Therapeutic fasting: what is it and how does it work?
Fasting means to temporarily restrict food intake or completely abstain from eating food. The goal of fasting is to cleanse and relieve the digestive system. Fasting can not only increase one’s sense of well-being but is also said to improve the symptoms of some diseases. When fasting, the body gets its energy from its own food stores. In this way, as little energy as possible is used for the metabolism and the body’s self-healing powers are activated. People can get by without solid food for a certain period of time. Fasting can either involve the restriction to a certain group of foods or the complete abstention from food. Depending on the type of therapeutic fast, only herbal tea, vegetable broth, juices, or water are allowed. Nicotine, alcohol, sweets, and other luxury foods are forbidden. Beginners start with a few days of fasting, while experienced fasters go without food for as long as two weeks. It is important not to eat too much immediately following a therapeutic fast, i.e. that solid food is reintroduced slowly. In addition, the focus of therapeutic fasting is not primarily weight loss, but on detoxifying the body.
What is allowed and what is not allowed with therapeutic fasting?
Who is therapeutic fasting suitable for?
- This type of diet is suitable in its normal form for any healthy person.
- People with type 1 diabetes or other illnesses, mental disorders, or a high level of stress should not do therapeutic fasting.
- People who have recently suffered from a serious illness or who regularly take medication should only begin therapeutic fasting under medical supervision.
- Therapeutic fasting is meant primarily to cleanse the body and not for weight loss.
Advantages and disadvantages of the fasting diet
|The intestine is cleansed and detoxified.||It requires high levels of discipline and endurance.|
|Healthy fasting—under the supervision of a health professional and following certain rules—can be a good introduction to a balanced subsequent diet change.||The limited nutrient supply can cause side effects such as headaches or poor circulation.|
|Therapeutic fasting is primarily for cleansing and not for weight loss.|
Therapeutic fasting in detail
How individual is therapeutic fasting?
- Because of its strict rules, therapeutic fasting cannot be customized. By completely omitting solid foods, there is nothing that can be customized or individualized.
- Only the duration of the fast can be adjusted to one’s individual physical condition.
How flexible is therapeutic fasting?
- Due to the strict requirement to completely abstain from eating solid foods, therapeutic fasting leaves no room for flexibility or exceptions.
How suitable is therapeutic fasting for everyday use?
- The body is less resilient during fasting so professional duties can be a challenge—particularly during the first three days of fasting.
- Fasting is also difficult with a social life (e.g. at parties, restaurants) because there may be tempting food available that tests your discipline.
- The cost of food is reduced to a minimum here. Time is also saved because there is no need to cook or buy much food.
How Scientific is therapeutic fasting?
- The body can do without solid food for several weeks (depending on physical condition and stored fat reserves) as long as enough vitamins are supplemented via liquids. However therapeutic fasting is very stressful for the body since it receives little to no nutrients during the fasting phase.
- At the beginning of the therapeutic fast, hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and cortisol are released. After a short adjustment period, the hormone balance normalizes again and the receptor sensitivity even increases.
- The deprivation of nutrients also affects organs and muscles. The carbohydrate reserves in the liver and muscles are used up after a few days and the energy is then drawn from the protein of the muscle mass: this leads to a gradual break down of the muscle mass.
- Other side effects include low heart rate, low blood pressure, and a reduction in insulin levels. This, in turn, leads to fatigue. On the whole, the “cleansing” effect of therapeutic fasting cure comes at a high price: many unpleasant side effects and health risks.
How sustainable is therapeutic fasting and what are the risks?
- Therapeutic fasting leads to rapid weight loss—although, sustaining the weight loss requires a diet change after the fasting phase. Many people regain all the weight they lost when they return to old eating habits.
- The stomach contracts strongly during therapeutic fasting. The feeling of being full now occurs faster with less food intake.
- Therapeutic fasting can serve as a good introduction to a long-term diet change and sustainable weight loss.
- Deprivation of food causes the body to weaken and can lead to unpleasant side effects.
- Fasting over a long period of time without the supervision of a doctor is very dangerous.
Summary and evaluation
Although rapid weight loss is generally a natural consequence of such a drastic reduction in nutrients. The therapeutic fasting cure should not be seen as a diet, as it is primarily intended to “cleanse” the body and not to reduce weight. If you want to lose weight sustainably for the long term, the therapeutic fasting diet is not the right choice. However, it can serve as an introduction to a new lifestyle: to completely cleanse the body before making a long-term, healthy change in diet. (Tip: You can easily determine your optimal nutrient requirement with our BMI Calculator.)
|Suitability for everyday use & implementability|
Fasting Diet vs. Upfit
|Because of its strict rules, therapeutic fasting cannot be customized. By completely omitting solid foods, there is nothing that can be customized or individualized.||Adapted to your goal, taking into account allergies and intolerances and eating habits. Optional adjustments to your personal diet, such as vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, flexitarian or paleo. Features such as "meal swapping" and "favorite meals" individualize the plan.|
|Due to the strict requirement to completely abstain from eating solid foods, therapeutic fasting leaves no room for flexibility or exceptions.||Your meals are predetermined. The meal swapping feature and information provided in advance enable adaptation to personal everyday life. The meals can be skipped when you eat out or visit restaurants..|
|The body is less resilient during fasting so professional duties can be a challenge—particularly during the first three days of fasting. The cost of food is reduced to a minimum here. Time is also saved because there is no need to cook or buy much food.||Suitable for everyday use, thanks to short cooking times and consideration of your food budget. For busy people and professionals, no cooking at lunchtime is necessary: choose your cooking schedule and/or use the time-saving meal prep option to prepare meals ahead.|
|The body can do without solid food for several weeks (depending on physical condition and stored fat reserves) as long as enough vitamins are supplemented via liquids. However therapeutic fasting is very stressful for the body since it receives little to no nutrients during the fasting phase..||Scientifically-based meals and snacks in the right portion size for your personal nutrient and vitamin needs, based on a low-carbohydrate nutritional principle developed in cooperation with sports experts and nutritionists..|
|Therapeutic fasting leads to rapid weight loss—although, sustaining the weight loss requires a diet change after the fasting phase. Many people regain all the weight they lost when they return to old eating habits.||Scientifically-based meals and snacks in the right portion size to meet your personal nutritional and vitamin needs lead to healthy, long-term weight loss. The diet can also be carried out for an indefinite period of time.|
Fasting and Upfit: rich, varied nutrition—your individual nutrition plan
To lose weight permanently, nutrition is the key to success. A weight-loss diet plan that leads you to your desired weight in the long term should suit you perfectly and take into account your preferences and possible allergies. Upfit allows you to adapt you’re eating plan to your individual needs and helps you lose weight healthily.
Depending on your desired weight, schedule, and activity level, you can create your personalized nutritional plan in a few steps and watch the pounds tumble off.
If you’re not interested in an extreme detox diet or therapeutic fasting phase, maybe the modified method of intermittent fasting is right for you.