Intermittent fasting isn’t just a fad diet, it’s a way of eating that is intuitive for your physical body, and has many health benefits. However, you may be wondering if you should try it if you follow a vegan lifestyle? In this complete guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about vegan intermittent fasting so you can make an informed decision on whether it is right for you.
- What is intermittent fasting?
- What is vegan intermittent fasting?
- What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
- What are the risks of combining a vegan diet with intermittent fasting?
- Should you start vegan intermittent fasting?
- Who should avoid intermittent fasting?
- Fasting Hour Options
- How do you get started?
- Intermittent Fasting FAQS
- Resources to Help You Get Started
- Final Thoughts
- More helpful vegan tips!
What is intermittent fasting?
Instead of focusing on what you are eating, intermittent fasting focuses on when you are eating. The best way to explain it is you fast, or go without eating for a specified number of hours, allowing your body to burn body fat easier, before breaking your fast by eating a meal.
You naturally fast every day from the time after you have dinner to the next morning when you have breakfast. That is unless you’re a midnight snacker!
When you practice intermittent fasting it’s helpful to make sure you get plenty of water and some sort of protein and satiable fat source in your meal of choice to help you stay full, happy, and healthy during your fasting periods. Nobody wants a hangry fasting friend or family member, right!
As a result of limiting the hours in which you eat, people generally eat fewer calories, resulting in the calorie deficiency needed to lose weight. In addition, fasting helps your body burn fat more quickly. This is why it has become a popular lifestyle shift and weight loss method. You can follow a fasting plan when on other types of diets such as the keto diet, paleo, whole 30, or any healthy diet.
What is vegan intermittent fasting?
Vegan intermittent fasting is similar to regular intermittent fasting. The only difference is that you follow a vegan diet during your eating window. You must make sure that you make smart food choices that include whole foods, plant-based proteins, and fat sources. For example, you could prepare this high-protein overnight oat with a dollop of peanut butter for added fat. The most important thing to consider when fasting and following a vegan diet is to choose well-balanced meals that include plenty of protein, and healthy fats to keep you full and satiated between meals.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Following a plant-based diet while incorporating intermittent fasting into your lifestyle can be done and provides better health overall
Health benefits of fasting include but are not limited to:
- Increase life expectancy
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower BMI
- Decrease risk of heart disease
- Lower Cholesterol
- Improving focus and brain health
- Overall gut health
- Increase endurance and overall energy and mood
- Increase muscle mass
- Help you develop healthier eating habits
- Decrease bloating
- Improve energy levels
What are the risks of combining a vegan diet with intermittent fasting?
Following a vegan diet, when not done in a thoughtful way, can unknowingly omit many nutrients your body needs. Be sure to plan your meals in such a way that you have a well-balanced meal that includes protein, fat, vegetables, and whole grains.
You need to be sure you will be hitting all of your macro needs in the meal or smaller meals that you will be eating in your allowed eating window.
Vitamin B-12 is one of the vitamins that can be difficult for vegans to consume since it is most often found in animal protein. However, B12 can be found in nutritional yeast, some cereals, mushrooms, and algae.
Iron is another nutrient vegans can easily become deficient in without even realizing it. This is a problem for both vegans and carnivores and something to track no matter what lifestyle you plan to follow.
Zinc, Calcium, and Vitamin D are other nutrients that it’s very common for vegans to be deficient in. Don’t become malnourished by following a poorly planned plant-based diet. This can be a problem not just affecting your mood, but your overall health and development.
It would be helpful to take a vegan multivitamin while you follow a vegan diet to be sure you are getting the proper amount of nutrients your body needs. However, taking a multivitamin should not be a substitute for healthy well-balanced meals.
You may also find that when you start fasting you may see an increase in other side effects like hunger pains, headaches, lethargy, and heartburn. These are all relatively mild side effects that subside with time.
Be sure to discuss any potential side effects and how to handle them with your health team before starting this lifestyle change.
Should you start vegan intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a good option for otherwise healthy individuals who are looking to lose the last 5 to 15 stubborn pounds, those who have hit a plateau in their diet, or those that are looking for a jump start on their weight loss journey.
Before embarking on vegan intermittent fasting it’s important to discuss these changes with your healthcare provider. While it can be extremely beneficial for many people, you should always discuss your nutrition plans and dietary habits with your doctor to ensure it will be a safe and effective plan for your individual health journey.
If you and your doctor do decide this is a beneficial option for you, I have a few recommendations that can help you start and have success.
Who should avoid intermittent fasting?
Do not start intermittent fasting if you are…
- Diabetic (fasting can cause low blood sugar levels)
- Pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant
Be sure to discuss your eating plan with your doctor if you become pregnant while following a vegan diet and/or practicing intermittent fasting.
Fasting Hour Options
The 16:8 option is the most common fasting option individuals choose. For this option, you will be allowed to eat during an 8-hour window of the day and your fasting period is 16 consecutive hours. However, if you are just starting out, you can start with fasting 12 hours a day, and work your way towards a 16-hour fast.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to see how long you sleep and tack on a few hours on each end of that to make up your 16 hours of fasting. For example, say you sleep from 9 pm to 5 am each night, that’s half of your fasting hours already taken care of while you do nothing but sleep. Now add on 4 hours before you go to bed and 4 hours after you wake up.
So, you will fast from 5 pm (typically after dinner), until 9 am the following morning (a later breakfast or brunch time). The actual hours of the day that you choose don’t make a difference, as long as the ratio is the same.
This form of fasting is slightly different from the 16:8 plan. This is more focused on what you’re eating each day. fasting time
Under this plan, you’ll eat your normal vegan diet for 5 days, and the other 2 days a week you will limit your calorie intake to about 500-600 calories a day. The fasting time each day isn’t as important as limiting your calorie intake on the other days.
Alternate Day Fasting
This lifestyle combines the two options above. The first day you’ll start with a limited caloric intake day of 500-600 calories, and the next day you’ll follow a 16:8 fasting and eating window. fasting and feasting window day.
This is a great way to shake up your metabolism if you find yourself at a plateau or needing a change.
How do you get started?
I suggest you start with the 16:8 protocol. Of all the options this is the most intuitive and can yield excellent results.
Step 1: An easy way to get started, is to take note of the time you had your last meal or snack before going to bed. Try to finish your dinner between 6 pm and 7 pm, and don’t snack in the evening.
Step 2: When you wake up in the morning skip your usual breakfast or prolong your breakfast depending on the time you had your last meal. For example, if you finished eating dinner at 6:00 pm, then wait to have breakfast until 10:00 am. That would be a 16-hour fast. Adjust the time to break your fast depending on when you had your last meal.
Step 3: During your 8-hour eating window, enjoy healthy well-balanced meals that include protein, fat, vegetables, and high fiber carbohydrates.
Step 4: Finish your last meal between 6-7 pm. Then repeat the process.
Intermittent Fasting FAQS
The answer to this will vary from person to person depending on your personal and medical history and the goals you desire to achieve while fasting. If you are starting intermittent fasting with the goal of losing weight, then you will likely have to fast until you reach your weight loss goals. However, once you reach your weight loss goal, you want to continue to eat a healthy well-balanced diet to maintain your weight loss.
Fasting works by extending the period of time that your body is in calorie-burning mode after it burns all the calories from your previous meal. Your body stores the calories you consume in either glycogen or body fat. Your body first stores calories in glycogen, but any extra calories that your body doesn’t need get stored as body fat. Every time you eat, you are rebooting your system, which doesn’t allow your body to start burning fat. Fasting gives your body the time it needs after it burned through your regular calories, to start burning fat stores.
Fasting and following a healthy plant-based diet may help you lose weight. But as with all diets, it’s not one size fits all. How much weight you lose depends on many factors including exercise, and calorie restriction. If your goal is to lose weight as a result of intermittent fasting be sure to also include an exercise program, and make healthy eating choices during your eating hours. Just because it is your window to eat does not mean you should consume all the junk food you want!
You may choose to exercise while fasting but you may also find that you fatigue a lot faster than you do during your feasting window. If you choose to exercise during a fast, consult your doctor and you should probably choose a low-intensity exercise choice like walking, pilates, or yoga and avoid things like a HIIT workout. Leave that for your eating window.
Yes, you may drink water while fasting and it is highly encouraged to do so. Water will help you feel full longer, help encourage your body to lose weight if necessary, and provide your body with proper hydration.
You may also drink black coffee or herbal tea during a fasting window, but do not add a bunch of sugar and dairy-free cream. Discuss with your health team what beverages would be best for you while fasting, typically it’s water, but some individuals are allowed to have up to 50 kcals while fasting and will still remain in a fasting state.
Resources to Help You Get Started
Vegan Intermittent Fasting By Petra Bracht is an excellent book for those that want a comprehensive plan. This book follows the 16:8 fasting plan. It includes a comprehensive explanation of how fasting works, and its benefits, such as weight loss, and reduced inflammation. In addition, it includes over 100 recipes that ensure you follow a well-balanced nutrient-rich diet plan while fasting.
Plant-Based Grocery List: This is a complete and comprehensive shopping list of all the plant-based foods that will help you prepare delicious and well-balanced meals.
WFPB Diet The Ultimate Guide: If you are just getting started this complete vegan guide will tell you what it entails, how it’s different from other diets, the benefits, and the steps to getting started.
Vegan Meal Plan: This is a great jumping-off point for putting together a meal plan to follow while fasting that includes delicious recipes, as well as tips on how to plan a thoughtful well-balanced vegan meal.
Remember to plan your meals properly during your feasting window. Fruits and many plant-based foods will digest faster and may leave you feeling hungry more quickly than you anticipated. Be sure to eat foods that have a slower digestion time and higher satiety factor to help you achieve success following a vegan intermittent fasting lifestyle. Make sure to analyze your vegan diet and fasting protocols with your healthcare team as time goes on and adjust based on your nutrition needs as necessary.