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Is Vegan Intermittent Fasting a Good Idea?

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As a vegan dietitian I often get asked ” Is vegan intermittent Fasting a good idea?”. As we all already know veganism has grown widely popular today especially due to its associated health benefits and impact on climate change.

 

At the same time, one of the most popular health and fitness trends today is intermittent fasting. People are gravitated towards this diet due to recent studies showing its impact on weight loss, improved metabolic health and cardiovascular health.

 

So, no wonder vegans also want to explore this type of a diet to manage their weight even better and prevent chronic diseases.

 

However, a vegan diet is already at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies such as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Hence, if you don’t have a well-balanced vegan diet, there is an increased risk for bone fractures, preterm birth, and failure to thrive.

 

Nonetheless, vegan intermittent fasting is completely possible if done right. Overall, this type of lifestyle change will be healthier if and only if you eat balanced meals and stay hydrated.

 

Finally, you must ensure that you make smart food choices during your periods of eating.

This can be done by including:

  • Whole grains
  • Plenty of plant-based proteins
  • Healthy fat sources  

What is a vegan intermittent fasting weight loss diet?

 

Just like a regular intermittent fasting diet, a vegan intermittent fasting diet is also split into periods of eating and periods of fasting. This could be done in terms of a day or a week.

 

Mainly, you can eat a variety of plant-based foods of your choice during eating periods. But during the fasting period, the total calories you can consume are restricted to very little (500-600 calories) or nothing at all.

 

Also note that although you can eat what you like during the eating periods of vegan intermittent fasting, it is best if you stick to smart food choices, especially for a vegan diet.

 

A plant-based nutritionist would recommend sticking to a variety of protein foods (soy products, legumes, nuts, seeds), whole grains, fruits and vegetables and fortified plant-based foods.

 

This will ensure you are meeting your recommended dietary allowance for essential vitamins and minerals.

 

Despite the abundance of a variety of plant-based foods fortified with vitamin B12, vitamin B12 supplements and possibly others would be especially recommended on a vegan intermittent fasting diet.

 

A plant-based nutritionist can help you strategize your meal plans to ensure optimal nutrition.

 

Types of Vegan Intermittent Fasting Protocols

 

16/8 method:

 

This type of a diet requires you to restrict your eating period to 8 hours per day and the next 16 hours should be complete fasting.

 

Considering you sleep for about 8 hours a day, this type of a diet can be easier compared to other intermittent fasting protocols This is especially true if you are not used to snacking at nighttime.

 

Perhaps, if you sleep from 10pm-6am, you will need to fast from 6pm-10am every day during the week.

 

If you are new at vegan intermittent fasting, a registered dietitian would recommend you to start off with this protocol.  

 

 

5: 2 diet:

 

This type of a diet may be slightly more intense than the 16/8 method and requires you to restrict your calories to 500-600 kcal per day on two non-consecutive days of the week. Meanwhile, the remaining 5 days are completely non-restrictive.

 

 

Alternate Day Fasting:

 

Similar to the 5:2 diet, alternate day fasting suggests you consume 500-600 kcal, but on every alternate day instead of only 2 days per week. During the eating periods, you are suggested to eat liberally.

 

Therefore, this makes this type of a diet more challenging to follow but also more difficult to meet your daily nutrient requirements.

 

 

Eat-stop-eat:

 

This diet involves complete fasting and no consumption of food for 24 hours once to twice per week.

 

Reason why vegan intermittent fasting weight loss diet works?

 

Firstly, combining an intermittent fasting diet and a vegan diet will help you achieve your weight loss goals more rapidly.

 

Many studies strongly suggest weight loss success with this type of a diet. For example, you can potentially lose 0.8-13% weight after following intermittent fasting for a few weeks to months.

 

More specifically, with intermittent fasting, the percentage weight loss may be at the higher end. However, after 6 months of intermittent fasting, the weight loss plateaus.

 

Secondly, we need more long-term human research studies to know if weight loss can be maintained for long.

 

This can be explained by the fact that the body starts using fat reserves for fuel after depletion of carbohydrates while you are fasting. Hence, starving the body for 12-24 hours may lead to fat burn.

 

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