Catholics fast from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, Muslims during Ramadan, as long as the sun shines, and Jews on Yom Kippur Day. All have one thing in common: they eat nothing more – or less – and drink mainly water or tea.

How healthy is fasting?

Nowadays, however, fasting has not only a religious background: fasting has become a real trend, it is supposed to help with weight loss and be good for the body. Used consciously by doctors, fasting can alleviate illnesses. The blood sugar level of a diabetic, for example, which is completely out of whack and cannot be controlled in any other way, can often be brought back under control by a temporary, special fasting diet of proteins and minerals. Skin inflammations such as neurodermatitis and eczema also respond positively to starvation: “With the general protein breakdown during fasting, the proteins that trigger inflammation in the body in the first place are also destroyed,” says holistic physician Dr. Peter Liffler.

Also an overexcited immune system – frequently the reason for the emergence of allergies – loses momentum during chamfering. However these effects last “only as long as one fasts”, explains Hans Hauner, Nutritional physician and professor. “A healing of inflammations and allergies by chamfering is not possible however”, says the expert.

Which chamfering kinds there are?

Before you start with the chamfering – all the same which kind -, you should empty the stomach with the help of laxative salts, because that diminishes the hunger.

And: Each fasting cure proceeds in 3 phases:

  1. Relief (1 to 3 days): Slowly reduce food intake. There is nothing sweet and nothing fatty.
  2. Fasting: Here fasting is done according to the type of fasting. 2 to 3 liters should be drunk daily.
  3. Structure (covers at least one third of the entire chamfering time): Carefully with the meal begin, ideally here soups are.

1. Total fasting:

Here you drink only water and tea. The human body can endure a lot. However, this cure is not healthy. This type of fasting is not recommended, because apart from losing weight in an unhealthy way, it has no effect.

2. Buchinger fasting:

Named after the doctor Otto Buchinger. You abstain from solid food. fruit and vegetable juices, tea and honey provide the necessary nutrients. You should follow it for a maximum of one week. You lose up to 5 kilos in a short time – this can be a motivational boost for overweight people and a good start to change eating habits.

3. Whey fasting:

Similar to total fasting, but supplemented with buttermilk or whey. You should follow through for a maximum of one week. It is equally suitable for the severely overweight, but the weight loss is somewhat less than with Buchinger fasting.

4. Spelt fasting:

There are 3 meals a day, which are composed of spelt products, fruits and vegetables. In addition, you drink at least 2 liters. It may be followed for up to 10 days, provided that you feel well. It is not necessarily suitable for those who want to lose weight, because the weight loss is relatively small.

5. Alkaline fasting:

Meat, other protein-containing products and sugar form a lot of acid in the body. Alkaline fasting, on the other hand, avoids all acid-forming foods. This type of fasting, which is suitable for everyone, can be followed for up to 6 weeks. Deacidification is supposed to create a sense of well-being, supposedly ridding your body of toxins and viruses.

What do I have to do without during alkaline fasting?

With the basis chamfering you may eat – and nevertheless you do to your body good and decrease thereby also still. Only alkaline-forming foods are on the menu, mainly fruits and vegetables, but also filling foods such as potatoes, nuts and bananas. However, you should avoid acid-forming foods such as meat, sausage, cheese, sweets, coffee and soft drinks during the fasting phase. Acid-forming foods extract minerals from the body and, if you eat more acid-forming than alkaline-forming foods over a long period of time, are said to promote chronic diseases such as bone loss (osteoporosis), allergies and gastrointestinal problems.

How a chamfering week functions, explains Sabine Wacker in its book Alkaline fasting the 7-day success program. Example:

  • Breakfast: Fruit or a muesli, for example, of fruit, ground almonds, tiger flakes, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds or ground flaxseed, flavored, for example, with cinnamon, vanilla or cardmom.
  • Lunch: Salad, vegetable soup, or a cooked vegetable dish.
  • Snack: Raw vegetables until 2 p.m., then, for example, vegetable broth, fruit shake, nuts, olives.
  • Dinner: for example jacket potatoes with avocado mousse. After 6 p.m. drink only.

Drink 2.5 to 3 liters of water or highly diluted herbal teas daily and exercise. Tip: Eat more vegetables than fruit, it saturates longer.

