Body fat: 26.3%
Sleep: 7hrs 3min
BP: 141/73 @59bpm
(Read Dr Jason Fung’s excerpt at the end of this post. It’s the most important yet!)
Day 11 and hunger is no longer an issue. Hasn’t been for a while. But it’s become kind of established. I’ve yet to experience the resurgence of energy that some people say comes with an extended fast. I’ve been feeling flat the last few days, and a bit woolly-headed at times.
I think it would be a bit difficult if I worked in an office or had some kind of job where I had to be at the top of my game. Not sure I could do that. That’s not to say I’m a drooling zombie, (at least I don’t think I am), but I’m operating on 6 cylinders, not my usual 8.
Even so, I did my 40mins on my exercise bike yesterday, and started off feeling pretty poorly, but within 5-7 mins my energy level kicked up a few notches and I finished up doing better than I did the previous session – 40mins/14.8kms/423cals. Not hugely better, but better.
My flatness seems to be worse in the mornings, and this could be because I’m no longer on coffee or tea – I have tea in the evenings – just pure water throughout the day. But by about lunchtime the flatness recedes and I feel okay.
As I say, I would have no trouble extending this fast for another 14 days or longer. The only thing that would stop me is boredom. I enjoy the ritual of eating.
My stats: I dropped another 0.5kgs in the past 24hrs. The big weight drops in the first week are no longer happening in week 2. Interesting my body fat % is remaining roughly the same, but I can tell you my tummy is getting smaller (I am NOT posting photos!) and I’ve lost fat from other parts of my body as well. (I WON’T tell you WHERE!) I think maybe my scales don’t accurately reflect body fat content.
I’ve now dropped more than 7kgs in 10 days – and I’m the lowest weight I’ve been for at least nine years – since I began recording my weight via my Aria scales, which link in with my Fitbit.
Weight loss for me is less about how I look, more about the health issues associated with being overweight. I was seriously starting to worry about becoming pre-diabetic, and all medical advice says that visceral fat around your internal organs is not a good thing.
Dr Fung puts it this way:
The most obvious benefits of fasting are that it helps with weight loss and type 2 diabetes, but there are many other benefits, including autophagy (a cellular cleansing process), lipolysis (fat-burning), anti-aging effects, and neurological benefits. In other words, fasting can benefit your brain and help your body stay younger.
We’ll come to autophagy shortly.
Prior to this fast, I was eating way too much sugar – particularly chocolate, at night. On any given night I could easily chomp my way through half a block of chocolate or more while watching TV. That’s no longer happening, and now after this fast it will never happen again.
Now with the end in sight, I’m starting to give thought to how I’ll adjust my eating once the fast is done. I can’t go back to old habits. If I do, these 14 days will have been a waste of time.
I now want to introduce you to the process of autophagy – which is the real reason I’ve done this fast. What is autophagy? I think it’s one of the most important medical discoveries of recent times. It’s even learned a Nobel Prize in Medicine. I’ll let Dr. Fung explain it…
The cells of the body are like cars. As they age, subcellular parts need to be removed and replaced, and eventually, a cell gets too old to repair and needs to be destroyed to make way for a healthy new cell. In a process called apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death, cells that reach a certain age are programmed to commit suicide.
While this may sound kind of macabre at first, the process constantly renews cell populations, making it essential for good health. But when just some cellular components need to be replaced, a process called autophagy kicks in. The word autophagy, coined by Nobel Prize–winning scientist Christian de Duve, derives from the Greek auto (“self”) and phagein (“to eat”). So the word literally means “to eat oneself.”
Autophagy is a form of cellular cleansing: it is a regulated, orderly process of breaking down and recycling cellular components when there’s no longer enough energy to sustain them. Once all the diseased or broken-down cellular parts have been cleansed, the body can start the process of renewal. New tissues and cells are built to replace those that were destroyed. In this way, the body renews itself. But it only works if the old parts are discarded first.
Our bodies are in a constant state of renewal. While we often focus on new cell growth, we sometimes forget that the first step in renewal is destroying the old, broken-down cellular machinery. But apoptosis and autophagy are both necessary to keep our bodies running well. When these processes are hijacked, diseases such as cancer occur, and the accumulation of older cellular components may be responsible for many of the effects of aging.
These unwanted cellular components build up over time if autophagocytic processes are not routinely activated. Increased levels of glucose, insulin, and proteins all turn off autophagy. And it doesn’t take much. Even as little as 3 grams of the amino acid leucine can stop autophagy.
Here’s how it works: The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is an important sensor of nutrient availability. When we eat carbohydrates or protein, insulin is secreted, and the increased insulin levels, or even just the amino acids from the breakdown of ingested protein, activate the mTOR pathway. The body senses that food is available and decides that since there’s plenty of energy to go around, there’s no need to eliminate the old subcellular machinery.
The end result is the suppression of autophagy.
In other words, the constant intake of food, such as snacking throughout the day, suppresses autophagy. Conversely, when mTOR is dormant—when it’s not being triggered by increased insulin levels or amino acids from ingested food—autophagy is promoted. As the body senses the temporary absence of nutrients, it must prioritize which cellular parts to keep.
The oldest and most worn-out cellular parts get discarded, and amino acids from the broken-down cell parts are delivered to the liver, which uses them to create glucose during gluconeogenesis. They may also be incorporated into new proteins. It’s important to note that the dormancy of mTOR is only related to short-term nutrient availability and not the presence of stored energy, such as liver glycogen or body fat. Whether the body has stored energy is irrelevant for mTOR and therefore for autophagy.