Autophagy and fasting: I did not eat for 3 days to lose 2.5 kilos
Before you get worried about my health and safety (I do appreciate the concern) or wonder why I would starve for three days, I have one word for you: Autophagy.
- Total Shares
When somebody said that the best things in life are free, they weren’t lying.
Most of you must have spent (or are spending) countless hours in the gym and much of your hard-earned moolah on supplements or trainers without any impressive results.
If so, you probably should take a few minutes to read this. This is my weight loss journey that’s not just cheap — it’s actually free. Plus, you’re going to add years to your life, decrease wrinkles and be able to slow down the ageing process. Do I have your attention now?
The Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 2016 went to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries on the mechanisms for autophagy. Plainly speaking, he realised that our bodies have the most amazing mechanism of eating away its own bad cells and helping the good ones flourish. The catch? Well, it’s you, who’s probably killing autophagy, one burger at a time.
Japan’s Yoshinori Ohsumi won the 2016 Nobel prize for medicine for understanding 'autophagy' or 'self-eating'. (Photo: Reuters)
Autophagy is simple. Your body has fat for a reason. For years, we’ve been taught to hate fat and never to think — what’s the point of having fat exactly?
The truth is that we eat way too much food. Urban myths such as ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ that was probably started by a cereal brand to promote their products, has been one of the big deterrents to people actually getting healthier.
In fact, if there’s probably a meal you should be skipping, it’s breakfast. Diabetes, insulin resistance, cancer — all feed on sugar which is unused glucose in our system. Let’s face it, none of us will reach a point where famine is going to wipe out every single flavoured yoghurt from our refrigerator. Unless we’re struck by a meteor, in which case, body fat will be the least of our problems. So, we honestly don’t need to carry a fat reserve for troubled times.
There is also a reason every major religion in the world promotes fasting. We’ve just been blindsided enough to not see it. Let’s widen our horizons while we shrink our waistlines, shall we?
Back to the 2.5 kilos weight loss in 3 days. Firstly, I’ve got to lay all the cards on the table. Fasting is great for anyone who does not suffer from any condition where they need to consume medication periodically. Some might want to condition themselves and begin with shorter 8-hour fasts to time split fasts like intermittent fasting (where you don’t eat for 16 hours a day and eat for the remaining 8) or three-day water fast that may seem harder psychologically rather than physiologically.
Your body gives you a hungry signal six hours after starting the fast. But, the real reason for your hunger pangs is the dip in blood sugar levels. Most of us have conditioned our body to give a hungry signal that you respond to by eating something.
So, when you do not respond to this signal, your body realises that the food is not coming and that is when it switches to the fat reserves in your body. After about eight hours, you won’t feel hungry because your body is now effectively eating away its own stored fat.
Intermittent fasting helps your body recognises real hunger signals and not just cravings. (Photo: Instagram/PeterSoonFit)
Documented water fasts have lasted from days to weeks to months and even more than a year. Our own Bapu aka Mahatma Gandhi went on regular hunger strikes to get what he wanted socio-politically. However, with each such fast he also made his own body stronger and more sensitive to insulin. Bapu was clearly a role model in more ways than one!
After fasting for 24 hours, you will realise that you have more energy because you’re now in the state of Ketosis. I’m pretty certain you’ve heard enough of this term by now but Ketosis is when your body releases ketones to derive energy from stored fat. Fasting triggers growth hormone levels to a point that it takes you back on the age clock. By not consuming food for one day, an average male essentially burns about 2,500 calories. These numbers add up substantially when you do a two or three-day water fast.
No wonder then that doctors around the world are promoting fasts, realising their health benefits. Nutritionist and pharma companies, coupled with gyms and protein brands, do not want you to fast because no one makes money off you when your body begins to torch its fat for free. I’ve documented my own journey in YouTube videos that explain a lot of aspects of water fasts.
I personally love it. And as an actor, I love what it does to my skin and the waistline. Like for most things, listen to your body, weigh the pros and cons, do enough research and you’ll see the wonders that fasting can do.
Pro tip: The hardest thing during a fast won’t be hunger pangs. It’ll be dealing with people with limited or no knowledge who will keep insisting that staying hungry is “unhealthy”. Don’t waste your breath, ask them to research fasting and let them get wiser on their own. It’ll happen fast! See what I did there?
And no, you’re not going to die by not eating. Well, at least not for over a year.
Disclaimer: Understand your body, research and read a lot about fasting and its benefits. A quick check with a doctor might open a new world of possibilities for you, too. This will help you make an informed choice.