The hype around intermittent fasting has quickly overwhelmed the health field as both a research interest and weight loss fad. Yet, the idea of fasting is far from a new idea. Fasting has an old and unique history. Cultures all over the world have fasted for different reasons. From religious, spiritual, and cultural rituals to expressions of protest and medical research, abstaining from the consumption of food has deep and varied roots. While there may be countless ways and reasons to fast, the most recent focuses on the benefits of the body.

Recent studies reveal new data regarding the short and long-term benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting, in conjunction with a balanced plant-based diet, has been proven to streamline and enhance the body’s functions, from increased energy to managing healthy weight to mental clarity. With that said, there is a right and wrong way to fast. It’s incredibly important to educate yourself on the what, why, and how of fasting, as well as to speak with a nutritionist or doctor before attempting it.
The Terminology of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is the “willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both for a period of time.” There are different categories of fasting depending on the reason for abstaining from food and/or liquids. Absolute or dry fasts refer to abstaining from all food and liquids, while water fasts allow only water and no food. Intermittent fasting allows for more flexibility by abstaining from food and liquid (besides water) for a designated period of time.

Intermittent fasting is when you rotate between periods of time that you eat and periods of time where you don’t. The most popular type of intermittent fasting is called the 16/8 where “you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an eight-hour eating window.” Yet, intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be this drastic. Many people opt for a 13-hour eating window instead.

While this may seem challenging, the process is simplified by your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, refers to “a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” The internal clock is controlled by your hypothalamus and influenced by environmental factors such as sunlight and night. The circadian rhythm of your body is essentially a built-in shut off switch for at least six to eight hours every 24-hour period.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of fasting are only achieved when fasting is performed in a healthy and safe way. There is a plethora of misinformation being circulated around the internet and by word-of-mouth. One of the most important aspects to remember is that intermittent fasting doesn’t replace healthy eating and regular exercise habits. Fasting doesn’t equal a free ticket to gluttony.

With that said, when intermittent fasting is done correctly, the benefits are worth the work.
Healthy Weight Management

Weight loss is a billion dollar empire. From diet regimes to home-delivered meals to cookbooks, everyone is looking for the fastest and easiest way to drop unwanted pounds. The popularity surrounding intermittent fasting is largely due to its success in achieving fast and sustainable weight management.

With that said, there are a few factors that influence healthy weight management via intermittent fasting.

The first of these is psychological. Intermittent fasting teaches control over your hunger signals. When fasting, you refrain from eating, yet the desire to eat is still prevalent. Abstaining from food encourages mindfulness regarding the signals in your gut, what they really mean, and an opportunity to break bad eating habits.

The second is biological and relies on the relationship between fasting and insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is created by the pancreas and provides cells with energy. Among other important jobs, insulin “allows the cells in the muscles, fat, and liver to absorb glucose” from the blood, which then turns into energy, is converted into fat, or breaks down proteins. Recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting results in lower insulin levels. With lower insulin levels comes the ability for the body to burn more fat instead of sugar and therefore helps combat obesity, aids in obtaining a healthy weight, and supports weight maintenance.
Aging with Agility

While there is still much to learn about the connection between intermittent fasting and longevity, there have been some remarkable discoveries.

Research on this subject has been in the works for years. In the 1930’s, Cornell University nutritionist Clive McCay discovered that “rats subjected to stringent daily dieting from an early age lived longer and were less likely to develop cancer and other diseases as they aged.” Since that time, many studies have been conducted on the relationship between fasting and autophagy, the process that promotes cell death and regeneration. Autophagy has been seen to increase during periods of intermittent fasting, which allows DNA debris and biological waste products to be cleansed and renewed.

While there is no halting the clock, intermittent fasting may be an asset to aging with grace.
Enhanced Endurance

We may dream of the day that exercise comes naturally, yet that dream may not be so fantastical.

Intermittent fasting has been linked to enhanced physical endurance due to a molecule called glycogen. Glycogen are molecules that store glucose, which is an essential compound made of sugar that regulates blood glucose levels, as well as other systems.

An accomplished researcher and expert on the subject, Dr. Rhonda Patrick has pioneered new research by connecting glycogen, energy, and intermittent fasting. Glycogen stores take about 10 – 12 hours to be depleted at which time fatty acids are released from tissues. These fatty acids are converted into ketone bodies, water-soluble molecules produced in the liver, which travel to tissues and are then used for energy. Therefore, according to Dr. Patrick, it “makes sense that eating within a nine-hour window and fasting for 15 hours overnight may lead to endurance enhancements.”
Best Foods to Keep Your Belly FullSweet and Sour Pineapple Sticky Rice

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Sticky Rice/One Green Planet

Successful intermittent fasting relies on discipline and preparedness. It’s important to fill your eating time-frame with nutritional, balanced, and filling foods. This is even more prevalent for those on a plant-based diet. While vegetarian and vegan diets may feel like they add an additional challenge, it is an easy one to tackle.

