Circadian Rhythms and Water Fasting: The Best Time to Activate Autophagy

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If you’re wondering when the optimal time to induce autophagy is, have a look at this article.

Autophagy and Circadian Rhythms

Your body works best when following a pattern of alternating activities – sleeping and being active, eating and abstaining. The way energy production works is also apparent in the process of breaking down larger molecules into smaller components in order for them to be consumed and afterward put back together into bigger components.

Autophagy is the process of cellular turnover and self-recycling. It converts old dysfunctional cell parts back into energy. It has been demonstrated that cutting down on calories increases the lifespan in a number of species, and this is an effect of autophagy.

Circadian rhythms affect the metabolic and other bodily processes in the organism, which is determined by the 24-hour period of night and day in the surrounding environment. They regulate the cycle of being alert and sleeping, activate the genes and processes associated with long lifespan, rectify any damage to DNA and even conduct autophagy.

As you age, your body’s clock gets weaker and is more easily destabilized. It becomes harder to rest, generate energy via NAD, and set off autophagy due to this. Fortunately, it has been determined that decreasing caloric intake can reverse the alterations to the circadian clock that are caused by aging, leading to a decrease in negative effects from aging. Intermittent fasting produces the same effects as limiting one’s calorie intake, but the results are more pronounced, and there are fewer downsides.

Autophagy and Time-Restricted Eating

All species have a specific period of time devoted to both resting and being awake. During that period, they also nourish themselves and go through times of abstaining from food, which stimulates autophagy.

TRF involves eating within a set period that matches up with your body’s natural circadian patterns. The SCN, located in the brain, is significantly impacted by food consumption and the number of calories consumed.

Studies have revealed that time-constrained eating can have more than just weight loss benefits, such as reduced blood sugar levels, better insulin sensitivity, diminished triglycerides, activation of epigenetic pathways that lead to extended life, and greater basal autophagy (R).

Dr Satchin Panda from the Salk Institute is a leading authority in the field of circadian rhythms and time-restricted feeding (TRF). He believes individuals should consume their meals within no fewer than 8-10 hours and should not exceed that amount of time. This provides the body with a daily interval of 16 hours while fasting which encourages gut renewal, good working of the immune system, and other forms of autophagy.

Dr Panda’s studies uncovered that the median individual consumes food for more than 15 hours, starting with some milk in their caffeine-filled drink in the morning and halting with a midnight snack of either nuts or crisps. Sadly, this not only disrupts their internal clock but also interrupts the process of autophagy.

Do You Get Autophagy with Intermittent Fasting

The 16/8 approach is the most typical type of intermittent fasting, where you don’t eat for about 16 hours and then consume food in the 8-hour window. Is it enough to activate autophagy?

What affects when autophagy will start for you depends on the amount of vitamins and minerals in your body and the presence of things like amino acids, carbohydrates, and ketones. Consuming an excessive amount of any type of calories can give the body an abundance of nutrients that need to be used up before any backup energy sources can be accessed.

Liver glycogen content dictates your body’s energy balance. It’s essential for managing ketosis and glycolysis. The liver has a capacity of 100-150 grams for glycogen storage. If the liver is at full capacity, it can prevent the creation of ketones and autophagy. Once the liver glycogen has been used up, lipid breakdown generates ketone bodies from fat.

It takes approximately 16-20 hours without food for the liver’s stored glycogen to be used up without any additional activity. Engaging in activities such as walking, doing cardio, and exercising will quicken the pace of this process. For this reason, if you combine 16/8 fasting with moderate calorie limitation and physical exercise, you should be able to boost basal autophagy enough.

Autophagy and Sleep

Having a good night’s rest is essential for the advantages of autophagy to take effect since melatonin, the chemical responsible for sleep, is in charge of modulating autophagy. Melatonin has the capability to be a strong antioxidant, as well as being a regulator of numerous repair methods, like the production of growth hormone.

Around 70% of the production of growth hormone seen on a daily basis takes place while in slow wave sleep or in deep sleep. It facilitates physical repair, regeneration, and fat burning. The growth hormone influences the liver to spark self-degradation of cellular components, help produce glucose, and maintain glucose levels in mice that are always deprived of food. It is likely that the same outcome will be seen in people as it is regulated by the same mechanisms.

