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Fasting & Autophagy: Reset Your Body

Published January 28, 2019 (Revised: July 09, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>There’s a reason we take the trash out every couple days—because the house starts to stink if we don’t. Believe it or not, all the way down to our cellular level, our body has its own ‘trash takeout’ or recycling program: a process we call <i>autophagy</i>.</p> <p>That’s cool to think about, isn’t it? It won’t hurt to know that, besides being interesting, this naturally occurring process offers a lot of health benefits, too. Autophagy helps rid your body of damaged cells, ward off disease, and prevent you from aging.</p> <p>Autophagy, as you’ll learn, is a health-promoting side effect of one of the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">tools for transformation</a> we believe in at <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a>.</p> <p>Here’s the rundown on how this ‘self-eating’ process will help you get healthy and lose weight.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Intermittent Fasting</header> <p>We’ve talked about <i><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">intermittent fasting</a></i> (IF) here before. We think it’s a great tool for fat loss. Still, we’ll do a quick rundown of IF, so we’re all up to speed.</p> <p>Intermittent fasting is the fancy term for not eating—or eating within a smaller window of time. Intermittent Fasting can be really difficult, so it's a good idea to start out slow and work your way up to longer stretches. Many people just starting out with IF consume all their meals in an eight-hour window throughout the day. They will then <i>fast</i>, or not eat, for sixteen hours. They then break the fast by eating and starting the cycle all over again.</p><p>Intermittent fasting is proven to help people lose weight. That’s why it’s the ‘secret ingredient’ of Warrior Made’s <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">14-Day Diet</a>. But besides weight loss, it comes with many other health benefits, too.</p> <div class="sub-head">Eight-Hour/Sixteen-Hour IF Split</div> <p>The eight-hour/sixteen-hour IF split described above is just an example. It’s one of the most popular eating/fasting splits given that a sixteen-hour block is a reasonable amount of time to not eat, but enough time to still reap the benefits of IF. If you're just starting out this can be a great way to ease your body into intermittent fasting.</p> <p>If you’re thinking to yourself, <i>How could I ever not eat for sixteen hours?</i>, remember that sleep hours count (yep, we feel better now, too).</p> <p>So say you stopped eating at eight p.m. and go to sleep at ten p.m.—all you have to do is skip breakfast, then eat your first meal at noon. That, in a nutshell, is intermittent fasting.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Autophagy 101: What is Autophagy?</header> <p><i>Autophagy</i> is the body’s way of cleansing itself of dead or damaged cells. This naturally occurring process makes way for new, healthy cells to generate and keeps your body functioning optimally <sup>1</sup>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="trash-cans-in-rainbow-0063"> </picture> <p>Up for a little word play? Perfect, because autophagy is a fun word. <i>‘Auto’</i> means <i>self</i> and <i>‘phagy’</i> means to <i>eat</i>. Feel free to use that as a mnemonic device to remember the word or at your next trivia night.</p> <p>If this self-devouring process <i>didn’t</i> take place, we would always feel exhausted, age more quickly, and be more susceptible to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. It’s a major benefit to all of us that we’re able to ‘consume’ ourselves and start fresh. Autophagy is like nature’s reset button.</p> <div class="sub-head">How Does Autophagy Work?</div> <p><i>But how?, you ask. How does this happen? Why does my body start eating itself?</i></p> <p>Autophagy happens when your body is in a state of depletion. This makes sense, given the nature of the job that’s about to take place—you’re low on energy, so your body recycles what’s already on hand.</p> </p>High-intensity exercise and low-carb diets (such as the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>, near and dear to our hearts at Warrior Made) can help promote autophagy <sup>2</sup>. When cells are stressed, autophagy is increased as a protective mechanism <sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>Exercise and low-carb diets promote autophagy, but one tool works better than both of them. Yep, you guessed it—fasting. The two are closely linked. Here’s how.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Fasting and Autophagy</header> <p>Fasting and autophagy have been closely studied in recent years. Both short-term and long-term studies show the relationship between the two and the plentiful health benefits gained from them.</p> <p>For example, alternate-day fasting (another style of IF where you fast one day, then eat normal the next) showed an increase in autophagy that can prevent cancer, aging, and the onset of tumors <sup>3</sup>.</p> <p>However, don’t feel like you have to follow one specific type of intermittent fasting in order to reap these benefits. Remember that both short- and long-term fasting can improve your health. Fasting for sixteen hours is enough to receive the benefits above as well as others that come from fasting like longevity.</p> <p>Remember that IF is a tool, not dogma, and should fit in as just one part of your overall <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">healthy lifestyle</a>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Autophagy and Weight Loss</header> <p>Let’s face it—many of you are here reading this now because you’d like to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">transform your bodies</a>. You’re also interested in the health benefits, but if fasting and autophagy <sup>4</sup> could help you lose weight, that might sell you on it.</p> <p>Let’s talk about it. Will this autophagy process help you lose weight?</p> <p>The answer: close, but let’s make sure you understand. Autophagy is a benefit of intermittent fasting, and so is weight loss. Adding intermittent fasting into your routine (through the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">14-Day Diet</a> or otherwise) can help you lose weight <i>and</i> reap the benefits of your body eating itself (sorry, it was fun to say).