Weight loss diets always call for one thing: eating less. And that’s also the idea behind intermittent fasting, that if you restrict your eating hours, you will eat less in a day.
Have you seen and heard all the raves about it?
If you’re vegan you may wonder if you can try it. And of course you can! A vegan intermittent fasting diet has many benefits. So how do you start?
First, What Is Intermittent Fasting?
You’ll think it’s quite literal, because doesn’t it just mean you skip meals? Well kind of, but it’s a little more complicated and there’s a method to it. Intermittent fasting follows times or schedules.
Timing is vital when it comes to intermittent fasting. In fact, timing is everything. If you don’t do your times right, your fasting will be futile. Want to know the best part? The method doesn’t care about what foods you eat, it’s all about WHEN you eat. Yes, this means you can still eat ALL your favorite foods!
However, I personally would not advise you to do that. You need to remember that if you eat more calories in a day than you should, you will still gain weight.
Now onto the fasting side, you will need to fast for 16 hours to a maximum of 24 hours.
However for women, fasting for such a long period of time is not advisable. Many studies show that intermittent fasting is not as beneficial for females as it is for males. So sad huh! I know 🙁
Unfortunately, female bodies are very sensitive to calorie restriction. Women who try intermittent fasting may experience missed periods, metabolic disturbances, or run the risk of poor bone health.
Women should definitely think about taking a mild approach to fasting. It’s usually recommended that women should not fast more than 12 hours.
For more information on how women can follow a modified approach to fasting, check out this article from healthline.com.
The Mechanism Behind Intermittent Fasting: How Does It Work?
So how can you eat what you want and still lose weight? Well, as it turns out, the short periods of fasting fuel your fat burners. It speeds up your metabolism faster than a long period of fasting can.
A study featured in Live Science gives us more details:
For the first 10-12 hours of no food, our body relies on the glycogen stores for energy and function. After 12 hours of starving, our body will work harder and start burning off fats. Even stubborn fats! Think of this as peak fat burning, which you won’t get if you eat before that 12-hour mark.
Since fat burning peaks between 12 to 14 hours of fasting, it is best to start eating again after this time. However, I won’t suggest you start like this right away. You can start gradually and adjust your schedule until you reach 14 hours. This way, your body (and mind) can have the time to adjust.
However, if you are a women, don’t feel disheartened that you shouldn’t fast for more than 12 hours.
I myself don’t fast for longer than 12 hours since I’m a female, but I can tell you that fasting does help me consume less calories.
For example, if I get the munchies at night, and I want to reach for those vegan chips, I stop myself because I know that my fasting period has started and that if I eat something then I won’t be able to reach the 12 hours until I eat again.
Fasting has a lot of other benefits also, not just losing weight. So even if you are a women, and you can only fast for 12 hours, you should still do it. Keep reading to learn what those benefits are!
How Much Weight Can You Lose Through Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting can reduce your calorie intake if done the right way, which of course helps in weight loss, too. Interestingly, there are also studies that show intermittent fasting burns more fats than muscles.
On the average, intermittent fasting will help you lose around 0.55 lbs or 0.25 kg per week. If you do it in alternating days, you are able to lose 1.65 pounds (0.75 kg) each week.
Even better, you can lose inches off your waist (about 4 to 7% of fat around the waist). Doesn’t it sound wonderful?
Can you imagine how much more you can lose by eating cleaner and healthier? How about going vegan on it?
Level Up Intermittent Fasting: Do It The Vegan Way!
If you’re looking to try intermittent fasting, and wondering if you can do it as a vegan, you certainly can! In fact, a vegan intermittent fasting is so much better than your typical intermittent fasting!
But why do it the vegan way if you’re not vegan? Well, choosing to do intermittent fasting the vegan may surprise you with better results. Because consuming healthier foods while on intermittent fasting will significantly improve your results.
So, how can you combine a vegan and intermittent fasting diet together? It’s quite simple actually, if you’re a vegan already, it will be a lot easier. The only difference this time is considering food quality and calories.
As vegans, we know how food quality makes a huge difference. You can be on a vegan diet and still don’t have the right nutritional balance because of your food choices.
Especially with the plethora of vegan alternatives today, including junk food. So vegans need to be careful not to lose track when it comes to a healthy diet.
As I always say, a vegan diet is not necessarily healthy. It all depends on your food choices. It’s kind of the same thing with intermittent fasting. You have the freedom to eat what you want. But if you want the best results, you have to choose the best foods, and plan your meals.
Doing a vegan intermittent fasting is a great way to level up the usual intermittent fasting without a doubt. With the right food choices, you won’t feel like you’re starving yourself or feeling deprived during your chosen fasting time.
To get my vegan shopping list and meal plans CLICK HERE!
How Long Should You Go On Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting does not require specific lengths or periods. On average, you can fast anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months. It actually depends on your body.
If you have achieved your goal in 6 weeks, then you can stop there. There are people who do it shorter than that. Some do it as a maintenance only to keep off the weight they have shed off.
