Intermittent Fasting: Lose Weight Healthily

Lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off – this is possible with intermittent fasting. Longer breaks are taken between meals. What is the difference between the 16:8 and 5:2 methods?

Intermittent fasting is the most important new trend in nutritional medicine. The method can help to lose weight and maintain body weight in a healthy way. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can also protect against diabetes (type 2) and may even have a supportive effect on cancer therapies.

What methods are there for intermittent fasting?

Fasting means doing without certain foods, drinks, and stimulants, for a short or longer period of time. With intermittent fasting you can choose between different variants:

  • 16:8 method: There are 16 hours between the last meal of the previous day and the first meal of the day. Two meals are eaten in the eight hours that you are allowed to eat.
  • 5:2 method: Eat normally five days a week and very little on two days.
    Alternate fasting (alternate-day fasting): With this variant, you eat normally one day, and the next day you can only consume about 25 percent of the usual amount of energy. So you always alternate between “normal” days and fasting days.

Why short-term fasting is so effective

The human metabolism has been adjusted to fasting phases since the Stone Age. When there was plenty, our ancestors ate without restraint, in times of shortage the stomach remained empty for a few hours or days. The human body survives longer periods of hunger by storing energy reserves in various organs and tissues and mobilizing them again when needed. However, it also reduces energy consumption – and after a few days, it begins to break down protein in the muscles.

The decisive difference between intermittent fasting and longer fasting cures or crash diets: the metabolism is not throttled and muscle mass is not broken down. This is very important because it avoids the dreaded yo-yo effect.

Fasting also leads to beneficial biochemical changes in the body, such as improved sugar and fat metabolism: Substances are released that can reduce inflammation.

Fasting according to the 5:2 method

The most well-known form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet: you can eat as usual five days a week without counting calories. For two days, the food intake is reduced to 500 to 800 calories for women and 600 to 850 calories for men. It is important to drink plenty of calorie-free water. Quickly digestible carbohydrates such as wheat bread, pasta, potatoes, and sugar should be avoided completely on fasting days. This is how the body learns to live off its reserves.

Fasting according to the 16:8 method

If you don’t want to fast for a whole day, you can build longer breaks into your daily routine. With the 16:8 diet, you skip either the morning or late meal, so you go without food for 16 hours at a time. For example, if you don’t eat after 5 p.m., you can have breakfast again at 9 a.m. the next morning. The metabolism comes into a short fast every night. A pleasant side effect: the body has less to do with digestion at night, which benefits the quality of sleep.

Alternate fasting or alternate-day fasting

This fasting method, which involves fasting every other day, is a bit of a challenge for the body. If you want to try them, you should always consult a doctor first. With alternating fasting, it is also particularly important to ensure a balanced diet in order to provide the body with all the important nutrients.

What can you drink during intermittent fasting?

With both variants, it is important not to eat more than usual during the phases of food intake. You can and should drink while fasting – but only calorie-free drinks such as water, thin vegetable broth, unsweetened tea, or black coffee in moderation.

How many hours break between meals?

Breaks of at least four to five hours should be taken between meals. Because if you eat carbohydrates in between – whether biscuits, crispbread, fruit juice, or milk – then the body converts them into sugar. And it goes straight into the blood: the blood sugar level rises, the body releases insulin, and stops the breakdown of fat. The rapid insulin peak in the blood can lead to slight, short-term hypoglycemia and to food cravings.

Beware of pre-existing conditions

Although intermittent fasting is good for most, some people should exercise caution. You should definitely consult your doctor before you start if you have low blood pressure, metabolic diseases, chronic diseases, cancer, or old age. Intermittent fasting is rather unsuitable during pregnancy and breastfeeding, with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and with underweight. It is also not recommended for migraines.

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