There are a lot of good reasons for practicing Alternate Day Fasting : Autophagy and weight loss are two of the most popular. Alternate day fasting will trigger autophagy with all its benefits for health and longevity.
Plus, by following alternate day fasting you can super boost your weight loss, even if you’re not following a diet.
Here you’ll learn about the importance of alternate day fasting for autophagy.
What is alternate day fasting?
There are several ways of fasting. One of the most popular is intermittent fasting.
This is when you limit your daily eating to a small window of time, and fast for the rest of the day. The most common way of achieving this is with the 16/8 plan.
When doing a 16/8 intermittent fast you will eat for 8 hours and fast for the rest of the day. With this method people often choose to eat lunch followed by an early evening meal. They then fast until lunchtime the next day.
This is a very popular way of fasting and can be practiced every day. It’s a great way of boosting results on the keto diet too.
However, more recently there has been a lot of interest in fasting every other day. This alternate day fasting has been shown to have multiple weight loss and health benefits.
The health benefits come from the ability of alternate day fasting to trigger the amazing process of autophagy
How to practice alternate day fasting
With this eating plan, you fast on alternate days but eat whatever you want on the other days.
On your fasting days you are restricted to:
- Black tea or green tea
- Black Coffee
There is also a variant of alternate day fasting that does not require that you limit yourself to liquids. It has been suggested that there are a lot of benefits from simply eating below 500 calories on “fasting” days.
However, if you’re fasting to gain the health benefits of autophagy, this sort of fast wouldn’t achieve your goal. You definitely need to be taking only fluids on your fasting days to trigger autophagy.
Alternate day fasting and autophagy
Autophagy is a process that is necessary for us to remain in the best possible physical condition.
Further, it will minimize our chances of developing some very serious diseases and becoming ill or disabled as we age.
There are three main types of Autophagy. Each is in involved in the eradication or engulfment of damaged cells or proteins, engulfment of cytoplasmic material, eradication of pathogens and dealing with misfolded proteins.
Our bodies contain both damaged cells and senescent cells.
it follows that Autophagy is not only a natural, but a necessary, process to clean out all these damaged cells that are accumulated over time. These cells trigger inflammation which is implicated in the development of numerous diseases, if not all of them 1 .
Does it effect metabolic rate?
Whatever your reasons for wanting to try alternate day fasting – weight loss or autophagy – this is going to be important.
Nobody wants to be on any diet that’s going to reduce their metabolic rate.
This is certainly something that can happen on calorie restricted diets that do not include fasting. It’s the main reason why restricting calories rarely works.
This is because your body responds to a lack of food by lowering metabolism to save energy. This makes you require ever smaller amounts of daily food if you want to continue to lose weight.
Worse, when you return to your normal way of eating, you’ll soon gain back all the lost weight, and possilbly more.
However, when you eat normally for one day, and then fast for the next day this doesn’t happen.
Evidence 6 shows that you confuse your body by not eating in the same way for day after day. This feast and fast cycle prevents the body from lowering your metabolism.
Other health benefits of alternate day fasting
Apart from the major benefit of autophagy, alternate day fasting has several other important benefits for your health.
It has been proved that by fasting every other day, you will decrease your body fat mass by 4% as well as decreasing your fasting insulin.
This study looked at the effects of alternate day fasting on body weight, body composition and energy metabolism.
Further, this research found that alternate day fasting appeared to be effective at reducing body weight, body fat, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
On top of that the same study also found that alternate day fasting for 12 weeks (with normal weight subjects) had several other health benefits.
These included improved blood lipids on top of all the other health gains.
Even more, the health benefits of alternate day fasting can also reduce your chances of developing heart disease.7
It was found that fasting every other day was cardio-protective.
This study also found that Cardiovascular health improved impressively. After just 4 weeks, systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial pressure all dropped by 6 mmHg, 2mmHg, and 2mmHG, respectively.
Further, this research found a long list of health benefits when alternate day fasting, including:
- Continuous upregulation of ketone bodies, even on nonfasting days. This has been shown to promote health in various contexts.
- Reduced levels of sICAM-1, a marker linked to age-associated disease and inflammation.
- Lowered levels of triiodothyronine without impaired thyroid gland function. Previously, lowered levels of this hormone have been linked to longevity in humans.
- Lowered levels of cholesterol.
- Reduction of lipotoxic android trunk fat mass — commonly known as belly fat or dangerous visceral fat.
Is Alternate day fasting safe?
For most people without an existing health condition it will be completely safe to fast on alternate days.
However, underweight people and those with an eating disorder shouldn’t fast at all.
If you have a health issue or are on medication you should consider seeking the advice of your medical provider before starting a fast.
However, this research demonstrated that alternate day fasting is safe for healthy people.
Finally, if you’re still needing a good reason to try alternate day fasting for yourself, this study also proved it’s safety.
The study concluded that:
Alternate-Day Fasting Is Safe for Normal Weight Healthy Adults
Ad libitum eating every other day leads to both a prolonged period of fasting and an overall reduction in caloric intake. This results in several metabolic changes that correlate with healthy lifespan. ADF does not change the immune cell composition or bone mineral density.
There is a lot of science to back the belief that alternate day fasting is both safe and effective for healthy adults.
Further, it has multiple health benefits on top of its ability to help you lose weight.
If you’re already following a diet for health reasons, such as low carbohydrate or keto diet, this way of fasting can benefit your health and weight loss goals.
As always, you’ll need to try this for yourself and watch how you feel. As with any fasting method, always stop if you feel ill and don’t try to push through.
You can always try again another day.
For more information on how to prepare for a fast read here.