Why intermittent fasting?
Nowadays, especially in industrialized nations, people eat at least 3 times a day. Studies have shown that on average people eat or "snack" 4 to (depending on the region) even 10 times a day. A high meal frequency often goes hand in hand with an energy intake that exceeds requirements, which can lead to obesity and possibly metabolic disease patterns (including obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure) over the medium to long term, especially in populations with a rather sedentary working life. The body is almost continuously in the absorptive phase, i.e. the absorption, digestion, and distribution of nutrients in the body.
The energy supply in the body is primarily provided by glucose. The "meal break" at night is hardly sufficient to lower the blood sugar and insulin levels so that the body's own energy reserves are mobilized from the fatty tissue - in fact, we eat almost "around the clock" - a condition that is not conducive to health in the long run.
In evolution, "hunting before eating" has always been a priority - humans have always been dependent on being able to concentrate and perform even in times of food scarcity, in order to find and hunt down food that is necessary for survival. Physiologically, the human metabolism is still geared towards taking in food when it is available and using the ingested energy from the body's own stores when no food is available. The latter is a condition that is no longer achieved by the majority of people in modern industrialized nations due to the constant availability of food.
Fasting in particular is the simplest and most natural method of maintaining body weight and is also a proven, effective way of positively influencing health.
With intermittent fasting or intermittent fasting, extended periods with little or no food intake are integrated into the daily routine.
The most popular method is 16:8 fasting, which involves fasting for 16 hours a day and eating "normally" for 8 hours.
Intermittent fasting is often the introduction to a conscious, mindful and healthy lifestyle.
Can be integrated into everyday life
The 16:8 method in particular is extremely suitable for everyday life and can be implemented flexibly and easily, which is why it has become by far the most widely practiced form of intermittent fasting worldwide. The eating time frame can be chosen as desired, with most people choosing the time frame from 10 am - 6 pm or from 12 pm - 8 pm. A great advantage is that the diet itself does not have to be changed in the first place, but only the time intermittent in which food is eaten. For everyday life, this means that neither the shopping behavior nor the choice of food has to be changed, nor do new cooking skills have to be learned, nor do people have to practice abstinence, which is a clear advantage for a longer-term implementation and integration into everyday life.
The positive effects of intermittent fasting
In addition to the usually associated higher performance and increased physical and mental well-being, various studies have shown a wide variety of positive effects of intermittent fasting. These range from sustained weight loss without the dreaded "yo-yo effect" to the reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. The underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms include the activation of signaling pathways of the adaptive stress response (and thus the increase of mitochondrial health), DNA repair processes, and autophagy (cell renewal).
The following effects have been observed through intermittent fasting or abstinence from food for as little as 12-16 hours:
Autophagy (the body's own cell cleansing/recycling program to remove unneeded cellular debris).
Formation and promotion of a healthy metabolism/metabolic flexibility (the ability of the body to switch between fat and carbohydrate metabolism depending on the stress situation and nutritional status to ensure energy supply)
Reduction of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or reduction of insulin resistance and improvement of insulin sensitivity.
Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Reduction of body weight and body fat mass
Retardation of aging processes
Reduced mitochondrial/oxidative stress
Increased gene expression of cell-protective stress proteins
Promotion of intestinal health
Reduction of inflammatory processes
"Activation" of fat metabolism and maintenance and promotion of metabolic flexibility
Promotion of serotonin production in the brain ("happiness hormone" ensures calmness and tranquillity)
Intermittent fasting and food supplements
The question arises: food supplements and intermittent fasting - is that a contradiction? The answer is quite clear: No!
During intermittent fasting, people excrete more fluids, vitamins, and minerals, which in itself is in no way harmful, but rather a sign that the body is working hard. However, the excreted substances must then be replenished in sufficient quantities, which is actually supposed to happen via conventional food. And this is where the challenge begins: due to the limited period of food intake caused by intermittent fasting and the not always easy to implement needs-based nutrition in everyday life, many intermittent fasting people find it difficult to get the necessary range of essential micronutrients exclusively from food - a problem that most intermittent fasters are not even aware of. And this is where dietary supplements come in, supplying the intermittent fasting body with exactly the right dosage of micronutrients it needs for strengthening and regeneration. In addition, the body's own processes during fasting, as well as during the eating phase, can be supported in an accurate manner by the supply of non-insulin-active nutrients in a natural way.
An optimal combination and availability of micronutrients at the right time promote physical and mental health.
For example, vitamin C is a radical scavenger and protects against excessive oxidative stress. Vitamin D supports the immune system and bone health and is also extremely difficult to obtain from food alone. Formation through sunlight alone is insufficient for most people and, moreover, hardly possible all year round.
The B vitamins are involved in many important bodily functions, including the entire energy metabolism and the metabolization of macronutrients (proteins, fat, carbohydrates). Since B vitamins are water-soluble and a large part cannot be stored in the body, a continuous, regular supply and intake is essential. In this way, the body's own processes can be maintained, supported, and optimized in the best possible way during fasting.
Magnesium is involved in about 600 metabolic processes in the human body, counteracts fatigue, and supports natural muscle function. The trace element zinc supports, among other things, immune reactions and contributes to a normal acid-base balance. Chromium contributes to the stabilization of a normal blood sugar level, which can counteract cravings. Furthermore, there are various secondary plant ingredients that accurately promote and support physiological processes such as fat metabolism in combination with the B vitamins, and have a positive effect on mental well-being.
Tips for successful intermittent fasting
The right thing at the right time - often a big challenge in everyday life. The following tips can help intermittent fasters optimize the effects of fasting and best support maintaining health and promoting well-being:
The three meals during the 8-hour eating window can be arranged as follows:
Meal after the fasting phase: Nutrients are now absorbed particularly efficiently. Thus, the meal should have a high content of vitamins, minerals, and secondary plant substances and also provide fiber - it is highly recommended to take a sensibly dosed food supplement together with the first meal after the fasting period to supply the body with essential minerals and micronutrients.
Meal: 3-4 hours after the first meal, the aim of the second meal should be to keep energy availability constant and stabilize blood sugar levels; at the same time, the meal should be satisfying. Therefore, complex carbohydrate and fiber sources in combination with proteins and the essential omega-3 fatty acids are particularly recommended at this point.
Meal: The last meal before the fasting period should especially provide high-quality and slowly digestible proteins. The fasting period usually also includes sleep at night, during which regeneration processes take place that requires more proteins. In addition, dietary fibers are also recommended here, as they, like proteins, have a satiating effect and are beneficial for intestinal health and the formation of a healthy intestinal microbiota (intestinal flora).
During the fasting phase, it is essential to drink enough (2.5-3 liters per day, approx. 1.5-2 liters during the fasting phase). Calorie-free drinks such as water, unsweetened black coffee, and (green) tea are good. In addition, there is evidence that specific herbal agents and micronutrients can serve as support for the body during fasting. For example, catechins from green tea can support fat metabolism, and B vitamins can be beneficial for energy metabolism and the formation of serotonin. There are also indications that the fasting body experiences a stress-reducing effect through the intake of adaptogens (e.g. ashwaghanda), which can counteract potential cravings.