For many people, long-term fasting, where no food is eaten for several days to weeks, is downright torture. Intermittent fasting requires only a minimal change of habits. After at least ten days, it starts to become a habit.
The different forms of intermittent fasting outshine all other diets. There are no strict restrictions, intestinal flora starts to build up positively, the sleep improves and also the immune system will thank you.
And naturally, the weight will change positively. In particular, the fat burning process benefits from the change in diet – nothing stands in the way of sustainable, healthful and long-term weight loss success.
Learn how intermittent fasting works, which methods there are for it, what concept is best for you and how much you can lose weight with which fasting method. To help you know exactly what you’re allowed to eat and drink, we have also put together a daily plan for you.
But what is Intermittent Fasting?
Rather, phases of normal nutrition alternate with periods of complete abstinence at shorter intervals. This is how the intervals that give fasting its name are created. Here you can find out how intermittent fasting works and which methods are available for intermittent fasting.
Which advantages does intermittent fasting offer?
Intermittent fasting is no longer just a trend; it is considered a healthy all-purpose weapon in fat burning, intestinal health and cell regeneration.
Some benefits that make intermittent fasting attractive for a healthy dietary change:
- Weight reduction without cravings or feelings of weakness
- No counting of calories or renunciation of carbohydrates or fats
- Positive regulation of blood sugar levels and thus preventive against diabetes
- Preventative for heart disease and cancer
- Conscious enjoyment of food
- Healthy sleep
- Adjustment of hormone balance between cortisol, leptin and ghrelin
This is how intermittent fasting works
If you would like to try intermittent fasting, here are three basic rules for you:
First, you should figure out which interval variations work best for you. Your choice will depend on how long you can go without food. Different forms differ in frequency and duration of food restriction. You are allowed only water or unsweetened beverages such as coffee or tea during fasting. During this time, everything your body needs is taken from your reserves.
During the remaining time, you can eat normally. Please follow the usual recommendations for a healthy diet. This includes avoiding refined sugar and fast food as far as possible and not eating too much or too late. There are no other guidelines. According to individual goals and preferences, different forms of intermittent fasting are possible, which vary in their ratio of fasting time to eating time.
The various methods of intermittent fasting
These methods are based on the individual needs and preferences of the user. Intermittent fasting is thus possible with low food intake within the period of abstention. In addition, also methods with long-lasting and absolute abstinence are available. In the following the different methods are more thoroughly explained.
16:8 Intermittent fasting – 8 hours eating, 16 hours fasting
The most popular and effective form of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 method. Intermittent fasting on 16:8 is based on “time-restricted feeding”. That means that the food intake period in the daily interval is limited in time. In every 24-hour interval, you may eat within 8 hours, but you may not eat in the remaining 16 hours. This means you must time your meals accordingly.
Generally, you can reach for whatever food you feel like during your active eating phase. We recommend, however, three healthy and balanced meals within the 8-hour interval.
Thanks to the short intervals between meals, you will find it easy to avoid unhealthy snacks in between meals. This way, you automatically build in smaller fasting intervals within the eight hours. Incidentally: The enhanced form of 16:8 is the 20:4 variant – also called the Warrior Diet. That extreme variant is not suitable for beginners and is only suitable for a short time.
- Advantages: With 16:8, you can choose the fasting period as it suits you. When dinner is celebrated in your family, you move breakfast to the back. That makes the method suitable for everyday life.
- Caution: Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children and people with eating disorders should not fast according to the 16:8 method.
- Particularly suitable for: Everyone who prefers to watch the clock rather than count calories. Great for beginners, since they do not have to fast for full days or longer. Perfect for working people.
- Weight loss factor: 1-2 kilograms per week is possible.
Whole day intermittent fasting according to the 5:2 method
British nutrition expert Michelle Harvie developed the 5:2 concept with colleague Tony Howell at South Manchester University Hospital. Eating whatever you feel like on five days – and fasting on two days. This concept allows a small amount of food during the fasting period. Females are allowed to eat up to 500 kcal and males up to 600 kcal, for instance, in the form of vegetables, fruits or soups.
