Fasted vs Overfed State (Updated: 2.15.17)
“How our body responds to a calorie deficit is largely dependent on our hormonal state. Your body is more concerned about avoiding a blood sugar crash than it is about maintaining muscle mass. That’s why during fasting we tend to convert large amounts of amino acids into glucose, which is stored in the liver as glycogen and then released to maintain blood glucose levels. Hormone status and presence of ketones can change how much protein we convert to glucose. The reason why our bodies still need glucose is because tissues like red blood cells and certain parts of the brain can only run on glucose. Instead of the body breaking down amino acids into glucose (gluconeogenesis), the body uses stored body fat as fuel. As the body shifts to fat as a primary fuel source, a by-product of fat metabolism begins to accumulate: ketones. The metabolic state of “ketosis” is normal and almost as old as time. Ketones are like small pieces of fat that are water soluble, and given a few days or weeks, most of our tissues can shift their metabolism to burn ketones. The shift to ketosis solves two very important problems:
- It protects scarce blood glucose by shifting as much of our metabolic machinery as possible to a nearly limitless fuel supply. We have a day or two of liver glycogen, but even if we are relatively lean, we have months of stored body fat. A shift to ketosis saves scarce glycogen to be used to maintain minimal blood glucose levels.
- Ketosis halts gluconeogenesis. This spares muscle mass that would be very valuable in a state of prolonged starvation. In addition to blocking gluconeogenesis from amino acids, ketosis provides a sneaky alternative way to make glucose using the glycerol backbone of fats.
Being a fat burner can help improve caloric efficiency, which means you need less calories to do the same job; thriving on fewer calories. As a result, this slows the rate of cell division and enhances cell repair. It optimizes the flow of testosterone and growth hormone in the bloodstream. It improves immune function. Whereas, increased caloric consumption speeds up cell growth and division.
However, if we are overfed our brain no longer hears the fullness signal from leptin. When we are overfed on carbs, our liver and muscle glycogen are filled, but we still have excess free glucose in the bloodstream. Excess carbs are then converted to fat in the form of a short-chain saturated fat called palmitic acid. This palmitic acid is stitched to the glycerol molecule and packaged with proteins and cholesterol and the resultant molecule is called a VLDL. Palmitic acid has a very potent effect on our metabolism and our hormonal environment in that it decreases our sensitivity to leptin. Palmitic acid that causes the leptin resistance in the brain leads to our inability to feel full, and is made from excess dietary carbs. Once we develop insulin sensitivity, the inhibitory systems in the liver are overwhelmed and blood glucose is converted into fats and VLDLs at such a high rate that escape into circulation, and it begins to accumulate in the liver. This is the beginning of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Paleo Solution, 69)”. “Overeating can lead to mitochondrial damage. Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in most cells and are responsible for the process of converting the basic molecular constituents of food into energy. As a result, this process produces waste products – in the case of overeating, free radicals, which can be harmful if not well controlled. The damage created by the overfed state can impair our ability to use fat as a fuel source (Wired to eat, 54)
What exactly is fat adaptation? 3.26.17
The ability for the gut to absorb the medium and long chain triglycerides more effectively in the bloodstream and up-regulate receptors in the cells to move fat into the cell more effectively so it can be processed by the mitochondria or liver.
Why our bodies do not tell us to stop eating? 3.17.17
“The brain becomes leptin resistant while the muscles become insulin resistant. This fools the brain and liver into believing we are starving. Despite being awash in excess calories, the body releases glucagon, cortisol, and adrenaline, behaving as it would if we were in an underfed or starvation state. High insulin levels down regulate insulin receptors, which increases insulin resistance and puts more and more stress on the pancreas (Wired to eat, 53)”
How does the body use, store, and burn energy? (Updated: 2.24.17)
In a fed state, energy production looks something like this:
- Food is absorbed and turned into glucose.
