Intermittent Fasting: Meal Plans

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is effective. A Shutterstock Licensed Image.

I love intermittent fasts. I have found them to be physically healing, emotionally cleansing, and spiritually uplifting. As the body experiences a shift in its attachment to food, the mind and heart experience something similar in relation to their attachments to ideas, feelings, people, and experiences.​
Intermittent fasting refers to eating plans and dietary protocols that cycle between periods of fasting (no food or some food) and periods of non-fasting. There are a variety of intermittent fasting diets, along with several types of intermittent diet meal plans.

The benefits of intermittent fasting include lowering insulin levels, reducing inflammation, improving brain health, possible weight loss, and helping you feel more hopeful and prayerful. Overall, Intermittent fasting has shown promising results in broad trials involving mice and a few limited human trials.

To learn more about intermittent fasting, check out my other article about the benefits, trends, spirituality, and dangers.

“Fasting Is The First Principle Of Medicine;
Fast And See The Strength Of The Spirit Reveal Itself.”
~ Rumi

Intermittent Fasting Diets

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In general, intermittent fasting includes fasting one to two days per week or on alternating days. During these days, you eat either no food at all or 25 percent of your regular caloric intake.
On reduced calorie days, men consume 500 to 600 calories, while women consume 400 to 500 calories. Rather than strictly focusing on male vs. female intake, you might consider your body type, regular diet, and personal preferences before committing to a specific number of calories.

On non-fasting days, the most successful intermittent fasters eat normally and never binge. Some of the more courageous fasters eat only during limited windows throughout each day and might reduce their carbs. For all fasts, it’s important to stay hydrated, which includes drinking water and non-caloric, non-alcoholic beverages like unsweetened coffee and tea.

Here are a few types of intermittent fasting diet plans to consider:

Simple And Painless Fast

The most cautious fast consists of no food restrictions, fasting one day per week, with only one meal on that day, and with a calorie intake at the 25 percent level (400 to 600 calories). On the other six days, eat normally.

5/2 Moderate Fast

The 5/2 fast consists of no food restrictions for two days per week, while reducing calorie intake to 25 percent, between 500 to 600 calories. On the other five days, you would eat normally.

Consistent Fasting

One of the most aggressive ways to intermittent fast is to adhere to your usual diet from 8am to 3pm, with fasting during the remaining hours of the day. On some days you might want a cheeseburger at 8pm, but you can’t have one.

Alternate-Day Fast

This intermittent fast might be one of the most difficult. Eating normally on one day and then fasting on the next day. To get the most benefit, you would continue this cycle somewhere between 8 and 16 weeks. Each fasting day can include 500 to 600 calories or no calories at all. In either case, be sure to drink plenty of water.

Alternate-day fasting can help you lose weight, and help lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Krista Varady created a version of this diet which she calls, “The Every Other Day Diet.” While restrictive, this diet tends to hold people’s attention longer than most. The length of time that seems to produce the most benefits is 12 weeks, which is also the number of weeks that most human trials aim to achieve.

6/1 Fast

The 6/1 Fast is a simple fast where you eat nothing for one 24 hour period each week, starting with any meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner). During this time, doctors recommend that you drink plenty of water. Low-sugared coffee, tea, and other non-caloric and non-alcoholic beverages are permitted.

Keto Derivative

A form of The Keto Diet includes an aspect of intermittent fasting that some people find helpful and effective. During every meal, eat your vegetables first and then eat your protein, with meals to be completed between 11am to 6pm, with intermittent fasting hours from 6pm to 11am. Refrain from heavy carbs like bread, pasta, and rice. Keep in mind that drastic reductions in carbs can make you feel a little foggy.

The Master Cleanse: Lemon Juice & Cayenne Pepper Fast

This popular fasting practice has been around since the 1940s, created by the controversial Stanley Burroughs. Stanley wrote The Master Cleanser in the 1940s but the 1970s revision inspired a popular cleanse movement, which continues to this day. Fans of this cleanse include Beyoncé, Jared Leto, Denzel Washington, and Angelina Jolie.

