Intermittent fasting: healthy weight loss | NDR.de – Guide

Status: 01.03.2022 12:47

Lose weight the healthy way and keep it off – it’s 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 biggest new trend in nutritional medicine. The method can help lose weight and maintain body weight in a healthy way. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may also protect against diabetes (type 2) and may even have a favorable effect on cancer therapies.

What methods are there for intermittent fasting?

Fasting means going without certain foods, drinks and stimulants, for a more or less long period. With intermittent fasting, you can choose between different variants:

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

Why Short-Term Fasting Is So Effective


Eat nothing for 16 hours, only two meals in eight hours: Intermittent fasting gives the body plenty of time to burn fat.

The human metabolism has adapted to phases of fasting since the Stone Age. When there was abundance, our ancestors ate without restraint, in times of shortage the stomach remained empty for a few hours or a few days. The human body survives longer periods of hunger by storing energy reserves in various organs and tissues and calling them up 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 emergency diets: the metabolism is not throttled and muscle mass is not degraded. This is very important as 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 the 5:2 Method

The most well-known form of intermittent fasting is 5:2 Diet: Five days a week you can eat as usual without counting calories. For two days, the food ration 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 completely avoided on fasting days. This is how the body learns to live off its reserves.

More information

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From these low-calorie recipes, you can combine three dishes for a day of relief (600-800 kcal in total). Continued

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How does the 5:2 fast work and what can an 800 calorie day look like? Information and recipe recommendations at a glance. Download (103 KB)

Fasting the 16:8 Method

If you don’t want to fast for an entire day, you can incorporate longer breaks into your daily routine. In the 16:8 mode skip the morning or evening meal, so you go without food for 16 hours at a time. For example, if you do not eat after 5:00 p.m., you can resume your breakfast at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. The metabolism goes into a brief fast each night. A pleasant side effect: the body takes less care of digestion at night, which benefits the quality of sleep.

Alternate fasting or alternate fasting

This method of fasting, 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 alternate fasting, it is also particularly important to ensure a balanced diet in order to supply the body with all important nutrients.

What can you drink during intermittent fasting?

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

How many hours break between meals?

Breaks of at least four to five hours should be taken between meals. Because if you eat carbs in between – be it cookies, crispy bread, fruit juice or milk – then the body converts them into sugar. And it goes straight into the blood: blood sugar levels rise, the body releases insulin and stops the breakdown of fat. The rapid spike in insulin in the blood can lead to mild, short-lived hypoglycemia and food cravings.

Beware of pre-existing conditions

While intermittent fasting is fine for most, some people need to exercise caution. You should definitely consult your doctor before starting if you suffer from low blood pressure, metabolic diseases, chronic diseases, cancer or old age. Intermittent fasting is rather unsuitable during pregnancy and lactation, with eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia and with underweight. It is also not recommended for migraines.

Intermittent fasting: the most important things at a glance

  • Avoid physical exertion while fasting until you are completely attuned to the new pace.
  • Continue to eat normally, not large portions.
  • To be full and stay that way, make sure you eat enough vegetables (fibre) and protein sources (dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, legumes, mushrooms or nuts) at each meal.
  • No snacks between meals!
  • Calorie-free beverages such as water or unsweetened tea help stave off hunger pangs during the meal-free period.
  • After the first meal, take a short walk or exercise to aid digestion.

Recipes for relief days without milk or wheat

Fasting recipes without milk or wheat

More information

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Nutrition Literature | 02/25/2021 | 9:00 p.m.

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