As a result, you do not have to forgo solid food on the fasting days altogether. In addition, you can choose any number of fasting days; they should not follow each other. So you can take part in a birthday party, for instance, or occasionally go out for a meal. The important thing is to drink enough calorie-free beverages such as water or unsweetened teas.
- Advantages: This 5:2 diet is suitable for everyday use and is flexible. The limited food intake makes it easy to stick to the fasting days and thus the method itself. After the diet phase, you change to only one fasting day, which means that you can maintain the weight you have reached.
- Caution: The 5:2 method is not suitable for children, pregnant women, competitive athletes, and people with eating disorders or those who are underweight. Discuss the intermittent fasting method with your doctor if you have diabetes or other chronic diseases.
- Particularly suitable for: People who don’t want to count calories or give up carbohydrates or fats, but who are good at reducing the amount of food they eat. The method regulates the blood values.
- Weight loss factor: from 500 to 800 grams of weight loss per fasting day is possible.
6:1 Intermittent fasting – 6 days eating, 1 day fasting
The California-based journalist and book author Jane Kennedy is the inventor of the One-Day Diet. Her main topics are health, natural medicine and wellness. In this method, people fast only one day per week. The emphasis on this day is on drinking plenty of fluids (at least three liters) and fat burner drinks. You can add, for example, one 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp. of honey to a glass of water. Or stir in the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water. These drinks curb hunger and stimulate metabolism.
Also allowed are diluted juices, whey and fat-free broth. Coffee, alcohol and caloric drinks must be avoided. On the other six days of the week, you eat as usual – of course, as varied and calorie-conscious as possible. We recommend that you do not eat anything heavy on the evening before the fasting day. So the body can tune up to the diet daily.
- Advantages: You do not have to fear a yo-yo effect because you fast on one day of the week. Also, you can set the fasting day on the weekend to avoid stress on workdays. This method is gentle and usually well tolerated. Therefore, you can continue it indefinitely.
- Caution: It is not recommended to fast during pregnancy and after surgeries.
- Especially suitable for: Those who want to control their weight, but do not want to put too much effort into it.
- Lose weight factor: You may lose up to 800 grams in one fasting day; however, overall, the method is more suitable for maintaining weight and providing relief to the body.
10 in 2 Intermittent Fasting – 1 day eating, 1 day fasting
The method is also known as alternate fasting, meaning eating and fasting alternately. Number 10 is spoken separately. So “one” and “zero.” 2 means in two days. To summarize, this means eating one day (1) and fasting one day (0) within 2 days.
This variant was invented by the Austrian cabaret artist and psychologist Bernhard Ludwig under the motto: “Become and stay slim with pleasure”. With this method, he has lost over 20 kilos, the book to his recipe for success: tomorrow I may eat what I want.
Normally the food intake on the eating day takes place over a period of twelve hours. This is then followed by 36 hours in which you eat nothing. This way, your body is only deprived of nutrients for a short period of time. Everything that tastes good to you is allowed on Eating Day.
- Advantages: Alternating fasting is the most effective way to save the most calories.
- Caution: you should be quite fit for frequent fasting. There is no yo-yo effect, but it does challenge the body more than the gentler fasting methods.
- Particularly suitable for: Those with fasting experience who want to lose a lot of weight over a long period.
- Weight loss factor: 2 to 2.5 kilograms per week should fall, at least initially.
Dinner Cancelling – eat during the day, fasting at evening
Dinner Cancelling is a well-known form of dietary change and can be regarded as a precursor to Intermittent Fasting. The latest studies show that it is particularly useful not to eat anything after 4 pm. This is due to the circadian rhythm – night and day determine the metabolism. As a result, the same food in test subjects causes a smaller increase in blood sugar levels in the morning than in the evening. As its name suggests, Dinner Cancelling involves skipping dinner.
You can enhance the effect if there are as many hours as possible between the last meal of the day and the next one – breakfast. You may drink calorie-free beverages such as water and unsweetened tea during this period. However, do not drink coffee in the evening, as it can negatively affect sleep patterns. When eating breakfast the next morning, be careful not to add on the calories you saved from the evening.
- Advantages: Canceling dinner once or twice a week is easy. Remember that fat burning works better overnight than during the day. This provides for good results with only small cuts in the habits.