Melatonin boosts levels of growth hormone in the body in ways other than through the GHRH pathway. Melatonin is generated when there is no blue or green light, something that happens when it becomes dark out.

Hence, if you desire to encourage autophagy and better other fix processes, getting sufficient rest is a must. You should make sure you use the correct amount of rest and get it at the correct moment that fits the body’s natural clock. Your results would be greatly limited.

Best Time to Activate Autophagy

The most favorable moment to initiate the process of autophagy is while in a deep slumber. In mice, the process of autophagy occurs on a regular, day-to-day basis in the liver, heart, and muscles. There have been several discoveries of genes and proteins that go through cycles of expression in yeast during times of growth and when nutrients are absent. Autophagy is found to only occur during certain periods that correspond to decreased metabolic activity, such as when fasting, starving, or sleeping.

The metabolic processes of fatty acid beta-oxidation, cholesterol biosynthesis, and hepatic gluconeogenesis all happen in a cyclical manner. It is believed that autophagy is utilized to regulate these processes in order to maximize the amount of nutrients available for either storing or burning. It is essential to maintain good sleep habits and the environment you sleep in for overall health.

The body produces specific hormones and stimulates pathways dependent on the individual’s familiar circadian cycle. If someone’s internal clock is not in line with the beat of their surroundings, it will be more challenging for the body to maintain a steady pace. This will just cause additional stress and inflammation.

Circadian rhythms that have been thrown off balance have been linked to Alzheimer’s, being overweight, diabetes, despondency, metabolic syndrome, heart difficulties, and cancer. This is the result of a poorer quality of sleep, but the consequences are also attributed to the biological incompatibility.

Get More Autophagy While Sleeping

The most effective time to induce autophagy would be while sleeping. It is essential to improve the quality of sleep by cultivating good habits and creating a comfortable sleeping environment. Consuming food late in the evening can be a major factor in disrupting the body’s internal clock, which results in a lessened increase in autophagy processes.

To increase autophagoy at night, you should keep your body moving during the day to arouse the need for sleep and start autophagy through some physical activity, eat before bedtime rather than after it, and minimize the amount of blue light that you are exposed to before turning in for the night. The production of melatonin and increased levels of growth hormone are triggered when insulin and other essential nutrients are limited.

Consuming certain autophagic elements such as curcuma, ashwagandha, and berberine can help facilitate autophagy prior to going to sleep.

Water Fasting 101

Supporters of fasting generally argue that people developed to be able to survive without food for extended periods. Fasting is natural, in this way.

In fact, it was probably a necessity. Food wasn’t always available. It was hard to obtain. No supermarkets in the paleolithic era. Therefore, we appear to have multiple systems that let us endure extended times without acquiring power from outside sources (food). The capacity to burn fat as an energy source and the capacity to make and use ketones are both possible options. Without them, we’d often be hangry, or worse, dead.

There are considerable advantages when activating the pathways that the evolutionary process has passed down to us through fasting, which boosts the body’s resilience.

Many systems become stronger, more resilient. In this day and age, what strategies do we have for connecting to these structures, with a fast-food restaurant seemingly everywhere we turn?

One way is through water fasting. Water fasting is the act of not consuming any food or beverage with calories over a period of one to three days, as indicated by its name. The only thing permitted? Good old H20. It has been proposed that coffee, seltzer, and other drinks without calories are permitted. You decide the rules for this one.

Individuals may opt for a water-only fast for multiple purposes, such as for medical or health-related motives, spiritual or religious causes, decreasing one’s body weight, mental clarity, prolonging life, and restoring the intestines. It has been implemented for obesity treatment since the early 1900s, but the process has advantages that are not exclusively related to losing weight.

Water Fasting vs. Intermittent Fasting and Time Restricted Eating

“The phrase ‘fasting’ can mean various things, depending on the person, but at its core, it simply refers to going without food.” I often come across information about fasting on the internet and in the news, but there doesn’t seem to be a standard approach to it. Let’s take a look at the different forms of fasting that are popular.