- Rise in glucose (blood sugar)
- Pancreas makes insulin
- Insulin levels rise
- Insulin ushers blood sugar into cells for energy
- 5a. Blood sugar first gets stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles
- 5b. Extra blood sugar is stored as fat
In a fasted state, energy production looks something like this:
- Insulin levels drop
- Body burns stored energy (liver and muscle glycogen)
- The glycogen releases glucose (up to around 24-36 hour mark)
- The liver manufactures glucose from amino acids, which is called gluconeogenesis (from the 24-48 hour mark)
- The body makes the “right” amounts of necessary sugar on demand!
- Lipolysis begins to take place around the 48 hour mark, which is the breakdown of fat for energy. Specifically, triglycerides.
- The triglyceride breaks down into a glycerol molecule and fatty acids
- The glycerol molecule is used as a form of gluconeogenesis so amino acids can be reserved for protein synthesis.
- The fatty acids make ketones for energy (mainly Beta-HBA and acetoacetate).
How our body uses energy? Energy as Money Example
- Glucose (Cash) – There is instant access. It is available from food and/or produced by the liver.
- Glycogen (Checking Account) – When out of cash, we pull energy from glycogen which is produced in the liver and muscles.
- Fat (Long Term Savings) – When out of glucose and glycogen, you can get this hard to get to energy reserve.
- The switch to being a fat burner: In the absence of insulin, hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) allows for the breakdown of triglycerides and the formation of free fatty acids to be used as an energy source. The more you restrict sugar and starch and protein intake, the more glucagon output can be amplified. Glucagon then begins to stimulate HSL as an indirect means of increasing the release of free fatty acids from triglycerides. Glucagon then stimulates the uptake of these free fatty acids by the liver and its mitochondria so they can begin to be burned for energy. Insulin inhibits HSL. Glucagon stimulates HSL. HSL allows the breakdown of triglycerides for energy.
Why is fasting used to help lose weight (Updated: 1.19.17)
The foods we eat are the initial and ongoing reason why we raise insulin levels in the first place. Over time, our bodies become blind to the signal insulin sends out after a meal (aka insulin resistance). As a result, more insulin is pumped out to get the job done. This persistent call for insulin eventually leads to insulin resistance. While a change in the type of food may be a great start and lead to weight loss, we need to remember that all foods raise insulin (fat has a negligible increase in insulin). With insulin still being signaled to act after a meal, your body is still remaining insulin resistant (the degree to which is determined by how insulin resistant you have become). The goal of fasting is to break the insulin-resistance cycle. The goal is to sensitize the insulin receptors through fasting, which allows for very low levels of insulin for an extended period of time. Remember that obesity if a disease of hormonal imbalance. Hormones like insulin, growth hormone, and adrenalin adapt to fasting in a variety of ways. By fasting, you can efficiently reduce your body’s insulin resistance, since it needs both persistent and high levels to remain resistant. Growth hormone (GH) is known to increase the availability and utility of fats for fuel. It also helps to preserve muscle mass and bone density. One of the most potent stimuli for GH secretion is fasting. Over a 5-day fast period, GH secretion more than doubles. Fasting increases adrenalin levels, starting at around 24-hours. 48 hours of fasting produces a 3.6% increase in metabolic rate, not the dreaded metabolic shutdown so often seen in caloric-reduction strategies (Obesity Code, 240). We have about 40,000 calories of stored fat and about 2,000 calories of stored sugar (Guide to IF, 15). The liver stores 100 grams of glycogen and muscles store about 350-500 grams (Primal Course). 70 in the liver, 220 in the muscle (Body by Science, 27)
What are some myths about fasting? (Updated: 1.20.17)
- Fasting breaks down muscle: breakdown of muscle tissue happens only at extremely low levels of body fat (4%). The body will preserve muscle mass until fat stores become so low that is has no other choice.
- The brain needs glucose to function: the body uses ketones as a major fuel source during prolonged fasting.
