October 26, 2020

Using intermittent fasting to improve health

The effects of fasting on your blood sugar and overall health

What is intermittent fasting?

Not eating for long periods? On purpose?

We know, we know, it sounds crazy. But it turns out that fasting is one of the better things you could do for yourself, your body and your mental state. And if that doesn’t sound appealing, maybe the promise of less dishes does.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pretty simple concept - eat for a set number of hours per day, don’t eat for the rest. You already do this - we all fast while sleeping. IF simply pushes you to increase the number of hours where you don’t eat a little bit further. A good place to start is 16/8: 16 hours of no food, and 8 glorious hours of food.

16 hours may sound long, but it’s easy to do. Simply skip breakfast, start lunch at 12.00 and stop eating by 20.00. Or, if breakfast and brunch are the sole reasons you get out of bed in the morning, skip dinner instead.

But why?

Why should you reduce the time window within which you eat? You’ve most likely been told your entire life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (a saying literally invented by cereal companies to boost sales) and that three meals a day with some snack in-between is the only way to keep your energy up. This, like most of the things you’ve learnt from your childhood, is simply wrong.

Santa is not real, and you don’t need to eat throughout the whole day.

Limiting the number of hours within which you eat can significantly improve your physical and mental health. During the hours of the day that you eat, your body has to spend a lot of energy on the digestion of that food. When you don’t eat for a longer period of time, your body can instead redirect that energy to processes that keep you healthy. (1)

If any of the potential health benefits in this list sounds interesting to you, keep reading:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved metabolic health
  • Improved cell health and repair
  • Improved endurance
  • Improved fat burning
  • Reduced fat mass
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased muscle mass

It has repeatedly been shown in animals and humans that time-restricted eating can have large beneficial impacts on the list above (2) (3). It also combines well with exercise - individuals on a resistance training program showed fat loss, muscle retention and improved metabolic health after 8 weeks of restricting their eating to an 8 hour window (4).

It’s believed that three major factors are involved in why IF is so good for you - your circadian rhythm, your microbiota and autophagy.

Circadian rhythm

Your internal biological clock, the circadian clock sitting in your hypothalamus, plays a large part in your metabolic health. This system regulates your body throughout the day, matching physiological functions to different regions of a 24 hour period. For example, the physiological factors related to metabolism are geared towards an early start - your insulin sensitivity is at its highest in the morning, and decreases throughout the day. (2)

This is one of the large benefits of IF - if you’re not eating after a set time, you won’t be late-night snacking, and you won’t be disturbing your body’s natural metabolic system. Since insulin sensitivity decreases throughout the day, the later you eat in the day, the more insulin your body will have to produce to deal with the blood sugar effects. (4)

Microbiota

Some of the benefits of IF are thought to possibly stem from its impact on the magical world of your gut. Your gut houses a large microbial network, often called the microbiota, which play a giant part in your body and your health. Your microbiota is related to not only your physiological health, but also your mental health. Restricting the time window for eating appears to help make the microbiota more diverse and to reduce gut permeability, two factors that are very important in battling chronic inflammation. (3)

Autophagy

Autophagy is the local recycling program for all of your cells. But instead of separating out glass, paper and plastic, they recycle damaged cell parts, proteins, viruses and bacteria that could potentially cause a lot of harm to your body. Autophagy is an important part of maintaining cell health, and in reducing risks for conditions related to cell dysfunction such as infections, cancer, obesity and inflammatory, neurodegenerative, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. (5) (6)

Nutrient starvation - a dramatic name for not eating for a while - can activate and stimulate autophagy. This can impact your entire body, your mitochondria, your brain and your immune system - eventually leading to improved metabolic health. (6) (7)

So get started!

Try giving fasting a go - less dishes, less time worried about what to eat, and more health benefits. See our tips on how to fast here, and most importantly, remember to find a solution that works for you.

Using Veri - a painless, simple and honestly stylish Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) - you can track your blood sugar values throughout the day and night, and see how fasting affects your metabolic health. Try using our 14-day metabolic health program to find the happiest and healthiest version of you.

References

1. Found My Fitness, “Fasting", 2020. Published through Found My Fitness. URL: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/fasting#related-news

2. E. Sutton et al., “Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes”, 2018. Published in Clinical and Translational Report. URL: https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(18)30253-5

3. R. Patterson and D. Sears, “Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting”, 2017. Published in Annual Review of Nutrition. URL: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634?journalCode=nutr

4. T. Moro et al., “Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males”, 2016. Published in Journal of Translational Medicine. URL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27737674/

5. F. Antunes et al., “Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy?”, 2018. Published in Clinics. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257056/

6. M. Begherniya et al., “The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature”, 2018. Published in Ageing Research Reviews. URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163718301478?via%3Dihub

7. Found My Fitness, “Dr. Guido Kroemer on Autophagy, Caloric Restriction Mimetics, Fasting & Protein Acetylation”, 2017. Published through Found My Fitness. URL: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/guido-kroemer

Needless to say, we're just getting started and are excited to share all our learnings in the future!

To optimal health,
Anttoni, Frans & Verneri

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