What should I eat when fasting for 20 4?

Intermittent fasting has become a popular diet approach, with variations like the 20/4 method growing in popularity. With 20/4 fasting, you fast for 20 hours a day and have a 4 hour eating window. Determining what to eat during the eating window is important to get the most out of 20/4 intermittent fasting. The right foods can help you feel full and satisfied during the fasting period, while providing key nutrients.

What is 20/4 Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting involves alternating between fasting and eating during set time periods. 20/4 fasting has you fast for 20 hours per day, with a 4 hour eating window. For example, if you finish dinner at 8pm, you would fast until 12pm the next day. You would then have from 12pm to 4pm to fit in 2-3 meals. After 4pm, the 20 hour fasting period begins again. 20/4 fasting could help with:

  • Weight loss – By restricting eating to 4 hours, you reduce calorie intake which can lead to weight loss over time.
  • Lower insulin resistance – Taking a 20 hour break from eating gives your body a long period to clear out insulin and blood sugar.
  • Increase growth hormone – Fasting increases growth hormone levels, which helps burn fat.
  • Reduce inflammation – Anti-inflammatory processes are ramped up during the fasting state.

20/4 intermittent fasting provides you with a consistent daily fasting protocol. Choosing what to eat during the 4 hour window is key to making this style of fasting work for you.

Eat More Protein

When intermittent fasting with a 20/4 schedule, it’s important to eat protein-rich foods during your 4-hour eating window. Protein foods take longer to digest, so they help keep you feeling full and satisfied for the 20-hour fast ahead. Good protein choices include:

  • Lean meats like chicken, turkey, lean beef and pork.
  • Fish and seafood options like salmon, tuna, shrimp and tilapia.
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Protein powders like whey protein and plant-based protein

Aim for around 30 grams of protein per meal during your eating window. Spread it out over 2-3 meals. Adding protein will help control hunger, maintain lean muscle mass and provide steady energy.

Include Fiber-Rich Foods

In addition to protein foods, you want to make sure your meals during the eating window are full of fiber. Fiber provides bulk which helps fill you up. This can reduce hunger pangs during the long fasting period. Great fiber options include:

  • Vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach
  • Fruits – berries, pears, apples, figs
  • Legumes – lentils, beans, chickpeas, split peas
  • Whole grains – oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice
  • Nuts and seeds

Aim for both soluble and insoluble fiber sources. Soluble fiber helps feed good gut bacteria which provides many health benefits. Insoluble fiber adds bulk which makes you feel fuller longer.

Healthy Fats Are Important

Don’t shy away from healthy fats when eating during your 4 hour window with 20/4 fasting. Fats will help keep you feeling satisfied between meals. Great options include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans
  • Nut butters
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Full-fat cheese
  • Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
  • Chia seeds and flaxseeds
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt

Avoid highly processed vegetable oils which tend to be high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Prioritize unsaturated fats from plant and fish sources.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is crucial when fasting for 20 hours every day. Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, poor concentration and increased hunger. Consume plenty of non-caloric beverages like:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened coffee
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Sparkling water
  • Bone broth
  • Mineral water

Add lemon, lime, cucumber or mint to help add some flavor. Staying hydrated will help you feel your best during both fasting and feeding periods.

What to Avoid Eating

While fasting 20/4, there are some foods you’ll want to avoid eating during your 4 hour window. These foods can spike blood sugar, cause energy crashes and increase hunger:

  • Refined carbs – white bread, pasta, sugary snacks
  • Fruit juices – lack fiber and are high in sugar
  • Caloric beverages – soda, sweet tea, specialty coffee drinks
  • Processed foods – fast food, frozen meals, lunch meats

Stick to whole, unprocessed foods. Read labels and avoid items with sugar, refined grains, trans fats and excessive sodium.

Sample 20/4 Fasting Meal Plan

Here is a sample meal plan for one day of 20/4 intermittent fasting:

Fasting Period

Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, black coffee and mineral water.

