Fasting has been implemented for thousands of years to keep us healthy, and it is the most effective metabolic intervention I know. Not only does it upregulate autophagy and mitophagy – which are natural cleansing processes necessary to optimize cell function and renewal – but it also triggers the creation of stem cells.

Also, cyclic abstinence from food followed by feedback massively stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis.

There is even evidence to suggest that fasting may help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps the body eliminate toxic waste. By lowering insulin levels, it also increases the level of other important hormones, including growth hormone (known as “the fitness hormone”), which is important for muscle development and overall vitality.

Most of these rejuvenating and regenerating benefits occur during the refeeding phase, not the “starvation” phase. The same happens with nutritional ketosis, which produces the greatest benefits when it is done in lapses. Here, I focus on why these two strategies work best when combined.

Fasting is a powerful tool for rejuvenation and general health

Fasting is a powerful tool for rejuvenation and general health

Research shows that fasting is a powerful lifestyle tool to combat obesity, insulin resistance and related health problems, including cancer.

The reason is because, as the process of autophagy increases, your body begins to break down and recycle old proteins, including the beta-amyloid protein in the brain, which is thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

Subsequently, during the refeeding phase, the levels of growth hormone increase, which drives the reconstruction of new proteins and cells. In other words, it reactivates and accelerates the body’s natural renewal cycle.

Although, water-only fasting can be extremely beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes and / or are overweight, it may be difficult to implement.

Fortunately, research has confirmed that similar (though not as profound) results can be obtained through intermittent fasting ; that is, by following a feeding schedule in which the fasts at least 16 hours a day and you consume all food in a range of 8 consecutive hours.

In addition, there are other intermittent fasting plans where you drastically reduce your calories for a certain number of days, while you eat normally for the rest of the week.

One such example is the intermittent fasting plan 5: 2 . Another example is the diet that simulates fasting , developed to match the effects of the water-only fast. Most – if not all – these plans provide similar benefits such as.

Regularly increase autophagy and mitophagyIncrease up to 1,300% growth hormone levels in women, and 2 000% in men, 5 which can promote vitality and muscle development
Change the inactive state of the stem cells to one of self-renewalPrevent, slow down progression and reverse type 2 diabetes
Increase mitochondrial energy efficiency and biosynthesisRecreate some of the cardiovascular benefits associated with exercise
Decrease inflammationOptimize the function of the pancreas
Improve circulating levels of glucose and lipidsProtect against cardiovascular diseases
Decrease blood pressureModulate levels of dangerous visceral fat
Improve metabolic efficiency and body compositionReduce levels of low density lipoproteins and total cholesterol
Decrease body weight significantly in people with obesityOptimize immune function 6
Promote the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates the creation of new brain cells and releases chemical substances in the brain that protect against changes related to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. 7

New research questions the effectiveness of intermittent fasting when food is bad

Although intermittent fasting may seem like a panacea against poor health and excess weight, it may not be able to provide all those benefits on its own. The quality of food plays an important role if you are looking for more than a mere weight loss.

More specifically, recent research highlights the importance of nutritional ketosis when implementing intermittent fasting.

The study 8 , 9 in question, examined the effects of intermittent fasting on weight loss and risk parameters of metabolic diseases in 23 volunteers with obesity. This lasted three months, and participants could eat whatever they wanted in any amount between the hours of 10 am to 6 pm

During the remaining 16 hours, they were only allowed to drink water or non-caloric beverages. Subsequently, the results were compared with a control group without intervention of a previous fasting trial.

In general, participants consumed 350 fewer calories per day and lost just under 3% of their body weight. Their systolic blood pressure also decreased by about 7 mmHg, compared to the history of the control group.

The lead author, Krista Varady, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, commented on the results by stating that: 10

The final message of this study is that there are other options to lose weight that do not include calorie counting or elimination of certain foods .”

Although these findings are similar to other studies of intermittent fasting, the weight loss of the participants were slightly lower than that observed in other studies. The alternate-day fasting trials and the 5: 2 fasting plan have shown that people lose between 3 and 8% in 8 to 52 weeks. According to the authors:

“We speculate that this difference in weight loss is due to a greater general caloric restriction achieved with other forms of intermittent fasting …”

Although this may seem “very good”, there is an important detail that must be addressed. Participants were able to lose weight, but other metabolic health parameters did not improve significantly, compared to controls without treatment, including fat visceral mass, diastolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, fasting glucose, triglycerides and fasting insulin .

