Fasting is trendy. Consciously abstaining from food should detoxify our body and make us healthier. But is that really true? The fasting expert Dr. Nicolas Gros knows the answer. A conversation about the chances and risks of fasting.
Many people decide to go without solid food at times – in order to do something good for their body. But why should I fast at all?
: There are a number of good reasons to fast regularly. Above all, health benefits from this. It is a kind of reset button for your own body – starting with the heart and circulation. For example, fasting can help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can directly lead to improved heart health, among other things. It also promotes brain metabolism and serotonin release – you are more efficient, more concentrated, even more creative.
Can I lose weight with fasting?
Absolutely. Data shows that fasting ensures sustainable weight loss without the yo-yo effect. The metabolism is boosted directly, fat reserves are burned. In addition, the planned abstinence reduces the stress level and, according to the latest scientific findings, promotes autophagy – our body’s own rejuvenation program.
Fasting is not the same as fasting
Fasting is not just fasting – there are now numerous types. Which ones make sense, which ones don’t?
Fasting is often confused with a zero diet. In fact, there are a variety of fasting methods, some of which are unfortunately very unhealthy. Above all, water fasting should be mentioned here. Only water is consumed the entire time, even if the name suggests the opposite. This method is unhealthy, outdated and causes unnecessary muscle loss. In summary, it can be said that it is, quite simply, avoidable torture.
And what about the juice fasting that is often touted on social media?
Actually similar. Since only juices are consumed, the intake of acids and fructose increases, which ultimately puts an unnecessary strain on the metabolism and digestion and has the corresponding side effects. Despite this, it is also not very sustainable, since PET bottles, the content of which is 90 percent water, have to be cooled and are shipped all over Europe with their heavy weight. Fasting is also a lot about prudence, mindfulness and of course, by doing without, also very specifically about sustainability.
How does healthy fasting work?
Intermittent fasting is a useful method. This involves alternating between eating and non-eating times. This can be an easy and flexible way to integrate fasting into everyday life. With therapeutic fasting, one or more days per week is fully fasted. If you want to fully exploit the effect, this is the most sensible option.
What fasting does to the body
When fasting, the body gets significantly less food than usual. What actually happens in the body?
When fasting, the body has to draw on its energy reserves. This leads to a whole range of reactions. For example, to a drop in insulin levels in the blood, which causes the body to use fat reserves as a source of energy. Fasting can also increase the body’s production of growth hormones, which helps maintain muscle mass and break down fat stores. So-called ketone bodies also reduce inflammation in the body, which can prevent various diseases.
When done properly, fasting can do a lot. What should I definitely pay attention to in order not to risk mistakes?
You can do a lot wrong. Excessive fasting periods, for example, are problematic because they put the body under stress and can cause health problems such as fatigue, dizziness, depression and headaches. Also, fasting should not be combined with extreme diets that contain very few nutrients. Between 500 and 700 kcal a day is no problem for good results. It’s easier to persevere with and get the same results without stress, frustration, or health concerns.
To be very specific: For whom is fasting suitable – and for whom absolutely not?
Fasting is generally appropriate for all healthy adults, but there are certain groups of people for whom it may be inappropriate or even dangerous. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and adolescents, people with diabetes, kidney or liver problems, people with eating disorders or a weakened immune function, and people suffering from stress or depression. Fasting is also very suitable for patients who want to improve their insulin resistance or who want to reduce their inflammation, but it is recommended that this only be done under medical guidance and supervision. On the other hand, healthy adults who want to improve their eating habits or people who are slightly overweight and want to lose weight can fast without any worries.
How the fasting cure can succeed
Fasting is also said to have negative effects, especially with regard to the liver. What is it?
Not much. Fasting has several positive effects on the liver. For one, it causes the liver to reduce unnecessary sugar and fat deposits. This in turn leads to improved liver function and an improved ability to remove toxins from the body. In addition, the metabolism of the liver is also increased, because fasting leads to a drop in insulin levels in the blood, which helps the body to mobilize fat reserves, which the liver converts into ketone bodies. The liver and pancreas play a central role in this process and are trained as a result. Ultimately, it also increases enzyme production, which is responsible for processing toxins and detoxifying liver cells, but also aids in digestion.
And what is your advice to people who would like to try fasting?
It is always beneficial to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. However, sugary and alcoholic beverages should be avoided. It also helps to start fasting gradually and switch back to a normal diet step by step so that the body is not stressed. Ultimately, your own network can also be a great driving force: If you inform your friends and acquaintances in advance, you might even find fellow campaigners. This makes everything much easier to do.
How often should you actually fast?
Fasting all the time would be absurd – so it is better to fast in a targeted and planned manner. For some, daily fasting in the form of intermittent fasting may make sense, while for others it may be better in the form of a weekly fasting once a month, quarter, or year. That always depends on the individual starting position of the person. However, one should be aware that fasting has been the normal state for humans for millions of years of evolutionary history. Our body has learned from this to develop a survival advantage. The oversupply in which we live today is perhaps 100 years young and unfortunately it is not only good for us.
I’m Caroline, a journalist and author for 24 Hours Worlds. I specialize in health-related news and stories, bringing real-world impact to readers across the globe. With my experience in journalism and writing in both print and online formats, I strive to provide reliable information that resonates with audiences from all walks of life.