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5:2, 14:10, 1:1 – The New Trend: Interval Fasting

Interval fasting is the latest trend. More and more people are practicing part-time fasting and are reporting a variety of health-promoting effects.

What is interval fasting?

Interval fasting – also called periodic or intermittent fasting – is not a classic multi-day or even a week-long fasting cure. Instead, food is consumed in an alternating rhythm. A period in which normal eating is allowed is followed by a period of renouncing, where only water and unsweetened beverages, e.g. tea, are allowed.

What is the procedure?

There are many variations of interval fasting, but one generally distinguishes between fasting for several days and several hours. A popular version is the 5:2 method, where one fasts for two days a week and eats normally on the other five days. The 1:1 method (also known as Eat Stop Eat), entails alternating days of eating and fasting.

Hourly fasting means going 14 to 20 hours a day without food within a 24 hour period. The remaining time remains for food consumption. The choice depends on how long you can cope without food.

For beginners the latter variant with a 14:10 or 16:8 rhythm is surely the easiest way, since the night rest is included in the fasting period and therefore automatically helps in the process. In addition, the principle can be applied relatively easily in everyday life by skipping breakfast or dinner (dinner cancelling).

What is the effect?

The long phase between the last meal of the day and the first meal the next day or day after is decisive in interval fasting.

Studies with mice have shown that a longer eating pause during the night can improve weight problems, even if the total amount of calories consumed over a 24 hour period does not change (!). This is because in a continuous pause lasting for more than 14 hours, a condition of deficiency sets in and the body switches to fat burning. In addition, the growth hormone somatropin is increasingly produced, which helps to build muscle mass.

Other experiments revealed an improvement in blood values as well as a reduced likelihood of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. If you eat food throughout the whole day (note: also juices are snacks!), insulin is constantly being released. A high insulin level suppresses fat burning for hours. In addition, after a while the cells develop an insulin resistance, a precursor of diabetes. By fasting, the system can be brought back into balance and the sensitivity of the cells to insulin is increased. It is also important to take two large, healthy and unprocessed meals during this phase, instead of a distribution of smaller meals throughout the whole period.

Another effect in the body which the temporary renouncement of food has on the body is so-called autophagy, a kind of cell recycling. In times of a calorie deficit, our body gains its energy from fat reserves. Similarly, this also works at a cellular level. Small components of the cell, which are not crucial for survival, are used as fuel substitutes in case of an energy shortage. In a self-cannibalistic way, the cell cleanses itself. Intermittent fasting may therefore even have a positive effect in the case of cancer therapies.

Further research will have to show whether these results also apply to humans. However, many people have reported to have experienced these very effects after periodic fasting.

It is therefore obvious that we have to rethink: when it comes to our diet, it does not only matter WHAT we eat but above all WHEN – a credo, according to which we have always practiced at the Lanserhof. Serious diseases cannot be healed by fasting alone. But interval fasting improves the risk profile as well as the general well-being and can be easily integrated into everyday life. Give it a try!

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