Whether the 16:8 or 5:2 method: Intermittent fasting is being chosen by more and more people as a weight loss method. Scientists and doctors attribute numerous health benefits to diet. FOCUS online explains how and why intermittent fasting works.

Lose weight without starving yourself. Eat without looking at the calories – but at the time. Intermittent fasting is an uncomplicated way to lose weight and is currently a very popular diet.

Instead of eating at any time, intermittent fasters only eat for a specific period of time, about eight hours a day. The rest of the time they fast on the so-called 16:8 diet.

Others do better with the 5:2 method, eating normally five days a week and cutting calories to a maximum of 500 calories on two days.

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The advantage of the diet: people who are fasting gradually lose fat. Scientists have shown that the fasting method specifically attacks the visceral abdominal fat. In the long run, it is just as effective as a diet, only it is much easier to integrate into everyday life.

But intermittent fasting can do much more. It shows numerous positive effects on our health – and in a very short time.

For Petra Bracht, intermittent fasting is not a diet, she describes it more as a kind of “daily tidying up”. The doctor has been practicing the diet herself for over 30 years and also eats only plant-based food.

She explains: “After about 12 to 14 hours of fasting, the process of autophagy begins in the body. Cleansing, healing and regeneration processes take place, the body begins to recycle and burns visceral fat cells.” In doing so, it utilizes proteins that have already been used up and breaks them down into the individual amino acids, which in turn serve as building and transport material.

Petra Bracht has been a general practitioner and naturopathic doctor for more than thirty years. She has specialized in nutritional medicine and has been experiencing in her practice for many years how people become healthy through intermittent fasting. In her book “Intermittent fasting: for a long life – slim and healthy” (advertisement) she dedicates herself to the health effects of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting: For a long life – slim and healthy by Petra Bracht

In a mini-study, researchers were also able to demonstrate another previously unknown benefit of intermittent fasting: intermittent fasting suppresses appetite. The eleven participants were less hungry during their fasting period, which was also shown by measuring the level of ghrelin in the body. This is a hormone that triggers feelings of hunger.

The study authors also suspect that by burning visceral fat cells, muscle mass is preserved when you lose weight. They want to examine this assumption in more detail in further studies.

According to Bracht, the changeover to the new form of nutrition is a bit difficult for many in the first three or four days. “In the beginning, the body often rebels, and the psyche also plays a role. Anyone who starts intermittent fasting must discard their normal eating habits. It’s not easy at first – but it’s worth it.”

The blood values ​​improve: According to Petra Bracht, the first effects can be seen after just a few days: “The blood and cholesterol values ​​improve, and conditions such as high blood pressure subside after just a week.”

The stomach becomes flatter: Intermittent fasting can also quickly achieve visual success. “Your stomach flattens out quickly, it’s no longer bloated and the fat gradually melts away – without you having to stick to a strict calorie limit,” explains Petra Bracht. The doctor advises to measure the waist circumference regularly in order to control the constant loss of weight.

However, intermittent fasting is not a free pass. “Even if the calories are not relevant to this type of diet, you should not only eat fast food,” explains Petra Bracht. “Combined with intermittent fasting, a wholesome, plant-based diet will keep you healthy and fit.”

Read more about intermittent fasting here.

Chronic diseases decrease: With this form of nutrition, numerous diseases can also be combated. “I see it every day in my practice,” explains the doctor. “Patients notice major changes after just a few weeks.

Whether overweight, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases or fatty liver – intermittent fasting ensures that the symptoms improve or even disappear.

The mood gets better: Intermittent fasting also lifts your spirits within a short time. According to Bracht, ketone bodies are obtained when fat is burned. These ensure that we feel active and good.

The feel-good weight remains: The fact that intermittent fasting is more than a diet is also shown by its long-term effect. Once the body has leveled off at its feel-good weight, it manages to maintain it without any effort thanks to the nutritional method – even over several years.

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They live healthier – and often longer: According to Bracht, patients who have been dependent on medication and tablets for a long time can often gradually stop taking them. “Diabetics need to inject less insulin. Some patients with high blood pressure no longer need any medication at all. The overall well-being improves, as do all metabolic functions.”

Bracht therefore has a clear message for everyone over the age of 18: “Start now. The sooner you allow your body periods of autophagy, the more likely you are to grow old and stay healthy. You also increase your life expectancy in this way.”

It’s never too late to start. “Our body can still regenerate itself in old age,” says the doctor. “You’ll feel as fit at 60 as you did at 40. And at 50, as you did at 30.”

Bracht advises against intermittent fasting for children and adolescents who are still growing, as well as for people with eating disorders or those who are breastfeeding. This is especially true for women who often had an unhealthy diet during their pregnancy. Bracht explains: “During intermittent fasting, toxins are broken down. These then pass into breast milk and onto the child.”

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