Intermittent fasting is a term for interrupted fasting, and is a diet that alternates between food intake and fasting in a set, specific rhythm.
At first, doesn’t intermittent fasting sound compulsive and not a good habit for everyday life?
When we think about how the excess of food that’s constantly available to us has never existed in this way in the history of evolution, we have to admit that it’s not only unusual but also causes a host of problems for our modern society, like lifestyle diseases, obesity, eating disorders, and many more …
In the past, humans undoubtedly lived with alternating periods of eating and fasting. There were times when there was plenty to eat because a big animal was killed or because a lot of fruits were ripe, but also phases when there was nothing to eat for several hours, days, or even weeks, like when the harvests were poor. So the method of intermittent fasting, you could argue, has been tried and tested for many years and allows us to get closer to the original nutritional rhythm that humans first practiced.
And recently there are even quite a few scientific studies that show us that intermittent fasting has many health benefits (1)(2)(3)(4)(5).
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Intermittent fasting offers a wide range of options for ways to practice it. But we can narrow these down by distinguishing 2 main variants:
One Fasting Day per Week
This intermittent fasting method is set up for one fasting day per week – specifically, fasting once a week for 24 hours. Brian Clement, director of Hippocrates Wellness in Florida, believes that just one fasting day per week can have amazing effects. This adds up to 50 fasting days a year, allowing the body 50 days of relief and time for detoxification and regeneration.
Daily Fasting Periods
Daily fasting periods offer the possibility to adapt one’s eating rhythm individually to their day-to-day life. Anyone who wants to implement Intermittent Fasting in their own lives can find a time slot that best suits their eating habits.
A fasting interval of 16 hours can be flexibly integrated into everyday life. Since the time windows can be shifted individually, there are a number of options for how to practice this. It’s possible to have breakfast late and eat in a time window of 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Those who like to eat in the evening can skip breakfast altogether, start midday around 12:00 pm, and have their evening meal between 7:00 and 8:00 pm, but an early time slot between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm may be preferable to others.
The following overview shows other fasting intervals:
What Drinks Are Allowed during the Fasting Phase?
A lot of people will ask the fair question: “What exactly can I drink during the fasting phase?” Water makes the most sense, but unsweetened herbal teas are also good alternatives. Water that’s been infused with, for example, a piece of cucumber or a mint leaf, is both a good option and also provides a varied taste from plain water.
We do not recommend zero-calorie diet drinks (check the ingredients list), and coffee or green tea. Caffeine and theine fake stressful situations for the body, and signal the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. As a result, the heart beats faster, the pulse increases, the blood vessels dilate, and nerves and adrenal glands are strained in the long run.
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Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is not about short-term weight loss, but about a long-term lifestyle. Through this way of eating, we allow optimization of metabolism, self-cleansing of our bodies, and gradually achieving an ideal weight.
All the Advantages in Detail:
- Longer periods without food intake allow the body to activate important endogenous repair mechanisms. In a 16-hour fasting period, the body has enough time to complete all digestive processes, regenerate, and cleanse itself. It does not have this opportunity if it’s constantly busy with digestive activities. After 10-12 hours without food intake, the body then also begins to recycle used and dead cells, breakdown products of inflammation, and other deposited substances.
This cell recycling process is called AUTOPHAGY. Recent studies indicate that even viruses are recognized, killed, and disposed of in the process!
- The body has time to form enough stomach acid and is then optimally prepared for the next meal..
- We experience real hunger, sensitize our sense of taste, and our bodies become more efficient.
- Intermittent fasting leads to reduced blood sugar and insulin levels, which counteracts chronic inflammation. Insulin is considered to be pro-inflammatory, and considering that science now believes that chronic inflammation underlies most diseases, longer food breaks have great benefits to our health.
- Insulin is also an enemy of the growth hormone HGH. The less insulin in circulation, the more active our growth hormone production becomes. These hormones promote muscle growth, regulate body fat, contribute to bone health, and slow aging processes. HGH is a slimming agent because the hormone opens fat cells and releases fat for energy burning.
Ever Heard of Salutogenesis?
While medicine is primarily concerned with the development and healing of diseases (pathogenesis), salutogenesis focuses on the following question:
How can people live so as to avoid disease in the first place?
At this point we would also like to refer to the health movement Natural Hygiene, which originated in America in 1833, and whose essential principles were taken up by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond in the book Fit for Life, which takes natural body principles into consideration for the selection of meal times.
- 4:00 am – 12:00 pm: elimination phase, which serves detoxification purposes
- 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm: intake phase, eating time
- 8:00 pm – 4:00 am: digestion phase
Intermittent fasting is a wonderful piece of the puzzle in supporting self-regulation and the body’s ability to heal itself, and also helps us to find an affirming and trusting way to treat ourselves.
That sounds very motivating – let’s get started!
Intermittent fasting is very adaptable to your everyday lifestyle and you can do a lot for your health with little effort. Just try different options in the beginning and take advantage of the flexibility of this wonderful tool.
Do you already have experience with intermittent fasting? Or do you prefer to do a fasting week once a year?
Feel free to share your experiences with other readers in the comments ♡.
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- Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. 2018
- Inflammatory marker YKL-40 levels in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. 2019
- Weight-Loss Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intermittent Energy Restriction Trials Lasting a Minimum of 6 Months. 2016