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Fasting For Optimal Metabolic Functioning – 16 8 Diet

Why Should you follow the 16 8 diet Fasting Protocol

Research has shown that following Fasting protocols such as the 16 8 diet can not only accelerate fat loss but also significantly enhance your metabolic functioning whilst simultaneously triggering autophagy!  

The longstanding misconception with food is that it doesn’t really matter what you eat because god created all calories equal and therefore weather you devour a slice of cake at midnight or you eat it right after lunch the net effect it has upon your body is the same!

However this line of thinking has been put under significant scrutiny by many academics in recent years as research into fasting and the timing of your meals has evidenced profound effects on a persons waistline and overall health. There are of course many different fasting regimes which have sprung up as a result of the research which we will cover all of within this article but an important thing to note is that regardless of the fasting regime implemented the mechanisms by which it effects your body on a metabolic level are the same regardless.

Firstly the idea that fasting only helps you lose weight due to limited calorie intake is most definitely “bro Science” as the notion that you simply cannot consume the same amount of calories if you are indeed fasting for 18 hours may be true but this overlooks the key metabolic process and mechanisms which are triggered when your body thinks it is going through a period of famine! Therefore if you accept the statement that it is only due to reduced calories you are ignoring everything which makes fasting special and the truly remarkable process which the body triggers that can rapidly accelerate fat loss!

A key mechanism by which the 16 8 diet and other fasting protocols can increase fat loss is by reducing the amount of insulin circulating within the bloodstream. Insulin plays a critical role together with glucagon to regulate blood sugar but the presence of insulin also prevents the body from breaking down fat.

Hence longer periods of eating throughout the day results in your body constantly having to release insulin to regulate the amount of sugar within the blood and as a result of this your body is then unable to tap into the fat stores to burn off for energy as insulin in always present. The process of fasting means that not only are you abstaining from eating but by default then you are also abstaining from the secretion of insulin by the brain to regulate blood sugar and therefore you are able to switch on and ramp up the fat burning process as your body needs to pull fuel from somewhere to use as energy.

If you haven’t already read our article on carbohydrates and the crucial role insulin plays in the regulation of body fat then we suggest you quickly check it out after this reading this article so you can fully understand how fasting works!

But that’s not the only reason fasting is a superior weight-loss strategy when adopting a traditional strict calorie-restricted diet your body’s natural response is to rebel. This is the survival mechanisms which are hard-wired into our genetic coding which aim to protect the species as far as your body can tell on a cellular level your body is under threat and it is facing some kind of threat to its food supply. So your body being the control freak that it is chooses to secrete the production of ghrelin which is the hormone that signifies hunger and it synergistically lowers leptin the opposing hormone which lets you know you’ve eaten enough calories! To simplify when you start traditional diets your body manipulates the release of the hormone to make you feel Ravenous as it looks to maintain homeostasis.

But there’s more….your body also begin to lower its metabolic rate to conserve energy as it isn’t sure if it will have enough calories for the foreseeable future. Through its ability to adapt it is essentially undermining all the hard work which you have done on the new diet as you consume fewer calories the body simply expends fewer and fewer calories so the net total of energy expenditure largely remains the same!

Fasting however does not go through these same processes as we previously mentioned fasting doesn’t cause the release of insulin within the body and therefore your body is able to tap into its fat stores and burn them off as energy so the body doesn’t trigger the same starvation mechanisms within the body as it instead is able to simply burn stored fat as fuel.



Intermittent fasting and Autophagy

The benefits of fasting, however, are not limited to fat loss the key metabolic process which occurs during prolonged periods of fasting are truly remarkable and the discovery of these processes resulted in Yoshinori Ohsumi being awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology in 2016 for its ground-breaking discovery!


Ohsumi’s research in 2016 found that fasting triggered a Mechanism within the body referred to as “Autophagy” which is a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components.


Autophagy is an extremely important mechanism within the body which you must fully grasp in order to understand its significance within the body and overall health. Autophagy refers to the body’s ability to breakdown and repurpose unwanted or damaged parts of your cells.