IF is known as eating fewer meals at specific intervals. This normally means abstaining from food for periods of 24 – 48 hours, at irregular times. Some people do one weekly, some monthly. Intermittent fasting can also be done by cycle eating, which means you eat every other day, or a method called “fasting mimicking” in which your calorie intake is greatly reduced for a certain time span.

Eating within a certain period of time followed by fasting throughout the rest of the day and night is known as time-restricted feeding or time-restricted eating. Common IF/TRF plans include 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of eating, 18 hours of fasting with 6 hours of food consumption, and 20 hours of fasting with 4 hours spent consuming meals.

Alternatively, water fasting usually necessitates a more extended period of abstinence from food. The most frequent water-only fasts are 24, 48, and 72 hours, but a few people might try a fast of up to five or seven days. Certain individuals may engage in a water fast lasting 1 – 7 days once a month or multiple times in a year. Water fasting can be thought of as an intensified form of intermittent fasting/time-restricted feeding that could potentially give special advantages that are separate from a daily routine of a smaller period of fasting.

Benefits of Water-Only Fasting

Consuming three well-balanced meals per day is generally seen as the accepted standard for daily nutrition intake. If this food regimen is consistent with your lifestyle and you appreciate it, then it is perfectly acceptable. It’s your health, and your life.

It is worth mentioning that at times, we may benefit from limiting ourselves through forms of fasting and intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating. Injecting the body with a prolonged period of fasting can cause a beneficial jolt, especially since we have accustomed it to invariably anticipate food entering our system. View fasting as a way to build up cells, in a manner of speaking – you can strengthen them by first putting them under some stress. The advantages to one’s health that fasting may provide have been widely investigated for many years.

Autophagy: Cellular Garbage Man

It’s likely that you’ve come across the term autophagy if you’ve been involved in the nutrition and health world. Frequently likened to a method of reusing or disposing of waste, autophagy (which translates to “self-devouring”) is a common metabolic process that involves the break down of body cell components, proteins, and other macromolecules, recovering some of their parts while getting rid of the rest.

Why do we need autophagy? On a daily basis, certain molecules are either harmed or get to a point of no longer being able to divide, becoming unproductive. We must find a way to eliminate these deleterious molecules, and that is where autophagy comes into effect. Autophagosomes take in cellular waste, which is then transferred to lysosomes, the disintegration machines, and theoretically torn apart. Out of what would usually be considered garbage, a new type of construction material has been made, utilized for cellular repair, regrowth, and maintenance of the immune system.

Abstaining from food is an approach to start autophagy and get rid of our body’s impaired apparatus.

At the present, we are not particularly skilled in the area of gauging autophagy in humans, yet there have been a few explorations in certain rodents that demonstrate autophagy is initiated when fasting. For example, after forbidding any food intake for one to two days and only permitting water, autophagy was increased in the neurons of mice’s brains. There was evidence that the amount of autophagosomes, which are involved in garbage disposal, in the brain had increased. Mice that undergo fasting for intervals of either 24 or 48 hours that involve only water intake increase the process of autophagy in various parts of their bodies, such as the liver, kidney, muscle, pancreas, thymus, as well as the lens of the eye.

It would be wise to be wary of the results due to the fact that two days in mice translates to a much longer timeframe for people. It is likely that humans would only be able to experience the advantages of autophagy through extended periods of not eating.

Despite this, autophagy is likely still stimulated in people when we fast for a similar amount of time – just at a decreased amount and after a more extended period.

Weight Loss and Body Composition

Water fasting for a short period of time has many advantages, but it might not be the most reliable way to lose weight.

Within one to two days, most of the weight that you drop off will be attributed to getting rid of a considerable quantity of water weight and/or a minor decrease in muscle glycogen, as well as less significant parts of muscle and fat.

For permanent weight reduction, a medically monitored water fasting lasting a longer period may be necessary, or a program of intermittent abstaining from food for a more considerable period must be implemented.

Some studies have shown that it is possible to achieve a significant amount of weight loss in a short period of time by fasting with only water.

Evolution’s Hack

If you have gained health rewards from intermittent fasting and time-restricted dieting, then water fasting seems like the next logical step for reaching maximum self-improvement.


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