1 What is intermittent fasting?
2 16/8 Method for beginners
Alternative: Fasting with the 12/12 method
3 5 to 2 method
Can intermittent fasting be interrupted at the weekend?
4 Advantages and disadvantages
Alcohol during intermittent fasting Coffee is allowed during intermittent fasting if...
5 10 tips for beginners
6 Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is usually a big challenge for beginners. In this article, you will learn all about the 16/8 and 5 to 2 methods, as well as practical tips for beginners.

The most important things at a glance:

  • Intermittent fasting involves eating nothing at all for a certain period of time (at least 12 hours) and eating normally for the rest of the time.
  • In addition to weight loss, intermittent fasting is said to have many other positive effects (such as a longer life expectancy or greater stress resistance).
  • The most popular variations of intermittent fasting for beginners are the "16/8" and the "5 to 2" method.
  • Nevertheless, it is important WHAT you eat. Intermittent fasting can be a a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Intermittent fasting can be an intimidating challenge for beginners. However, this form of nutrition has gained many enthusiastic followers in recent years.

In this comprehensive article, you can find out what is actually true about the positive effects and what is just myth. We also explain which interval fasting methods are suitable for beginners and give you 10 practical tips at the end of the article to make it easier for you to get started.

This nutrition guide is intended to help clarify the most important terms so that you can get an overview for yourself. Have you ever asked yourself: "What are calories anyway?" "Is fat in food the same as fat in the body?" and "Which nutrients do I really need?"

Then read on if you want to learn the basics of healthy eating.

What is intermittent fasting again?

At the intermittent fasting (also known as "intermittent fasting" or just "IF" is about not eating at all for a certain period of time. The duration of these periods can varyas there are different models of intermittent fasting. With one method you have to fast by the hour, with the other by the day.

In contrast to "classic" fasting, IF does not simply involve eating less and abstaining from certain foods, but rather not eating at all for certain periods of time. The idea behind intermittent fasting is that the metabolism comes to rest during the fasting phase and the body can cleanse itself to a certain extent.1 Many studies suggest that this allows the metabolism to work more effectively and 1

This process of natural cell cleansing is called "autophagy" and is set in motion when the body does not receive any food for a certain period of time (14 to 16 hours).3 Intermittent fasting has even been shown to improve overall health and prevent disease (usually 4

16/8 Method for beginners

Probably the best-known method of interval fasting - and also the most suitable for beginners - is the 16/8 model. As the name suggests, this form of fasting is all about, fasting for 16 hours and the others 8 hours to eat normally.

This variant is so popular and easy to implement because the sleeping time is already included in the 16 hours of fasting. This makes it much easier for beginners to get used to this new way of eating.

You can choose when the eight hours of eating should take place. Some people prefer to skip breakfast, while others prefer to eat skip dinner.

The only important thing is that you consume enough calories during the 8 hours when eating is allowed. This is because a calorie deficit has been proven to lead to body weight loss - which is only ideal for overweight people. But if you want to gain or maintain your weightyou have to be very careful that you do not eat too little.

There is no general answer as to whether it is better to skip breakfast or dinner.[5] Breakfast is not necessarily the most important meal of the day.[6] That's why it's crucial to slowly approach the ideal rhythm. It doesn't help anyone if you frantically try to live up to a certain model.

Attention: In theory, the 16/8 method can become a problem for women. This is because women have greater hormonal fluctuations depending on their cycle. It has therefore been shown that women are better off with a 12/12 regulation cope better.

Alternative: Fasting with the 12/12 method

The 12 hour method is basically nothing more than the 16 to 8 method, only in a slightly weaker form. Here are 12 hours of fasting while the other half of the day can be spent eating and drinking as normal. With this method, bedtime is also included in the fasting period.
For many beginners (including men), the 12/12 model is an excellent way to get started with intermittent fasting.

5 to 2 method

This model is not based on hours per day, but on days per week. Accordingly 5 days a week you eat normally and on the other 2 days fasted.

Many people prefer this method because they "only" have to fast on two days and can eat normally for the rest of the week.

Important: On the two fasting days, up to 600 calories are allowed.

The 5 to 2 fast is less suitable for beginners because two days without eating properly is a big hurdle to overcome. Most people therefore start with the easier 16/8 (or 12/12) method and then slowly work their way up to it Longer fasting phases slowly.

Can intermittent fasting be interrupted at the weekend?

When it comes to intermittent fasting, the question quickly arises as to whether you can break your fast at the weekend on the weekend.

The short answer: Yes, of course you can break it!

Nobody is forcing you to fast in intervals. Therefore, only you can decide for yourself how intensively you want to do it. The health benefits - e.g. faster weight loss and more stress resistance - are greater, however, if you also fast at the weekend.

