Treatments & Therapies

Intermittent Fasting – Treatment, Effects & Risks

The interval fast

Intermittent fasting or interval fasting is a new trend among eating habits and dieting. This article aims to provide information about what intermittent fasting is, how it works and what it does for the human organism.

What is intermittent fasting?

The word “intermittere” comes from Latin and means to suspend or interrupt. As the name suggests, intermittent fasting means phased fasting . Eating is only allowed at certain times or on certain days.

The rest of the time the body fasts. Intermittent fasting is nothing unusual because it is the nutritional rhythm of our ancestors. Our ancestors were used to fasting for a long time after each meal. Constant eating is a phenomenon of modern times and our affluent society.

And it has been shown to lead to cardiovascular disease and other degenerative diseases. Thus, intermittent fasting can protect the body and improve health. Because fasting days relieve the entire organism.

How does intermittent fasting work?

As long as the human body is busy digesting food, this is its highest priority. All other tasks are postponed. As long as food is in the stomach and intestines , the body has no time to do other important tasks. One of its tasks is autophagy.

In this process, the body destroys damaged and unusable cells and cell parts. He cleans up inside. If he does not do this, sooner or later this can lead to cancer or other diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases . However, autophagy only takes place in the body when the body is not busy with digestion but is gaining energy from its own cells.

With intermittent fasting, the body reaps the benefits of fasting without going without food for a long period of time. Due to the rhythm of part-time fasting, the body is forced to use its energy reserves. In the long term, this has a positive effect on the whole body.

The four most common variants

There are different variants of intermittent fasting. This post introduces the four most common methods: The 16:8 method, the 36:12 method, the 20:4 method and the 5:2 method.

The 16:8 method:

This method, also known as Leangains, involves fasting for 16 hours a day. Eating is allowed in the eight remaining hours. This method is particularly suitable for people who do not eat breakfast at home. Because with this method, it is advisable to skip breakfast and eat only lunch and dinner. For example, if you are at 12 noon, you must have eaten dinner by 8 p.m. at the latest. This makes the method socially acceptable. Because nothing stands in the way of a meal with friends, colleagues or family. If you know that dinner will be later, all you have to do is postpone lunch a little.

The 20:4 method:

This method is also known as “The Warrior Diet”. It also divides the day into a meal window and a fasting period. Eating is allowed in a 4-hour window. The remaining 20 hours are fasted. Due to the 4-hour time window, the method is harder than the 16:8 variant. The time window in which you can eat can be chosen arbitrarily. However, it has proven useful to put it in the early evening hours.

The 18:6 method:

The 18:6 method is an alternative and a compromise between the 16:8 and the 20:4 method. You can eat in a time window of 6 hours and fast for 18 hours. For example, it makes sense to skip breakfast and only eat lunch from 12 p.m. and then dinner just before 6 p.m. Those interested in intermittent fasting should try all the methods once and implement the version that can be used as best as possible in everyday life and keep it permanently.

The 36:12 method:

With the 36:12 method, or Alternate Day Fasting (ADF), both the fasting and eating cycles are lengthened. Eating is permitted for 12 hours followed by a 36-hour fast. Specifically, this means: On day 1, you are allowed to eat from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The recommendation is to eat on this day of meals. However, the next meal is not allowed until 9 a.m. the day after next.


The eat-stop-eat method follows a different concept. You can eat for 24 hours and then fast for 24 hours. On the non-fasting days, high-quality and, above all, protein-rich foods should be consumed. However, it is not intended to change every day. Rather, it is recommended to fast for one or two days per week. On the other days – as with all methods – you should pay attention to a healthy and varied diet.

The 5 to 2 Diet:

With this method, you are allowed to eat normally five days a week. On the remaining two days, the calorie intake is reduced to 25 percent of the usual requirement. That’s about 600 calories for men and about 500 calories for women. The fasting days can be chosen freely within the week. However, the two days should not be consecutive. As with the eat-stop-eat method, it is advisable to consume foods with a high proportion of protein and fiber on the fasting days.

The pros and cons

Without a doubt, intermittent fasting takes discipline and planning. Because especially at the beginning the body is not prepared for fasting and will fight back with intense hunger and a bad mood. This is nothing unusual and is part of the transition. Those who show discipline and don’t give in to the feeling of hunger will be rewarded later.

