Intermittent Fasting with a Vegan Diet

IFit muscular body

In this article today I would like to outline something that is close to my heart and has proved very successful for me. That is intermittant fasting with a vegan diet.

Though I should say, unfortunately, the above is not a picture of me. I have much shorter hair!????

Understanding intermittent fasting and it’s benefits.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves cycling between fasting and eating. The most common method is probably the 16/8 method.

That is fasting for 16 hours a day and restricting eating to an eight hour window. Though beginners to the process often start with a ten hour eating window, then reduce that to eight. Generally it is suggested that we do not eat within an hour of getting up or three hours before we sleep. That gives a pretty broad alternative of when to place this eating window. If you are someone who likes their breakfast, you might like to make the eating window 8am to 4pm. If you don’t mind skipping the traditional breakfast you could wait until 2pm to eat which gives you until 10 pm to eat, as long as you do not sleep earlier than 1am. The choice is yours, so again, see how it works for you.

An alternative is fasting for one, two or three full days. It is important not to fast for more than three consecutive days as after that length of time the body starts to break down muscle for food. I don’t think any of us want that! Intermittent fasting has gained popularity due to its potential health benefits. Research suggests that intermittent fasting may support weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, enhance cellular repair, and promote longevity. There is also evidence that whilst the body is not trying to break down food it allows the mind to find peace and clarity, allowing greater concentration and focus. Like many things it is down to you to choose how you would like to implement it.

So whether you choose to eat only in an eight hour period, per day, or to go for one two or three days without eating you will most likely reduce your fat level without compromising on muscle and other fitness. It can be hard to go for days without food but personally I find the first day is the hardest. After that the hunger seems to largely go away. Of course you could do the 16/8 method as well as fasting for full days here and there, or say every Tuesday, or as regularly as you need to get down to your chosen weight. Though I should stress here that intermittent fasting is far more than just trying to lose weight.

By combining a vegan diet with intermittent fasting, individuals can experience the benefits of both approaches. Veganism excludes all animal products focusing on plant based foods. It emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Pairing a vegan lifestyle with intermittent fasting can further enhance overall health and well-being. Personally speaking it also makes me feel great!

Vegan foods suitable for intermittent fasting.

When practicing intermittent fasting, it’s important to choose vegan foods that are low in calories and can sustain you during fasting. Choose nutrient dense options that provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Incorporating vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains can be an excellent way to meet these requirements.

During fasting periods most people do not eat anything, though it is vital to keep hydrated. If you are new to this method, or are just not ready for totally fasting, within the fasting period you could consume hydrating foods with high water content such as cucumbers celery and leafy greens, these options can help keep you feeling fuller for longer while providing essential nutrients. Additionally, include fiber rich foods like chai seeds, flax seeds, and psyllium husk as they can make you feel fuller for longer and support digestive health.

Structuring vegan meals during eating windows.

It is important to decide on when your fasting window will be, though it is fine to experiment to find out what suits you best, the most effective method seems to be sticking with a regular routine. You may have to structure this around your training schedule, if again, you have a regular routine.

When it’s time to eat during fasting, it’s crucial to design balanced and satisfying vegan meals. Focus on incorporating nutrient dense plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and high fiber carbohydrates to support your body’s needs.

For breakfast consider a vegan protein smoothie made with plant based protein powder, almond milk a handful of spinach and a tablespoon of nut butter. You can also include a side dish of fresh fruit or a small portion of whole grain toast with avocado. An alternative that I really enjoy, is protein-rich overnight oats. For this mix up your usual protein shake/smoothie with almond or similar vegan milk. I like to add a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter before blitzing the mixture. Then simply pour the protein shake over the oats, give it a stir and leave it covered in the fridge overnight. Next day, either just heat it and you are good to go, or add some nuts and fresh fruit, or indeed anything you fancy. You may need to add more milk to get the right consistency.

For lunch and dinner (some people choose three meals a day and some only two), create plant based meals that combine a variety of vegetables, legumes and whole grains. For example, try a quinoa salad with mixed vegetables, chickpeas and a lemon tahini dressing. Alternatively, prepare a hearty vegetable stir fry with tofu or tempeh served over a bed of brown rice. Snacking between meals can be done with healthy options such as nuts, seeds, fresh fruit or vegetable sticks with hummus. Remember to pay attention to portion sizes and choose snacks that compliment your fasting goals.

Managing Nutrient intake and Micronutrient requirements.

Following a vegan intermittent fasting diet requires careful attention to ensure your meeting all your nutrient needs. While a well planned vegan diet can provide most nutrients there area few key considerations.

Protein: Include a variety of plant based proteins such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan and edamame ensure adequate protein intake. Of course, as discussed this can be aided by using protein bars and shakes. Though I would ask you to take care in selecting these, particularly the protein shakes. Many are made with whey. This is a milk product left over when producing cheese, (as in curds and whey). As vegans we do not want to be consuming such animal products.

If you were to take the time searching for protein shakes, be that in-store or online, you will find that there are many made with vegan protein instead. Often a combination of pea, soya and other plant proteins. Some outlets will charge you more for these as they are different, but they can be found of a similar price to animal based shakes, and are still produced in a huge variety of flavours. Don’t worry about missing out on the creamy taste of a shake, though you can make them up with water they are better, in my opinion, with some almond milk or similar, and a little ice before blitzing. Some people prefer soy milk but personally I find that too rich for my taste. The substitution of fruit juice for milk gives a totally different complexion. Then the addition of your favourite, or simply a variety of, fruits can only make these better. There are also many “fake” meat products that you can find that are still high in protein.

Iron plant based sources, include dark leafy greens, legumes, fortified cereals, and dried fruits. To enhance absorption, pair these foods with a source of vitamin C such as citrus fruits or bell peppers.

Vitamin B12. Since traditionally, vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products and some fish, it’s crucial for vegans to consider complementary B12 foods like plant based milks, nutritional yeast or breakfast cereals. Alternatively many vegans simply take a B12 vitamin pill or a multi-vit pill including B12. Though I don’t like repeating myself on this website, in brief most farmed animals do not get sufficient B12 as they are now intensively farmed, so they too are given a pill, along with a variety of other additives including antibiotics.

Omega 3. This is found in the vegan diet in walnuts, flaxseeds, chai seeds, hemp seeds edamame, seaweed and algae. Again, fish do not produce omega 3 they simply store that they have consumed from seaweed and algae. Again many vegans choose to take a vitamin pill to ensure the have sufficient.

Conclusion

So hopefully I have completed my task of setting out to show how a diet that is based within the vegan diet but incorporates intermittent fasting, can be healthy, manageable, flexible and still produce really effective results. That could be a decision based on achieving a particular weight, reducing the percentage of body fat, or feeling good about yourself either permanently, or now or again!

If you have any questions on a vegan diet, or specifically a vegan diet with intermittent fasting please drop me a note in the comments section below. I will be only too happy to help you. I am pretty experienced at this now. Also if there is a particular area of vegan dieting you would like me to cover, again drop me a message. And as I always say, if you want to become vegan but are only in the early stages of achieving it, you are most welcome here and will be happy to answer any questions.

Peter Pont

w. veganpeter.com

e. peter@veganpeter.com

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