The 5 to 2 model is ideal here because you don't have to interrupt your fast at all. If the two fasting days are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, for example, you can eat and drink as normal over the weekend.

Advantages and disadvantages

By far the biggest advantage for many newcomers to intermittent fasting is that bedtime is also counted as fasting time. This eliminates 7 to 8 hours during which no feeling of hunger can spread anyway.

Partial fasting can also reduce the average increase life expectancyas a study with male mice has shown.[7]

In addition, intermittent fasting is often referred to as "secret weapon" for weight loss. However, this argument should be viewed with healthy skepticism. It is true that intermittent fasting can help beginners to lose weight quickly.[8] However, WHAT you eat during the fasting period is still crucial.

One disadvantage is undoubtedly that athletes find it more difficult to stick to their daily turnover more difficult. After all, they still have to consume the same number of calories to maintain their weight - they just have significantly less time to do so with intermittent fasting.

In addition, it is often criticized that intermittent fasting helps the muscle building stands in the way of muscle building. The human body only has two sources of energy that it can draw on: Muscle and fat. Muscle is a pure luxury for the body, while fat was essential for the survival of our ancestors.

If nothing is eaten for a certain period of time, the body has to draw on stored energy. Unfortunately, the muscle reserves are the first port of call if there is no intensive strength training and protein intake. For this reason, it can become a problem if you don't eat at all. no sport when fasting by the day.

Alcohol during intermittent fasting

To what extent Alcohol allowed during fasting depends very much on the individual and the preferred method of interval fasting. For athletes, the question usually does not arise at all. Alcohol is a no-go for them anyway because it hinders fat burning.[9]

Furthermore, it depends on which model of intermittent diet you have chosen. For example, if you have chosen the 5 to 2 method, you should logically only consume alcohol on non-fasting days (and even then only in moderate amounts).

Since during the two fasting days a maximum of 500 to 600 calories available to you during the two fasting days, it would not be very intelligent to consume them with alcohol. Alcohol is very high in calories and just one drink can contain over 100 kcal.[10]

The 16 to 8 method is a little different. Theoretically, you can calculate your calorie consumption between the macronutrients in the way that is ideal for you. We from Saturo advise against excessive alcohol consumption during intermittent fasting (and also with a normal diet).

Coffee is allowed during intermittent fasting if...

Tea and coffee are only allowed during intermittent fasting if no milk and no sugar are included. Sugar (which is also contained in milk as lactose) causes the pancreas to release insulin.

This should be avoided because one of the main reasons for intermittent fasting is to allow the pancreas to rest. This is because while insulin is being released, no burn fat be burned.

This is the same reason why snacking in between meals is such a big problem, because the metabolism is constantly active. It turns out that there is no truth to the misconception that snacking helps you lose weight.[11]

Those who black coffee and without additives can be reassured. A cup of black coffee contains no calories, which is why it does not stimulate digestion on its own.[12]

10 tips for beginners

To make it easier for you as a beginner to get started with intermittent fasting, we have compiled a list of the 10 best tips for newcomers here:

  1. Don't think long and hard, do it
    You can watch as many articles and videos about IF as you like. Ultimately, however, it's crucial that you just get started. Because without this first step, you will never find out whether intermittent fasting is right for you or not. 
  2. Approach it slowly
    Nobody runs a marathon if they can't even run 5 kilometers in one go. The same applies to starting interval fasting. As a beginner, you should be careful not to overstrain yourself. The 5 to 2 method in particular overwhelms many people who don't yet know how to do interval fasting properly. 
  3. Choose the method that suits you best
    This ties in directly with the previous point. Because not everyone gets on equally well with every model of intermittent fasting. If your breakfast is sacred to you, then you shouldn't have to give it up. Having said that, please note... 
  4. The times of intermittent fasting are secondary
    It doesn't matter whether you break your fast at 8:00 a.m. or at lunchtime. As long as you keep to the periods of not eating, you are in the green zone. That's what makes the 16/8 method and the weaker 12/12 method so attractive for beginners, because they can be flexibly adapted to any daily routine. 
  5. Eat plenty to get enough calories
    If you don't eat and drink properly, you can't perform. That's why it's essential that you eat enough food during your meal time. Athletes in particular need to pay attention to their calorie balance to avoid losing too much body weight through IF. 
  6. Stick to foods that keep you full for a long time
    Longer fasting phases, as with the 5 to 2 method, can be exhausting for the body and can sometimes make the feeling of hunger unbearable. Complex carbohydrates that keep you full for a long time can help here. Potatoes, sweet potatoes or pulses are good fillers.[13]
  7. Hunger and thirst should not be confused
    In the morning, thirst is often mistaken for a feeling of hunger. A good tip is to drink a large glass of water right after getting up - preferably with lemon and a little salt to make up for the minerals lost during the night. The "false" hunger then often disappears again. 
  8. A daily plan helps with fasting
    Do you find it difficult to find the right times for you? Then a daily plan for intermittent fasting is a solution for you. Define in advance what time you want to break your fast and when the "curfew" is. Prominent examples, such as Eckart von Hirschhausenshow what an intermittent fasting daily schedule can look like. 

