Hardly any other nutritional concept is currently as popular as the trend to limit its food intake to a certain period of time. Anyone looking for interval fasting on Instagram after the hashtag encounters more than 36,000 entries; in the English translation intermittent fasting, there are even two million posts. Many report successful weight loss, reduced hunger and better athletic performance – but what is really on the trend of intermittent fasting and maybe it’s the right diet for you?
What is intermittent fasting (IF) exactly?
In short, intermittent fasting or interval fasting is exactly what the name suggests: a nutritional pattern that alternates between food intake and fasting. Therefore, this cycle has nothing to do with a prescribed nutritional composition or calorie amount, but only with the timing. Meanwhile, a variety of methods have been established, among the most popular include:
Leangains: the standard program. You only eat in a period of 8 hours, the remaining 16 hours are fasted. Especially often, the breakfast is left out, but at the end of the day then a big dinner in it.
Warrior diet: a more extreme form of the leangains method. It is fasted for 20 hours and consumed in just four hours. Sometimes, with this form of intermittent fasting, due to the very long window of time, it is still recommended to consume a protein shake or a very small snack during Lent.
Eat Stop Eat: this form of intermittent fasting does not follow a consistent cycle. It is fasted for one to two days a week for the entire day. It is recommended that after a fasting day always follow two days with a normal food intake.
Alternate Day Fasting: As the name implies, this method alternately fasting for a full day and then eating again as usual for up to 24 hours.
What are the advantages of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting can simplify your diet.
One of the most common reasons to start with intermittent fasting is to reduce unwanted weight. Intermittent fasting does not change the necessary calorie deficit, but it is much easier for many to eat for a limited time and therefore to consume fewer calories than to follow complicated dietary rules and to abstain from any meal. The fact that food is “allowed” only in a certain period of time can lead to intuitively fewer calories than usual on a normal day. This leads to a calorie deficit and thus to a decrease in body weight. The temporary fasting can also bring the psychological effect of having to think less of food, since the period is anyway limited to the selected time window.
Intermittent fasting can have a positive effect on your health.
Several studies in mice and rats have already shown that intermittent fasting may result in lower blood pressure, improved cognitive function, and better sensitivity to insulin (important for avoiding type 2 diabetes). Also, oxidative stress, which is often associated with cancer, can be significantly reduced, as well as the harmful LDL cholesterol, which is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Whether these results can be fully transferred to humans and whether they are really due to the regular fasting itself or only arise from the resulting calorie deficit, unfortunately, can not be proven yet.
You can adapt your fasting periods to your everyday life.
Intermittent fasting is a simple dietary pattern that requires neither great planning nor a degree in nutritional science. Incidentally, eating fewer meals saves you not only time and calories, but also costs, as the amount of food is often less and snacks are less of a concern. Also the enjoyment does not remain on the track, since no food is forbidden. You are a very social person and you are often invited to events and parties? Again, the temporary fast is ideal because your personal time window can be moved so that you take your meals when you’re on the go – so the pizza in the evening is quiet times inside!
On your marks, ready, …
You have become curious about intermittent fasting and would like to try it out for yourself?
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Do not forget to drink. Since side effects such as headache, constipation and dehydration may occur at the very beginning, it is especially important to drink enough fluids. Especially water and teas, but also small amounts of coffee are suitable here.
Be prepared for hunger at the beginning. The “hunger hormone” ghrelin, which increases our appetite, must first adjust to the new eating rhythm, which may take a few days. Here: do not give up and go through the first few days.
Not suitable for everyone. If you have diabetes, are pregnant, underweight, or have an eating disorder, you should definitely talk to a doctor before starting intermittent fasting, because only this one can give you the green light.
Intermittent fasting – that’s our conclusion
Intermittent fasting is not necessarily a low-calorie diet, but rather a diet. However, the very limited window of time in which food is consumed may well help to achieve a desired calorie deficit at the end of the day.
Since only the time of food intake is limited, but not the choice of food, it is easier for many to stick to the rules. Unfortunately, the current study situation is still very limited and can only draw a few safe conclusions about the effects of intermittent fasting on humans, but still speaks in particular the practicability of this diet.
However, if you choose to try intermittent fasting, one thing to remember:
The most important thing for a weight reduction is and remains a calorie deficit, which must be constantly adhered to to see long-term success!