- Fasting will cause our basal metabolism to decrease (aka burn less calories as a normal act of life): Daily caloric restriction does lead to decreased metabolism, so people have assumed that this effect would be magnified as food intake dropped to zero. Decreasing food intake is matched by decreased energy expenditure. However, as food intake goes to zero, the body switches energy inputs from food to stored fat. This strategy significantly increases the availability of food, which is matched by an increase in energy expenditure. Caloric-restricted diets that do not involve fasting inhibits hormonal adaptations. Adrenalin is not increased to maintain total energy expenditure. Growth hormone is not increased to maintain lean muscle mass. Ketones are not produced to feed the brain. Persistent exposure to decreased calories results in the body adapting by reducing energy expenditure. The intermittent nature of fasting does not allow for this to happen. As mentioned earlier, hormones act in accordance with fasting to maintain muscle, ramp up metabolism, and burn ketones for energy. (Obesity Code, 245)
What’s the deal with Intermittent Fasting?
Our body does a great job of converting fat into vital fuel during times of starvation. Our liver can convert fat (triglycerides) to energy in the form of ketones (especially Beta-HBA), which is a superior fuel for the brain. Researchers have determined that beta-HBA (in coconut oil), improves antioxidant function, increases the number of mitochondria, and stimulates the growth of new brain cells.
One of the most important processes in the body that is dictated by the mitochondria is programmed cell death, whereby cells commit suicide (apoptotic cell death). Intermittent fasting (IF) – a complete restriction of food for 1-7 days at regular intervals throughout the year can achieve the same results as caloric restriction. Water is going to be the ultimate fast. If you’re drinking just water, after 24 hours your body will go into detox mode. With no food to eat, your body is finding glycogen in muscle, but over time your body will start to recycle diseased cells. It will break down proteins and reuse them, and it will get rid of stuff it doesn’t need. Your body’s ability to do that increases as you fast. A water-only fast is pressing on the gas all the way. (See more at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2Fi3AjGUYY) Fasting, as per Tim Ferris, is an effective way to purge precancerous cells.
The pros of caloric restriction through Intermittent fasting (Updated: 1.20.17)
Caloric restriction provides neuroprotection by it’s minimizing apoptosis, enhancing mitochondrial energy production, decreasing mitochondrial free radical formation, and enhancing mitochondrial growth. Lowering caloric intake slows down aging, reduces age related chronic disease, and prolongs life. It already has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity, reduces the body’s overall oxidative stress, triggers the expression of genes to manage stress and resist disease, and switches your body into fat-burning mode. All, in turn, help maintain a healthy microbiome. Fasting can do something besides enhance the health and function of the mitochondria. It has finally being shown in lab studies that caloric restriction prompts changes to gut bacteria, which may also be responsible for some of the calorie restrictions beneficial role in health. A study demonstrated that calorie restriction enriches strains of bacteria that are associated with increased lifespan and reduces those strains that are negatively correlated to lifespan.
“Evidence of the effects of caloric restriction in slowing aging and extending youth can be found in its abilities to prevent the immune dysfunctions of old age, improve DNA repair abilities, reduce damaging free-radical activity, lower glucose and insulin levels, maintain fertility at advanced ages, boost energy levels, increase protein synthesis, reduce the accumulation of damaged proteins, inhibit the inflammatory responses of aging, lower the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, counteract neural degeneration, and prevent the age related decline in the health-building hormone DHEA. It also prevents or postpones the incidence of and reduces the severity of diseases such as cancer, kidney disease, and CVD. When cells undergo caloric restriction, signals sent in through the cell membrane activate an enzyme called NAMPT. As these levels ramp up, a small molecule called NAD+ begins to amass in the mitochondria This, in turn, causes the activity of enzymes created by the SIRT-3 and SIRT-4 genes – enzymes that live in the mitochondria – to increase as well. As a result, mitochondria grow stronger, energy output increase, and the cell’s again process slows down significantly (Primal Body Primal Mind, 204).”
