Fasting and Autophagy for Weight Loss
There's a lot of hype around intermittent fasting these days. Intermittent fasting is a way to delay eating. We naturally fast every night while we sleep and break our fast with breakfast. With intermittent fasting, you decrease your eating window. For example, you may eat a 16:8 window meaning that you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. Some open that window to a 23:1 meaning they are fasting for 23 hours of the day.
So, what is autophagy? Autophagy is our bodies way of taking out the trash for your cells. Our cells are damaged daily for various reasons, and we need a way to excrete the damaged parts and give our cells a chance to regenerate. Depending on your normal eating habits, autophagy can occur anywhere between 20-48 hours into fasting. If you consume a generally low-carbohydrate diet with less calories, you'll hit the state of autophagy sooner than someone on a high-carbohydrate/high calorie diet will. Autophagy can also be stimulated with an intense workout (Pompa, D., 2019).
Why is autophagy beneficial? We know that autophagy takes out the trash. When this trash stays with the cells, it can genetically change the cells ability to repair itself. Neurons (nerves) and cardiomyocytes (make up the heart) in particular are cells that stay with us for decades and don't regenerate as quickly as other cells in our body do. It's important that we take care of these vital cells to function well. Weight loss is another great benefit. There are current studies being worked on looking into the benefits of autophagy against certain cancers and other neurodegenerative diseases (Cedars-Sinai Staff, 2019). In addition, when you achieve the state of autophagy your own body provides a source for amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals. Fasting can help improve hypertension (high blood pressure), rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chemotherapy side effects, and of course your overall quality of life (Goldhamer & Myers, 2018).
Why deny yourself food? I'd like to invite you to look at it as delaying vs denying. If you're trying to lose weight, decreasing your eating window may help you in many areas on your weight loss journey. If you decrease your eating window, you are most likely to decrease your number of calories going in. Personally, I've noticed that allowing myself to feel hunger brings awareness in the habits of over-consumption, eating out of boredom or to assist with unwanted emotions. Bringing this awareness through fasting, has allowed me to notice these triggers on a daily basis during times I'm not fasting. I combine a Whole-Food-Plant-Based diet in combination with a weekly 40-80 fast to assist with my weight loss journey. As with any dietary changes, you do need to consult with your primary care provider to be sure that it is right for you, your medications and diagnosis. Remember to drink lots of water! Water is life!
If you or someone you know is interested in seeking 1:1 coaching services for weight loss and working towards a whole-food-plant-based diet and/or in combination with fasting, please contact me for an initial consult.
Cedars-Sinai Staff (2019, April 16) Autophagy: Recycling Is Good for Your Body Too https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/autophagy.html
Goldhamer, Alan D.C., Myers, Toshia, Ph.D. (2018, October 11) Clinical Fasting https://www.healthpromoting.com/case-studies/clinical-fasting
Pompa, D., (2019, October 17) When Does Autophagy Start When Fasting? https://drpompa.com/diet/when-does-autophagy-start-when-fasting/