Interval fasting: Healthy and effective - or dangerous?

Many people swear by interval fasting: they only eat a little in eight hours a day, and they fast for the remaining 16 hours. This should not only help you lose weight in the long term. but also have positive effects on the body. Whether this is true is not proven yet.

Diets are annoying: Often they are only a short time through. After that, the weight often rises even higher than before due to the yo-yo effect. But this should be different at the interval fasting.

The method is considered very effective for losing weight in the long term. In addition, it makes no special demands on the diet. but only provides for long breaks between meals.

The most common variant is that you fast every day for 16 hours and eat in a time window of eight hours.

Interval fasting should also have beneficial effects on health and, among other things, have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels. Whether that's true is not clear, as long-term data is missing.

"So far, unfortunately, one can not make reliable statements about interval fasting," says Antje Gahl, spokeswoman for the German Nutrition Society, in an interview with our editors. However, there are first indications from studies that there are favorable effects. These also affect the blood pressure, the heart, and the vessels.

Not everyone can take long breaks between meals

However, not everyone should just fast for 16 hours. "Diabetics, children, pregnant women, lactating women, and those with chronic conditions should be careful with this method," says Gahl. Also, those who tend to eating disorders should better keep their fingers off interval fasting. The strict rules on eating breaks can fuel an eating disorder. Even people who are already underweight should rather not fast.

In addition, not every person can handle the long breaks between meals equally well. "Some get a headache, feel powerless, restless or dizzy," says Gahl. "One should observe oneself well." If you fast, you should also drink a lot. This stabilizes the circulation and stimulates the metabolism. Well suited for this is water, but are also possible teas and very strong diluted spritzers.

16 hours of fasting - that often does not go well with everyday life

The optimal time between meals is not yet fully understood. "In my experience, 16 hours of break are not suitable for everyday use for many people," says the trained ecotrophologist Maike Ehrlichmann in an interview with our editors.

If you want to have a relaxed meal with your family or friends at night, you will not be able to keep up this long break - unless you can have breakfast late in the morning at the office. Ehrlichmann advises: "In such situations you have to weigh exactly what you do, because the relaxed meal at the table with the loved ones and with self-cooked food is also healthy."

Even shorter breaks can have a positive effect

Eating breaks are also a great way to get back in the moment. "Many people do not even know when they are really hungry and when they are full," says the nutritionist. While our ancestors did not have anything to eat for a long time, today we are constantly surrounded by snacks - whether in the kiosk at the train station or in the evening on the sofa. The small snacks not only have a negative effect on the blood sugar level, but also cause one to lose the feeling of appetite.

Conscious breaks between meals help rebuild this feeling. "To regulate the appetite, it already helps in my experience, if you do not eat for three to four hours between meals and at least twelve hours break between dinner and breakfast," says Ehrlichmann. Her advice: "Just keep these breaks strictly for a week and watch how the feeling of hunger develops."

Try the fast once as an experiment

In addition, Ehrlichmann attributes an effect of interval fattening to the fact that people no longer eat unhealthy food in the evenings due to the long meal break. Often one tends to grab on the sofa for a snack, which is actually unnecessary, heavily processed and intensely salted or sweetened. "It helps enormously to omit this alone."

Ehrlichmann advises to introduce fasting as an experiment and observe himself and his hunger for one to two weeks. "At the same time, the appetite system and the processes in everyday life so that a good long night phase sets in without being too restrictive and strict."

Alternatively, it is also possible to fast two days a week
Important: You do not have to strictly follow the fasting, but it should be especially fun. "There may also be deviations," says Ehrlichmann. Those who eat late can catch the consequences, such as an unpleasant feeling of fullness, for example with a long walk. Often the motivation is high then. "Many people quickly realize that they feel better when they have a long meal break overnight, they feel more alert and fitter."

By the way: If you do not like it or can not eat for 12 or 16 hours at a time, you can also try the so-called 5: 2 diet. This is a variant of the interval fattening. It eats normally five days a week and consumes a large amount of calories on two days. The effect should be similar to classic Intervall fast: The body consumes the available energy and is thus forced to use its reserves and burn more fat.


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