- Positive side effect: You gain time to do something for yourself, your sleep becomes calmer.
- Caution: not so ideal for those who eat together in the family in the evening. A glass of hot water or herbal tea will help in case of night cravings.
- Especially suitable for: Fasting newcomers, cooking muffle, and singles.
- Weight loss factor: up to 500 grams less are possible.
For how long should I do Intermittent Fasting?
In contrast to therapeutic fasting or detoxing, intermittent fasting is not only used for a specific period of time but for longer periods of time. If you are good with intermittent fasting, you can practice it for the rest of your life. After a short time, you will find your own rhythm, which will adapt to the respective method.
You will feel the positive effects even if you fast intermittently, for instance, three days out of seven a week. You can start with a few days a week. And do not worry: the body is adapted to not eating anything for a longer period of time. But the more often you do it, the better it is for your health and especially for your weight loss success.
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Health advantages of Intermittent Fasting
Countless testimonials speak for themselves: Intermittent fasting works. But what about scientific studies? And is it really as healthy as it is always claimed to be? Find out more about the various studies in the following.
Intermittent fasting – prevention of diabetes, cancer and heart disease
Actually, different studies have shown that eating breaks lead to a higher life expectancy and many diseases are prevented or alleviated. For instance, trials were conducted with mice that were specifically exposed to eating breaks. In these, researchers observed an improvement in blood counts and a reduced likelihood of diabetes, cancer or heart disease due to the slight calorie deficit.
Intermittent fasting even had life-prolonging effects in another study. However, whether the results can be transferred to humans has not yet been scientifically demonstrated.
Study proves weight reduction by intermittent fasting
And also, as far as losing weight is concerned, analyses to date allow a positive conclusion to be drawn. One analysis from 2015 concluded that intermittent fasting is a valid option for energy restriction in terms of weight loss, the mass of fat, and blood sugar regulation.
In addition, a different study proved that intermittent fasting is superior to diets with continuous restriction of calories as well as carbohydrates. Test subjects showed greater body fat reduction as well as improved insulin sensitivity.
The correct method in intermittent fasting is crucial
Opponents of the popular 16:8-Methode argue against it: 16 hours is far too short to create a ketogenic metabolic situation in the body as in therapeutic fasting – i.e. to switch from glucose storage to fat burning.
For the organism, above all for the heart, the concentrated food supply in the change with Pseudo fasting is possibly even extremely loading. The hormone balance can also be disrupted if the fasting window is too large.
Nutritional evaluation by the DGE
Nourishing scientific evaluation by the German society for nutrition (DGE) gives to consider that there are so far only a few human studies for the investigation of the effects of the intermittent fasting. In addition, many different forms of fasting and different study participants (e.g., normal-weight or overweight individuals) make evaluation more difficult. At the present time, there have been no studies on the long-term effects of fasting.
However, The DGE emphasizes that the data up to today indicate a positive effect of intermittent fasting on health and weight loss.
Risks and side effects
No specific dangers exist with intermittent fasting. The side effects of intermittent fasting may include fatigue or headaches. If you notice these symptoms, it is advisable to visit your family doctor. There you can discuss whether and how you should practice one of the fasting methods.
Remember that fasting means you eat fewer calories than usual but also fewer nutrients. This is why it is so important to eat a balanced diet during the fasting period. In this way, you cover your needs for nutrients, trace elements and minerals.
Who is intermittent fasting suitable for?
Many people find Intermittent Fasting an interesting method to lose body fat without banning themselves from certain foods or maintaining their current body weight despite some feasting. Nevertheless, how well a person can sustain the time-limited food intake is highly individual.
Even though intermittent fasting has a positive effect on most people, the method of fasting is not suitable for everyone. It is essential to consult a doctor before starting if you have low blood pressure, a metabolic disorder, any chronic illness, cancer or advanced age.
Intermittent fasting is also not suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children and adolescents, with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia and underweight.
Eating at a 16:8 interval is popular among sportsmen and sportswomen. Exercise is included in the fasting phase in the morning. From noon the body receives energy again. But also for less sport-enthusiastic people, intermittent fasting is useful. A late breakfast and/or an early dinner can be easily integrated into work and everyday life without having to sacrifice.