“It’s too hard to lose weight by simply restricting calories alone. Eating less and losing excess body fat do not automatically go hand in hand. Low calorie, high carb diets generate a series of biochemical signals in your body that will take you out of the zone, making it more difficult to access stored body fat for energy. Results: you will reach a weight loss plateau, beyond which you simply can’t lose any more weight (Enter the Zone, 11). Diet based on choice restriction and calorie limits usually fail. People on restrictive diets get tired of feeling hungry and deprived. They go off diets, put the weight back on, and then feel bad about themselves for not having enough willpower, discipline, or motivation. “Once a person reaches their ideal body fat %, adding more monounsaturated fat to maintain it is a good strategy. Part of the success of caloric restriction stems from the fact that it takes a lot of energy to digest food and store excess calories, and the process itself creates free radicals. Reducing the number of free radicals reduces the rate of oxidation in the animal’s cells and thus slows down the aging (Enter the Zone, 201).”
“The fewer calories you eat, the longer you will live. Calorie-reduced diet blunt aging and significantly delays the onset of age-related disorders such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and brain deterioration. Reducing calorie consumption overall helps control weight and decreases the risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke from obesity. Even better, restricting calories triggers certain mechanisms in the body to increase the production of nerve-growth factors (BDNF), which are beneficial to the brain (Change your Brain, Change your Life, 87)”
“You might think that caloric restriction could convince fat cells that they are no longer needed, and lead to apoptosis. On caloric restricted diets, fat cells shrink but they rarely disappear for the most part, as soon as the calories return, so does the fat inside the cells. Why? It appears that they body is cautious, and like any good manager, resists taking drastic action – like firing a cell permanently – until is has darn good reason. The reluctance of your body to permit fat cells to undergo apoptosis means that if you never exercise properly, though you restrict your calories, your fat tissues never receive the chemical memo that more cells are needed in another department, and so the fat cells stay put. As long as fat cells are fat cells, they have no choice but to try to pack on more fat and will so at any opportunity. What’s more, as the body converts fat cells into muscle cells, there’s little net loss of mass, which would explain why people who start exercise programs do not notice weight loss right away (Deep Nutrition 293).”
One thing to consider is that the benefit of caloric restriction may be due to the reduction of insulin, IGF-1, protein, and mTOR that comes with caloric restriction. It may have less to do about the calorie and more to do about the passengers going along for the ride.
Benefits of Fasting (Updated: 2.24.17)
By definition: Short (AKA I.F) is less than 24 hours. Long is 24-72 hours. Extended is 72+ hours
- Short fasts (16-24 hours) can help regulate insulin, blood sugar, ghrelin levels as well as upregulate growth hormone production. Depending on the metabolic condition of the individual, autophagy may also be an added benefit.
- Extended (3+ day) fasts can effectively reboot your immune system via stem cell-based regeneration (Tools of Titans, 24).
- Extended (5+ day) fasts are an effective cancer prevention strategy. Cancer cells that are in all of us just need to be pushed over the edge to be killed. Fasting clears out these damaged cells through a process known as autophagy (Guide to IF, 19). Fasting is important before standard cancer treatment because it slows rapidly dividing cells and triggers an energetic crisis that makes cancer cells selectively vulnerable to chemo and radiation (Tools of Titans, 31). The goal is to kill (starve) cancer cells by not feeding them sugar and carbs, which is their fuel source. The ketones that are produced during the fast may act as a protective measure against cancer. A ketogenic diet conditions the body to allow other treatments to be more effective. Fasting and a ketogenic diet conditions normal cells in the body to be more robust and resist toxic therapies while at the same time do the opposite to cancer cells. The ketones upregulate the way the cell manufactures glutathione, (the master antioxidant of the cell) they hyper energize the cell through ATP production, and cancerous cells are put under tremendous oxidative stress due to their inability to efficiently use ketones as energy, partly due to their damaged mitochondria.
- Extended: Autophagy, a benefit of fasting, is a genetic program where the body actually cleans out old junky proteins and subcellular parts. The absence of nutrients makes the body prioritize which cellular parts to keep since we don’t have the energy to provide for them all. If you don’t clear out these cells, they sit around and create pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus damaging nearby cells. Autophagy also plays a role in removing amyloid beta proteins in the brain, thus preventing Alzheimer’s (Guide to IF 5, 153). Using coffee and tea during fast may increase autophagy (Rhonda Patrick)
- Extended: Apoptosis is enhanced with prolonged (extended) fasting as well. Apoptosis is a genetic program that causes cells to self-destruct.
