What is ketosis? Why is it important? What have intermittent fasting studies shown us so far? Lets start that discussion with ketosis. Ketosis is a natural process in the body that occurs when we don’t have enough glucose and our body starts using fat as an energy source. This occurs naturally in our bodies during periods of fasting which some research has show to occur as soon as two hours after a meal. When our blood sugar levels begin to decrease so do our insulin levels. At the same time there is another hormone called glucagon that will begin to increase in your blood stream and this hormone is responsible for freeing up fatty acids in our bodies as an energy source. As fat molecules are transported into cells such as muscles, the muscles mitochondria will create a chemical reaction called beta-Oxidation. Beta-Oxidation in the liver is further converted into Acetyl-COa. As Acetyl-Coa levels rise it enters another chemical cycle called ketosis. And there you have it!
While our bodies enter ketosis our insulin levels decrease and an amazing by product of this is something called lipolysis. This is how intermittent fasting fat burning starts. As we say goodbye to unwanted fat during lipolysis, growth hormone is secreted which aids in muscle development and the ketone bodies that are now being produced will begin to control our appetite. One thing to keep in mind is that ketosis is only good for a limited amount of time and that protein and fat intake is important to prevent muscle wasting. Muscle wasting is very counterintuitive for fat loss since our goal with intermittent fasting is to loose belly fat not muscle.
Let’s all agree first that fat does need to be a part of our daily intake especially when considering intermittent fasting foods. Why is fat important? Some of the main functions of fat in our body is to enhance brain function, prevent cardiovascular disease, increase energy, regulate body weight, absorb antioxidants and transport fat-soluble vitamins such as A,D,E and K which aid in formation of hormones.
There are two basic types of healthy fats which are saturated and unsaturated. Within these two types there is a sub genre called polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The rock star of the fat world is a polyunsaturated fat called omega-3. This star of the fat world is usually found in fish, walnuts, almonds and flaxeed and has been also prescribed by doctors to reduce the risk of heart disease. Second in health benefits to omega-3 is a type of fat called monounsaturated which people usually consume with avocados.
In addition to intermittent fasting fat loss results, intermittent fasting has also generated several scientific studies and the results have been promising. What scientist have found is that intermittent fasting increases fat oxidation, reduces body weight and accelerates fat loss. These results that studies have concluded were caused by improved insulin sensitivity, improved hormone production and nerve generation. To revisit the concept again because repatition can be a good thing, intermittent fasting lowers insulin release which increases fatty acid oxidation and fat burning. Remember the golden rule of intermittent fasting, that is to maintain protein and fat intake to prevent muscle loss. Also it should be no surprise that studies found that people who reported having fasted consistently during their life had much lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
One of the most promising aspects I learned about when researching the benefits of intermittent fasting was the concept of cell turnover. As most of have probably learned at some point is that our bodies repair during sleep. What studies are now finding is that during fasting, cell turnover is increased and damaged cellular tissue is cleaned up. This process is called autophagy. Autophagy is understood to initiate stem cell activity which starts the regeneration process of new cells. The beneficial implications of autophagy are extensive to say the least.