Interval fasting & the 16-8 diet – is intermittent fasting healthy?
Interval fasting for weight loss is in vogue. How does it affect your health?
Interval fasting is a real beauty trend. Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lopez are said to swear by it, and even ‘Wolverine’ actor Hugh Jackman has reportedly been preparing for his film roles with interval fasting.
Programs like the 16-8 diet are often referred to as revolutionary for losing weight, especially in the media. But where does science stand on this topic? What’s behind interval fasting and how suitable is it really for losing weight??
Interval fasting – this is what the 16-8 diet & co. are all about
The idea behind interval fasting is very simple in itself: whoever follows the program will abstain from consuming food at certain times. During the rest of the time, however, normal food is allowed. Depending on the program, those who want to follow the diet must fast for 16 hours a day, two days per week or every other day.
For Farid Zitoun, institute manager at Naturheilzentrum Bottrop (‘NABO’ for short), one of the strengths of interval fasting lies in its simple concept: "Everyone knows about diets. When you’re on them, you often have to count calories, total up points, or forgo certain foods all the time. When fasting at intervals, on the other hand, everyone can basically eat what he or she wants – as long as it is outside the times when they’re fasting."
The temporary abstention from food can therefore have a positive effect on motivation and possibly help People to stick to the program for longer, as the German medical journal writes: https://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/205110/Intervallfasten-Essen-mit-Blick-auf-die-Uhr
Does intermittent fasting live up to the hype?
In the same article, the magazine also discusses the reasons behind the hype, which according to Zitoun is mainly due to preliminary results from animal experiments: "A lot is being said about interval fasting – that intermittent fasting would increase lifespan, and prevent diabetes and cancer. In fact, there are studies that can prove this – but not in Humans."
Instead, the findings were mostly drawn from animal experiments – which may indicate similar efficacy in Humans, but do not directly prove this.
"But, and this is also important, there is currently no scientific evidence that interval fasting could be bad for your health – or worse than a normal diet would be. But here too, it has to be said that there are no long-term studies on People who fast intermittently all the time," Zitoun says.
Interval fasting & the 16-8 diet as a chance for a healthier diet
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) also has a similar opinion on interval fasting: https://www.dge.de/ernaehrungspraxis/diaeten-fasten/intervallfasten/. It sees a possible alternative to normal diets in this trend, but also points out that the source material is rather thin. Initial indications would seem to be optimistic, at least. Interval fasting could thus be a useful option for People who want to lose weight.
The naturopath, Farid Zitoun thinks that one observation by the DGE is particularly important: "The society writes that interval fasting does not seem to involve a dietary change in many cases, since the 16-8 diet and other programs do not include abstaining from certain foods. That is exactly what I think could be expanded upon. Those who want to lose weight, can use this as an opportunity to think about their diets in everyday life. Such a change can then also have lasting positive effects on health. The key is a varied diet. Choose fresh fruit and vegetables instead of convenience foods. This way, sufferers can even use alternative means to treat their blood pressure.
More information about interval fasting & co. at Naturheilzentrum Bottrop
Together with his Bottrop-based colleague, the complementary-medicine practitioner Christian Rüger, Zitoun delves deeper into the topic of interval fasting & the 16-8 diet in the latest video on the Naturheilzentrum Bottrop YouTube channel, and gives specific tips for those who want to lose weight.
The practice assistant, Maria Mineva-Shrieh reports on her daily practical experiences of the similarly trendy diet alternative – ‘body cleansing treatment’ in the blog section of the Bottrop Naturheilzentrum website.
No matter which diet plan those who are interested choose: with every adjustment, there is the chance to sustainably change your lifestyle for the better in everyday life, and thus also do something positive for your health.