- Extended: Massive boost in stem cell production. Stem cells increase regenerative power, which is what we want because stem cell numbers decline with age and with it, organ function.
- Extended: Mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis. Causes cells to clear damaged mitochondria and recycle their defective components for energy called mitophagy, followed by the conglomeration of new mitochondria called mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitochondria accumulate damage with age just as cells do and this can accelerate the aging of cells. Fasting not only clears away old damage mitochondria, it produces new mitochondria to replace damaged ones.
- Extended: Increases NAD+. This is a very important cofactor for many important enzymes, which means you need it for these enzymes to work properly. Your mitochondria need NAD+ to produce energy from glucose or free fatty acids. Anytime there is inflammation or DNA damage occurring, this sucks up the NAD so the mitochondria suffer. NAD+ levels decrease in multiple tissues due to aging.
- Extended fasts can help lower blood lipid levels (Cholesterol, LDL, Triglycerides, Inflammation markers, etc)(Guide to IF, 25).
- Extended fasts may allow for a good cleaning out of excess waste through bowel movements that occur even after days without food (Guide to IF, 18).
- Increases the repairs process such as damaged DNA, cells, mitochondria, and proteins. Must be done during a fasted state.
- Improves blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, blood lipids, improves inflammatory markers, and improves adiponectin, leptin, and BDNF, and gives your pancreas rest from producing insulin
- Adiponectin: It not only tells us when we had enough food, but also protects our arteries from oxidative damage. Adiponectin is a protein hormone that is secreted by fat tissue and has the following effects when upregulated due to fasting: decrease is gluconeogenesis, increases glucose uptake, and protects us from endothelial dysfunction.
- The lowering of insulin levels helps lower excess sodium and water as insulin causes sodium and water retention in kidneys (Guide to IF, 47).
- When we fast, glucagon up-regulates insulin sensitivity – turning receptor cell sites on to accept energy (nutrients). Glucagon is released when we are hungry and allows proteins to be converted to glucose (process known as Gluconeogenesis). In a normal state of insulin resistance, our cells are not open to hearing the signal insulin sends out for cells to uptake the blood sugar that is in the bloodstream. Glucagon helps counter insulin resistance.
- Neurological benefits. Fasting turns on the machinery for the production of BDNF → creation of new brain neurons. Fasting increases attention, acuity, focus, and memory due to the increase in BDNF. Also, insulin is inversely correlated to memory → lower insulin, raise memory (Guide to IF, 150).
- Powers up Nrf2 Pathway, which is the bodies own pathway to upregulate the production of antioxidants, which assists in detoxification, decrease in inflammation, and increase in brain protective antioxidants (Grain Brain, 3)
- “Antioxidants protect our tissues against oxygen damage by acting like selfless chemical heroes, throwing themselves in the line of fire to protect other chemicals from free radical and oxygen damage. Not only does antioxidants gradually lose their ability to do this over time, as oxidation inevitably occurs during storage, their potency can be neutralized through the drying and/or heating of processing. This is why a lot of foods deliver the most antioxidant punch when eaten raw (Deep nutrition, 265)”
- Fasting allows you to gain a real sense of when you are hungry and allows you to control your eating patterns.
- Sustained energy from burning body fat as fuel versus burning food. One reason for this is because adrenaline is used to release stored glycogen and facilitate fat-burning. The increased adrenaline levels stimulates our fat burning metabolism (Guide to IF, 49). Increases lipolysis (Fat-burning)
- Anti-aging effects. Fasting raises growth hormone which stimulates the production of new cell parts. Growth hormone is known to increase the availability and utility of fats for fuel. It also helps to preserve muscle mass and bone density.
More on Autophagy (Updated: 2.24.17)
Autophagy: [aw-tof-uh-jee]: An act of self-cleansing or recycling. It is a process that not only clears out the old debris but also recycles these damaged components into molecules for energy or to make new parts. It gets rids of faulty parts, stops cancerous cell growth, and stops metabolic dysfunction (think obesity and diabetes).
