Do you want to find out what the best advantage of intermittent fasting is? It’s AUTOPHAGY. This article is about autophagy and fasting.
What is Autophagy
The term “autophagy” comes from the Ancient Greek phrase autóphagos, meaning “self-devouring” or “self-digestion”. In scientific terms, autophagocytosis is the process in which cells self-digest and consume themselves.
The body’s cells break down and get rid of their non-functional pieces in a natural process called autophagy. Basically, it involves reusing cellular waste and disposing of unwanted materials.
Autophagy causes you to be in a catabolic state, which involves the decomposition of your own cells, while an anabolic state is all about construction.
There are a ton of benefits to autophagy:
- Reduction in inflammation.
- Improved immune system.
- Slows down the aging process.
- Eats up cancerous cells and tumors.
- Kills infectious particles and toxins.
- The inability to cause autophagy makes rats fatter, less active, and have higher cholesterol and impaired brain function.
How Does Autophagy Work?
When autophagy is activated, the organelles of healthy cells are given the opportunity to locate and consume any dead or damaged cells.
A double layer of membranes will be created around the cell that is going to be engulfed, and it is referred to as an autophagosome. The autophagosome disintegrates unhealthy cells or harmful proteins and generates energy in the process.
What Regulates Autophagy?
The chief indicators of autophagy are the two protein kinase molecules, mTOR and AMPK.
- mTOR, or mammalian target of rapamycin is responsible for cell growth, protein synthesis, and anabolism. It promotes the activation of insulin receptors and will make the body build new tissue.
- AMPK, or AMP-activated protein kinase, is a fuel sensor that is involved with balancing energy-deprived states.
MTOR blocks autophagy as fuel is needed for the body to expand, which demands saving energy and raising the metabolic rate. Meanwhile, AMPK helps with autophagy as energy is scarce.
Autophagy and Caloric Restriction
The cause of intermittent fasting causing autophagy is due to not consuming as many calories.
A lack of nutrients facilitates the destruction and reuse of proteins that are not necessary for existence into amino acids that are compulsory for living.
Studies have demonstrated that reducing caloric intake can increase one’s lifespan. Despite this, in order for one to acquire the advantages of extending life associated with curbing caloric intake, autophagy needs to be present.
In one experiment involving mice and flies, researchers discovered that if autophagy was impeded but the creatures were still given a reduced amount of calories, their life span was not extended. However, the animals that were able to trigger autophagy effectively did have their lives prolonged.
This is a critical concept – eating a weight loss diet without allowing the body to cleanse itself through autophagy will be detrimental to your wellness and lifespan. Prolonged dietary deprivation can cause a lack of several essential vitamins and minerals and an elevated level of oxidative stress.
The cause of being dismissed from autophagy, despite consuming fewer calories, is consuming food too often. If you consume protein or carbohydrates, you trigger mTOR. As few as 50 calories or 2 grams of leucine will switch your body from an empty to a filled state, and prevents autophagy.
You Need to Fast to Trigger Autophagy
It would be more beneficial to not eat any calories at all and to practice intermittent fasting rather than consuming a small number of calories and ceasing autophagy.
I am of the opinion that everyone should incorporate intermittent fasting into their routine. At least once a week, if not more often.
Imagine if you’re eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- You stop eating at 8 PM, you fast throughout the night, and you consume your first bit of calories at 8 AM.
- There’s a 12-hour space between your meals, but it takes about 6-8 hours for your body to first digest the food and then enter a fasted state.
- You really only start fasting in the middle of the night, and you’ve done so for maybe 6 hours by the time of breakfast.
After eating, mTOR and insulin levels are high, which causes decreased autophagy. As these fuel sensors drop, autophagy rises.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting
A popular technique for implementing intermittent fasting in real life is 16/8 fasting.
The idea behind this is that you don’t eat for a full 24 hours except within an 8-hour period, which typically means not eating breakfast. Some individuals may choose to skip their dinner meal instead.
The 16/8 fasting diet may have only grown in popularity recently, however, it has proved itself to be a dependable practice from a timespan perspective due to the advocacy of bodybuilder Martin Berkhan.
Until recently, not eating breakfast was the usual way of life, and only young children, seniors, or those who were ill would take the time to have a meal to break their fast early.
