more of an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. This pattern doesn’t dictate what foods to eat, but instead when to eat them.

There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, and each has its unique pattern. Here are a couple my mum and I considered.

  1. The 16/8 method: This method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to 8-10 hours. Within this window, you can fit in two, three, or more meals. This is the method my mum is leaning towards.
  2. The 5:2 diet: This involves eating normally for five days of the week and reducing calorie intake to around 500-600 calories for the other two days.

Importance of Nutrition in Women Over 40

As women age, their bodies go through significant changes, especially after 40. Hormones start to shift, metabolism slows down, making weight loss more challenging, and muscle mass begins to decrease.

At this stage, proper nutrition becomes incredibly important. It’s not just about maintaining a healthy weight but ensuring the body gets the nutrients it needs to function well.

And while intermittent fasting can be a tool to manage health and weight, it’s crucial to focus on nutrient-dense foods during eating windows. It’s about nourishing the body, not just limiting when we eat.

Read: Top Intermittent Fasting Books to Boost Your Knowledge

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40

The potential benefits of intermittent fasting caught my mum’s attention. Let’s be real, who wouldn’t want to experience these perks?

Weight Management

One of the first things that caught my mum’s attention about intermittent fasting was its potential for managing weight.

As metabolism naturally slows down after 40, maintaining or losing weight can become a challenge.

Intermittent fasting can help by reducing the number of meals and, therefore, the total calories consumed.

Improved Metabolic Health

Beyond weight management, intermittent fasting may have several other health benefits. It’s been linked to improved metabolic health, reducing the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Boosting Brain Function

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting might also benefit our brains. It could improve cognitive function and resistance to stress and disease. Given that brain health is a big concern as we age, this is another major plus.

Supporting Healthy Aging

Some research suggests that intermittent fasting might help us age more healthily. By reducing inflammation and improving various metabolic features, it could help slow the aging process. For my mum, the prospect of not just living longer, but living well, is pretty exciting.

Intermittent fasting meal pl

Precautions for Intermittent Fasting in Women Over 40

But before we get too excited, it’s important to remember that intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. So before my mum starts, we’re scheduling an appointment with her doctor to make sure it’s a good fit for her.

Hormonal Imbalances

Firstly, while intermittent fasting can have numerous benefits, it’s important to remember that it might also impact hormone levels. This is especially crucial for women over 40 who are already experiencing shifts in hormones due to menopause.

Some women may find that fasting affects their menstrual cycle or exacerbates symptoms of menopause. My mum is aware of this, and we’ve agreed to monitor any changes closely.

Potential Side Effects

Beyond hormonal changes, there could be other side effects, especially when starting out. These can include headaches, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue.

It’s important to listen to your body and adjust as needed. If my mum experiences any of these side effects, we’ll reassess whether intermittent fasting is the right approach for her.

Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies

While intermittent fasting isn’t about restricting what you eat, the shortened eating window could potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies if the meals aren’t balanced and nutrient-dense.

To prevent this, we’re working on a meal plan that ensures my mum gets all the nutrients she needs in her eating window.

Read: Pros and Cons of Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right for You?

How to Start Intermittent Fasting

If you decide to give intermittent fasting a go and your doctor gives the green light, it’s best to start slow.

Instead of jumping straight into a 16-hour fast, you might want to begin with a 12-hour fast and gradually increase your fasting window.

This approach allows your body to adjust to the new eating schedule gradually, reducing the risk of side effects.

Hydration is incredibly important while fasting. Even though you’re not eating during fasting hours, you should still be drinking.

Lastly, remember that it’s okay to feel hungry while fasting, that’s part of the process. However, if you feel lightheaded, excessively hungry, or weak, it’s essential to listen to your body.

My mum and I have agreed that if she feels unwell at any point, she’ll break her fast and we’ll reassess her approach.

Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan for Women Over 40

If you’re doing the 16/8 method like my mum, you’ll have an 8-hour eating window. The focus should be on nutrient-dense foods.

I have come up with a sample meal plan that includes plenty of veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. We’re also avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks.

Day 1

  • Brunch: Veggie scramble with whole-grain toast
  • Snack: Handful of almonds
  • Dinner: Grilled salmon with quinoa and steamed broccoli

Day 2

  • Brunch: Greek yogurt with mixed berries and a drizzle of honey
  • Snack: A piece of fruit (like an apple or banana)
  • Dinner: Chicken stir-fry with lots of colorful vegetables and brown rice

Day 3

  • Brunch: Avocado toast on whole-grain bread with a side of boiled eggs
  • Snack: Carrot sticks with hummus
  • Dinner: Baked cod with sweet potato and a side salad

Day 4

  • Brunch: Smoothie made with spinach, banana, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder
  • Snack: A handful of mixed nuts
  • Dinner: Quinoa salad with grilled veggies and feta cheese

Day 5

  • Brunch: Overnight oats with chia seeds, almond milk, and a topping of mixed berries
  • Snack: Cucumber slices with hummus
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken breast with whole-grain pasta and a tomato-based sauce