I personally never stop, because of the added benefits of fasting other than just losing weight, even if it’s only for 12 hours.
You must also listen to your body. If your body seems to respond poorly to what you are doing, then you should probably stop already.
An important thing to note before you go start intermittent fasting is to consult your doctor first. This is a must especially if you have health conditions which can get worse when you fast. If you get a go, your doctor can also help you plan your intermittent fasting lifestyle properly.
Are There Dangers In Intermittent Fasting?
If you are generally healthy, intermittent fasting should be safe for you. As long as you do it right and listen to your body, of course. But like most weight loss diets, intermittent fasting is not for everyone.
The idea of losing weight while still being able to have days of feasting is surely enticing. However, there can be many reasons for you to stop it, or not even start at all.
If you’re intermittent fasting, watch out for these! If you notice or get any of these, please stop and return to your normal diet. ASAP.
- Your sleeping pattern has changed for some reason since you went on fasting
- You feel like you’re forcing yourself every time you go on fasting
- You’re always stressed, either from work, or you just don’t like what you’re doing and it’s stressing you.
- You got pregnant! Quick! You and your baby need MORE nutrition.
- You get moody all the time because you went on intermittent fasting
- Your monthly period stopped completely but you’re not pregnant
Most of these only come down to your motivation especially because Intermittent Fasting can be really challenging. However, more importantly, if you notice any unusual changes in your health, it’s time to stop and visit your doctor.
Contraindications: Who Should NOT Go On (or even try!) Intermittent Fasting
Doctors strongly advise AGAINST intermittent fasting if you are, or have, any of the following:
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Amenorrhea (cessation of monthly period) from extreme weight loss
- Blood sugar problems
- Eating disorder
- Healing from an injury or illness
- Hypothyroid disorders or symptoms
- Multiple allergies
- Pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive
- Taking medications
- Under diabetes treatment
- Weak immune system
These contraindications are understandable of course. Always prioritize your health and recovery first before you even think about losing weight.
7 Intermittent Fasting Methods
Before you consider starting a fast, take a look at these methods that people on Intermittent Fasting use. The hours are your ratio of fasting against the hours of eating, or what others call “feeding time”.
On your feeding time, it doesn’t mean you can eat continuously for let’s say 8 hours. This will simply reduce your meals to 2 instead of 3 a day. This is why you will need meal planning.
Also, if you are a woman, keep in mind that these methods may not be appropriate for you for reasons already discussed.
1. 12-hour Daily Fasting
Although this method only burns lesser fats than the other methods, it’s one of the best types of intermittent fasting for beginners. To do this, choose a continuous 12-hour period where you can completely restrict yourself from eating.
To make it easier, include your sleeping time in your 12-hour fasting window. For example, you can eat from 6 am to 6 pm, then fast from 6 pm to 6 am. You can change this 12-hour window as long as you do a minimum of 12 hours fasting between each transition.
Advantage: Gives you more time to eat.
Disadvantage: May not give you significant results.
2. 16/8 Fasting (16 hours fasting, 8-hour eating window)
This is the most common method that seems to work for many people. If you don’t get results from 12-hour fasting, then you can move up to this method.
Following the same fasting rule, you just increase your fasting hours from 12 to 16. You can also choose to do 14 hours instead before jumping to 16. A great way to do this is by eating your last meal at 8 pm. Then, skip breakfast the next day and have your first meal at lunch (noon time) instead.
Advantage: It can get you results faster and effectively promote weight loss.
Disadvantage: The longer fasting hours may leave you starving in the beginning.
3. 5:2 Fasting (5 days of normal diet, 2 days of fasting in a week)
A lighter way to fast, the 5:2 fasting won’t require you to skip meals. Instead, you just choose 2 separate days in a week when you will reduce your daily calorie intake to just 500-600 calories. That’s 500 calories for women, and 600 calories for men.
This smaller number of daily calories will reduce your meals (for the 2 chosen days) to 2 small meals only. You can go under that, but not more than that, so you will have to choose your 2 meals carefully.
Advantage: You still get your 3 meals a day on most days.
Disadvantage: The calorie reduction may not be enough if you want to lose more weight. There are also chances of going beyond the calorie limit.
4. Weekly 24-hour fast (24-hour fasting once or twice a week)
It is perhaps the most challenging to have to fast for 24 hours straight! Some may consider this a bit extreme, but others find it more effective.
This can be done once or twice every week, with the days set as far from each other as possible. An easier way to do this is to fast from dinner to the following day’s dinner. You can also try fasting from breakfast to breakfast, or from lunch to lunch.
Advantage: You still get to eat normal for 5 days with complete meals and still lose weight.
Disadvantage: A 24-hour fast may give you a feeling of fatigue and irritability, and even give you headaches. This is common in the beginning and often disappears over time. I would advise for you to transition slowly.