According to BBC History’s Ian Mortimer, breakfast was believed to have health benefits. Medical professionals may advise individuals to eat a certain meal in the morning to keep them in optimal physical condition while they are ill or elderly. In 1305, Edward I (who was then 65 years old) hired a chef solely for the purpose of making morning meals.
There is a long history of practicing different forms of intermittent fasting. Muslims observe Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting that requires abstaining from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.
The Judaic religion also has many ceremonial fast days. Christianity also practices fasting, as seen in the examples of Jesus and the first disciples who utilized it to become closer to God and reach higher spiritual planes. Even to the present time, Orthodox Christians observe up to two hundred days of abstaining from certain foods each year!
How to Get Started 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
Sixteen-hour/Eight-hour intermittent fasting is a straightforward, secure, and unexpectedly simple technique to begin with.
Choose a window of 8 hours where you can eat 1-3 good meals and only consume coffee and water during the other times.
The most favored timeframe for 8-hour eating is from noon to 8 pm, yet 16/8 intermittent fasting has a great deal of suppleness.
You can organize your time based on commitments related to your job, exercise routine, or family. You can chow down from twelve in the afternoon until 8 o’clock at night on weekdays and have a change of pace from 8 am to 4 pm or from 2 pm to 10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Some people choose to eat between 9 in the morning and 5 in the evening in order to have a normal morning meal, midday meal, and a meal early in the evening. It is believed that eating according to the circadian rhythm can be beneficial for digestion.
IF becomes even easier if you already skip breakfast. Avoid eating or consuming any beverages with calories outside of your 8-hour timeframe.
Most people experience that it takes a few days for their body to adjust to 16/8 fasting; after that point, fasting typically does not bring on hunger sensations.
Eating superfoods during the time frame you have designated for meals can make it easier to go through your fast due to the increased feeling of fullness. Consider having an even mixture of animal-derived fats and proteins in each meal.
16-Hour Fasting Benefits
Intermittent fasting with a 16/8 schedule can do wonders for your health.
#1: Increased Weight Loss
The biggest bonus of intermittent fasting is likely the fact that it can facilitate a speedy reduction in weight.
Not just any kind of weight reduction is seen with 16/8 IF. Usually, people who use this experience most of the shedding coming from fats.
How does this benefit work?
Taking a look at what happens when you eat “normally” should help explain:
When you consume three meals with a high-carb content, plus snacks, the carbohydrates will be transformed into blood sugar promptly.
The pancreas secretes insulin which moves the glucose into the cells, helping to maintain blood sugar levels at an ideal level. When insulin levels are elevated, it prevents fatty acids from escaping from fat cells.
In other words, the average American diet is effective at disrupting healthy blood sugar levels and obstructing the burning of fat as a fuel source, thereby maintaining the majority of people who follow it as “skinny fat” at the most optimistic outcome.
Periodic fasting causes a considerable transformation in your body’s metabolic activity.
Following a period of abstaining from food, the body will begin using fat instead of carbohydrates to produce energy and maintain even amounts of sugar in the blood.
By lowering the carbs consumed in your diet, even brief intermittent fasts can prompt your body to go into ketosis, a more vigorous form of fat burning where energy comes from ketones instead of glucose.
The results of this metabolic shift are impressive. In certain research, it was found that doing a fast can increase the body’s response to insulin, while others indicate a 3-14% increase in the metabolic rate.
Different research concluded that individuals with a weight problem could maintain their muscle mass more successfully if they followed an intermittent fasting plan than if they used the typical calorie-restricting diet.
Fasting can quickly give you the advantages of ketosis, as compared to the conventional approach. Both ketosis and intermittent fasting have the same aim of instructing the body to increasingly rely on fat rather than carbohydrates as the main energy source.
A recent examination reached the conclusion that sporadically skipping meals could be a successful way to reduce the problem of obesity across the world.
#2: Better Gut Health
If one factor had to be responsible for the prevalence of chronic health conditions in present times, inflammation would be the culprit.
Studies have shown that long-term inflammation can be extremely damaging to a person’s health. Inflammation essentially causes poorer expression of your genes. If your mother has rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, long-term swelling may increase your chances of getting the same condition.