One of the best ways to meet satiety is through knowing what makes food filling.

Filling foods generally have higher amounts of protein, fiber, and water, and low energy density. Prepare for your fast by consuming meals that are high in these ingredients and always make sure to drink lots of water. Use these recipes from the Food Monster App to get started.
Whole GrainsPersephone Bowl [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Persephone Bowl/One Green Planet

Incorporating whole grain into your meals is a great way to keep you full longer. Whole grains keep all parts of the kernel including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grain digests slower, therefore the feeling of being “full” lasts longer.

Try starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal or porridge. Oats are high in insoluble fiber, yet low in calories and can be decorated with other filling ingredients such as nuts and seeds. Later in the day, try a few of these whole grain filled recipes: Mushroom and Kale Farrow Salad, Persephone Bowl, Buckwheat Pooris, or Roasted Beet Sorghum Salad With Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette.
Vegetables with Starch

Slow Cooker Winter Squash Quinoa Curry/One Green Planet

Starchy vegetables are heavier, heartier, and more robust. These include sweet and white potatoes, beets, pumpkin, corn, carrots, and a variety of winter squash. While these veggies may keep you full longer due to their high level of carbohydrates, be careful to not overuse them. Being carbohydrates, starchy vegetables also have high levels of sugar, which can be difficult for your body to break down.

Try a few of these winter squash recipes: Slow Cooker Winter Squash Quinoa Curry, Winter Squash and Sage Pizza, Winter Squash and Quinoa Rissoles, Butternut Squash Hashbrowns, and Butternut Squash, Potato and Kale Casserole.
Nuts and SeedsRaw Cashew Almond Cheese b

Raw Cashew Almond Cheese/One Green Planet

Nuts and seeds are great additives for a meal, as well as offer a hearty snack. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, crush and roast them in squash dishes, or keep a baggie in your purse to nibble on. These tasty morsels are great tummy fillers due to the fact that they are packed with “protein and fiber and contain unsaturated fats that can help stabilize insulin levels.”

In vegan recipes, nuts offer a buttery and savory alternative ingredient for dairy-free cheese and toppings such as these Brazil Nut Vegan Parmesan, Raw Cashew Almond Cheese, or Baked Cashew Mozzarella recipes. Seeds, on the other hand, pack a punch of flavor and nutrients. Try a few different recipes to discover your favorite seed: Baked Sweet Potato With Pesto Pasta, Tomatoes, and Pumpkin Seeds, Rainbow Salad (with a sprinkling of hemp seeds), Super Weed Green Smoothie, or Red Lentil Burgers With Kale Pesto.
LegumesChili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa [Vegan]

Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa/One Green Planet

Legumes are a staple of plant-based diets due to their versatility. Some claim that legumes are more satiating than meat. They are high in fiber and protein and low in calories.

Lentils, one of the most popular of the legume family, is a must-have ingredient for the vegan kitchen. Try a couple of these recipes featuring lentils: Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Burgers, Chickpea Spinach Stew With Lentils and Quinoa, Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Red Lentil Curry With Black Tahini and Roasted Cashews.

Withania somnifera

Ashwagandha (also known as Winter cherry) is an evergreen shrub-like plant found across India and West Asia. The roots are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health, physical health, sleep

Andrographis paniculata

Bhunimba (also known as king of bitters) is a bitter herb cultivated widely in Southern and Southeast Asia. The roots and leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, digestion

Black Pepper
Bacopa monnieri

Brahmi (also known as water hyssop) is a perennial, creeping herb native to the wetlands of India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. The leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health

Elettaria cardamomum

Cardamom is an aromatic herb that grows in humid or very humid subtropical forests, and is native to India. The seeds are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, digestion, mental health, respiratory function

Trachyspermum ammi

Carom (also known as Yavani, Bishop’s Weed) is an annual herbaceous plant with origins in Egypt and India. The fruits (called seeds) are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for appetite, digestion

Matricaria chamomilla

Chamomile is a perennial, herbaceous plant found across Europe and Asia. The flowers and whole herb are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health, sleep


Plumbago zeylanica

Chitrak (also known as White leadwort) is a large perennial shrub that grows in sub-tropical regions. The roots and leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for digestion, energy