- Increasing your bodies recycling program can lead to decreased inflammation (cause of all disease) and slow down the aging process (the foot is always on the gas but this will ease up on the pedal).
- Greater autophagy = fewer damaged parts = stronger and healthier organism = less inflammation, decreased aging
- How to boost autophagy: Through intense exercise, intermittent fasting, caloric restriction, and/or a high-fat diet. Well, how much do I need to do to make it beneficial? 20-60 minutes of exercise per DAY → clearly the closer to 60 min, the more potential benefit, 16 hour daily fasting seems to be appropriate, and 60-70% of calories from your diet coming from fat (there is some wiggle room here on the %).
- For those who are not convinced: If autophagy does not happen in the body and you do not clear out these damaged cells and debris, they sit around and create pro-inflammatory molecules (cytokines) that damage nearby cells. Autophagy removes these damaging molecules, including removing amyloid-beta proteins in the brain….preventing or slowing Alzheimer’s Disease!
- If someone asks what autophagy is you tell them it is a bodily process that recycles toxins into useable parts. It is accomplished through exercise, fasting, and a high fat diet.
- Although this concept has many layers, through proteins effect of MTOR, autophagy can be turned off when protein intake is high.
Does drinking bulletproof coffee or bone broth negate the benefits of the fast? (Updated: 2.24.17)
Using bulletproof coffee or bone broth is an effective way to you get through a fast. It can provide the level of satiety needed to get you through the painful moments during an extended fast. The purpose of the coffee or broth would simply be to make the fast less painful. If fasting is going well and you can push through without it then you do not need it. Short fasts would be best served without the coffee or the broth. During longer and extended fasts it may be of benefit to drink bulletproof coffee early in the fast and then omit once 24 hours in. As mentioned already, if it helps you get through the fast then drink it as needed. One of the main benefits of fasting is lowering insulin and improving insulin sensitivity. With that being said, bone broth would be my second option as the protein in the broth can have an effect on insulin as well as shut off autophagy. Bulletproof coffee with ghee instead of butter is also a better option as ghee is the fat from butter. The production of ghee eliminates the protein and carb that is naturally in butter. MCT oil is a fat that will help raise ketones, which can provide an immediate source of energy for your brain as it easily passes through the blood brain barrier. In general, if you want the FULL benefit of the fast (i.e. autophagy) then black coffee, tea, and water will serve you best. Next would be bulletproof coffee with ghee and MCT oil (add some cinnamon as well). Finally, bone broth can serve as a way to keep you satiated during the fast. Not every fast is created equal, so have fun with it and try different techniques. The best fast is the one that works best for you.
How often should I Fast? (Updated: 2.24.17)
By definition: Short is less than 24 hours. Long is 24-72 hours. Extended is 72+ hours
- Short – Daily: 16 hour+ Intermittent fasting
- Long – Weekly: 24-36 hour fast
- Longer – Monthly: 48 hour fast
- Extended – Quarterly: 3-5 day fast
- Extended – Yearly: 7 day fast
Tips when Fasting (Updated: 2.24.17)
- Add sea salt to your drinks. Insulin retains water so when fasting we excrete salt and water. Adding salt helps guard against fatigue and lack of energy (Guide to IF, 13)
- For longer fasts (3-5 days) you can add bone broth and bulletproof coffee to help with satiety. Although this is not a pure fast, you will still receive most of the benefits of fasting (Guide to IF, 18)
- For longer fasts, the week prior to the fast get into ketosis first. This will help ease the transition to fasting through your ability to up-regulate fat metabolizing hormones (Guide to IF, 16).
- Longer Fasts: Be careful with the supplements you take. Supplementing may send mixed signals to your body. When we are fasting we are producing good reactive oxygen species; we don’t want to down regulate this benefit that comes from fasting (Guide to IF, 18).
