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Intermittent fasting: Lose weight without hunger and yo-yo effect
Many people will use Lent, which begins in a few weeks, to reflect and to do without. Fasting is actually practiced all year round these days. The most common reason for this is probably a desired weight loss. If you want to lose weight and do something good for your health, you cannot avoid the current trend of interval fasting.
Intermittent fasting is currently mostly touted as the best diet method. Food is omitted on a daily or hourly basis. This method, called "intermittent fasting", promises weight loss without hunger and the yo-yo effect and, in contrast to therapeutic fasting, is intended as a permanent diet. But does it really meet this requirement?
Fat reserves are mobilized and the risk of diabetes is reduced
"Whether the 5: 2 diet, dinner canceling or the 16: 8 method, the fasting window extends from 16 hours to up to two days for the various methods of interval fasting," explains Gisela Horlemann, nutrition expert at the Consumer Service Bavaria in KDFB eV (VSB) in a message.
"Even if there are only a few studies to date, there are some positive aspects of interval fasting: What is particularly striking is the good acceptance of regular short-term fasting among those affected, which is greater than with classic reduction diets," said the expert.
“The body mobilizes its fat reserves through the breaks. The insulin resistance of the cells decreases, and with it the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus decreases. Intermittent fasters report that they have developed a feeling for hunger and satiety and can better estimate portion sizes, ”explains Horlemann.
A study by scientists from the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) from the German Institute for Nutritional Research Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE) also shows that fasting against diabetes helps.
The research team found that mice on intermittent fasting also shrank pancreatic fat. In their work, which was published in the journal “Metabolism”, the researchers showed the mechanism by which pancreatic fat could contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
As far as long-term weight loss is concerned, there are no scientific advantages to interval fasting compared to classic reduction diets, according to the Bavarian Consumer Service.
Sick people should only perform interval fasting after consulting a doctor and under medical supervision and strict control.
The fasting window extends from 16 hours to two days for the various types of interval fasting. The experts provide an overview of the best-known methods on their website:
The 2-day diet
The 2-day diet was developed by Dr. Michelle Harvie and Prof. Tom Howell originally developed for breast cancer patients. According to this concept, fasting takes place on two consecutive days of a week. This means that a maximum of 650 kilocalories are consumed per day, mainly in the form of fish, chicken, egg, tofu, fruit and plenty of vegetables. A Mediterranean meal is recommended for the remaining days of the week.
The 5: 2 diet
With the 5: 2 diet, you fast on two non-consecutive days, if possible according to a fixed rhythm, for example on Mondays and Wednesdays. On fasting days, consumers should only consume about a quarter of their actual energy requirements. This corresponds to around 500 kcal for women and around 600 kcal for men. It is recommended to drink a lot during the fasting days and, in addition to protein-rich foods, especially vegetables and whole grains.
According to the Consumer Service, the strictest form of interval fasting, alternate day fasting, is fasted every other day. With this concept, the fasters eat about a quarter of the actual energy requirement on the fasting days and without restrictions on the remaining days.
In the so-called "dinner canceling" (also: evening fast), dinner is canceled two to three days a week. Instead of the meal there are only calorie-free drinks such as water or tea. This means that there is a meal break of at least 14 hours until breakfast the next day.
The 16: 8 method
With the 16: 8 method, the fasting period is 16 hours at a time. The remaining eight hours can be eaten normally.
There are many other forms of intermittent fasting, such as the warrior diet, in which participants fast 20 hours a day. Regarding all the different forms, it should be noted: Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight and promotes health - but also not better than conventional reduction diets. This is shown in a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" by researchers from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Heidelberg University Hospital.
"It is therefore clear to them: there are many ways to achieve a healthier weight, everyone has to find the right diet and then the motto is: Just do it!" Says a message from Heidelberg University.
If necessary, seek medical advice
The Bavarian Consumer Service points out that sick people should only carry out intermittent fasting after consultation with the doctor and under medical supervision and strict control.
Intermittent fasting is not suitable for pregnant women, nursing mothers, underweight people or people suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia and people with type 1 diabetes.
Fasting is possible after consultation with a doctor, for example, for patients with type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis or cancer.
So far, however, there have been very few human studies on this. Fasting should be viewed critically in the case of cancer, since oncological patients are often malnourished and sometimes also emaciated.
Benefits of fasting
Finally, the Consumer Service Bavaria summarizes the advantages of interval fasting in the KDFB e.V. (VSB) and also has a few recommendations.
- The longer meal breaks enable the body to mobilize its fat reserves, which above all reduces the inflammation-promoting abdominal fat.
- The insulin resistance of the cells decreases, the pancreas produces less insulin, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol levels drop.
- Fasting days or meal breaks relieve the stomach and intestines, the number of intestinal microorganisms increases.
- Intermittent fasters report that they have developed a feeling for hunger and satiety and can better estimate portion sizes.
- Overall, the acceptance of regular short-term fasting is greater among those affected than with classic reduction diets. Scientifically, there are no differences as far as long-term weight loss is concerned.
- Basically eat slowly while sitting and only when you feel hungry.
- Develop your own strategies and find out which concept suits you.
- Get in gently: For example, fast 14 hours a day and eat within ten hours. For shift workers it may be easier with the 5: 2 method than with the 16: 8 method.
- Be flexible and forgiving for invitations or parties. Then choose a larger dining window.
- Cooking and shopping outside the fasting days.
- Fast only one day a week in maintenance mode or use the 10:14 method.
- Get enough sleep.
- Consciously incorporate everyday movement and adjust the sport intensity.
- Food selection: Vegetable food supplemented with proteins and whole grains, plenty of water or tea.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Consumer Service Bavaria: Lose weight without hunger and yo-yo effect ?, (accessed: February 12, 2020), Consumer Service Bavaria
- Charline Quiclet, Nicole Dittberner, Anneke Gässler, Mandy Stadion, Felicia Gerst, Anett Helms, Christian Baumeier, Tim J. Schulz, Annette Schürmann: Pancreatic adipocytes mediate hypersecretion of insulin in diabetes-susceptible mice; in: Metabolism, (published: online May 17, 2019, as well as in edition: Volume 97, Pages 9–17, August 2019), Metabolism
- Consumer Service Bavaria: Intermittent fasting - what is behind it ?, (accessed: February 12, 2020), Consumer Service Bavaria
- Ruth Schübel, Johanna Nattenmüller, Disorn Sookthai, Tobias Nonnenmacher, Mirja E Graf, Lena Riedl, Christopher L Schlett, Oyunbileg von Stackelberg, Theron Johnson, Diana Nabers, Romy Kirsten, Mario Kratz, Hans-Ulrich Kauczor, Cornelia M Ulrich, Rudolf Kaaks , Tilman Kühn: Effects of intermittent and continuous calorie restriction on body weight and metabolism over 50 wk: a randomized controlled trial; in: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (published: online: November 23, 2018 and in: Volume 108, Issue 5, November 2018), American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Heidelberg University Hospital: Intermittent fasting: No advantage over conventional diets, (accessed: February 12, 2020), Heidelberg University Hospital