Coriandrum sativum

Coriander (also known as Cilantro) is an annual herbaceous plant native to regions spanning from southern Europe and northern Africa to southwestern Asia. The leaves and fruits (called seeds) are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for digestion, mental health, sleep

Tinospora cordifolia

Guduchi (also known as Heart-leaved moon seed, Giloy) is a perennial, deciduous, climbing shrub of weak and fleshy stem found throughout India. The leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, mental health

Holy Basil
Ocimum tenuiflorum

Holy basil (also known as Tulsi) is an aromatic perennial plant native to the Indian subcontinent. The leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, mental health

Solanum surratense

Kantakari (also known as Yellow-berried Nightshade) is a species of nightshade native to Asia. The roots are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for immune function, respiratory function

Kapi Kacchu
Mucuna pruriens

Kapi Kacchu (also known as Velvet bean) is a legume native to Africa and tropical Asia. The beans are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health

Cyperus rotundus

Musta (also known as Nut grass) is a perennial plant native to Africa, Southern Europe, South Asia, and Africa The tubers are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for digestion, energy, physical health

Myristica fragrans

Nutmeg is a dark-leaved evergreen tree, native to Indonesia. The seeds are used for culinary and therapeutic purposes. It is best for energy

Passion Flower
Boerhavia diffusa

Punarnava (also known as Hogweed) is a flowering plant occurring throughout India, the Pacific, and southern United States. The whole plant, roots and leaves are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for energy, physical health

Evolvulus alsinoides

Shankhapushpi (also known as English speedwheel) is a creeper plant commonly found across India and Burma. The whole plant is used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for mental health

Embelia ribes

Vidanga (also known as False black pepper) is a woody creeper shrub native to India. The fruits and roots are used for therapeutic purposes. It is best for energy, physical health, appetite


Your cholesterol levels are directly tied to your heart health, which is why it’s so important to make sure they’re in a healthy range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, reports that 78 million adults in the United States had high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, in 2012. The organization also states that people with high LDL cholesterol are at a much higher risk of heart disease.

Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says it can take between three to six months to see lower LDL numbers through just diet and exercise, noting that it takes longer to see changes in women than men.

Read on for more information on how to lower your LDL levels.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that’s found in your body and that travels through your bloodstream. Your body needs a certain amount to function properly, but it produces all it needs. Cholesterol travels through your body with lipoproteins, which are soluble proteins that transport fats through the body.

LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, carries cholesterol to your body’s tissues and blood vessels. If your body has too much LDL, it will deposit the excess along the walls of your blood vessels, putting you at risk of a heart attack and stroke.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), also called “good” cholesterol, takes excess cholesterol from your tissues and blood vessels back to your liver, where it’s removed from your body. HDL helps protect you from heart disease. So unlike LDL cholesterol, the higher the levels of HDL, the better.

Triglycerides are another type of fat that can build up in your body. A high level of triglycerides combined with a low level of HDL cholesterol also raises your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

How high is too high?

These levels can help determine which treatment options are best, along with helping to establish your overall risk of heart disease.

Total cholesterol

Good: 199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or lower

Borderline: 200 to 239 mg/dL

High: 240 mg/dL or higher


Good: 100 mg/dL or lower

Borderline: 130 to 159 mg/dL

High: 160 mg/dL or higher


Good: 60 mg/dL or higher

Low: 39 mg/dL or lower


Good: 149 mg/dL or lower

Borderline: 150 to 199 mg/dL

High: 200 mg/dL or higher

You can have high cholesterol and not know it. That’s why it’s important to be checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults have their cholesterol checked every four to six years starting at age 20. More frequent checks may be needed based on treatment plans and other risk factors.

Lifestyle changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes is one of the most important ways to lower your cholesterol and improve overall health.

According to Dr. Eugenia Gianos, cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, you can lower your cholesterol levels by up to 20 percent through dietary and lifestyle changes alone, but that can vary depending on the person. “We give patients three months to see what effects occur with dietary changes,” she says.


In order to help lower LDL cholesterol, reduce saturated fat in your diet and increase dietary fiber. Saturated fats increase your body’s production of LDL cholesterol. Dr. Gianos says to cut saturated fat to less than 10 grams per day, and to eat 30 grams of fiber per day, 10 grams of which should be insoluble fiber.

Both doctors say that plant-based diets can help lower cholesterol and improve your overall heart and body health. They recommend the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet, because both emphasize high fiber levels and healthy fats.