The Master Cleanse consists of drinking only water mixed with a half-teaspoon of lemon juice and a hint of cayenne pepper 5 to 8 times per day, for 5 to 10 days. While this fast is not recommended for everyone, and it’s not a cure-all or intermittent fast, you might consider this idea when creating your own hybrid intermittent fast/diet. One hybrid idea might be to drink this formula from 3pm to 8am and eat two calorie-restricted meals during the hours of 8am to 3pm.

The Warrior Diet

This intermittent fasting diet has some passionate followers. It involves fasting during the day and then eating a huge meal at night.​

Popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler, the dieter consumes small portions of raw fruits and raw vegetables during the day, then eats a high-calorie meal before 8pm. In short, you fast all day (limited to fresh fruits and vegetables), and then you have a power-feast in the evening, finishing your banquet within a 4-hour eating window.​

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There are several challenges with this type of fasting. Depending on your body and metabolism, eating in the evening can extinguish the benefits of intermittent fasting. It might:

  • Negatively impact your sleeping and dreaming patterns
  • Alter hormone function
  • Increase inflammation
  • Impair blood sugar regulation
  • Create weight gain
  • Elevate triglycerides and cholesterol

Circadian Rhythm Or 16/8 Fasting

When it comes to losing weight, there are healthy and unhealthy paths. The Circadian Rhythm or 16/8 Fasting is when you eat solely during an 8-10 hour window each day. The rest of the time you refrain from meals and caloric beverages, but you can drink non-caloric, non-alcoholic drinks, including low-sugar coffee and tea.
Intermittent Meal Plan Example
For this example, we’ll focus on the 5/2 Intermittent Fast, which consists of two fasting days per week, each allowing 25 percent of your regular caloric intake (400 to 600 calories). When doing this fast, consider having an eating window from 8am to 6pm. In addition to possibly losing additional weight, you’ll have more food options if you avoid pieces of bread, rice, and pasta during your fast.
When fasting with limited calories, a hidden gem is hemp seeds. My favorite brand is Manitoba Harvest. Their Hemp Hearts are delicious and provide more protein than meat.

Here Is An Example Of An Under-600 Calorie Meal Schedule:

Breakfast: 250 Calories

  • 1/4 cup of oatmeal
  • 8 oz Green smoothie with apples, spinach, and kale
  • One hard-boiled egg or a one-egg Tex-Mex scramble with a pinch of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salsa

Lunch/Dinner – 300 Calories (Pick One)

  • One small baked potato with one tablespoon of sour cream
  • 2 cups roasted vegetables with two tablespoons of hemp seeds
  • 1/2 avocado on toast with one tablespoon of crushed peanuts or sesame seeds
  • Chicken, Vegetable and Bean soup with 3 oz of chicken, 1/4 cup of red beans, 1/2 cup of chopped veggies. You can swap the chicken for 3 oz of beef or buffalo, a moderate portion of tofu or 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds.

Between Meals – Under 60 calories (limited to one of these items, once per day)

  • 2 cups of cooked microwave popcorn
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • Three whole-grain pretzel sticks
  • 14 almonds
  • One apple (baked)
  • 1/4 cup low-sugar ice cream
  • 1/4-1/2 banana

Anytime

  • Water with 1/2 tsp of lemon juice and a tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper. This drink is my favorite, especially during the fasting hours of 6 pm and 8 am or 6 pm and 11 am.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

While intermittent fasting is not a cure-all, and the data is based mainly on scientific trials focused on mice, many people agree that intermittent fasting does wonders.
Many say that it can:

  • Ease depression and increase vitality
  • Improve memory
  • Reduce inflammation and weight gain
  • Remove damaged brain cells and generates new ones
  • Help reduce attachment to emotional and psychological luggage.
  • Improve your experience when praying and meditating

In general, even a little fasting here and there is shown to have positive effects. If you have gut issues or adrenal fatigue, proceed with caution. To be safe, ask your doctor or certified nutritionist before you begin fasting.
In all fasting, be careful about “starvation mode,” when your body starts to conserve energy by reducing the number of calories it burns. Starvation mode is something to avoid. It can cause your body to stop losing weight, and it will most often make you depressed, angry, lost, confused, or worse. It might also have other negative effects.

