Today I’m introducing a post about intermittent fasting (IF). You may have heard about IF from others. I’d like to talk about a vegan diet and intermittent fasting because specifically. IF is something that I have tried out recently. I enjoy IF for meal convenience and weight loss. Without further ado, over to Snap Kitchen writer Sarah Hollenbeck for more on a vegan diet and intermittent fasting.
When you hear the word “diet,” what do you associate with it? Many people describe a diet as removing certain food or food groups. This strategy works best for some people. However, an eating style gaining traction over recent years has been intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting controls calories through eating windows instead of food selection. It can take the guesswork out of losing weight and give our digestive systems time to heal themselves.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting controls when you eat. You only eat during a timed eating window. A common fast length is 12 hours. This has roots from multiple religions around the world such as Judaism and Islam. In fact, many spiritual practices incorporate fasting to purify the human body.
Combining a vegan diet and intermittent fasting allows our bodies to focus on cell repair over digestion. This shift in focus can result in health benefits for such as:
- Decreased in insulin levels. A study from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health showed lowered blood sugar levels and insulin resistance from fasting. Thus, a vegan diet and intermittent fasting can especially be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Improvements in brain performance. A Neurology International Study noted fasting increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is linked to decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and increase in nerve growth.
Other benefits of a vegan diet and intermittent fasting include weight loss and reduced symptoms of common digestive disorders like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Others claim improved mental clarity and increased energy levels are other benefits. However, scientific studies have yet to prove these claims. Non-human studies find intermittent fasting improves cognitive function and protects against Alzheimer’s disease.
How to Properly Begin Intermittent Fasting
After considering the benefits of intermittent fasting, it’s important to choose your fasting schedule. Some are geared towards beginners. Others are more strenuous but show greater benefits. Three of the most common schedules include 12:12, 20:4 and 24 hour fasting.
As implied, a 12:12 fasting schedule involves twelve hours of eating and twelve hours of fasting. The fasting schedule is the least strenuous of the three. Sleeping accounts for a majority of the time. 12:12 typically tests ability to resist late-night snacking and see if fasting is a fit for you.
12:12 intermittent fasting isn’t the most desirable because it takes longer to see results. Even so, it can be a great for those trying intermittent fasting on a vegan diet for the first time.
I find it important to note 12:12 fasting schedules don’t result in immediately obvious benefits. 12:12 fasting is a great way to ease into a lengthier fasting schedule.
Easing your way into a 20:4 fasting schedule is arguably the best way to start the intermittent fasting process. Immediately switching from your normal eating behavior to a 20:4 fasting can cause stress on the body mainly due to not enough calories during your feeding window. Giving your body time to adjust to a restricted eating schedule helps ease you into the fasting plan physically and mentally.
20:4 fasting is also known as the Warrior Diet. The Warrior Diet was founded by Ori Hofmekler to increase strength of Roman warriors during ancient Roman times. There are three phases to the Warrior Diet:
- Phase 1 is the “detox” stage and lasts one week. Phase 1 involves consuming small amounts of low-calorie foods like low-calorie raw fruits, raw vegetables and vegetable juices during the fasting period. Examples of foods include berries, apples, broccoli, carrots, tomato juice and carrot juice.
You can eat large plant-based meals of whatever food you want in the 4 hour eating period. Grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and even a few treats are great.
- Phase 2 is known as the “high fat” stage stable and lasts for one week. You eat the same low calorie foods during the 20-hour fasting window. However, focus on eating high-fat and high-protein foods and avoid high carbohydrate foods. This means plenty of beans, soy products, nuts, seeds and possibly some faux meats and cheeses. Reduce or avoid foods like bread, potatoes, rice and bananas.
- Phase 3 is called the “fat loss” stage and involves a specific cycle during your 4-hour eating window. The cycle incorporates two days of high carbohydrate foods (e.g. plenty of fruits and grains) followed by two days minimal carbs (e.g. plenty of beans, nuts, seeds). Repeat the cycle twice. In the end, you are ready to transition to the 20:4 schedule completely.
24 Hour Fasting
24-hour fasting windows are usually implemented by those with fasting experience or doctor’s recommendation. 24-hour fasting helps reset gut bacteria and improve cardiovascular health. Thus, it’s applicable to many people.
The best intermittent fasting advice for those on 24-hour schedules is to only fast for 1-2 days every week. Example fasting schedules include beginning your fast at 7pm Sunday and eating 7pm Monday. It’s important to pay attention to calorie intake, because 24-hour fasting can lead to overeating on non-fasting days.
Healthful eating and regular exercise help us reach our long-term health goals. Whether you focus on wholesome plants or hours in the gym depends on your health history, body type, lifestyle and goals. Nutrition and fitness schedules are diverse and many types can help you achieve the body you want.
Whatever your eating habits, there are intermittent fasting schedules for all lifestyles. Start with a 12:12 schedule for a week and slowly increase time by 30-minute increments. Give yourself one week or more between time adjustments. This helps avoid side effects like nausea and irritability.
Don’t see an exact schedule that’s right for you? Check out Snap Kitchen, they have more ideas for intermittent fasting tips for beginners.
About the Author:
Sarah Hollenbeck is a writer for Snap Kitchen and yoga instructor from Austin, Texas. When she isn’t writing about the latest health and wellness trends, you can often find her at the yoga studio or taking her dog for a walk around her neighborhood.