Monday, 29 July 2013

Vegetarian Recipes for Intermittent Fasting Diets

Under 300 Calories
Under 500 Calories
As you might have noticed if you're a regular reader, I've been following the 5:2 intermittent fasting method for a few months now. As I've done so, I've been gathering a collection of suitable low-calorie, vegetarian and vegan recipes - one of the best ways for me to make sure I stay on track is to create interesting dishes within the low calorie restrictions.

As well as reducing calories, I've been trying to use fast days as an excuse to cut back on dairy (I eat far too much cheese!) and also on sugar, so I hope these are generally healthy recipes, and most will be vegan. I'll be adding to this list as I develop more recipes which are suitable for fast days.

A bit of background on intermittent fasting

The principle behind intermittent fasting is to restrict your calorie intake quite dramatically, but only some of the time. Common fasting patterns include:
  • 5:2
    Probably the most common variant, where you eat a normal diet five days a week, and restrict your calories to 500 per day on the other two (non-consecutive) days.
  • 4:3
    A slightly more extreme version, with four normal and three fast days.
  • Alternate day fasting
    This is getting to be pretty self-explanatory, right? Again, the daily limit is 500 calories on a fast day.
  • 16:8
    This pattern is based on hours, rather than days. Following this plan, you endeavour to do all of your eating in an eight-hour window each day.
As well as the benefits (such as weight loss) that you'd get from reducing your overall calorie intake by any other means, there's also some research to suggest that intermittent fasting might have general health benefits: possibly reducing the risk of diabetes, bringing down high blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and boosting the immune system. Admittedly, most of the studies to date have been done on animals rather than humans - but hopefully the increasing popularity of fast diets will encourage researchers to do some controlled trials in humans. Meanwhile, I'm happy to be my own personal guinea pig, since I haven't encountered any negative effects of fasting.

Most of the criticisms I’ve heard since I started following this approach have been generalised objections to "fad diets," on the grounds that "going on a diet" is never a long term solution to anything. But this isn’t supposed to be a short-term fix, so much as a long term change to one's habits - that's part of the reason I prefer to call it the 5:2 method, rather than the 5:2 diet. The whole point of intermittent fasting is that you can do it (more or less) every week; it isn't generally too hard to single out a day or two when you can restrict your calories without curtailing your social life.

Some people refer to their non-fasting days as "feast" days, but this seems something of a misnomer. To me, it feels better to stick to a normal, generally healthy diet on the other days - with some treats, of course, but feeling compelled to "feast" five days a week sounds like a recipe for over-eating!

One of the strangest effects I've noticed since I started intermittent fasting is that if I eat too much - or too richly - on one of my normal days, I'll actually want to fast the next day. That fact alone encourages me to think that this is a healthy pattern for my body.

5:2 Intermittent Fasting button5:2 Diet
Look out for this symbol on fast-day-friendly recipes around the site. The box will give you the calorie count of a recipe, and possibly some tips on how to reduce it further, if it's easy to do so.


Gloria Baker said...

Rachel I love this recipes sounds so good I wanna try the omelette to my veggie daugther!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks for the info. I'm going to try it - after the ice cream season!

Rachel said...

I've noticed as a general priniciple that more food than I'm accustomed to on one day does tend to lead to a general disinclination to eat on the next day, even though I've not yet tried the 5:2 method. I think that supports your hypothesis, although I concede that the plural of "Anecdote" isn't "Data"!

jovaliquilts said...

Just found this through google. I'm a vegetarian whose been on the 5:2 since March and I love it! I've found most of my usual recipes work for this, but I am always looking for new ones to try -- thank you!

Honeybee GB said... this is what you called 5:2 diet. I knew about IF but have no idea that 5:2 refers to the same practice. LOL Glad you blog about this. I'm planning to do another fast this August, so this recipe is very helpful. Bookmarked this for future reference.

Sarah said...

Ah, another blogger I really like and respect has been also following the 5:2 method: I haven't tried it but I understand what you mean when you overeat one day and want to cut back the next. I think in general our portion sizes in developed countries are just so big compared to historical people.

Sarah said...

Oh! You must already know Tinned Tomatoes. How funny, I opened her blog to write the address in my previous comment. Then after I submitted the comment I started reading her blog and see you are mentioned in the very first post! Ha.

Subha Subramanian said...

Really helpful article........
i like summer veggie omelette and Spiced cauliflower...wanna make a try......

Anonymous said...

Can you please provide peer reviewed sources? I am a Dietetics Major and this does not sound healthy at all.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Hi Anon, I'm in no way an academic in this field, so I'd always encourage everyone to do their own research - at the moment human trials are very limited, hopefully there will be more work in future. There's an interesting article here which cites a number of relevant peer reviewed papers:

Rob Smith said...

Rachel, thanks for pulling this list together, it's a great resource! I've used this diet a few times in the past, and having a few great tasting meals that you can turn to really helps on the fast days.

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