Free from symptoms of Multiple sclerosis (MS)
How to Ease MS Symptoms with Intermittent Fasting
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, can cause symptoms such muscle weakness and spasticity and loss of balance.Many individuals with MS treat their symptoms with different treatments and therapies. One new treatment you may want to try is the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD). The FMD occasionally restricts the number of calories you eat every day to 500 for two to three days per week.You can ease your MS symptoms with intermittent fasting by seeking professional advice about FMD and following a safe diet plan while using it.
Seeking Medical Advice about Fasting with MS
Talk to your doctor about FMD.Fasting can complement other treatments for MS, but should not be a substitute for it. Your doctor can advise you if you are healthy enough to use FMD for your symptoms. They can also work with your specialist and/or a dietician to coordinate intermittent fasting you’re your treatment plan.
- Tell your doctor that you’re interested in trying FMD to ease your MS symptoms. Ask any questions that you may have about fasting with MS or your treatments. They will discuss the pros and cons of this type of diet for you.For example, “Dr. Maier, I was wondering about trying fasting to ease my symptoms. Do you think this could work for me along with my other treatments?”
- Recognize that your doctor may suggest avoiding FMD if you have certain medical conditions in addition to your MS. Intermittent fasting may not be ideal if you have diabetes or intestinal issues.
Visit your MS specialist.If you see an MS specialist in addition to your doctor, discuss your interest in using an FMD with them. Your specialist may have specific tips or advice on using FMD in conjunction with other treatments.
- Discuss your regular doctor’s suggestions with your specialist. For example, “I had a chance to talk with Dr. Maier about trying FMD. He thinks it’s worth a go but wanted me to discuss it with you before we proceed.”
Meet with a registered dietician.In addition to your doctor(s), a registered dietician can give you tips on safely and effectively selecting low calorie foods that fill you and provide nutrients to get you through each fasting cycle. Having a dietician work with your doctors can also help ensure you get optimal treatments for your specific case of MS.
- Ask your doctor or specialist to recommend a dietician. You can also find a registered dietician through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics online search tool at.
- Let the dietician know any information that may help them create a safe FMD with you. This might include: medications you take, other conditions you have, your current eating habits, foods you like and dislike. For example, “I take Betaseron for my MS. I also have a mild case of diabetes. My doctors think it’s ok for me to try FMD, but would like for all of us to work together so I get the most benefits from the diet.”
Fasting Safely for MS with FMD
Figure out how often you want to fast.Although more testing is required, there are two common FMD plans for MS. One plan consists of limiting calories for five days per month and the other limiting calories for 6 days per month. You and your medical team can choose which one is the most realistic for your and your needs.
Use a five-day FMD.You may not want to fast for three separate weekly cycles over the course of a month. Instead, you can get your fasting out of the way over the course of five days. Try this FMD over a course of three months, which may help you see more benefits. Eat the following calorie count over the course of your five chosen days:
- Day one: eat 1090 calories that includes a mixture of 56% good fats such as lean chicken or avocado and 34% unrefined carbohydrates such as vegetables or fruits. For example, you could have a mushroom and pepper egg white omelet and apple for breakfast, tuna with avocado for lunch, a Mexican cottage cheese salad for dinner.
- Days two through five: eat 725 calories that includes a mixture of 44% good fats and 34% carbohydrates such as vegetables or fruits. For example, you could have banana egg pancakes and nonfat yogurt for breakfast, a veggie Nori roll for lunch, and peaches and almond butter on toast for dinner.
Eat according to the “5,2” FMD.If you’re concerned about fasting-mimicking for five days, trying it for three cycles of seven days each. This means you would fast for two days over a seven day period and then repeat this two more times. Like the five day plan, you may also want to try “5,2” over the course of three months for additional benefits.Eat the following calorie counts if you want to do the “5,2” FMD:
- Choose two fasting days per week. They don’t need to be consecutive.
- Eat two meals on the days you choose to fast. Your first meal should equal about 200 calories and the second about 300 calories. This gives you a total of 500 calories for the days you’re fasting. For example, you could have high protein energy balls and oranges for one meal and a basic protein shake for the other.
- Continue to eat healthy meals on the five days you’re not fasting. You don’t need to restrict calories, but avoid junk foods if possible.