Autophagy has been shown to help prevent conditions like cancer, liver disease and even the effects of aging! Fasting ability to increase longevity was highlighted in a 2018 review of the scientific literature which reported that Fasting was shown to correlate with having a lower biological age which resulted in those people fighting off the aging process for much longer and therefore having a far better quality of life even in their later years!


So as we mentioned earlier in the article there are a number of different fasting protocols such as the 16 8 diet which you can use when looking to make use of the many benefits we have discussed! One of the most popular types of intermittent fasting relies on what is referred to as an eating window. This simply means that within any given day you are only consuming calories within a specific set period of hours, and these are not limited to say don’t eat after 8pm they are simply ratios of hours where you are either consuming calories or you are not! the most common of these ratios is the 16:8, when adhering to this protocol you must ensure you are consuming 0 calories for 16 hours of the day and then the other 8 hours you can FEAST!!! Other popular ratios such as 19:5 and OMAD (one meal a day) are also commonly used when looking to utilise the associated benefits with prolonged periods of fasting!


One important point to consider when looking to choose a fasting protocol for yourself is that the research found that fat burning was significantly accelerated after 18-24 hours of fasting! Hence a shorter protocol such as 16-8 diet may be good initially to acclimatise your body to fasting but it also is not producing the best results in regards to using fat as fuel! ANOTHER KEY consideration is autophagy has been detected in neutrophils starting at 24 hours of fasting. Exercise together with caloric restriction through fasting can also increase autophagy in many body tissues.


One final point to note is that although the idea of fasting would at first seem incredibly simple it can at times become a little murky as people often forget to count liquid calories and then people also try to use fasting alongside supplements which they believe will help but in fact can result in breaking the fast!


For example…. it’s well documented that coffee can accelerate the fat loss when fasting and you can have a coffee in a morning and this won’t affect your fast! But coffee is not a Large caramel macchiato with coconut milk and extra syrup as that has not only enough calories to break your fast but to also make your body secrete insulin to deal with the massive hit of sugar your body has just received!


Then we have the world of Ketosis and their go-to superpower “MCT oil” while this is indeed a great punch of nutrient-dense oil which can cause your body to use fat for fuel it’s also calorie-dense which can break a fast!!! Then we have those who sip BCAA’s all day whilst fasting because they are stopping the body from breaking down muscle tissue whilst fasting……. the very thing we just stated why fasting is so special is because it promotes autophagy a process by which the body in effect begins to selectively eat itself as it looks to regenerate damaged cells to repair others!


So the research can often be conflicting and really not that clear which can result in you unknowingly breaking your fast which then causes you to not get any of the benefits associated and have a flawed opinion about the results and potential fasting offers each and everyone of us!


BEST THING TO DO? stick to what we know works, and that is, Fasting!!! And by this we mean fasting in every sense of the word. During your periods of consuming no calories ensure you do exactly that, CONSUME NO CALORIES. And before you think of a way to cheat the system through drinking endless cans of Pepsi cherry max to meet those sweet tooth cravings you have you should know that a study from 2008 demonstrated that consuming sweetened zero-calorie beverages still caused an insulin response from the body as the negative feedback signals which govern all physiological responses within the body was still activated when swishing zero sugar beverages around in the mouth despite then containing no sugar at all. Take away lesson here is that although zero calorie drinks may contain exactly that zero calories they can still cause the body to release insulin and if this indeed occurs then you may as well just go grab yourself a double cheeseburger as the presence of insulin circulating within the blood blocks the very mechanism of fasting that you are trying to trigger in the first place!


So if you are to take away anything from this article it should be that Fasting Works, but only when fasting means exactly that…Fasting! you can have a black coffee and consume water but stay clear of anything which contains unnecessary calories and most definitely avoid zero-calorie drinks as they still cause the secretion of insulin!!

Dr Michael Mosley - Author of Fast 800

If you have enjoyed reading our article on the 16 8 diet and different types of fasting protocols then be sure to check out the rest of our articles via this link or see our latest releases below! 

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