Weight loss alone will not solve your health problems

Weight loss alone will not solve your health problems

One of the key benefits of intermittent fasting is to normalize insulin and glucose levels – along with other additional biological measures, including those already mentioned – however, that did not happen here; the question is why?

I think that based on the evidence, the answer is quite obvious. The participants were not instructed to change WHAT they consumed, and if it were the majority of the inhabitants in the United States, it is likely that a large part of their diet consisted of processed foods, and even, probably, fast food.

If you lose weight, but do not achieve any change in the levels of glucose, insulin and other disease risk parameters, then the benefits will only be aesthetic.

To optimize your health, combine intermittent fasting with cyclic nutritional ketosis

Although studies present intermittent fasting as a successful method for losing weight, from my point of view, it really highlights the importance of combining intermittent fasting with cyclic nutritional ketosis .

The ketogenic diet provides many of the same health benefits related to intermittent fasting and fasting (mentioned above), and when implemented together, most people can experience significant improvements in their health – including weight loss, which it is more than an inevitable side effect of the metabolic improvements that occur. For example, the benefits of eating a ketogenic diet include:

Increased sensitivity to insulin

This is the key to preventing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and related diseases. Studies have shown that people with diabetes who are on a ketogenic diet are able to significantly reduce their dependence on diabetic medications.Even, many have successfully reversed their diabetes. 11 Having a healthy insulin level can also decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s, since dementia and insulin resistance are closely related. 12

Increased muscle mass

Ketones are structurally similar to branched-chain amino acids, and since they tend to preferentially metabolize, they reserve any branched-chain amino acids they have, and they stimulate the development of muscle mass.

Minor inflammation .

The body is designed to have the metabolic flexibility of using sugar and fats as fuel sources. However, it is preferable to use fats because when they are burned, they generate a lower quantity of reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals.Then, by eliminating sugar from the diet, your risk of chronic inflammation decreases significantly.

Lower risk of cancer

I believe that cyclic ketosis is a revolutionary intervention that could significantly reduce the risk of becoming another cancer statistic, for the simple reason that cancer cells lack the metabolic flexibility to use ketones in order to meet their energy needs, compared to normal cells.Once the body makes the nutritional ketosis, the cancer cells no longer have an available food source, and basically die of starvation before generating problems

Weight loss

f you try to lose weight, one of the best ways to do it is to take a ketogenic diet, as it helps to access body fat to eliminate it.In one study, 16 obese test subjects carried a ketogenic diet low in carbohydrates and a low-fat diet. After 24 weeks, the researchers observed that the low-carbohydrate group lost more weight (9.4 kilograms, 20.7 pounds), compared to the low-fat group (4.8 kilograms, 10.5 pounds).

Greater longevity

Ketosis prevents the breakdown of proteins, which is one of the reasons why you can survive for a long time without eatingg.Like caloric restriction (fasting), ketones also help to heal the malfunction of immune cells 13 and lower levels of IGF-1, which regulates growth pathways and growth genes, and plays an important role in aging, as well as in autophagy and mitophagy.

Why should you perform cyclic ketosis?

The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting allow the body to make the transition to burning fat instead of sugar, an important metabolic flexibility that in turn promotes the optimal function of all cells and body systems. And although there is evidence that supports any of these as independent strategies, it seems clear to me that combining them could generate better results in general.

Just as there are warnings when implementing intermittent fasting, such as the importance of consuming whole or minimally processed healthy foods, there are also warnings regarding nutritional ketosis.

• Insulin suppresses hepatic glycogenesis; that is, the production of glucose from the liver. When insulin is chronically suppressed in the long term, the liver begins to compensate for the deficit by producing more glucose.

As a result, your blood sugar levels may start to rise, even though you do not consume any carbohydrates. In this case, consuming carbohydrates could actually lower blood sugar levels, since carbohydrates can activate insulin, which in turn suppresses the production of glucose from the liver.

However, chronic long-term insulin suppression is an unhealthy metabolic state that can be easily avoided by pausing and restarting ketosis cycles.

• More importantly, in fact many of the metabolic benefits related to nutritional ketosis in general occur during the refeeding phase. During the fasting phase, the cellular content and damaged cells are eliminated, but the actual rejuvenation process happens during the refeeding.

