Fasting guide: the 4 stages of fasting

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Preparing for and finishing off the fast correctly is just as important in ensuring the success of the fast as the actual fasting itself. After all, the temptation to start indulging again immediately after it’s over is big. But stick to the four stages of fasting and you’ll find it much easier.

Purify the body in advance

Fasting results in physical and mental stress. It’s therefore all the more impor­tant to prepare the body for going with­out food by starting with a purification day – or even several days, depending on the length of the fast. In other words, begin with «lite» fasting.

«Lite» fasting

The menu on purification days includes easily digestible, high-fibre foods such as vegetables, rice, potatoes, fruit and natural yoghurt. High-calorie and high-fat foods as well as meat and fish are still allowed, but only in small quantities. It’s best to go without salty foods, sweets, alcohol, nicotine and coffee completely. During the preparation period, it's also important to drink 3-4 litres of water or unsweetened tea.

Clear the intestines

Many people like to clear their intestines before fasting, as it is said to make fasting easier. This is because an empty digestive tract has the side effect of feeling less hungry. Popular laxatives include Glauber's salt or the classic enema.

Fasting: no solid food

Going without solid food triggers various processes in the body. Since the body needs less energy for digestion, more remains for waste removal and the cells’ recycling system. This process, called «autophagy», starts after 14-16 hours without solid food and is one of the most important bodily processes to cleanse and detoxify cells. The body obtains additional energy for this tortuous ordeal from sugar. Once this has been used up, the fat deposits are next.

To still get enough nutrients, the body needs plenty of fluids during fasting. Ideal drinks are water, fruit and vegetable juices, and fruit tea.

Breaking the fast: back to normality

The period of abstinence is over. The body is gently returned to normality by a «breaking of the fast». The digestive function needs to be reactivated and digestive juices produced. This usually takes 3-4 days. An apple is ideal as the first food to ingest. It’s important to chew well and eat slowly. Small portions of light, low-fat food are advised for the rest of the transition. Be sure to increase calories only gradually to avoid the yo-yo effect. Once back in the normal routine, it makes sense to continue to eat consciously and healthily after fasting.

Softer fasting alternative: intermittent fasting

For those who don’t wish to give up food completely or would like an easier entry into fasting, there is a softer alternative: intermittent fasting. With this method, the timing of the food intake is key. The advantage: intermittent fasting is natural for our bodies.

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