Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular. Nutritional expert, Melanie Loessner, explains why this form of fasting is so healthy.
Ms Loessner, what does intermittent fasting mean?
Intermittent fasting is a form of nutrition which sees us alternate at certain intervals between phases of normal food intake and fasting periods. Compared to therapeutic fasting, periods without eating are short in intermittent fasting.
And what is the difference between intermittent fasting and a diet?
If you are on a diet, you have to manage with fewer calories over an extended period, whereas you can eat normally in intermittent fasting. That is why this method is more compatible with everyday life than intermittent fasting.
What are the advantages of intermittent fasting?
We can lose weight, which in turn helps us to prevent diabetes or high blood pressure, for example. Inflammatory disorders like asthma, arthritis, rheumatism or chronic pain occur less frequently or become less severe in the long term. We feel better in general and sleep more soundly.
What does intermittent fasting do to our bodies?
It gives our metabolic processes a chance to recover. If we eat constantly, the pancreas permanently releases insulin, blood sugar levels rise, fall, rise again, etc. At some point the system becomes overloaded.
What are the exact intervals involved?
The most popular method of intermittent fasting is 5+2: we eat normally for five days and consume a maximum of 600 calories on two days, preferably in the form of nutritious food like fruits and vegetables. Another method involves skipping a meal, meaning that we do not eat anything for 12 to 16 hours. Pre-cleansing days, including after parties, are possible. I would advise anyone who wants to take a moderate approach to cut out all snacks and thus not to eat anything for four to five hours.
“The body needs extended breaks between meals.”
But didn’t they always tell us it was better to eat five small meals a day instead of three big ones?
This finding is considered outdated. We now know that the body needs extended breaks from eating, so that these blood sugar level spikes no longer occur.
Can I also fast while I am working?
Of course. Intermittent fasting does not result in any significant drop in performance. Anyone who knows this can better put up with a rumbling stomach.
Is everyone allowed to fast?
Anyone who is healthy can. Children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and people with eating disorders should not fast. And anyone who is on medication, such as for high blood pressure, should ask a doctor. It is important to drink a lot during intermittent fasting, specifically only unsweetened beverages.