In other words, the cells and tissues are rebuilt and restored to a healthy state once the consumption of net carbohydrates increases. (In addition, the rejuvenation that is generated during the refeeding is one of the reasons why intermittent fasting is so beneficial, as feast and starvation cycles occur).

How to implement cyclic ketosis and fasting

How to implement cyclic ketosis and fasting
Portrait of a young woman in glasses with retro alarm clock on green background

Again, fasting and nutritional ketosis provide many of the same benefits, and both work best when implemented in lapses. I believe that by implementing them together, cyclic ketosis and intermittent fasting are an almost unbeatable combination, capable of truly maximizing health benefits.

1.Implement an intermittent fasting schedule

Eat all your meals – either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner – within an 8-hour schedule every day, and fast for the remaining 16 hours.

If all this seems new to you, and consider the idea of ​​making changes in your diet and eating habits very discouraging, simply start by eating a regular meal at that scheduled time.

Once it has become routine, continue to implement the ketogenic diet (step 2), followed by the cyclic component (step 3). You can feel comforted knowing that when you achieve step 3, you can complete a weekly cycle with some of your favorite healthy carbohydrates.

If you want to further maximize the benefits through fasting, consider raising the level by doing 5-day water-only fasts on a regular basis. I do it three to four times a year.

To make the process even easier, increase gradually to the point where you can fast for 20 hours a day and eat your two meals in as little as 4 hours. After a month of implementing it, it will not be so difficult to perform a 5-day water fast.

2.Switch to a ketogenic diet, until you can produce measurable levels of ketones

The key in three parts is:

First, restrict the net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates without fiber) from 20 to 50 grams per day; Second, replace the lost carbohydrates with healthy fats, so you can get between 50 and 85% of your daily calories through fats.

And third, limit your protein intake to half a gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. (To determine your lean body mass, subtract the percentage of body fat from 100, then multiply that percentage by your current weight.)

Vegetables – which are loaded with fiber – can be consumed without limit. The main sources of carbohydrates that should be avoided are cereals and all forms of sugar, including fruits with high fructose content. (Will return to consume net and healthy carbohydrates once the process of ketosis has begun).

Some examples of sources of healthy fats are avocados, coconut oil, omega-3 fatty acids of animal origin from fatty fish, butter, unprocessed nuts ( macadamia nuts and pecans are ideal as they are rich in healthy and low fats). in proteins), seeds, olives and olive oil, animal products fed with pasture, MCT oil , unprocessed cocoa butter and organic egg yolks, from free-range chickens.

Avoid all trans fats and highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Including harmful fats 17could cause you more harm than an excess of carbohydrates, so the fact that a product is “high in fat” does not mean you should eat it.

Keep these proportions of net carbohydrates, fats and proteins until you have reached ketosis and your body burns fat as fuel. You could use the ketosis test strips to confirm that the process has already started, defined as a range of 0.5 to 3.0 mmol / L of ketones in the blood.

Consider that accuracy is an important issue, when it comes to these proportions of nutrients. Too many net carbohydrates will prevent ketosis from being efficiently effected, since the body first uses any available glucose because it is a much faster fuel.

Since it is practically impossible to accurately estimate the amount of fats, net carbohydrates and proteins in a given food, you must ensure that you have some basic measurement and monitoring tools. This includes a kitchen scale, measuring cups and nutrient meter.

3.Once you have confirmed that you are doing the ketosis process, begin to pause and restart the ketosis cycles

You can do this by including higher amounts of net carbohydrates once or twice a week.

As a general recommendation, triple the amount of net carbohydrates on days of high carbohydrate content. Consider that it could take you from a few weeks to months before your body can re-burn fat effectively.

Again, by pausing and restarting nutritional ketosis, you will maximize the biological benefits of cell renewal and regeneration, while minimizing the potential drawbacks of continuous ketosis.

Although at this stage you can consume higher amounts of net carbohydrates once or twice a week, I recommend that you be aware of what is or is not healthy. Ideally, avoid fries and bagels, and focus on including healthier alternatives, such as starches resistant to digestion .

Foods high in net carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, bread and pasta, become more resistant to digestion when cooked, cooled and reheated; This is a way to make food cravings a bit healthier.

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