If you follow these 10 tips for beginners, you will undoubtedly have an easier start to the interval diet.

If you follow these 10 tips for beginners, you will undoubtedly have an easier start to the interval diet.


As a beginner to intermittent fasting, you can choose which model you want to follow. There is no one best method for intermittent fasting, as they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

The important thing to remember is that intermittent fasting is not a miracle cure for better health. It is still essential to provide your body with all the necessary nutrients. micro- and macronutrients and a balanced diet.

FAQ on intermittent fasting for beginners

How does intermittent fasting work?

Intermittent fasting involves not eating at all for a certain period of time. The metabolism comes to rest and can begin its self-cleansing processes.

What times should be observed during intermittent fasting?

It doesn't really matter at what times you fast. It is much more important that nothing is eaten for at least 12 hours at a time so that the body can start cleansing itself.

What helps against hunger during intermittent fasting?

Hunger is normal during intermittent fasting, which is why you should only eat something when you really can't stand it any longer. Drinking a lot also helps, as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.

What can I eat on the 16-to-8 diet?

Basically, everything is allowed during the eating period. However, it makes sense to eat a diet that focuses on lots of vegetables and complex carbohydrates so that the feeling of satiety lasts longer.

Is alcohol allowed during intermittent fasting?

Yes, the consumption of alcohol is permitted during intermittent fasting - however, alcohol would be counterproductive with the 5 to 2 method. With fasting, as with any other form of nutrition, excessive consumption of alcohol is bad for the body.

Is it possible to eat too little during intermittent fasting?

If you only eat at certain times, you also have to reach your daily calorie intake. Eating too little leads to a loss of body weight.

Can intermittent fasting be interrupted at the weekend?

It is possible to break your fast at the weekend. However, the health benefits are significantly greater if you also fast on Saturday and Sunday. With the 5 to 2 method, however, you can eat normally at the weekend if the fasting days are divided up differently.

Collapsible content


  1.  National Institute on Aging, Research on intermittent fasting shows health benefits (02/2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020
  2.  Seimon, R.V., Roekenes, J.A., Zibellini, J., Zhu, B., Gibson, A.A., Hills, A.P., Wood, R.E., King, N.A., Byrne, N.M., & Sainsbury, A. (2015) Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 418 Pt 2:153-72
  3.  Rosenfeld, J. Fast Your Way to Autophagy. Retrieved October 27, 2020
  4.  Mattson, M.P., Longo, V.D., (2017) Harvie, M. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Ageing Res Rev. 39:46-58.
  5.  Sievert, K., Hussain, S.M., Page, M.J, Wang, Y., Hughes, H.J., & Malek, M. (2019) Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials BMJ 364 :l42
  6.  TEDx Talks (15.05.2019) Intermittent Fasting: Transformational Technique | Cynthia Thurlow | TEDxGreenville [Video file]. Retrieved October 27, 2020
  7. Mitchell, S.J., Bernier, M., Mattison, J.A., Aon, M.A., Kaiser, T.A., Anson, R.M., Ikeno, Y., Anderson, R.M., Ingram, D.K., & de Cabo, R. (2019) Daily Fasting Improves Health and Survival in Male Mice Independent of Diet Composition and Calories. Cell Metab. 29(1):221-228.e3.
  8. Grant, M., Tinsley, Paul, M., La Bounty (2015) Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans, Nutrition Reviews 73(10):661-674
  9. Raben, A., Agerholm-Larsen, L., Flint, A., Holst, J.J., & Astrup, A. (2003) Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 77(1):91-100.
  10. Traversy, G., & Chaput, J.P. (2015) Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Curr Obes Rep. 4(1):122-30.
  11. Bellisle, F., McDevitt, R., & Prentice, A.M. (1997) Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. 77 Suppl 1:S57-70.
  12. van Dam, R.M., Pasman, W.J., & Verhoef, P. (2004) Effects of coffee consumption on fasting blood glucose and insulin concentrations: randomized controlled trials in healthy volunteers. Diabetes Care. 27(12):2990-2.
  13. McCrory, M.A., Hamaker, B.R., Lovejoy, J.C., & Eichelsdoerfer, P.E. (2010) Pulse consumption, satiety, and weight management. Adv Nutr. 1(1):17-30.
  14. Cleobury, L., & Tapper ,K. (2014) Reasons for eating 'unhealthy' snacks in overweight and obese males and females. J Hum Nutr Diet. 27(4):333-41.