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Vegan Intermittent Fasting: Is It A Healthy Way to Lose Weight?

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 22, 2021

Whether you want to try intermittent fasting to lose weight, improve your health, or prolong your life, there are some things you should know beforehand.

Perhaps you are wondering how well does a vegan diet go with an eating schedule? Or if it will improve the health advantages of fasting? If that’s the case, you’re in for a treat since we’ll go over vegan intermittent fasting and anything in between.

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What Is Vegan Intermittent Fasting, and How Does It Work?

A vegan lifestyle is completely compatible with intermittent fasting. Moreover, it can even promote weight loss and enhance other health benefits.

Vegan intermittent fasting and regular intermittent fasting both include a time-restricted eating pattern. The only difference is that you continue to abstain from all meat, dairy, and animal-based foods and products during your eating window. You can combine fasting with any other diet.

Therefore, regular intermittent fasting involves a regular diet and vegan intermittent fasting involves a vegan diet.

After all, intermittent fasting isn’t a diet and rather an eating schedule. Therefore, it doesn’t tell you what to eat and focuses on when to eat. Veganism, on the other hand, is a diet and combining these two – we get a vegan intermittent fast.

Vegan intermittent fasters will follow the same routine as regular intermittent fasters. However, they will only eat completely plant-based meals. That’s all there is to it.

There are 11 types of fasting and a few types of the most popular vegan intermittent fasting that you can choose from.

Types of vegan intermittent fasting

The most popular types of vegan intermittent fasting:

  • 16:8 method – the most common vegan fasting option. Features a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour eating window. The best way to start fasting and managing weight.
  • Eat-stop-eat – features a 24-hour fasting window once to twice per week. The method can promote fat loss by changes in metabolic function.
  • 5:2 method – allows eating only 500-600 calories two days a week and eating normally, plant-based meals for the rest of the week. Calorie deficit promotes weight loss, reduces insulin resistance, and helps reduce inflammation.
  • Alternate day fasting – combining the 16:8 method with a limited caloric intake of 500-600 calories. One day you eat limited calories and the next day you follow a 16:8 fasting and eating window. This type of vegan fasting includes benefits such as improved glucose tolerance, reduced blood pressure and heart rate as well as weight loss.

How to Combine Intermittent Fasting With the Vegan Diet

Vegan diets can be beneficial to your health and offer significant advantages over traditional eating habits. To specify, vegans can only consume plant-based meals and restrain from meat, dairy, and all animal-sourced foods. Vegan diets are completely safe but require more attention to some nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12.

The main rules of vegan intermittent fasting:

  • Choose the right fasting routine – consider your work schedule and life habits.
  • Start slowly – don’t jump right into difficult fasting routines, these can be too difficult to follow at first.
  • Pay attention to how you feel – if vegan intermittent fasting leaves you feeling drained or sick, it might be the best to stop.
  • Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time – this ensures that you always meet your nutrient needs.
  • Limit processed foods – try to eat minimally processed plant foods when possible.
  • Take your supplements – vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, zinc, omega-3, and selenium supplements could be included into your diet.

All in all, to reach the best results, you’ll need to choose the best foods to eat.

To make your experience even more manageable and enjoyable, consider taking a look at DoFasting. Here you can find everything you need for fasting – articles, supplements, and even a fasting app.

Besides, the app includes nutritious and healthy vegan meal recipes, so you never run out of ideas.

Foods to Eat

Even though, technically, you can eat anything on your eating window, there are some foods that are better to eat in order to enhance your overall well-being and receive the best results.

The vegan intermittent fasting-friendly foods:

  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Leafy greens
  • Protein-rich foods
  • Fortified foods
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Chia seeds
  • Black coffee
  • Herbal tea

Moreover, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 grams per 2.2 lbs of body weight. That number increases to 1.2 to 2 grams for people who are more active. Proteins contain amino acids that help your body keep your energy levels up as well as build and repair muscle.

Vegan-friendly protein sources:

  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Hemp seeds
  • Peas
  • Seitan
  • Soy milk
  • Oats
  • Wild rice
  • Spirulina
  • Sprouted grains
  • Nuts
  • Spelt and teff

There are also foods that you should avoid to prevent weight gain.

Foods to Avoid

Foods that are not allowed:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Mayonnaise
  • Honey
  • Highly-processed foods
  • Sweets
  • Sugary drinks
  • Snacks

The main aim is to avoid junk food and follow a plant-based meal plan.

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How Does Vegan Intermittent Fasting Affect Weight Loss?

Intermittent fasting, in general, is a very effective method of reducing weight and the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

Fasting cleanses your body of toxins. When we fast, the body doesn’t have access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means to produce energy. Hence, the body begins gluconeogenesis, a natural process of producing its own sugar.

Speaking of weight loss, when you fast, your body enters ketosis. This happens when the body uses stored fat as its primary energy source. It gtuyhelps to lose weight and that also manages blood sugar levels.

Vegan intermittent fasting does exactly the same.

It depends on a person how much weight they can lose by fasting. A typical loss is 7-11 pounds over 10 weeks. Vegan intermittent fasting may result in a higher number because studies suggest that following a vegan or vegetarian diet instead of a regular one can also help you lose weight.

It all depends on your habits, intermittent fasting protocol, and your calorie intake.

5 Other Benefits of Vegan Intermittent Fasting

Apart from reducing your body fat and weight in general, intermittent fasting combined with a vegan diet has other numerous health benefits.

1. Helps you burn belly fat

Refined high-calorie, high-fat foods increase belly fat. This type of food has more unhealthy bacteria. A lower calorie, high-fiber, plant-based diet, on the other hand, has more healthy bacteria.

