The most important thing first: Interval fasting is not a diet. And that is a good thing, because short-term diets are basically doomed to failure from the very beginning. You can do intermittent fasting for years and only have to follow one rule: You may eat what you want, but only within a certain time frame. With the well-known 16:8 method – also known under the (somewhat misleading) name of the 8-hour diet – for example, you deliberately fast for 16 hours a day.
During the remaining 8 hours you may eat as you please. And what is the point of that?
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Whoever does not constantly exceed his calorie requirement in the 8 hours and consumes more calories than he burns, will lose weight naturally with the help of interval fasting. But fasting for a limited time has other positive effects on the body.
Interval fasting: How healthy are food breaks for the body
“Fasting has almost ingenious effects on our health and our lifespan”, writes Dr. Petra Bracht in her book “Interval Fasting. For a long life – slim and healthy” (GU for 15 euros).
The book of our interval fasting expert © Gräfe und Unzer
Through the (comparatively long) meal breaks you activate your body’s own healing powers, whereby pain can be alleviated and undreamt-of energy can be released. You will also get to know a completely new kind of pleasure when you eat two or three times in only 8 hours.
The good: While one does without food with the classical welfare chamfering uniquely up to 30 days at a piece, one can practice the “part-time chamfering” in principle a life long – just like our Expertin: The lady doctor for general medicine and naturopathic treatment lives even for approximately 30 years after the 16:8 method and eats sometimes even only once on the day. Why? Because it simply does her good.
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“What happens in the body during fasting is simply fascinating,” says Dr. Bracht in the interview. “I feel myself every day how well the resting phases, i.e. the time when I don’t eat, do for my body. This is the only way it can switch into repair mode and activate certain self-healing processes.
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1. interval fasting improves the appearance of your skin
“Short-term fasting works like a kind of daily detox cure for your skin”, says the physician. “The meal breaks have a positive effect on the skin – not only on the face, but on the whole body.” Acne should also be significantly improved with the help of the 8-hour diet. The reason: Fasting inhibits the production of the growth hormone IGF -1 in the liver, which is produced in excess by constant eating and can lead to acne.
Thanks to the meal breaks your body’s own “garbage disposal” can be activated in the cells and lets the skin shine again
Detox tip: The cleaning processes in the cells can run optimally if you have drunk enough water beforehand. “It is ideal if you drink around 2 litres of water in small quantities before your first meal in the morning,” advises the expert. “This supports the organism in the excretion phase.”
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2. intermittent fasting melts dangerous abdominal fat
We all know the typical male beer belly, but according to Dr. Bracht, more and more women also tend to build up fat deposits in the abdominal area. But it is precisely this visceral abdominal fat that is dangerous and a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes & Co.
Nice side effect: During interval fasting you lose weight on your stomach first © solominviktor / Shutterstock.com
And interval fasting can help here too: After approximately 12 hours of fasting the body begins namely (quasi out of necessity) to mobilize ketones from fat reserves in order to use these for energy production, since no glucose from food is available. And where does it “help itself” first? The abdominal fat, right! In other words: With interval fasting you lose weight on the stomach first.
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3. good mood through meal breaks
Short-term fasting periods not only help you lose weight, they also lift your mood. Our expert also knows this from her own experience: “One is in a good mood more often, is more creative and generally more active, because the brain is running at full speed. The energy that is normally used for digestion can now be used for other processes”.
7 Food that makes you happy Stress, anger and dissatisfaction are – just like a full belly – energy thieves that make us lethargic – physically as well as mentally. Furthermore, short periods of fasting produce more happiness hormones (serotonin).
4. better sleep thanks to the 8-hour diet
During sleep our head switches off, but in our body the “human machine” continues to run at full speed. A perfectly coordinated hormone system ensures the ideal sleep-wake rhythm. In order for the hormones to do their job smoothly, you should not keep your body busy at night with unnecessary digestive processes. Late and hard to digest food usually causes a bad, restless sleep.
A full belly does not sleep well and deep sleep phases are not even reached © Look Studio / Shutterstock.com
“Deep sleep phases cannot be achieved on a full stomach,” says the expert. She recommends eating a small, low-carbohydrate dinner between 6 p.m. and a maximum of 8 p.m., followed by a short digestive walk – the best combination for a good night’s sleep.
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5. lose weight cleverly without breaking down muscles
“During fasting the so-called autophagy takes place, the self-digestion and recycling of waste products in our cells and in the spaces between the cells”, says fasting supporter Bracht in her book. This is because our body’s own “waste collection and recycling system” is disturbed by frequent digestive processes. However, after fasting for about 12 hours, the autophagy can proceed smoothly.
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The fascinating thing about it: “The body is able to recycle cell waste, such as used-up protein molecules, and use it to produce new building material for muscle fibres or repair processes,” says the expert. As a result, you lose weight with interval fasting without losing muscle mass – on the contrary, you can even build muscle. Provided, of course, that you continue to train your muscles.
6. fasting acts like a natural anti-aging remedy
The above-mentioned autophagy not only maintains your muscles during fasting, but also acts as a kind of rejuvenation cure for your cells. And you really heat up this self-cleansing process through the lower frequency of meals and the short periods of fasting. In addition, special anti-aging enzymes – so-called sirtuins – ensure that the genetic material and the lifespan of your cells are protected. Sirtuins enable the organism to withstand even extreme conditions – such as a lack of food.
If you constantly snack in between, you are not giving your body the chance to activate its self-healing powers © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
“However, sirtuins are only formed or activated when the stomach is empty,” the physician knows. The repair work in the cells therefore only begins after a few hours of fasting.
7. part time fasting for better digestion
“Interval fasting has a positive effect on your intestinal health”, says book author Bracht. “You will also feel what it means to have a healthy digestion.” The reason for this: By the meal break the “good” intestine bacteria have finally the possibility of multiplying and the “bad” are pushed back. You grow these bacteria yourself with a diet that is very rich in sugar and fat. The result: constant digestive problems, nasty flatulence and probably an impure skin.
“Fasting for 16 hours a day is the best probiotic for building a healthy intestinal flora.”
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Interval fasting – not only suitable for slimming
The fact is: With intermittent fasting you can not only lose weight. Intermittent fasting can do so much more – in the truest sense of the word, because there are numerous other advantages besides those mentioned above, which you can read about at your leisure in our expert’s book. By the way, Dr. Bracht herself predominantly follows a plant-based diet and recommends this to all her patients based on her years of experience.
Of course, this is not a must in order to fast according to the 16:8 method. You can basically eat what you want during the 8 hours. You can also set the time window individually and adjust it daily, for example from 10 to 18 o’clock or from 12 to 20 o’clock.
Just try it for 14 days and convince yourself of the positive effects of short-term fasting.
Does interval fasting suit me? Do the test under interval-fasten.net. Here you can also find a lot more information on the topic plus recipe ideas.