However, with an increased sports workload or job-related stress, a more consistent calorie intake may make more sense. So, fasting part-time and losing weight is not the best option for everyone. If you suffer from pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or low blood pressure or are severely underweight, the same applies. The body mass index (BMI) is a good guide to avoid any risk in the latter case.
What is allowed during Intermittent Fasting?
There are no or hardly any guidelines during intermittent fasting as to what is eaten or drunk. That means: salad and Curry are okay, but how about doner and Coke?
Some experts criticize that many concepts of intermittent fasting give no or only very vague recommendations, which exactly should be eaten during intermittent fasting. Indeed, often no change in diet takes place at all when beginners and novices start with intermittent fasting. Who eats thus further unhealthily, perhaps will lose weight – however not in a healthy way.
Optimal nutrition during Intermittent Fasting
There is no way around a balanced diet to get the maximum benefits of intermittent fasting. That means eating two to three large meals a day that provides you with satiating proteins, healthful fats, energizing carbohydrates and vital nutrients.
For breakfast, porridge, muesli with fruit or omelet with vegetables and avocado are suitable. For lunch and dinner, most of the food should be vegetables and vegetable sources of protein, such as pulses, soya or pseudo-cereals.
Candy, red meat, trans fats and alcohol should be avoided as much as possible. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach or pak choi contain only a few calories but provide a large number of vitamins and minerals as well as secondary plant substances.
Fruits should also not be missing, such as strawberries, blueberries, bananas or apples. The good fats from avocados, Salmon, Olives or seeds and nuts give you the necessary energy for the day.
It is recommended to rely on purely vegetable food for the last meal and first food intake after the fasting phase. This is alkalizing and supports the body in breaking it down from unwanted substances.
What can I drink during the fasting phase?
Regardless of which fasting method you have chosen for yourself, what is important is that you drink enough – especially during the phases of abstaining from food. In this way, you support fat burning and cell regeneration.
The best choice is still water or unsweetened herbal or fruit tea. Milk, soft drinks, sweetened iced teas or other energy drinks are taboo.
Coffees are perfectly okay – but black only. Lattes and cappuccinos, unfortunately, don’t count because they contain milk.
May I drink alcohol?
You are allowed to drink alcohol during Intermittent Fasting, however only during the meal window and in moderation. Drinking alcohol during the fasting period will break your fast.
Daily schedule: Intermittent fasting plan
For the popular 16:8 method of intermittent fasting, we have compiled a sample day for you.
Tip: When you want to start intermittent fasting, the best time to start is on the weekend. Having a late brunch, early dinner, and enough sleep in between makes it relatively easy to get to 16 hours of fasting.
The ideal meal window is between 12 o’clock at noon and 20 o’clock, so that the method can also be implemented on working days.
Your everyday life during the intermittent fasting could be like this:
- 08:00, at home: two large glasses of still water
- 09:00, at the office: a cup of black coffee or a cup of unsweetened herbal tea
- until 11:00 am: two glasses of water or tea
- 11:00 am: Breakfast – Overnight Oats in a jar, cereal in a Tupperware or a satisfying Green Smoothie will re-energize you after the fasting phase.
- 13:30 am: Lunch – Light meals like soups or salads are ideal. And the more colorful, so much the better. Salad bowls, quinoa or chickpea salads are good sources of nutrients. Be sure to include protein- and fiber-rich foods in your salad, for example, chicken, tofu, beans or lentils. They will fill you up for a long time.
- 4:00 pm: Watch out; the afternoon slump is lurking now. Vegetable sticks with hummus, two pieces of dark chocolate or an apple will help you stay focused.
- 6:30 pm: Dinner – Now, you get to enjoy again before the fasting phase begins. Prepare a delicious vegetable curry with rice, fiery lentil neck with spinach or potato salad with zucchini, asparagus, tofu and fresh herbs. Be sure to use high-quality, healthy fats, such as olive or flax oil.
- In between: drinking plenty of water. In the evening, a cup of fruit tea helps against sweet cravings.