Just in case, notify a few friends before you fast. Texting a friend is quick and easy, “Hey, I’m fasting. If I die, I buried a treasure under a tree. The map is in my fridge. It’s all yours!”

Intermittent Fasting: Benefits, Trends

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting Benefits. A Shutterstock Licensed Image.

I began intermittent fasting when I was 15. At that time, I fasted because it cleared my mind and put me in a more meditative and prayerful state. Fasting might make you feel a little foggy or spacey, but for me, fasting helps me become more peaceful. Meanwhile, it does a great job of rebooting the system.

“All The Vitality And All The Energy I Have,
Come To Me Because My Body Is Purified By Fasting.”
~ Mohandas Gandhi

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting refers to eating plans and dietary protocols that cycle between periods of fasting (no food or some food) and periods of non-fasting. There are a variety of intermittent fasting diets, along with several types of intermittent diet meal plans.

The benefits of intermittent fasting include lowering insulin levels, reducing inflammation, improving brain health, and helping you feel more hopeful and prayerful. Intermittent fasting is showing promising results.
There is also the benefit of weight loss, one of the more popular reasons why people do intermittent fasts. While some intermittent fasts are helping a wide variety of healthy humans (and many mischiefs of lab rats) to burn fat and lose weight, intermittent fasts can have adverse effects, too. To be safe, ask your doctor or certified nutritionist for the go-ahead.​

The overall consensus about intermittent fasting is that it improves health and mental clarity, but it doesn’t consistently result in weight loss, or more weight loss compared to diets that restrict calorie and carb intake.
I’ve tried all types of intermittent fasting. Sometimes I lose weight and feel better, and sometimes I don’t experience anything beyond improved clarity and peacefulness.

Intermittent Fasting Diet

In general, intermittent fasting includes fasting one to two days per week, where during those days you eat either no food at all or 25% of your caloric intake. Most people who commit to intermittent fasts reduce caloric intake to 25% of their regular diets, either periodically or on alternating days. On reduced calorie days, men consume 500 to 600 calories, while women’s caloric intake is 400 to 500.​
On non-fasting days, the most successful intermittent fasters eat normally and never binge. Some of the more courageous fasters eat only during limited windows throughout each day and might reduce their carbs. For all fasts, it’s important to stay hydrated, which includes drinking water and non-caloric, non-alcoholic beverages like unsweetened coffee and tea.

You can learn more about a wide variety of intermittent fasts, along with their meal plans and suggested eating schedules here.

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Metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center said, “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an 8-10 hour period of the daytime, is effective.”

There is substantial scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly useful approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Fast With No Binge

While the idea of fasting for a day and then binging on fat and sugar might sound appetizing, it’s terrible for the body. It’s important to note that when you choose to do an intermittent fast, make sure you are eating normally on the non-fasting days. Studies show that people who binge after fasting can cause their health more harm than good.

“If Thou Wouldst Preserve A Sound Body, Use Fasting And Walking; If A Healthful Soul, Fasting And Praying; Walking Exercises The Body, Praying Exercises The Soul, Fasting Cleanses Both.”
~ Francis Quarles

 

Spiritual Fasting

When the body is cleansed, the spirit is uplifted. The two go hand-in-hand. Fasting allows our souls to be less attached to our bodies and minds. It improves our vibration and helps us feel more connected to ourselves and others.

Almost every spiritual and religious tradition in the world mentions fasting as an essential activity for spiritual growth. It’s found 87 times in the Bible. Socrates and Plato fasted so they could purify their minds and spirits in pursuit of the truth.