Thankfully fasting may help. It can significantly improve the state of one’s digestive system and thus result in a decrease in the levels of inflammation. This product has the capability to bring about ketosis, which in turn helps your body create new mitochondria that can help combat inflammation. This process is called mitophagy.
Additionally, due to its role in decreasing inflammation or potentially because of it, increased mitophagy has been connected to a longer lifespan.
Rodent studies show that IF extends lifespan by 36-8%. It is conceivable that a similar effect is seen in human beings. However, an extra investigation will have to be done in order to ascertain this.
Going on a fast can minimize inflammation in your body by relieving your digestive system from the constant digestion of food. This period of rest allows the gut to restore itself, lessening the odds of having leaky gut syndrome and halting dangerous endotoxins from leaving the intestinal tract.
#3: Improved Cognition
Research indicates that inconsistent fasting increases the amounts of a few hormones, particularly Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which are improvements for both neuronal damage and plasticity.
To put it another way, fasting provides the ideal sustenance for your mind. BDNF levels that are greater than usual are linked to heightened feelings of wellness, intellectual aptitude, efficiency, remembrance, and innovativeness. Harvard neuropsychiatrist John J. Ratey calls BDNF “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”
The exact basis of why intermittent fasting has such an effect on increasing BDNF is a mystery, but some clues could be found by looking back in history at our evolution.
Throughout the course of human existence, the majority of tribes and societal groups have endured periods of little to no nourishment until they were able to make an effective hunt. At this stage, the body’s optimal physical and psychological functioning was crucial in guaranteeing the likelihood of getting the next meal – and the body responded to such demand.
It is still believed that when you fast, the body interprets it as a beneficial challenge and produces neurons that will help you to take on new abilities. In these kinds of crises, BDNF enables our brains to swiftly form fresh neural pathways.
How Long Does It Take to Trigger Autophagy?
I looked for a solution in research, but it seems there is no definite response to this. Autophagy happens in varying degrees in varying tissues.
Generally, once your glucose concentration decreases and mTOR and insulin are held back, you should find signs of autophagy starting to appear.
You would need to have a low level of glucose in the liver and be in a mild state of ketosis in order for these processes to occur. This can happen already within 16-24 hours.
However, this is a very slight reaction, and the autophagy process really begins to intensify after the initial 48 hours. In order to achieve optimal benefits from autophagy, fasting must be done at least for the span of 3 to 5 days.
How to Do Intermittent Fasting for Autophagy
Below are several methods for activating autophagy and boosting your overall health through intermittent fasting.
- Fast for at least 16 hours every day to even enter a fasted state. This will allow your liver glycogen to get depleted and keeps you in mild ketosis for the majority of the day.
- Keep your insulin and blood sugar levels low. If you eat carbs or protein, you’re going to suppress autophagy. But if you consume more fats, then you’re going to blunt the insulin response, which will then prolong the effects of fasting. It’s still going to stop autophagy, but you’ll still keep your body in a ketotic state. Ketosis has great anti-inflammatory and longevity-boosting benefits, which indirectly promotes autophagy. Funny enough, a recent 2017 study found that rats who were fed more olive oil in addition to their regular diet had better memory scores and higher levels of autophagy compared to the ones who just ate their regular chow.
- Don’t eat too much protein or carbs – whatever diet you’re on because it’s g going to trigger mTOR and insulin, which accelerate aging and the creation of cancer cells. However, it’s not that black and white – mTOR also makes you build muscle, which can improve your health. You definitely don’t want to be in an anabolic state all day, every day, because you’ll die sooner. That’s why I believe this feast-famine cycle is optimal for getting the best of both worlds – you fast to get the life-span prolonging benefits of fasting, and when you do eat, you eat enough to promote recovery.
- Exercise can also stimulate autophagy. However, you’d have to do it in a fat-burning state, whether through carbohydrate restriction or in a fasted state. Doing cardio on an empty stomach will put you into ketosis faster and will increase fat oxidation.
- Have extended fasts for 3-5 days a few times per year. It should be mandatory if you want to get any significant benefit from autophagy. 36 hours and beyond should be the minimum if you want to clean your body and promote longevity.