Instructions for sticking to a fasting diet

  1. Keep calm, avoid stress: In order to avoid stress and to facilitate perseverance, the best time for a first attempt is of course the vacation. In any case, your body will be happy about a period of acclimatization. In the last three days before you start fasting, you should therefore limit high-sugar and high-fat foods, as well as caffeine and alcohol.
  2. Give up vices: Nearly all your dear habits are deleted with beginning of the chamfering time radically and consistently. This includes all forms of food and, of course, nicotine. Medication should only be taken if your doctor deems it indispensable. Dehydrators and appetite suppressants have nothing to do with sensible fasting.
  3. Sufficient liquid… is the be-all and end-all during fasting. However, only water and sugar-free teas are allowed. Drink more than you are thirsty, this is the best way to avoid possible circulatory problems. In addition a high liquid supply helps to overcome the beginning intestine inertia. The color of your urine shows whether you are correct with your fluid level: Light yellow is optimal, dark yellow means you are not drinking enough.
  4. Empty your bowels regularly: You should empty your bowels regularly before and during fasting. This may be more difficult than usual due to the absence of food. Drink a lot of water, “Glaubering” can also be helpful: 40 grams of Glauber’s salt from the pharmacy in three quarters of a liter of water dissolve, drink – that provides immediately for relief. If you suffer from low blood pressure or do not have time for a large number of toilet visits, however, you should stick to regular drinking. Sweaty sauna visits during fasting are also only recommended if your circulation is stable.
  5. Set priorities: Everyday life remains everyday life, and yet everything is different now. Appointment calendar and telephone slip on rear rank list places. Only you are important. Constraints do not count, decide from your stomach. Just do what is really good for your body – except eating, of course!
  6. Light exercise: Stop energy-guzzling activities such as weight training or mountain biking completely during the fast. Light jogging, yoga or loose gymnastic exercises are ideal instead. 
  7. Get enough sleep: If you feel exhausted, get a good night’s sleep. Even a nap in the afternoon is allowed to recharge your batteries for the rest of the day. It also helps to block out any burgeoning thoughts of food.
  8. Heat intake: Fasting metabolism lowers the average body temperature by up to one degree. Hot tea, suitable clothing in all weathers and a warm bath or shower still ensure a feeling of well-being. For the care of the usually somewhat drier skin, a body lotion is recommended.
  9. Look away: Look away when other people eat. Above all, if your absolute favorite food is served, otherwise keeping up your fasting can become a torture. At unavoidable business lunches, let everyone know that you are fasting, and order only tea. Your discipline will surely be the envy of others.
  10. Be moderate: Resist the temptation to celebrate the successful end of your fast with a big salami-double-cheese pizza. The sudden gluttony will not please your circulation or your stomach. Fruits and vegetables are better.

What happens to my body during fasting?

Day 1: Energy wins the body first from the coal hydrate memories (Glykogen) in liver and muscles. The low blood sugar level you perceive as hunger or even as a headache. Your blood pressure may drop sharply – drink plenty of fluids to support it.

Day 2: Your carbohydrate stores in muscles and liver last for a maximum of 24 hours. Therefore, the production of energy-rich sugars from the body’s own proteins starts, which do their work in enzymes, muscles and other cells. Light endurance training can slow down the breakdown of your muscles. You’re thinking about food more often now, and possibly about breaking the fast.

Day 3: Energy production from protein continues to increase. Your body now loses at least 50 grams of protein per day. The metabolism expert and professor Hans Hauner recommends therefore to take protein preparations during the chamfering, in order to prevent so the crash of the protein balance of the body. On the third day with many chamfering the drilling hunger feeling disappeared. Nevertheless: The body stands under large stress, rising blood concentrations of the hormones Adrenalin and Serotonin are the consequence. People perceive this as a boost of energy and mood elevation, but they often sleep poorly.

Day 4: Energy production from the body’s own proteins has reached its peak. The burning of your fat reserves therefore increases steadily, but cannot yet fully replace the energy production from proteins. You feel either energetic and full of drive or aggressive and moody – both are consequences of the hormone kick. You should accept your feelings in order not to increase the stress level even more.

Day 5: As fat burn increases, the depletion of your body’s proteins decreases. But still a good 60 percent of your energy comes from protein. You probably notice an unpleasant body odor for the first time on this day.

Day 6: Fat burning for energy continues to increase. Your body is now one hundred percent set to starvation metabolism. Due to the lack of carbohydrates (sugar, starch), large amounts of so-called keto acids are produced during fat burning. These substitute carbohydrates are sufficient to supply the body with energy, but they make you smell unpleasantly fruity and sour like acetone (nail polish remover). The only thing that helps is frequent showering and intensive tooth brushing. However, pay attention to the fact that certain body odors can also indicate diseases.

Day 7: On this day the energy production from fat reserves exceeds that from protein. Protein loss continues to decrease, but never drops to zero. The production of keto acids reaches its peak – but so does the body odor. Caution: high keto acid levels increase uric acid levels in the blood and can trigger gout attacks.