</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="measuring-tape-wrapped-around-hand-0063"> </picture> <p>When you sporadically eat, your body burns stored fat for energy. Sometimes, you enter a state of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">ketosis</a>. In this state, your blood is depleted of <i>glycogen</i> (sugar) and <i>insulin</i>, and you become a fat-burning machine. Fasting is also a proven method to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">get into ketosis</a> faster.</p> <p>Long story short: autophagy and weight loss are connected in the sense that they’re like ‘brother and sister’ benefits of intermittent fasting.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Benefits of Autophagy</header> <p>To this point, we’ve talked up this natural process of self-eating. Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and live longer through autophagy.</p> <p>Here are four other benefits of autophagy.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Metabolic Efficiency</div> <p>When your body rids itself of debris and self-regulates, the whole system benefits. From your immune response to your muscle tissue to your <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">digestive system</a>, autophagy helps rid your body of damaged cells, allow new cells to function better, and makes you feel better, too.</p> <p>Think of it this way: if you refuse to take out the recycling week after week, the bin starts to overflow. Wait too long and there will be a mess in your kitchen. This analogy, as crude and unscientific as it is, helps paint the picture for how bodily functions improve when this self-eating process is allowed to happen.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="ripped-man-tieing-shoe-0063"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">2. Improved Performance</div> <p>Remember a little while ago when we said that high-intensity exercise can actually help autophagy take place? Here’s what we didn’t say: autophagy is <i>required</i> for muscle tissue to repair itself <sup>5</sup>.</p> <p>To understand why that is, you’ll need to understand what happens to your muscle tissue when you exercise.</p> <div class="sub-head">What Happens to Muscles When I Exercise?</div> <p>Here’s a quick rundown of how you get stronger, faster, or more muscular.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Exercise</a> creates <i>micro-tears</i> in your muscle tissue. This sounds bad, but it’s necessary for most people’s goals. Your body sees that the muscle tissue has been damaged, and the brain signals to have it repaired even stronger than it was before, so it doesn’t happen again.</p> <p>This is why it takes so dang long to reach some fitness goal: your body is good at adapting over time to exercise stress. It takes a bigger stimulus (more weight, more reps, longer time) to push your body hard enough for your brain to basically say, <i>“OK, you win. I’ll adapt.”</i></p> <p>This should paint a clear picture on why autophagy is necessary for muscle growth. The body must rid itself of the old, damaged cells (from the micro-tears) in order to build up new, stronger tissues. In this way, fasting might even be a useful tool for <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">recovering from a tough workout</a>. </p> <div class="sub-head">3. Anti-Aging</div> <p>We mentioned it briefly already, but autophagy and fasting actually help delay the aging process. It’s said by scientists and health experts alike that autophagy is our body’s way of ‘turning back time.’ They’re alluding to the fact that even though we stay the same age, we’re getting new cells all the time <sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>During the process, our body rids itself of toxins and residual proteins. When autophagy <i>stops</i> happening—due to age, disease, or poor health—aging begins, opening us up to disease and neurological disorders.</p> <div class="sub-head">4. Disease Prevention</div> <p>Last but not least, self-eating helps ward off disease and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The buildup of residual proteins, damaged and oxidized cells, and other toxins in our body have been linked to all sorts of cancer. Cancer, after all, starts from defective cells.</p> <p>We talk about disease prevention often in these posts. It’s scary how processed foods, insulin-spiking sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle encourage such terrible diseases. But if you read the science, the blueprint for preventing these diseases is there—and it seems to start with <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">low-carb diets</a> and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">regular exercise</a>.</p> <p>Studies are still being done on the link between autophagy and cancer, and nothing is conclusive yet. Scientists are, however, optimistic given that many studies show the autophagy process removing cancerous cells from the body<sup>1</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Wrapping Up</p></header> <p>Autophagy, or self-eating, is a naturally occurring process in our bodies, and thank goodness for it. It helps us feel better, function optimally, and ward off disease by removing damaged cells. We’d live much shorter lives if our bodies didn’t have this reset button programmed in.</p> <p>Intermittent fasting, low-carb diets, and intense exercise are tools we use to get this process going. As part of a healthy lifestyle, these things are also rock solid for helping us lose weight, prevent aging, level out our blood sugar, and have <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">more energy</a>.</p> <p>Whether your goal is to feel better or to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">transform your body</a>, the blueprint is in place, and we’re ready to help you get there. <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Autophagy: What You Need to Know</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">What are the benefits of autophagy?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Alternate-Day Fasting - A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Autophagy: The Real Way to Cleanse Your Body</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Autophagy is required for exercise training-induced skeletal muscle adaptation and improvement of physical performance</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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