Intermittent Fasting for Vegans: How to Start
Intermittent fasting doesn’t require you to follow a specific diet. You can easily incorporate intermittent fasting into your daily routine, especially if you’re currently adhering to a plant-based or vegan diet. However, as both intermittent fasting and veganism can potentially restrict nutrients, you’ll need to set a plan before you start.
If you follow a plant-based or vegan diet or begin one, here’s what you need to know before you start intermittent fasting.
Is There Such a Thing as Vegan Intermittent Fasting?
You may wonder if intermittent fasting goes with a vegan lifestyle. Take our quiz and find out what fasting plan will suit your lifestyle and diet choices best. Truthfully, intermittent fasting can pair with any diet or lifestyle. It’s what you eat during your “feasting window,” or the hours where you eat the day’s calories, which are most important.
You may be considering intermittent fasting for its health benefits. Your goal may be to lose weight, balance hormones, prevent chronic disease or battle the signs of aging. A vegan lifestyle can have many of the same benefits. Researchers have found that following a vegan diet can promote weight loss and lower your chances of developing a chronic disease.
How Healthy is Intermittent Fasting for Vegans?
Since both intermittent fasting and vegan lifestyles offer numerous health benefits, these benefits may amplify when you combine them. Researchers at the University of South Carolina in Columbia found individuals who eat plant-based diets tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consume a non-plant-based food.
The adoption of a plant-based diet by those adhering to a restricted eating window appeared effective for weight loss and improved dietary quality consistent with chronic disease prevention and treatment. Scientists at the Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine of the University of Florence also supported the theory.
When compared to omnivores, researchers discovered vegetarians and vegans reported significantly reduced levels of:
- Body mass index (BMI)
- Total cholesterol
- LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
- Glucose levels
Before you get too excited and jump into intermittent fasting and a vegan diet, you must understand the risks involved.
The Risks of Combining a Vegan Diet with Intermittent Fasting
A raw vegan diet offers several health benefits, but you may be at risk for nutrient deficiency. Vitamin b-12 is especially challenging for vegans to get through their diet. Harvard Health recommends a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein. A raw vegan diet eliminates dairy and the majority of traditional protein, which includes red meat, poultry, and fish.
The more restrictive your diet is, the more challenging it is to get the nutrients your body needs. Without dairy and traditional protein sources, a vegan diet can lack essential vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
A diet that lacks these elements can result in nutrient deficiency, which can affect your digestion, bone growth, and brain health. But, you can replace typical animal proteins. Be sure to do research and be sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients. Likewise, a plant-based diet requires significantly less time to digest compared to meat. So, if you’ve begun intermittent fasting on a vegan meal plan, there’s a chance you may feel less energetic and more hungry during your fasting period.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting on a Vegan Diet Plan
If you follow a vegan diet plan, you likely distribute your nutrients via multiple meals throughout the day. When you begin intermittent fasting, however, your eating window can shrink exponentially. It’s especially important to choose the right intermittent fasting protocol for you.
You can combine the following intermittent fasting protocols with a vegan diet:
- 16:8 — Feast during an 8-hour window and fast for the next 16 hours.
- 5:2 — Maintain a regular diet five days a week and eat a restricted 500-600 calorie diet two days a week.
- Alternate Day Fasting — Maintain your regular diet one day and eat a restricted 500-calorie eating plan the next, then repeat.
No matter what fasting protocol you choose, tracking your meals and fasting hours will keep you on track.
Before you begin your fast, plan your food. Remember, plants and fruits digest quicker than meat, so you’ll want to incorporate foods that take longer to digest during your feasting period. Dairy substitutes, nuts, beans, and whole grains are all fantastic options that help you stay full longer.
Analyze your diet to be sure you’re receiving adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Electrolyte supplements can help replenish your levels of certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. However, you may want to add an iron or zinc supplement.
Be sure you drink plenty of water daily. Intermittent fasting on a vegan meal plan means you get plenty of water from fruits and vegetables, but when you’re fasting, you’ll need to replace the water you’ve lost. Try to drink 8 to 10 cups of water per day while fasting.
Beginning to Intermittent Fast on a Vegan Meal Plan
When you combine intermittent fasting with a raw vegan diet, you can reap twice the benefits for weight loss and disease prevention. And overall, your lifestyle will be healthier. If you remain hydrated and balance your vital minerals, intermittent fasting on a vegan diet plan can be a perfect match.