FLASH: Calorie restriction strategies such as fasting and partial fasting activate powerful metabolic processes that catalyze healing and rejuvenation.
Fasting has been part of human history for centuries. It was often done for ritualistic purposes, and is still done to this day. But today we have a large body of science confirming the benefits of fasting for therapeutic purposes. Importantly, calorie restriction activates powerful metabolic processes that catalyze healing and rejuvenation.
The 15th Century physician Paracelsus stated that fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within. In the US fasting gained popularity in the 1800’s during the Natural Hygiene Movement. Herbert Shelton popularized it further in Y 1911.
Today, Dr. Jason Fung is one of the leading experts in the field, and he has written books and conducted a lot of important research into fasting, demonstrating both its benefits and its safety.
Most people are toxic these days, and 1 of the downsides of multi-day water fasting is the detox symptoms, which in and of themselves suggest your detox pathways may be impaired.
Fasting Activates Autophagy
One of the Key benefits of fasting is that it triggers autophagy, a natural process that clears out dysfunctional and diseased cell components that would otherwise clog our system and compromise our health.
A foundational strategy to activate autophagy is to do daily intermittent fasting, where we eat all of our meals for the day within a 6 to 8-hour frame.
For the remaining 16 to 18 hours, we fast. This timing appears to be the sweet spot for autophagy, although, there may be exceptions where one can get away with fasting for as little as 12 hours a day, but this would typically only apply to athletes.
Research shows that autophagy is significantly increased once you pass the 16-hour mark, and since autophagy is such a significant benefit of fasting, it is important to not cut it too short and miss out on this process. To get the maximum benefit we need to fast longer, which is where multi-day water fasting comes into play.
Autophagy targets damaged and defective cellular parts, not whole cells. These defective cellular parts are marked and shuttled to lysosomes, which in turn destroy them via a process involving NADPH oxidase (NOX), which creates super-oxide.
The super-oxide combines with nitric oxide and forms peroxynitrite, which breaks down the constituting elements of the cellular parts. Those elements are then recycled in the repair and regeneration phase. That is a simple rundown of the autophagy process, which is what you activate when we fast.
AMPK and Autophagy
Fasting also increases adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which plays an integral role in autophagy. Adenosine monophosphate is the core of ATP, which gives you a clue to its importance for health. The K stands for kinase, an enzyme that attaches a phosphate to the AMP to convert it to ATP.
AMP is a nutrient sensor, so when ATP is low it increases. When AMPK rises, it activates autophagy. It stands to reason then that things that inhibit or lower AMPK will inhibit autophagy, because AMPK is 1 of the primary signals for autophagy, as it puts the body into repair mode.
In doing so, it inhibits the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), a protein nutrient sensor and a powerful signaling pathway used for anabolism or growth. As you may suspect, AMPK and mTOR work in tandem, so when 1 is activated the other is deactivated.
Both are important, for optimal health, we need to cycle in and out of AMPK and mTOR activation so that you rotate through the autophagy and rebuilding phases on a regular basis, and 1 of the best ways to do that is to alternate between feast and famine cycles after becoming metabolically flexible.
Nutrients That Inhibit Autophagy
While it is typically recommended to continue taking vitamins and minerals during fasting, it is important to realize there are supplements that will inhibit autophagy and therefore should be avoided during the fasting phase. These include colostrum, glutamine, methylfolate and vitamin B12.
When fasting we also need to avoid branched-chain amino acids such as leucine during fasting, as they stimulate mTOR and shut down autophagy.
Coenzyme A, a molecule that plays an important role in protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, also inhibits autophagy, so we do not want high levels of it, either, when we are seeking to activate autophagy, as it will inhibit autophagy just like mTOR.
When in partial fasting mode our liver produces ketones, water soluble fats that are HDAC inhibitors. Ketones help radically lower inflammation and increase nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate hydrogen (NADPH), a reducing agent necessary for anabolic reactions, including lipid and nucleic acid synthesis,
We need NADPH for just about everything in our body, as it is a reservoir of electrons that we use to recharge your antioxidants, including the master antioxidant, glutathione.
Nutrients That Activate Autophagy
Getting back to autophagy, supplements and nutrients that activate autophagy by raising AMPK include the following:
- ECGC from Green Tea or wild crafted apples
- Pomegranate peel extract or pomegranate peel powder
- Organic Chamomile Tea
Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration
Another major benefit of fasting is the activation of new stem cells, cells that can be used to heal and regenerate any tissue or organ. This occurs during the regeneration phase, once autophagy is again inhibited by re-feeding and the body starts rebuilding and replacing all those damaged cells that were cleared out.
Regeneration can be further boosted by doing strength training the morning of the day when you’re planning to break your fast. The reason for this is because during fasting, growth hormone level skyrockets, rising by about 300%. That may sound paradoxical, since growth hormone typically rises in tandem with IGF-1, and IGF-1 inhibits autophagy. However, during fasting, the growth hormone receptors in the liver become relatively insensitive, so your IGF-1 level actually drops.
So, fasting can be likened to getting a growth hormone injection and a stem cell transplant, and by incorporating strength training at the right time, just as we are re-feeding, you really optimize all these regenerative benefits.
This also includes intestinal stem cell function, which is important for many struggling with leaky gut and other gut issues. When we do extended water-only fasts, not just intermittent fasting, it helps reduce gut permeability by stimulating brain-gut pathways and enhancing the integrity of our gut’s lining.
The human body was not designed for long-term calorie restriction but rather intermittent or cyclical calorie restriction. A significant part of this is because continuous calorie restriction fails to activate and optimize the rejuvenation processes. Fasting primes our body for improvement, and it does this by removing the damaged parts through autophagy.
The rejuvenation, occurs during re-feeding. That is when our body can rebuild and restore cells and tissues. It is largely the stem cell activation and giving us the nutrients and the metabolic activation through strength training that causes this repair, regeneration and anabolic growth.
The day after completing a 42-hour keto fast is the best time to do hardcore strength training, and to load up on protein. Immediately after is when you will want to eat that grass fed Organic beef steak and/or whey protein, as now you are in rebuilding mode, so you actually want and need to activate mTOR to build new muscle mass.
As mentioned above, mTOR, governs growth and inhibits autophagy. In this way, keto fasting allows us to really feast 2X a week, which counters any feelings of deprivation 1 might have during fasting, and this may significantly improve adherence. So…
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively