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Vegan Intermittent Fasting – Does It Really Work?

There are some misconceptions around ways and methods of Vegan Intermittent Fasting, or if the intermittent fasting is for vegans or not. Let’s see. (Updated August 2019)

In this article, we have tried to answer the following common questions.


What is Intermittent Fasting?

food on the table intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is known to be one of the most sustainable and efficient ways of losing weight. Instead of focusing on a group of foods like other diets (Keto, Paleo, Protein, etc.), this diet focus on digestive periods of your body. For example, the few hours before going to bed and the time while you are asleep are known to be the fastest metabolic time frames of an average body. Intermittent fasting emphasizes on those timings, and people who are on this diet, usually don’t eat for these periods so the digestion can take place smoothly without the interruption of more food.

How does it work?

When you’re on a fast, the body feels a lack of resources and hence changes several different things to make the stored energy work. It gets used to the fast and starts saving energy quicker and with limited food. That way, you stay healthy and energetic while you eat less. Every diet, including intermittent fasting, is just a way of changing your body mechanisms and how things work within you. It’s a process to let your body adapt to different situations.

Intermittent fasting is recommended for people with diabetic issues and those with disturbed levels or increased insulin content. It decreases your insulin by a large number, so those who prefer organic or natural ways of dealing with diabetes, opt for Intermittent Fasting.

Secondly, there is changed activity in your hormonal levels as well. For instance, your Human Growth Hormones can increase by dramatic degrees, which helps in many ways. This level up in hormones aids weight loss and enables you to gain muscle weight. Many people who go to the gym daily, often opt for intermittent fasting because this method has shown proven results in not only weight loss but also muscle gain.

The Methods

There is no one way to do intermittent fasting. That’s why it’s so popular. Unlike other diets, you can choose what’s best for you and fast (or feast) accordingly. Following are the five different ways you can consider welcoming intermittent fasting into your daily life.

1.    The 16/8 method:

Probably, the most popular and the easiest method. This one is about fasting for 16 hours a day and eating for 8 hours. For example, if you stop eating precisely at 8 pm and start at 12 pm the next day, your intermittent fast will be on track. This method is beneficial for people who have busy schedules. Those who cannot find the time to have breakfast in the morning and only find a break for lunch after 12 can do this very quickly without any hurdles. The 8 hours that you are going to eat in should be packed with full nutrition. However, this means that you can’t just go ahead and eat fatty foods and avoid important nutritional substances like protein etc.

2.    The 5/2 method:

The second method consists of a normal diet five days a week but a very restrictive diet just two days a week. For example, you can go about your regular meal plan for five days and then only ingest about 500-600 calories in a day for two days a week. You can choose which days suit you best. For some people, it’s a working day as they can easily take their mind off hunger by working a late shift or getting extra work done since weekends are lazy days, and most people just like to relax and go out with friends etc.

3.    The 24 hours fast:

Welcome to hard mode. This method is not the healthiest of them and can only be done under extreme circumstances. For the 24 hour method, you need to fast for 1 or 2 days a week for the full duration of 24 hours. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have anything to eat. You can have water, milk, and tea or coffee. But nothing else that has sustainable calories.

4.    Alternate Fasting:

You can also opt for fasting every other day. How does this work? Your fast won’t be like a 24 hour fast. It will be more like consuming 500-600 calories one day and then having a regular eating day the next day. On alternate days, you can choose to fast. Remember, alternate fasting should NOT be mixed with 24-hour fasts because those are advised only once or twice a week and are more like starvation. These are restrictive calorie fasts.

5.    Fast all day, feast at night:

Yes, that is exactly how it is. The name explains it. You don’t eat anything the whole day and then eat extravagantly at night. Also known as the warrior diet, a lot like how warriors in tales used to fast.

What are the side effects?

Ah, yes. Every time you look for a different way of fasting, it’s always important to look into the pros and cons, Intermittent Fasting can be undoubtedly effective and aid you a lot in your weight loss or health goals but there are also some side effects that one must consider before diving into the extensive process of Intermittent Fasting.

1.    Weight loss is much more comfortable. It’s challenging to be on a diet always. The reason why many people choose intermittent fasting is that it allows you not to eat anything for a specific time and then eat whatever you want for a short time. And this can be done not just weekly but also daily considering the many methods mentioned above.

2.    There isn’t extensive meal planning required. When people start new diets, the most stressful part of it all is planning your meals and taking extra time to cook and freeze them for their busy schedules. With IF, you have a lot of time. Since you will be skipping meals, you only need to plan for a few meals or a few hours. This gives you a lot of time to get other stuff done, and the diet won’t take up a lot of your day as you won’t be spending your free time thinking of what should you eat next or tomorrow.

3.    Fasting makes your health better. Take, for example, the 16/8 method. The period during the day where you are sleeping and the few hours before that are peak digestion hours. Your body needs its space to function and properly break down all the food you have consumed during the day. It’s challenging to achieve that during a regular diet as most people end up binge eating or having late-night snacks. While the idea of such snack times is appealing, it’s not suitable for your digestive system. So, if you stop eating by 8 pm and lunch at 12 pm the next day, your body will be all prepped and ready for the new meal instead of still trying to get rid of the already eaten food at night.

4.    There is also evidence that Intermittent Fasting results in increased brain functioning. How? Weight loss, in general, is known to improve your memory and your brain function. A lot of athletes are suggested to fast for some time so that not only their bodies but also their brains can function better for them to focus on the game. If weight loss is such a great tool in making overall body functions better, then Intermittent Fasting sure is beneficial because it promotes weight loss in great deals.

1.    When you start Intermittent Fasting, the first few weeks or days might be very hard. Especially if you are habitual of eating a lot all the time. You will find it difficult to not eat for 16 hours a day because your body is not used to it. But the human body is very adaptive. When it gets used to the new routine, you will be surfing smoothly and finding your choice of very useful for your body.

2.    Every time your fast is broken, which means when your non-fasting period starts, you will attempt to overeat a lot. It is quite normal in the first few days as you are not used to eating less. The key is to let it be the way it is. Try to decrease the amount of food you eat in your eating periods gradually and eventually you will reach the level where you eat healthy foods in a sustainable amount and instead of fulfilling your cravings, are focusing on eating foods that store energy for your fasting period.

3.    Weekends might be the hardest. We all know that restaurants and cafes are the most crowded on weekends because that’s when people are free to come out and have fun. But you won’t be able to do it due to your fasts. But that also depends on the fasting method you are choosing. For example, if you’re doing the 16/8 method, you can’t eat after 8 or 9 pm, and that will be a bummer for party people. But if you opt for the 5/2 or other methods, you can fast during weekdays and feast during weekends.

Vegan Intermittent Fasting: does it really work?

food in a bowl on blue table

The fun thing about Intermittent Fasting is that it’s not restricted to a type of diet. There is no requirement of what kind of food you should be consuming. You aren’t supposed to eat more meat or vegetables like other diets. You can simply eat whatever you usually eat during your non-fasting periods as long as it stores enough energy for the fasting periods. Vegans who often eat vegan products can incorporate the same products into their Intermittent Fasting lifestyles right after they start. It sounds more comfortable than it is.

However, it is essential that substitutes of meat and dairy contain the same amount of nutrition because you will be skipping meals for a long time. So your food needs to be full of everything because then you won’t have enough energy to do anything and will quickly fall out. The right way to fast is always to look up the nutrients you need in a day and try to fit them all into your non-fasting period of the day or week. For example, protein is vital for energy. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t doing anything energetic, it needs to be enough for you to function normally from day today. Just getting out of bed can be hectic for people who don’t have enough nutritional value in their food.

Many vegans tried intermittent fasting for their own and have shown that they take planned meals, and it’s the best thing ever. So yes, Intermittent Fasting DOES work for everyone. You just need to eat whatever you usually eat in your fasting days. It’s that simple.

Cons of Vegan Intermittent Fasting:

1.    Plants and fruits need way less time to digest as compared to meat. So if you’re on an Intermittent Fast with a vegan diet, you may feel less energetic and more hungry during your fasting period. Your food has been digested way before you started your fasting period, so your fast is just starvation. An excellent way to tackle this is to eat a lot of dairy substitutes and generally foods that require longer to digest or takes just as much time as meat or dairy would. This way, your energy is stored.

2.    Finding nutritional value can be hard. Usually, in vegan diets, nutrition is distributed into different meals throughout the day. Doing all of that for just a few hours can be difficult. You will need to find excellent substitutes for non-vegan products and generally increase the overall nutritional value in your food. That could be a bit hard at first but once you get used to it, it shouldn’t be a bother.

Who should NOT opt for Intermittent Fasting:

Alright, it was mentioned above that IF is for EVERYONE. But not quite like that. It’s for everyone who is eligible to try different diets and has no restrictions. For example, a person with no such medical condition that requires them to eat a lot or eat at a particular time of the day. Here is a list:

1.    Pregnant women: pregnant women need A LOT of nutrition during the day, and they need it regularly. So they really should not go for IF as their birth might be profoundly affected by it.

2.    Breastfeeding moms: the nutrition you take creates enough milk for your baby. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, you will find yourself not being able to produce enough milk for your baby during your fasting periods. Your baby should not be affected by any of your diets.

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