What does fasting mean?

For a certain period of time people voluntarily abstain from food. In some religious traditions, fasting also includes abstinence from water. From a medical point of view, however, this is not recommended.

What types of interval fasting are there?

With the 16:8 method (eight-hour diet), food is limited to a period of eight hours a day. For example, food is eaten between 10 and 18 o'clock or between 13 and 21 o'clock. This is followed by 16 hours of fasting. The first meal can also be postponed further, and one fasts for 18 or 19 hours. Some people limit themselves to a single meal a day, such as an extensive dinner. The best studied is the alternating fasting: alternately eating nothing or almost nothing (maximum 500 calories) one day and the next day as normal. This is easier to keep up than a permanent diet and still leads to weight loss. With the 5:2 diet, you are limited to two such fasting days per week - it's up to you which ones that are.

Why is it not enough to simply eat less?

The effect on the metabolism is different. The body adapts to the reduced energy intake, it lowers consumption. You start to freeze, cannot concentrate, you break down muscles. Worse still: even if you have long since stopped your diet, your basal metabolic rate remains lowered. Therefore you gain weight again quickly. Fasting is different: If the body does not receive too little food in the long run, but temporarily no food at all, it switches to fat burning.

What about the yo-yo effect?

If you eat a healthy diet, the body breaks down fat in the long term, because it does not adapt to the reduced energy supply as it would with a diet.

Who can fast? And who may not?

The body is prepared for times without food, so in principle anyone can fast. Exceptions are pregnant women, nursing mothers, children and teenagers. For them the risk of nutritional deficiencies is too great. Even if you are underweight, it is not recommended. Diabetics who are taking medication should consult a doctor to monitor their blood sugar levels, which are lowered by fasting - which is good. In combination with blood sugar-lowering medication, however, it can lead to life-threatening hypoglycaemia.

What should I take during the fasting?

Water and all kinds of tea: black, herbal or spiced tea. There is also nothing wrong with coffee as long as you drink it without sugar. Avoid artificial sweeteners: they are calorie-free, but studies suggest that they tend to hinder weight loss.

Can I put milk in my coffee?

Milk contains lactose - and like all sugars, it stops fat burning. But that is a question of weighing up the pros and cons: If coffee makes you happy and you don't like it black, add a dash of milk or cream. A small amount will not prevent success.

Can I drink alcohol?

During non-fasting periods you can eat normally and drink alcohol - preferably in moderation, of course. For losing weight, dry wine is better than beer, which contains many carbohydrates in the form of malt sugar.


Does it matter what I eat outside of Lent?

Fasting has health benefits even if you otherwise eat as usual: The liver breaks down fat, insulin levels drop, the body gets used to burning fat. However, you can significantly increase the effect if you stick to nutritious foods with little sugar and processed carbohydrates during meals. Otherwise: fast in a way that fits into your life. If you are invited to a meal, you should also enjoy it. Afterwards you can take your usual eating breaks again.


Fasting makes me dizzy and gives me a headache.

Maybe you are not drinking enough or you are missing salt. A pinch in a glass of water can help. For longer periods of fasting, we recommend a broth cooked from bones and vegetables. It relieves hunger attacks, provides you with salt, a little protein and micronutrients and prevents dehydration. Ready-made broth often contains artificial flavour enhancers and is therefore unsuitable.


If I don't eat in the morning, I cannot work. I need breakfast!

The body must first get used to phases without food. Start with twelve hours and then extend the period. It gets easier over time. It's best to start the day with a glass of water. You can add lemon or orange slices or mint leaves for flavour. A dash of apple cider vinegar in the water is said to lower elevated blood sugar levels.


New study results:

Eat for six hours, don't eat for 18 hours: The idea of so-called intermittent fasting, also known as interval fasting, is not new. The findings of researchers from Birmingham, Alabama, however, are. They published the results of a ten-week study in 2018 with overweight men in the specialist magazine "Cell". They found evidence that the long pause between the last and first meal has a positive effect not only on weight but also on the health of the fasting person. According to this, especially people who have an increased risk of diabetes can achieve great success with interval fasting. But the results also encourage anyone who wants to lose weight, lower their risk of heart disease or simply feel fitter. Half of the volunteers fasted within the first five weeks. They had each day six hours before 15 o'clock time to take altogether three meals to itself. The other half, the control group, had twelve hours a day to do so. After five weeks, there was a seven-week study break to bring the body back to its normal level. Then the groups changed. The calorie intake was not changed in either group compared to their respective daily routines, so that there was no conscious effort to lose weight.

The result: the men who were interval fasting had lower blood pressure, a more stable blood sugar level and also less appetite. The latter is certainly closely related to blood sugar: Those who have a stable blood sugar level are less prone to attacks of ravenous appetite. With this study the researchers from Birmingham showed for the first time that the positive effects of interval chamfering on health are not alone to due to weight reduction, but also to chamfered actually.