Fasting is a norm in India and has been seen all around the world widely. While fasting is done for religious purposes, the new weight loss sensation is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is gaining a lot of popularity due to its weight loss benefits. Although intermittent fasting is totally accepted by many, there are loopholes if you are not used to fasting or if you have any medical health conditions.
Fasting can majorly influence the state of mind and body.
As we have discussed, fasting can help in weight loss but it has its own process, let’s just breakdown what exactly happens when you stop eating aka fasting.
What Happens To The Food We Eat?
When you finish your last meal, your saliva enzymes break the food so that it can pass through the esophagus.
Once the food reaches the stomach, the acid and enzymes present will further break down the food into chime which is partially digested food mass, it is only smaller particles so that it can enter the intestine.
Pancreas, gallbladder and small intestine further produces more enzymes and breaks down into its separate components.
When the food particles are small enough, every organ will do its job of separation, filtration, and reabsorption of nutrients from the food mass.
Lastly, it will be metabolized by gut flora through large intestine where water will be removed and what left behind is feces.
Now on the microcellular level blood sugar and nutrients level go up after you have your meals.
Food doesn’t enter your cells however they want they break down into smaller particles and further nutrients are absorbed by the cells through various transport mechanisms.
Lipoproteins play a huge role in the transport mechanisms as they let fatty acids pass through cells and with the help of insulin-glucose and amino acids enter the cells.
As insulin level rises the blood sugar rises too. More than half of the food we eat is stored as fats. The process takes hours from when the food is eaten digested and stored.
So when you haven’t eaten in a while or hungry or fasting, the following process is undergoing.
Ghrelin is a hormone which is released when your stomach is empty for the longer duration of time.
Ghrelin does various work inside the body and hunts down food for the body to eat. Ghrelin also releases other hormones and stimulate lipolysis process or fat release from adipose cells.
Ghrelin is release in the system as a sign of hunger, hence more ghrelin production, hungrier you get. Also once you start eating, ghrelin production stops hence ghrelin levels is under control.
The next step is when a hormone name Leptin is release. Leptin is released when fat stored in the body feast on nutrients uptake. Leptin sends a signal to the brain that the stomach is full and don’t eat anymore. It works is opposition to ghrelin.
So when you are not hungry or full, leptin is release in order to stop overeating signaling the brain that stomach is full.
And the cycle is continuous, ghrelin builds up when you are hungry and you eat, nutrients are absorbed from the body you have consumed, blood sugar levels increases, the resting metabolism rises and leptin signals brain to stop eating.
A body which is well fed with balanced diet whether fasting or not uses 60-70% of fat as its energy source. This happens as our body is very particular about maintaining blood glucose levels and try to keep a steady level as the body needs blood sugar to survive on.
In intermittent fasting where the 16/8 method is common where you fast for 16 hours and eat in 8 hours window is pretty common.
In this method, the body will start creating glucose from amino acids because of glucose in the main component of energy. If your body doesn’t have enough amino acids, it will break down muscle proteins further breaking into amino acids for energy production.
This process intensified after 28 hours. Hence, when doing any form of the diet, whether it is intermittent fasting or ketogenic diet for that instance, eating more protein is advisable, as it will be a source of energy.
If you don’t eat enough amount of protein, the body will break down muscle protein but this happens only if fasting is more than 16 hours and beyond.
Also, there is no way that you could eat all the protein in one go and let sit in your body, for the body to convert into amino acids and further for energy production.
Alternatively, if the body doesn’t have enough sugar, the pancreas secretes hormones and fat and amino acids stored in the body will be converted into sugar. There is no said rule which will be used fat or protein, it is on the availability which hormones release first.
So to sum up between 16 to 72 hours the body will heavily depend on amino acids and protein breakdown for energy requirement.
This leads to major weight loss due to gluconeogenesis process which converts amino acids to sugar and also muscle and water weight is lost.
After a span of 72 hours, the body will need muscle to move and that is when protein requirement is expected. Protein is made of amino acids which are building blocks of the muscles.
Hence when fasting, consider your daily routine, eating habits and medical conditions. They all play a huge role if you decide to fast even for a day.
Although fasting is sometimes good as you allow your body to rest from all the junk you eat and thrive on no food or juices or maybe even simple food.
Choose wisely what suits your daily life and your health conditions. Also, it is advisable to always talk to your general physician before doing any kind of diet.