Day 6

  • Brunch: Whole-grain toast with almond butter and a side of Greek yogurt
  • Snack: A piece of fruit (like a pear or orange)
  • Dinner: Baked tofu with mixed vegetables and a side of brown rice

Day 7

  • Brunch: Smoothie bowl made with mixed fruits, spinach, and a topping of granola
  • Snack: A handful of olives
  • Dinner: Baked sweet potato with a filling of black beans, corn, and a sprinkle of cheese

Read: The Ultimate Monthly Meal Planner Guide

Adapting the Meal Plan for Different Intermittent Fasting Schedules

Intermittent fasting is highly flexible, and the meal plan I’ve shared can easily be adapted to fit different fasting schedules. Whether you’re following a 5:2 schedule, a 20:4 fast, or an alternate day fasting plan, here are some tips to adapt the meal plan to your needs.

5:2 Fasting

In the 5:2 fasting plan, you eat normally for five days of the week and limit your calorie intake to around 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days.

  • On normal eating days, you can follow the meal plan as it is.
  • On the two fasting days, you should aim for nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods. A large salad with a good variety of veggies, topped with a lean protein like grilled chicken or tofu, can be a good option. You can also have broth-based soups which are filling but lower in calories.

20:4 Fasting (The Warrior Diet)

The 20:4 fast, often known as the Warrior Diet, involves fasting for 20 hours and eating within a 4-hour window.

  • Given the shorter eating window, you might find it challenging to fit in three meals. Instead, you can have one substantial meal and one smaller meal or snack.
  • E.g., you could have a big dinner, similar to the dinner options in the 7-day plan, and have a smaller meal or snack, like Greek yogurt with berries, within your eating window.

Alternate Day Fasting

Alternate Day Fasting involves fasting for a full day and eating normally the next day.

  • On your normal eating days, you can follow the meal plan as it is.
  • On fasting days, some people choose not to eat anything, while others limit themselves to about 500-600 calories. If you opt for the latter, you can follow similar recommendations as for the 5:2 plan for your fasting days.

Read: Crafting a Low-Carb Meal Plan for Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan Recipes

Now that we’ve covered our meal plan, I’m going to share some delicious, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare recipes for each meal on the plan.

These recipes focus on providing you with a balanced intake of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates during your eating window.

This isn’t just food, it’s fuel for your body. So, grab your apron, and let’s get started!


Day 1: Veggie Scramble with Whole-Grain Toast

Servings: 1

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 slices of whole-grain bread
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced bell peppers and onions to the pan and sauté until they’re soft and slightly caramelized.
  3. Add the chopped spinach and cook until wilted.
  4. Crack the eggs into the pan and stir to scramble with the vegetables. Cook until the eggs are set to your liking.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Toast the whole-grain bread and serve alongside the veggie scramble.

Day 2: Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries and a Drizzle of Honey

Servings: 1

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Pour Greek yogurt into a bowl.
  2. Top with mixed berries.
  3. Drizzle honey on top.

Day 3: Avocado Toast on Whole-Grain Bread with a Side of Boiled Eggs

Servings: 1

  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  1. Boil eggs to your desired level of doneness, then peel and set aside.
  2. Toast the whole-grain bread.
  3. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. Mash it with a fork.
  4. Spread the mashed avocado onto the toasted bread.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve the avocado toast with boiled eggs on the side.

Day 4: Spinach, Banana, Almond Milk, and Protein Powder Smoothie

Servings: 1

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  1. Place the banana, spinach, almond milk, and protein powder into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

Day 5: Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds, Almond Milk, and Mixed Berries

Servings: 1

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries
  1. In a jar or airtight container, combine the rolled oats, chia seeds, and almond milk.
  2. Stir well to combine.
  3. Place in the refrigerator and leave overnight.
  4. In the morning, give the oats a good stir. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more almond milk.
  5. Top with mixed berries and enjoy.

Day 6: Whole-Grain Toast with Almond Butter and a Side of Greek Yogurt

Servings: 1

  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  1. Toast the whole-grain bread.
  2. Spread the almond butter on the toast.
  3. Serve with Greek yogurt on the side.

Day 7: Smoothie Bowl with Mixed Fruits, Spinach, and Granola

Servings: 1

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup mixed fruits (like berries, mango, or pineapple)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup granola
  1. Place the banana, mixed fruits, spinach, and almond milk in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a bowl and top with granola. Enjoy!
Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan


Day 1: Grilled Salmon with Quinoa and Steamed Broccoli

Servings: 1

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  1. Season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the salmon to the pan, skin-side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until fully cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package instructions.
  5. Steam the broccoli until tender.
  6. Serve the grilled salmon with a side of quinoa and steamed broccoli.