5. Alternate Day Fasting (Fasting every other day)
Fasting alternately, or every other day, can be done in 2 ways: (1) complete fasting, no food, or (2) calorie restriction to 500 per day for women, and 600 for men.
Advantage: It can lead to significant weight loss (over a 12-week period) and may benefit heart health.
Disadvantage: May be difficult to maintain in the long term as there are more days of food deprivation.
6. The Warrior Diet (Fasting in the morning, then eating big at night, or vice versa)
This diet involves eating only one full meal a day, as big as you want, on a 4-hour window. For the remaining 20 hours, you can only snack on small pieces of fruits and vegetables. This is why it is also known by the term “fast and feast”.
Advantage: You don’t need to avoid food completely.
Disadvantage: Food quality might be compromised during “feasting”.
7. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
The most flexible of all methods. This allows you to skip your meals whenever it’s convenient. For example, when you’re too busy and don’t have time to cook or eat. Most people that use this method only eat when they feel really hungry.
Advantage: It feels easier to do as it is more natural.
Disadvantage: Some people may eat more if their hunger tolerance is lower. Monitoring is a must for this method to be successful.
The key to a more successful fasting is the quality of the food you eat. By sticking to a healthy vegan diet while fasting, you’re also getting the best nutritional quality. It will not only make you lose more weight, you’ll also feel fuller for longer.
Drinking Fluids While Fasting: What Vegan Beverages Can You Have?
Did you think you have to fast without any fluids? Well thank heavens there is no need for that! The safest you can have is just water, of course. But if that starts to get boring, what else can you have?
The key here is in the calories. Well, no calories, or low calories, to be exact. Here are some of the beverages you can have:
- Coffee – preferably black; use only no/low calorie sweeteners and vegan milk (unsweetened) at the most.
- Fruit-infused water – add slices of your favorite foods to a pitcher or glass of warm water.
- Tea – without milk or sugar, preferably; use no/low calorie sweeteners and vegan milk (unsweetened) only.
General Rule For Proper Hydration While Fasting
Type of Fasting
By Calorie Restriction (Limited Food)
- Men – 12 cups/day
- Women – 9 cups/day
Absolute Fasting (No Food)
- Men – 16 cups/day
- Women – 11 cups/day
The Other Health Benefits Of Vegan Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight by increasing fat burning and metabolism. To add to that, there are more health benefits when do it the vegan way:
- Better heart health by lowering bad cholesterol
- Faster cell repair
- Gene expression changes towards longevity and disease protection
- Higher physical endurance
- Improving brain health
- Increasing growth hormone levels
- Insulin levels drop while sensitivity improves
- Possible cancer prevention
- Reduction of inflammation
Most of these are based on limited studies. However, current studies on intermittent fasting are also leaning towards these benefits.
I also want to highlight the benefit of fasting that is the most fascinating to me and the main reason why I fast: anti-aging. Multiple studies have linked fasting and reducing calorie intake to living longer.
When you give your body time to heal itself and rest by not having to work all time to digest the food you eat, elongates your lifespan.
If you want more information in detail on this subject, I recommend you read Jillian Michaels’ book “The 6 Keys: Unlock Your Genetic Potential for Ageless Strength, Health, and Beauty”.
And for even more tips on anti-aging, check out my blog post “Do Vegans Age Slower? The Answer To The (Undying) Question!”
BONUS: To learn how a vegan intermittent diet can benefit you, check out the video below!
Diet Plans For Greater Success On A Vegan Diet And Intermittent Fasting
Choose foods that will keep you fuller longer. To achieve this, your food choices should have more healthy carbohydrates, fiber and fluids. You can experiment with these fulfilling vegan foods:
- Legumes (lentils, beans)
- Nuts and seeds (almond, walnut, macadamia, chia)
- Starchy veggies (sweet potato, potato, carrots, squash, yams)
- Grains (wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, brown rice)
Here are some ideas! Whip up any or all of these and stay full longer while you fast:
- Avocado Pasta
- High-fiber vegetable salad
- Oatmeal/porridge with your favorite fruit or nut toppings
- Peanut butter on whole wheat bread
- Vegan philly cheese sandwich
Find more fulfilling vegan meal recipes here.
Don’t just wing it out, plan your meals and set a target to fuel your motivation!
The success of your vegan intermittent fasting can boil down to 2 things: Preparation and discipline. Now make it, or break it!
If you are in good general health, intermittent fasting can work wonders for you. Just remember to start gradually and ease your way into it.
Vegan intermittent fasting can further increase the health benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Keep in mind: always choose foods with good nutritive value, and prepare and discipline yourself!
Keep in mind, you don’t need to do intermittent fasting to lose weight. What gives me the results are hydration, exercise, eating whole plant-based foods, no oil, and low sodium. But if you need a boost, give it a try!
As I mentioned earlier in the blog post, I personally fast to get the anti-aging benefits of intermittent fasting.
Have you tried going on a vegan intermittent fasting? What was it like for you? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.