Day 8: Fat burning is at full speed – just like marathon runners. Fit athletes usually don’t have odor problems because the higher the endurance, the fewer keto acids are produced.

Day 9: Your body gets its energy almost exclusively from fat reserves. Falling adrenaline levels can cause a feeling of weakness, and falling serotonin levels sometimes trigger low moods or even depression.

Day 10: Only 24 hours left. You still can’t eat, but you can shop: Apples, salads, prunes, carrots or low-fat cream cheese. Everything will taste better than before.

Expert opinions: What does fasting really do?

Training for self-discipline

No matter which motive plays the main role and how long the personal hunger cure lasts: “Who fasts, trains thereby primarily its self discipline , says Liffler. Who feels consumed by job, partnership and everyday annoyance, wins by successful chamfering therefore the control over its fate again back. “The controlled refusal of daily food intake acts like a therapy,” says Liffler. You need however no chamfering program, in order to learn self discipline, that goes also differently.

To the general mental well-being feeling thereby frequently still a physical Highsein joins itself. Dr. Liffer: “Already at the beginning of Lent people feel freer, more vital and more resilient than before.” That becomes noticeable later in the everyday life: Fasting followers are often exceptionally assertive and achievement-ready personalities , so Dr. Liffler.

Detoxifies the body?

Apart from the positive effects on the psyche, recognized also by school physicians, one says chamfering cures also gladly the ability to purge and to detoxify the organism. “That sounds, as if there were in the body loud poison garbage dumps and dirty water puddles , say Dr. Helmut Oberritter, former managing director of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) in Frankfurt. “Something like that doesn’t exist, however, because the liver, kidneys, intestines and sweat glands function like the body’s own garbage disposal system.”

But for many people, the fairy tale of waste products and toxins sounds so plausible, since fasting books are bestsellers and entire clinics specialize in controlled starvation. Scientists like Professor Hauner answer however the question whether chamfering serves the health, with a clear No: Medically seen chamfered has hardly advantages , says Professor Hauner, it can be even harmful on the contrary and for example sleep disturbances, dizziness, depressions or gout attacks release.”

Becomes from muscles energy?

Since no energy is supplied by food during fasting, the body breaks down tissue to supply fuel. This means that from the first day of fasting, the proteins that your body actually needs for enzymes and muscles are lost as well. Although the liver still provides energy in the form of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) during the first 24 hours of fasting, headaches can occur afterwards.

“The brain is one of the body’s largest consumers of energy,” says Professor Hauner, “which is why it may react particularly sensitively if the supply is sparse.”In order not to starve, the body wins therefore starting from the second chamfering day energy from amino acids, for which it decomposed before muscle proteins.”

“About 50 grams of protein are converted in this way every day,” says Hauner and warns: “A visible part of all muscles is lost during prolonged fasting. In the heart muscle this can cause however dangerous rhythm disturbances.”For these reasons not only fasting athletes and bodybuilders should temporarily take a protein supplement. “Suitable are commercially available preparations from the pharmacy or yogurt and whey,” says Hauner.

Is fasting suitable for losing weight?

No, chamfered is not suitable for removing. Only after three chamfering days the body begins to tap also the fat reserves as energy source. Until the fat burn runs however on full revolutions and the muscle dismantling is clearly throttled, approximately three weeks pass away. In addition, when fat is burned at full speed and there is a simultaneous lack of carbohydrate supply, the organism is flooded with so-called keto acids. These substitute carbohydrates cause an unpleasant acetone-like body odor. “Nature has set up the fat-burning mechanism to delay starvation,” explains Dr. Oberritter the odor problem with fasting, “not to fight obesity.” Moreover, you can lose weight much healthier in other ways.

Fasting is also not suitable for losing weight for other reasons: “In a state of hunger, the body shuts down many metabolic processes,” says Oberritter. Who wants to lose weight by chamfering, is successful only if he changes the nutrition on a long-term basis: “Otherwise the old weight is caught up fast again.”

Conclusion: once a year “light” fasting is best

“When it comes to fasting, the psychological benefits outweigh the medical objections,” says holistic physician Dr. Peter Liffler. “However, you should only do a fasting period once a year, and then preferably during the transition from the nutritionally opulent winter to spring.” Occasional short fasting over three or four days has against it “hardly an effect”, means Liffler.

Instead, he pleads for a more relaxed approach to the concept of fasting. “Changing your diet once a year for four to six weeks to mostly vegetables and fruit, plus cutting out nicotine and caffeine, and shifting down a gear in your hectic daily life, has comparable effects to strict fasting,” says Liffler.