Allow yourself to get used to your FMD.It can take anyone a little time to adjust to new eating habits. This is especially true if you are trying fasting for the first time. Recognizing that you may accidentally cheat or fall off the fasting wagon can help you start a new cycle of FMD when you are ready. Your body will eventually get used to fasting and it can have positive effects on your hunger and cravings as well as help ease your MS symptoms. In fact, your may find fasting days easier than regular days over time.
- Choose healthy foods as much as possible, which can help curb cravings for junk foods or those loaded with refined sugars.
Watch for the benefits of intermittent fasting.People often fear mood swings from fasting and this may happen to some people. But many people experience benefits to following an FMD that include easing your MS symptoms. Some of the benefits you may find as a result of intermittent fasting include:
- Weight loss
- Improved lipid panels
- Improved mood
- Increase white blood “T” cells that are responsible for immunity
Planning Meals for Fasting
Select low-calorie, healthy foods.On the days you’re fasting, eat foods that are both low calorie and healthy. This can help you more easily get through the days without feeling too hungry while ensuring you’re getting proper nutrients to fuel your body.Some examples of foods you can eat on fasting days include:
- Tomato-based soups
- Broth-based vegetable soups
- Whole wheat crackers
Consult a cookbook or cooking website.Many people are now fasting to get healthier. As a result, there are a wide array of cookbooks and websites with recipes and menus of 500 calories or less to use while fasting.Get a cookbook from a book retailer or look at the websites of chefs and other proponents of fasting. For example, Elly Pear and Angela Dowden have cookbooks and websites with tips and recipes for fasting.
- Ask your dietician if they know of any good recipes for fasting days.
Make a meal plan.Having an idea of what you can and will eat on fasting days can help you stick to an FMD while getting its full benefits. Write a detail meal plan for each day and include total calorie counts to ensure you’re fasting properly and safely. You can easily find calorie counts for specific foods using online tools.You can also use online apps such as Eat This Much to help plan your meals.Write meal information for each day in a notebook or on your smartphone.
Make Monday meals easy.Monday is the beginning of the week and can be stressful for many people. Consider making this one of your non-fasting days. For example, if you’re doing one week of “5,2”, your Monday plan might include:
- Breakfast: spinach, feta, and tomato omelet for breakfast
- Lunch: kale salad with baked chicken
- Vegetarian chili for dinner
- Fresh berries for dessert
Release Monday’s tension on Tuesday.You may have had a stressful start to the week. Try having a second non-fasting day on Tuesdays. Your meals might look like:
- Breakfast: bowl of granola and Greek yogurt with fresh berries
- Lunch: tomato-basil-mozzarella Panini and mixed salad
- Snack: apple with almond butter
- Dinner: broiled salmon, baked potato, and steamed veggies
Fast on Wednesday.Once you’ve had a chance to adjust to the week, have a fast day. Wednesday may be a good day to fast because it helps you get over the hump to enjoying a couple more days of your regular diet. Your Wednesday meals totaling 500 calories might include:
- Meal one: smoothie of ¼ cup each fresh and frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, ½ banana, and ¼ avocado plus ¼ hard boiled egg for first meal = 187 calories.
- Meal two: one serving of smoked tofu kebabs with tzatziki and salad for second meal = 288 calories.
Eat regularly on Thursday.You may feel hungry or even a bit weak after a day of fasting. Give your body a chance to bounce back on Thursday with sensible and healthy choices. Your meals might include:
- Breakfast: bagel with smoked salmon, capers, and light cream cheese
- Lunch: two slices of homemade vegetable pizza and a small salad
- Snack: hummus and pretzels
- Dinner: Vietnamese pork pho
Enjoy your Friday.It’s the weekend! Take your Friday to indulge and prepare for your next fasting day. A delicious Friday meal plan might look like:
- Breakfast: French toast with fresh berries and maple syrup
- Lunch: big, mixed salad and hummus and crackers
- Dinner: pasta with marinara sauce and steamed vegetables
Go light on Saturday.After two days of healthy meals, you may be ready for another day of fasting. Remember that you should only eat 500 calories over two meals. The Saturday fasting plan might include:
- First meal: one cup of cottage cheese with raspberries and one cup of strawberries = 207 calories
- Second meal: 1.5 servings of vegetable, butter bean, and smoked paprika stew = 280 calories.
Replenish yourself on Sunday.The final day of the week can be a good time to rest and recharge. Choosing three healthy, non-fasting meals can help you replenish your energy.
Video: Why is fasting GOOD for MS symptoms?
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