Day 2: Chicken Stir-Fry with Vegetables and Brown Rice

Servings: 1

  • 1 chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (like bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free option)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  1. Cook the brown rice according to package instructions.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the sliced chicken breast to the pan and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Add the mixed vegetables and stir-fry until tender.
  5. Add the soy sauce and stir to coat the chicken and vegetables.
  6. Serve the chicken stir-fry over a bed of brown rice.

Day 3: Baked Cod with Sweet Potato and Side Salad

Servings: 1

  • 1 cod fillet
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  2. Season the cod fillet with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Place the cod in a baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the sweet potato in the microwave until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Toss the mixed salad greens with the vinaigrette dressing.
  6. Serve the baked cod with the cooked sweet potato and side salad.

Day 4: Quinoa Salad with Grilled Veggies and Feta Cheese

Servings: 1

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (like bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  1. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions.
  2. Slice the vegetables and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred.
  4. Combine the cooked quinoa and grilled vegetables in a bowl.
  5. Crumble the feta cheese on top and stir to combine.
  6. Serve the quinoa salad warm or chilled.

Day 5: Grilled Chicken Breast with Whole-Grain Pasta and Tomato-Based Sauce

Servings: 1

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup tomato-based pasta sauce
  1. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes on each side until fully cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the whole-grain pasta according to package instructions.
  5. Heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan over low heat.
  6. Drain the pasta and toss with the heated sauce.
  7. Serve the grilled chicken breast with a side of whole-grain pasta in tomato-based sauce.

Day 6: Baked Tofu with Mixed Vegetables and a Side of Brown Rice

Servings: 1

  • 1/2 block firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (like bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  2. Cut the tofu into cubes and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Spread the tofu cubes out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the brown rice according to package instructions.
  5. Steam the mixed vegetables until tender.
  6. Serve the baked tofu with a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice.

Day 7: Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Corn, and Cheese

Servings: 1

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  2. Poke the sweet potato with a fork several times and place it in the oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes until tender.
  3. Heat the black beans and corn in a pan over medium heat until warm.
  4. Slice the cooked sweet potato in half and fluff the insides with a fork.
  5. Top the sweet potato with the heated black beans and corn.
  6. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
  7. Return the sweet potato to the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve the stuffed sweet potato hot.

Read: 7 Day Meal Plan Designed for the Elderly

Essential Tips for Success

Making the transition to intermittent fasting can feel a bit daunting, but don’t worry! With the right approach and mindset, it can become an empowering and rewarding lifestyle change.

To help you get started and keep on track, I’ve gathered eight detailed tips based on my mum’s experience and my research.

Start Slow

If you’re new to intermittent fasting, it’s essential not to dive into long fasting periods right away. Start with smaller fasting windows, perhaps 12 hours, and gradually increase this over weeks or months.

This gives your body time to adjust to the new eating pattern, reducing potential side effects like fatigue or mood swings.

Listen to Your Body

Intermittent fasting should not feel like a punishment. Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you’re feeling faint, excessively hungry, or mentally foggy, it may be a sign that you need to adjust your fasting and feeding windows or what you’re eating during your feeding periods.

Stay Hydrated

Water intake is critical while fasting. It keeps your body functioning properly, aids digestion, and can even help manage feelings of hunger.

While many fasting protocols limit food, they don’t limit non-caloric beverages, so water, black coffee, and unsweetened teas are typically okay to consume while fasting.

Prioritize Sleep

Lack of sleep can increase hunger and cravings, making it more challenging to stick to your fasting plan. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. If you find fasting disrupts your sleep, it might be worth revisiting your eating and fasting windows.

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

The foods you eat during your eating window matter. Since you’re eating fewer meals, make each one count by focusing on nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These foods will provide the necessary nutrients for your body’s needs.

Mind Your Hormones

Women over 40 often face hormonal shifts that can affect metabolism and weight. It’s important to monitor your hormonal health during fasting.

If you notice negative symptoms like menstrual irregularities, persistent mood changes, or worsening menopausal symptoms, consult your healthcare provider.

Combine with Exercise

Exercise and intermittent fasting can go hand in hand. Regular physical activity can help boost the effects of fasting by improving insulin sensitivity and aiding in weight loss.

However, listen to your body. If you feel too fatigued, it might be better to exercise during your feeding window.

Consider a Support System

Having a support system can make a big difference when undertaking a lifestyle change like intermittent fasting.

Consider finding a friend to embark on the journey with you, or join an online community where you can share experiences, ask questions, and get support when needed.

The journey is individual, so what works for one person may not work for another. Stay flexible and open to adapting your plan as needed.


Intermittent fasting is a promising approach to healthy living, particularly for women over 40. It’s not just about skipping meals, but rather, it’s about creating a balanced, nourishing, and sustainable eating schedule.

This guide provides a practical start to your journey with a tailored meal plan, delicious recipes, and essential tips for success. Every woman’s journey with intermittent fasting is unique, and what works best for one may not work as well for another.

So, listen to your body, be patient with your progress, and most importantly, enjoy the journey to wellness. Happy fasting!