6pm and time to enjoy some food, because it will be the last meal until morning, or more specifically, for the next 16 hours. This might sound like torture to some, but comes with a variety of health benefits. What intermittent fasting involves, how it works and how to construct a meal plan for it, will be explained in detail below!
Humans and Fasting
Before the dawn of civilizations, humans were hunter-gatherers and this is precisely how they got their nourishment. As you can imagine, this demanded a lot of time and energy. Until food actually landed on the ‘table’ you simply had to do without, or in other words fast. That’s why, although now unfathomable, we can in fact do without food for days at a time. History also tells us that there were periods of time where it was necessary to learn how to survive without a constant supply of food. The Irish Famine in the 20th century for example.
The reasons for fasting aren’t limited to prehistoric or emergency situations. The motivations to fast can also be religiously or spiritually motivated. Christianity celebrates easter with a 40 day fast. Islam celebrates Ramadan for 30 days where no food or drink can be consumed until sunset. Members of the Jewish community are also recommended to fast on holy days such as Purim, Pessach or Jom Kippur. Buddhism also includes days of fasting.
Detox Through Fasting
The belief that the human body is only pure when we rid it of excess, burdensome food finds vigorous support in scientific research.
If we deplete our sugar storage as a result of abstaining from food, the so-called "metabolic switch" is activated, leaving our body no other option but to fall back on its own fat stores - and fat burning begins. This process is called "autophagy" (renewal of cells). In the individual stages, our cells are cleaned, regenerated and rebuilt. Caution is advised, because malnutrition can in turn promote the formation of fat reserves.
Less Food for Improved Health
''I fast for better physical and spiritual performance'' – Plato. Even centuries ago, the benefits of fasting were apparent.
The targeted use of fasting for physical health, also called therapeutic fasting, is ancient. It can alleviate chronic ailments such as reflux or arthritis, fatty liver, immune and metabolic dysfunction, digestive system diseases and cardiovascular disease, in addition to many others. Fasting can inhibit inflammation and counteract autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Type 1 Diabetes. The list is actually much longer, but other positive effects on the human body include lowering blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels and improving blood pressure and insulin resistance levels. Therapeutic fasting also has the potential to protect against heart disease, age-related neurodegenerative dysfunctions, diabetes or numerous types of cancer.
Immediately visible and tangible benefits include mental and cognitive improvements in memory and increased concentration. Studies have also shown that fasting makes you happy, because the happiness hormone serotonin is more easily released thanks to fasting. Intermittent fasting can also support your weight goals, because it is more natural than any diet. People who fast, report increased fitness, specifically better fat burning and increased endurance, as well as better muscle maintenance.
Although it has not yet been scientifically proven that intermittent fasting correlates with weight loss it can still happen. Overall, fasting helps you save calories. And if you pay attention to observe a healthy diet during periods of non-fasting, losing weight might be a pleasant side effect. This established dietary method is also said to improve our sleep quality in the long run and subsequently make us more efficient. The promise of a longer life is very close...
In spite of all these reasons, the question still persists: why though? Nowadays, we are surrounded with a ubiquitous supply of food. At our fingertips, anytime or anywhere we want it. We are no longer forced to think ahead of time, store our food intelligently or have to worry about when we will eat next.
Nevertheless, although no longer a necessary element of our lives, we shouldn’t be so quick to distance ourselves from fasting. The method of interval fasting or intermittent fasting. It is simple, flexible and fits perfectly into our modern lifestyles because it is relatively easy to integrate into our everyday lives. What does it look like?
Intervall, Intermittent, Intermittently – Huh?
Behind all of these terms lies the same principle: abstaining from food for periods of time. This means that food intake is interrupted and then resumed within a set time frame. This can happen over hours or even entire days. The timing of food intake is therefore rigidly defined.
But interval fasting itself is as varied as its name. In addition to the 16:8 method, which has become famous there are other forms of intermittent fasting that might suit you better!
16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of eating. Usually breakfast is skipped entirely, or is eaten much later in the day than usual. Dinner is also usually skipped.
Normal eating is observed for 5 days of the week. For the remaining 2 days, a maximum of 500-600 calories can be consumed.
You alternate between fasting and non fasting days. On fasting days, only 25% of your typical calorie intake is allowed. On non-fasting days the usual amount is permitted. There should be at least 12-36 hours between fasting and consuming food.
2-3 times a week dinner is completely avoided. 14 hours should elapse between the first and last meal. This helps unburden insulin levels and can also lead to improved sleep.
Once a Week
1 day a week 24 of fasting are incorporated.
Selected meals are left out. This method is considered one of the most intuitive and therefore easiest to follow.
This involves 20 hours of no eating, followed by 4 hours of unlimited food intake (usually in the evening). It is recommended to focus on protein, fats and carbohydrates during your meals to make sure you don’t suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Generally, this fasting method has not been recommended by nutritionists.
As with all major lifestyle changes, your body needs between 2-4 weeks to adjust to the change and your new eating routine. If you start experiencing health side effects like a headache, it is advised to consult your doctor. Once adjusted, many individuals who try fasting methods, often stick to them because they are quickly impressed by the results.
Children, teenagers, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not fast. The same applies to people who suffer from diabetes, blood sugar issues, eating disorders or depression.
Fasting for Every.one
''What am I allowed to eat during my fasts?''
Some fasting methods insist that only calorie-free liquids (water, tea, black coffee) should be allowed. Other methods are more lenient and permit vegetable soups, as long as they have less than 600 calories. Once the fast has been broken, you should make sure to observe a balanced and nutritious diet. Check out our article on balanced eating for more details on this topic. Be sure to include these foods to achieve a nutritious diet:
Fruit and vegetables (in particular green vegetables)
Fibre and protein rich foods
Nutritionists are typically big fans of the Mediterranean diet, which is based on a lot of healthy fats and fewer carbohydrates. Vegetables, like tomatoes, onions, spinach, broccoli and legumes are common in a Mediterranean diet. Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and fish are also frequently included.
We’ve Got You!
Intermittent fasting boasts some impressive health benefits, and should definitely be tested if you feel like it, but make sure to do it properly. Every. products can be a great supporter if you decide to start fasting. All products are ready in just 10 minutes and can be integrated into even the busiest of days. Our products observe the philosophy of the Mediterranean diet and offer a great combination of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and valuable proteins. Legumes in Peas & Love, wild rice in Velvet Crunch, lots of protein in Green Curry! Start browsing today and find your favourite!
Curious for more? Check out these articles:
- Brain Food – Natural Power for Your Brain
- Cravings – Boredom, Stress or Warning Signals?
- Healthy Snacking – Tasty Treats for Nutritious In-Between Meals
- Vegan Eating – Everything You Need to Know
- Healthy Dinner – What's Best for You and Your Body