Break Fast Meal (12pm)

  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and bell pepper
  • Sliced avocado
  • Berries

Second Meal (2:30pm)

  • Mixed greens salad with chicken, pecans and balsamic dressing
  • Carrots
  • Apple slices

Third Meal (3:30pm)

  • Salmon baked in coconut oil with broccoli
  • Sweet potato
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt with cinnamon

This meal plan focuses on protein, healthy fats and fiber-rich choices within the eating window. Avoid snacking and stick to 2-3 nutrient-dense meals.

Supplements to Enhance 20/4 Fasting

Certain supplements may help enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting with a 20/4 schedule:

  • Fiber supplements – Glucomannan or psyllium husk can help curb hunger.
  • BCAAs – Branched chain amino acids provide energy and help maintain muscle.
  • MCT oil – Provides ketones and energy.
  • Bone broth – Helps hydrate and provides electrolytes.
  • Caffeine – Improves energy, focus and fat burning.
  • Mineral supplements – To prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, especially if you take any medications or have underlying health conditions. Start with lower doses and monitor your response.

Customize Your Eating Window

One of the great things about 20/4 intermittent fasting is that you can customize it to fit your schedule. As long as you fast for 20 continuous hours and eat within a 4 hour window, you can shift the times as needed. For example:

  • Early window – 8am to 12pm
  • Midday window – 12pm to 4pm
  • Afternoon window – 2pm to 6pm
  • Evening window – 6pm to 10pm

Experiment to find a 20/4 schedule and eating window that works for your preferences and lifestyle. The key is consistency with sticking to the fasting and eating schedule.

20/4 Fasting Tips

Here are some tips to get started with 20/4 intermittent fasting:

  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, herbal tea and coffee during the fast.
  • Opt for lower carb meals with moderate protein and healthy fats.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully within your 4 hour window.
  • Listen to your body – extend the fast if you aren’t hungry.
  • Break your fast gradually with a small snack.
  • Pay attention to your energy, hunger and mood.
  • Reduce physical activity on fasting days if needed.

Start by fasting for 16 hours and work up to a 20 hour fast. Take care not to under eat during your window. Aim to meet your nutritional needs within the 4 hour timeframe.

Benefits of 20/4 Intermittent Fasting

Research has shown that intermittent fasting methods like 20/4 have many health benefits:

  • Weight and fat loss – Fasting triggers fat burning while helping reduce calorie intake.
  • Reduced inflammation – Markers of inflammation like c-reactive protein are decreased.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity – Insulin resistance is reduced.
  • Better heart health – LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure decrease.
  • Increase in longevity – Longer lifespan shown in animal studies.
  • Boost in brain function – Enhanced cognition, focus and mood.

Studies show 20/4 fasting can provide meaningful health improvements without requiring overly restrictive eating.

Potential Drawbacks of 20/4 Fasting

20/4 intermittent fasting may not be right for everyone. Some potential drawbacks include:

  • Difficulty eating enough calories in 4 hour window
  • Increased hunger, irritability and headaches
  • Reduced athletic performance
  • Trigger disordered eating tendencies
  • Decreased focus and dizziness from low blood sugar
  • Fatigue and low energy

Those with a history of disordered eating, blood sugar issues or who are underweight should use caution or avoid intermittent fasting. Always talk to your doctor before starting.

Who Should Avoid 20/4 Intermittent Fasting?

20/4 fasting is not recommended for some populations. The following individuals should avoid this fasting regimen:

  • Children and teens
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Those with diabetes or blood sugar issues
  • People taking certain medications, like insulin and antidepressants
  • Those with a history of eating disorders
  • Anyone underweight or malnourished
  • Those with heart issues or electrolyte imbalances

20/4 fasting could potentially be unsafe for these groups. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider before trying intermittent fasting.


20/4 intermittent fasting with a 20 hour fast and 4 hour eating window is growing in popularity thanks to weight loss and health improvements shown in research. Eating protein-rich and fiber-full meals within your 4 hour timeframe can help you stay full and satisfied. Customize fasting and eating times to your schedule, and listen to your body’s response. 20/4 fasting provides flexibility with the consistent regimen of a 20 hour overnight fast and compressed eating window during the day. For most people, this style of intermittent fasting can be a beneficial and sustainable approach.

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