Healthy bacteria help you burn belly fat. Besides, intermittent fasting also cleanses the body from toxins and promotes fat burning.

2. Improves mood and concentration

Fasting is known to enhance brain health and function.

Vegan intermittent fasting can improve mood and boost concentration. This is because it increases the creation of BDNF, a protein in your brain associated with increased mood and cognition.

3. Helps control blood sugar levels

The time-restricted eating plan combined with a vegan diet can reduce blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance.

Besides, ​​a vegan or plant-based diet reduces body mass index, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and glucose levels considerably. It’s critical to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, to help avoid or delay long-term, major health problems such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

4. Increases energy and stamina

Instead of carbohydrates, the body switches to using fats and ketones as a source of fuel for muscles when fasting which increases endurance.

This means that vegan intermittent fasting can increase energy and stamina which will aid in your overall performance.

5. May help increase life expectancy

Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can increase your lifespan. Cells undergo an adaptive stress response during fasting, which can account for its numerous positive effects.

Besides that, intermittent fasting has been shown to protect against many age-related diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Speaking of veganism, people of any age can extend their lives by changing from an animal-based diet to a more plant-based one.

Is it safe?

There is a lower amount of nutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, calcium, selenium, omega-3s, and vitamin B12 in a vegan diet. As a result, meeting your nutritional requirements might be difficult when intermittent fasting.

You should plan your eating window and make sure that your diet is well-balanced. You could do this by visiting a registered dietitian or doing some nutritional research yourself.

Moreover, if you have a history of eating disorders or a tendency to overeat while breaking a fast, this eating plan might not be suitable for you. Binge eating disorder can cause excessive food consumption in a short period of time. You may feel as though you have no control over your eating habits.

However, if you make sure to eat healthy, well-balanced meals during your eating window and don’t have a history of eating disorders – vegan intermittent fasting is completely safe and has many health benefits.

Risks and Drawbacks to Consider

There are always some risks and drawbacks to consider when trying out a lifestyle change:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Faintness

These side effects can be caused due to a lack of nutrients which are harder to get on a vegan diet. Therefore, you must plan your meals accordingly and consider taking some supplements.

Who Should Not Try Intermittent Fasting?

Even though it has many benefits, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. So make sure that you are not on the list:

  • Children and teens under the age of 18 – need plenty of calories for development and growth.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding – have increased energy requirements.
  • People with a history of eating disorders – intermittent fasting can be triggering.
  • People with diabetes or blood sugar problems – fasting causes blood sugar changes.
  • People that tend to binge eat – can trigger binge eating even more.

Whether you fall into these categories or not, it’s always recommended that you consult your doctor before starting any diets or lifestyle changes.

6 Tips for Sticking to the Vegan Intermittent Fasting Plan

If you decide to follow a vegan intermittent fasting plan, here are some pointers to keep you on track.

1. Hydration is important

When you’re not eating, you need to stay hydrated. It can help regulate hunger pangs and maintain electrolyte balance.

Moreover, you should drink water, 8-15 glasses, every day to control headaches, stabilize blood pressure, and promote muscle strength. You can also try fasting-friendly drinks.

Track your water intake throughout the day to ensure proper hydration. You can record your glasses in a journal or use the DoFasting app, that will assist you in tracking your water intake.

Also, keep a large bottle of water on hand that you don’t need to continuously refill.

2. Focus on whole and nutritious foods

Since a vegan diet naturally lacks some nutrients, you must focus on whole and nutritious foods. A diet lacking in certain nutrients can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can impact digestion, bone growth, and brain function.

Therefore, make sure to plan your eating window ahead of time and include lots of well-balanced meals. If needed, consult a nutritionist and add supplements to your diet as well.

3. Eat slowly and frequently during your meal times

To ensure that you won’t binge after a fast, eat slowly and mindfully. This will help your digestive system and won’t overwhelm your body after a long fasting period.

Also, don’t forget any meals throughout the day, try to eat as frequently as possible. This will also prevent you from getting too hungry and getting strong cravings.

4. Make sure you are eating enough

Even if you’re trying to lose weight – you have to make sure you are eating enough. You don’t need to shock your metabolism or take drastic measures to reach your goal.

Instead, you should eat a lot of nutritious and healthy meals throughout the day to feel good and get the most out of intermittent fasting. Hence, make sure to eat the required amount of calories and include a lot of greens, fruits, and protein-rich foods.

You can check how many calories you should eat on average on a smart scale or after downloading the DoFasting app.

5. Prepare your meals in advance

Meal prep is a great way to ensure that you always get the needed nutrients and calories and don’t turn to fast food choices. As I’ve mentioned above, a plant-based diet naturally lacks iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins B12 and D, selenium, and omega-3s.

Hence, you need some nutritional knowledge and preparation in order to eliminate the lack of these nutrients.

Preparing your meals and snacks in advance can save you time and prevent you from binge eating. Besides, as a vegan or vegetarian you should seek out nutrient- and fiber-rich meals to reduce hunger and malnutrition during fasting times.

6. Add healthy fats to every meal you eat

Healthy fats make sure that you absorb all the nutrients and vitamins. It also speeds up your metabolism and regulates your blood sugar, which is helpful when trying to lose weight.

In addition, healthy fats help you feel full and reduce hunger during your fasting window. This ensures you don’t overeat when the fast ends as well.

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Vegan Intermittent Fasting: Final Considerations

Vegan intermittent fasting is the same as regular intermittent fasting but with a different meal plan. It’s completely safe and beneficial as long as you maintain a well-balanced plant-based, vegan diet and choose the right fasting plan.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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