Good planning is also important for attending social meals. In addition, part-time fasting does not lead to the infamous fasting crisis that occurs with complete fasting cures. Those with discipline and planning can take advantage of the many benefits of intermittent fasting.

Advantage 1: Intermittent fasting regulates high blood pressure . High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and heart attack . That is why it is important to lower high blood pressure. Intermittent fasting has proven itself and helps to lower blood pressure to a healthy level.Benefit 2: Intermittent fasting lowers blood sugar levels . Too high a blood sugar level can sooner or later lead to diabetes with enormous consequential damage. Blood sugar fluctuations and spikes have also been shown to be involved in depression , skin diseases , hormone disorders or cancer . Intermittent fasting counteracts this effect. Because fasting and avoiding or reducing sugar intake has a positive effect on blood sugar levels. This helps to lose weight in the short term and protects against many diseases in the long term.

Advantage 3: Intermittent fasting regulates cholesterol levels . High cholesterol is also a risk for cardiovascular disease. Intermittent fasting can have a beneficial effect on the various cholesterol levels. The harmful LDL cholesterol decreases and the positive HDL cholesterol increases. Overall, the quotient of the two values ​​improves, which is positive for health. (see also: Elevated cholesterol level (hypercholesterolemia)

Advantage 4: Intermittent fasting protects against diseases of the nervous system . Fasting not only has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system , but also on the nervous system. Low blood sugar and insulin levels promote the formation of antioxidants and protective proteins. Both factors help cells to be better protected from oxidative stress . In addition, intermittent fasting promotes the release of neurotrophic factors, which are immensely important for the health of nerve cells. In the long term, this reduces the risk of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease .

Advantage 5: Intermittent fasting helps to lose weight in the long term and thus protects against secondary diseases. Overall, going without food in phases helps you lose weight. And this protects against numerous diseases of the whole body.


Who is intermittent fasting suitable for?

Intermittent fasting is suitable for many people. It is easier to stick to than a classic diet, because a lot is allowed during the eating phases. Athletes can also combine their activity with the methods.

It has proven itself to start the workout at the end of the fasting phase and then eat. However, there are some groups who should avoid intermittent fasting. This includes children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people suffering from an eating disorder. People who take medication for high blood pressure or low blood pressure , as well as diabetics and people who suffer from migraines should talk to their doctor beforehand. Fasting may have a positive effect on the disease and the dose of medication can be adjusted downwards. However, this must be monitored and clarified by a doctor.

What can and cannot be eaten while fasting?

During the period of fasting , food must be completely avoided. To balance the fluid balance, water, unsweetened coffee and coffee (without milk) are allowed. Drinks with sugar and sweeteners are not allowed. This includes soft drinks, but also juices. These drinks would stimulate insulin release in the body and would therefore be counterproductive.

The eating phase should not be used to consume empty calories in bulk. It should be eaten as healthy and varied as possible. The so-called “power foods”, which provide a particularly large number of good ingredients, are to be preferred. These include avocados , nuts, or berries. Foods such as vegetables, fruit and raw vegetables or granular cream cheese are also recommended.

Also, it is not advisable to overeat and “gorge” on food during the eating phase. This makes the body sluggish and puts a strain on it even during the fasting period. A diet rich in fiber and protein supports the effect of fasting. High-fat and high-carbohydrate foods should be reduced.

The key is to avoid sugar!

If you decide to do intermittent fasting, you should eliminate sugar and other short-chain carbohydrates from your diet. Industrially processed foods with added sugar should also disappear from the menu. This includes classic sweets such as chocolate and biscuits, baked goods, but also ready meals.

Sugar triggers insulin metabolism and makes people feel hungry again soon after eating. As long as insulin is in the blood , fat migrates directly into the body’s own fat deposits and is not burned. So the omission of sugar boosts the fat metabolism, because the body is forced to gain energy from fat.

Because if the amount of insulin in the blood drops, the body sends hunger signals. That’s why intermittent fasting can be perfectly combined with approaches such as “clean eating” or the [[Paleo diet: How to get started with Stone Age nutrition|Paleo nutrition|| associate. These forms of nutrition reduce empty carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, rice, white bread) and rely on products such as vegetables or high-quality meat.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.