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Originally, people fasted to purify their bodies and souls before religious celebrations, as a sacrifice or to repent for their sins. Nowadays, many people fast to lose weight or to “detox”. They stop eating food completely for a limited period of time, or restrict their diet to very specific foods. This can have health implications. It is therefore essential that you talk to your doctor if you want to fast.
No-calorie diet Nothing is eaten
The no-calorie diet is the strictest form of fasting. In addition to water, you can also take vitamins and minerals to avoid deficiency symptoms. No solid food is eaten. A no-calorie diet should only be attempted if recommended by and under the observation of your doctor. During the diet, you may suffer from circulation problems, electrolyte disruptions, low blood sugar levels, headaches, muscle cramps and disturbed sleep. Furthermore, longer fasts will result in the reduction of muscle protein – including the heart. The no-calorie diet is therefore only suitable as a motivating start to weight loss for people who are severely overweight – i.e. with a BMI of over 40. Total fasting only has long-term effects if followed by a balanced, low-calorie diet based on the Nutrition Pyramid, and if it is maintained permanently.
Modified fasting: Protein is allowed.
Modified fasting is possible over a longer period of time under medical supervision and also acceptable if medically required. In contrast to the no-calorie diet, you can eat a defined amount of high-quality protein to prevent the body from losing its own protein. Small amounts of carbohydrates also provide a source of energy for the brain. Personal well-being and performance are significantly higher during modified fasts compared to no-calorie fasts. However, the following is also true in this case: ongoing success is only possible if you then eat and drink a balanced and low-calorie diet.
Healing fasts: Strengthen your own self-healing powers
The aim of Buchinger’s healing fast concept is to clear the body of toxins and awaken its own self-healing powers to prevent or heal illnesses. To start off the 3-4 week fasting programme, Buchinger recommends clearing the bowels with laxative Glauber’s salt or having detox days where you eat fruit or rice. During the treatment, you are only permitted to drink fluids: In the morning and afternoon, 1/4 litre tea, 1/4 litre vegetable broth in the morning, 1/4 litre fruit juice in the evening and 2 litres of mineral water during the course of the day. In the meantime, the bowels should be repeatedly emptied – ideally through an enema. The theory of “detoxification” has not been scientifically proven. Nutrients which cannot be used do not collect in the body as “toxins”. If we drink enough fluids, we regularly eliminate these substances through the gut and kidneys.
Healing fasts: Other variants with juice and solid food
Juice fasting involves the consumption of only fruit juices and vegetable broths. People on this fast should also drink 2 to 3 litres of water a day. The main elements of the Mayr treatment are fluids, stale bread, which needs to be chewed according to the instructions, and milk. The Schroth treatment alternates so-called dry and fluid days. On dry days, you can eat whole wheat products, dried fruit, nuts and vegetables, along with 1 litre of water. At night, poultices are used as cold and damp packing to reduce heat and encourage the elimination of metabolism inhibitors and toxins. Additional information about further alternative types of nutrition is available in the section Nestlé Health Science / Alternative forms of nutrition.
Does fasting help you to lose weight?
Following a fasting treatment you run the risk of putting weight back on quickly, as you will have had very low energy levels during the fast. Your body has adjusted to the hunger situation, your basic metabolic rate will have fallen and you will be able to manage with much less food for a long time after the fast has ended. The consequence: The arrow on the scales will move up quickly as soon as you start to eat “normal” amounts again. You will only be able to achieve permanent weight loss if you eat a balanced and low-calorie diet in the long term. The pyramid shows you what place different food groups should occupy within the scope of a balanced diet. You can also use our nutrition coach. He can support you on your path to your ideal weight.
Drinking: 3 litres a day
During fasting, you should drink at least 3 litres a day to flush out the higher volume of breakdown products from metabolism. Choose calorie-free mineral or spring water, such as CONTREX or Nestlé PURE LIFE.
Healing fasts: The opinion of the DGE:
The German Association of Health does not consider fasting to be a measure suitable for long-term weight loss, but gives an extensively positive assessment: “The available reports of experiences show that healing fasts often result in an increasingly healthy lifestyle and changes in eating habits. Healing fasts can act as a motivation to change your lifestyle and improve eating habits. Fasting is contraindicated in the case of, for example, cachexia (undernourishment), anorexia nervosa (diminished appetite), during pregnancy and lactation, and in the case of raised uric acid levels. A healing fast cannot replace a medically required treatment. The DGE sums up by noting that the positive effects of fasting are supported by little to no scientific research and that fasts may have an impact on the effects of medications.