The DASH diet includes:

  • plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • nonfat or low-fat dairy
  • lean proteins (such as fish, soy, poultry, beans)
  • healthy fats (for example, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils)
  • limited salt, sugar, processed foods, red meats

The Mediterranean diet includes:

  • plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • healthy fats like nuts and olive oil instead of unhealthy fats like butter
  • limited salt (substituting herbs and spices instead)
  • mainly fish and poultry for protein, with red meat in moderation (a few times a month)

Dr. Goldberg explains that she looks at the patient as an individual and tries to figure out why their cholesterol is high. She says a lot of her patients are busy and often eat quick meals out. In that case, Dr. Goldberg recommends that people focus on eliminating processed foods and refined sugars.


Not being physically active can contribute to higher LDL levels and lower HDL levels. Aerobic exercise helps your body raise its HDL levels, which is important for protecting you against heart disease.

“Exercise is key. Exercise has cardiovascular benefits in addition to weight loss benefits. For weight loss, we recommend 60 minutes of moderate cardio per day,” says Dr. Gianos.

Activities like brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, gardening, swimming, jogging, and aerobics will all give you cardio benefits.

Looking forward

“If you’re going to use lifestyle to lower your cholesterol, you have to do it regularly. You can’t just do it for a few months and then quit,” says Dr. Goldberg. She also points out: “Some people are genetically programmed to make more cholesterol than others. The diet and exercise may not be enough for these people based on the level of their cholesterol and global risk for heart disease.”

Both Dr. Gianos and Dr. Goldberg agree that while some people do need medication, it’s not a substitute for healthy lifestyle changes. The two elements work together to protect you.

1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

2. They don’t give away their power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.

3. They don’t shy away from change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

4. They don’t waste energy on things they can’t control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

5. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone
Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.

6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.

7. They don’t dwell on the past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.

8. They don’t make the same mistakes over and over
Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.

9. They don’t resent other people’s success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.

10. They don’t give up after the first failure
Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.

11. They don’t fear alone time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.

12. They don’t feel the world owes them anything
Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.

13. They don’t expect immediate results
Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time. — feeling happy.

The health benefits of a plant-based diet is plentiful. Plant-based meals can be cheaper, nutrient-rich, environmentally sustainable and better for animal welfare and your body. Despite that many people worry that they won’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet, and this is far from the truth.

Whether you are solely plant-based, vegan or vegetarian, transitioning into either of these, or simply choose to reduce your animal intake for better health for yourself and the environment; you can be sure that protein requirements can be readily met on a plant-based diet. These protein requirements can be met for any goals too. Whether that be overall health and wellness, fat loss or muscle growth (just google vegan bodybuilders and athletes and you will be amazed). Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has become a activist for veganism.

For vegetarians eggs and dairy are sources of high-quality protein and can be added alongside a plant-based diet. For vegans there are a number of plant-based proteins that are incredibly healthy (more below). However, there are two things to be mindful of. Firstly, the protein digestibility and secondly that you are consuming complete proteins.

Complete vs Incomplete Protein Sources

A complete protein is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of the nine essential amino acids. These amino acids are termed “essential” as they can’t be produced by the body, or produced in adequate amounts. Therefore, we must get them from dietary sources.

Some plant-based sources of protein are complete proteins, whereas others may be missing one or more of the essential amino acids. Some of the incomplete protein sources can be combined in a meal to create a complete protein. For example – rice and beans – which make a great vegan chilli dish or Mexican inspired meal!

However, there is no need to get caught up in ensuring EVERY meal has complete protein sources, particularly if your goal is every health, wellness, or even fat loss. The (easy) trick here is to ensure you are consuming a variety of protein sources over the day which will meet your essential amino acid requirements.

If your goal is more specific (i.e. muscle growth/hypertrophy, or if you specifically track your macros), you can easily ensure each meal contains complete proteins and the right protein amount for your goal

Complete Protein Sources (g = grams of protein / per):

Quinoa, cooked (8g /1 cup)
Tofu, cooked (8-10g /100g)
Tempeh, cooked (18g /100g)
Buckwheat, raw groats (23g /100g)
Rice & beans, cooked (10-15g /1 cup)
Soybeans, raw (36g /100g)
Hemp seeds (11g /30g)
Chia seeds (4g /2 tablespoon)
Spirulina (4g /1 tablespoon)

Incomplete Protein Sources:

Grains (e.g. brown rice = 5g /100g cooked)
Nuts and seeds (average: 6-9g /30g)
Legumes/beans (average: 7-9g /100g)
Vegetables (e.g. Green Peas = 8g /1 cup. Spinach & Broccoli =4-5g /1 cup)
Nutritional Yeast (4g /1 tablespoon)

Plant-based vs. Animal protein sources

The protein digestibility between plant protein (70-90%) and animal protein (85-100%) sources differ slightly. Therefore, when consuming a solely vegan diet, your protein requirements may increase.