- Longer fasts may benefit from taking a multivitamin
- Magnesium is one of the few vitamins/minerals that lower while fasting. (Guide to IF, 81)
- 3g of BCAA during exercise (Tools of Titans, 25)
- Coffee with MCT OIL during the 1st & 2nd day to get into ketosis as quickly as possible to avoid muscle wasting then omit (Tools of Titans, 25)
- Drink mineral water or green tea to stimulate metabolism and weight loss, cinnamon to suppress hunger (add to black coffee) (Guide to IF, 8, 230).
- Make sure you are mentally prepared for the fast.
- 16-hour fasts generally provides the right balance of autophagy (Tools of Titans, 60)
- If your blood sugar dips into the low 50’s for more than a couple hours you may want to end the fast. This is known through blood glucose strip testing.
- Caution against fasting if you are pregnant, nursing, trying to gain muscle or an athlete, have serious adrenal issues or chronic renal disease, have chronic stress, or underweight
- Break your fast if you are experiencing light-headedness, shakiness, confusion, excessive sweating, blurred vision, or slurred speech
- Using a sauna during a prolonged fast helps guard against muscle wasting
Can I workout during a fast? (Updated: 4.1.17)
Yes. Growth hormone is known to increase the availability and utility of fats for fuel. It also helps to preserve muscle mass and bone density. One of the most potent stimuli for GH secretion is fasting. Fasting increases adrenalin levels, starting at around 24-hours. 48 hours of fasting produces a 3.6% increase in metabolic rate, not the dreaded metabolic shutdown so often seen in caloric reduction strategies. The increased adrenaline level stimulate our fat burning metabolism. These hormones are waiting to be utilized so it makes the exercise more effective. Make sure you are hydrated and consume salt. About an hour before your exercise bout drink a glass or two of water with 1/4 tsp of sea salt mixed in. It takes the muscles about 45 minutes to absorb that water from the gut. (Fasting Talk Podcast. Episode 3. Jan 20, 2017)
What is the best food to break a fast? (Updated: 7.3.17)
- Liquids – bone broth, soup, smoothie, BCAAs, Whey Protein
- What about fats? This is going to be individual. Fats can be hard on the gut for some people. I would suggest keeping fat normal to low.
- Salmon, lean protein like chicken and steamed vegetables
- Break the fast with a small meal first (a handful of nuts, hard-boiled eggs (can be sensitive to some people)). Then about 30 minutes afterward, have a meal that is moderate fat and plenty of vegetables.
- Soups and salads work great.
- For 48 hours after the fast ends, we want to upregulate IGF-1. This helps with stem cell proliferation: BCAAs, whey protein, protein sources
- 2nd day after fast ends – more normal eating.
Fasting has been around for centuries
Plato quoted, “I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency”. Fasting is a long established way of physically rebooting the metabolism, promoting weight loss, and even increasing mental clarity and insight. In the early part of the 20th century doctors began recommending it to treat various disorders such as diabetes, obesity, and epilepsy. Today, we have an impressive body of research to show that intermittent fasting can increase longevity and delay the onset of diseases that tend to cut life short, including dementia and cancer. And despite popular wisdom that says fasting slows down the metabolism and forces the body to hold onto fat in the face of what it perceives as starvation mode, it actually provides the body with benefits than can accelerate and enhance weight loss. When quick sources of energy like glucose are no longer available to fuel the body’s energy needs, the liver begins to use body fat to create ketones. One ketone in particular plays a starring role: Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (beta-HBA). It serves as an exceptional fuel source for the brain. This alternative fuel source allows us to function cognitively for extended periods during food scarcity. It helps reduce our dependence on gluconeogenesis and therefore preserves our muscle mass. Gluconeogenesis is the process by which the body creates new glucose by converting non-carb sources, such as amino acids from muscles into glucose. The goal is to avoid the breakdown of muscle mass for fuel and instead utilize our fat stores with the help of ketones like beta-HBA. Fasting also powers up the Nrf2 pathway leading to enhanced detoxification, reduction of inflammation, and increase production of brain protecting antioxidants. (Grain Brain, WLP – 79)”