Native Americans fast either in private or during public rituals. Indian fasts generally include abstinence from food and water, and they often enhance spiritual visions. In addition to a clearer state of mind and heart, fasts are also a way to rid the body and spirit of toxins accrued when interacting with society and the everyday world.

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Kundalini Yogis encourage regular fasting because it allows the spirit to traverse the chakras and connect with the eternal consciousness. This allows energy to flow through the body without hindrance. When done in conjunction with Kundalini yoga, intermittent fasting can also improve the immune system.

When doing vision quests in the wilderness and other rituals, I’ve found it vital to fast the majority of the time. The idea here is to put my spirit in a state of wakefulness so that I can connect with my spirit guides and be more in tune with my surroundings.

During my first vision quest, I was so in tune and connected, I was able to attract peaceful bears, mountain lions, wild turkeys, and other animals to my sleeping/ritual sites. I felt genuinely peaceful, which inspired the animals to feel the same.​
One early morning, I must have been profoundly awake and aware because a big black bear encouraged me to wrestle with him. He was so loving and playful. I attribute these amazing experiences partly to fasting.
Feeling bright and awake allows our spirits to connect to several dimensions and to vibrate at higher frequencies. This, in turn, improves our health and relationships.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

If you’d like to lower your risk for disease, intermittent fasting can improve the health of your brain, lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and it can reduce the chance of obesity. Some studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes, while other studies show that your metabolic health can be put at risk, increasing the risk of diabetes.

Alternative medical doctors, who are trained in both eastern and western medicine might be able to understand your specific needs so they can prescribe the type of fast to give you the benefits you’re seeking, while also preventing you from hurting yourself.​

While intermittent fasting is not a cure-all, and the data is based mainly on scientific trials focused on mice, many agree that intermittent fasting does wonders.​

Many say it can:

  • Ease depression
  • Improve memory
  • Increase vitality
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce your weight or slow weight gain
  • Reduce the growth speed of cancer
  • Protect your neurons
  • Remove damaged brain cells and generate new ones
  • Help reduce attachment to emotional and psychological luggage.
  • Improve your experience when praying and meditating

In general, even a little fasting here and there is shown to have positive effects. If you have gut issues or adrenal fatigue, proceed with caution.

Intermittent Fasting Science

One of the most remarkable benefits of intermittent fasting is that it has a positive effect on your mitochondrial networks, the fuel for your cells, by helping it remain fused. This undoubtedly improves energy, which can have positive effects on memory, longevity, and health challenges related to aging.
While intermittent fasting is trending, and many people are posting positive effects from their fasts, the research has mostly been conducted on mice.​

The hope is that intermittent fasting isn’t just a fad and that it has proven, lasting effects. Fasting research is on the rise. The hope is that more and more trials involving humans will be funded.

The Dangers Of Intermittent Fasting

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting if done incorrectly, can cause a person to have a net gain in weight. When you fast for a couple of days, and then binge on beer and pasta, chances are, you’ll do more harm than good.

Intermittent fasting may increase insulin levels, put pancreatic cells at risk, cause unnecessary fatigue, and add to your belly fat. A new study suggests that intermittent fasting, while often producing positive results, can harm metabolic health and cause Metabolic Syndrome.

​When we have poor metabolic health or Metabolic Syndrome, we are at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. See your doctor to ensure that you have the proper levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, and blood pressure.​
When you conclude your fast, your body might be oversensitive to the foods you eat. Be aware of your allergies and eat only whole, natural, unprocessed foods, at least for several days. Hydration is the key.
In all fasting, be careful about “starvation mode,” when your body starts to conserve energy by reducing the number of calories it burns. Starvation mode is something to avoid. It can cause your body to stop losing weight, and it will most often make you feel depressed, angry, lost, confused or worse. It might also have other negative effects.​

Just in case, notify a few friends before you fast. Texting a friend is quick and easy, “Hey, I’m fasting. If I die, you can have my toaster!”