Pseudo fasting the answer to fasting under stress
Many attempt fasting without understanding the mechanics behind what they are trying to achieve, while fasting might sound simple, it's actually much more complicated than many realise.
The hormones of the body have complex roles that change depending on what other hormones they are circulating with; glucagon is the counterpart of insulin, and they are both made in the pancreas. Instead of driving glucose into cells, glucagon causes the breakdown of glycogen into glucose, gluconeogenesis, ketogenesis, reduced protein and lipid synthesis.
Most of these actions occur in the liver, and glucagons ability to increase blood glucose is very much dependent on glycogen stores. An exciting role of glucagon is actually to improve insulin sensitivity in peripheral cells which has massive impacts on many health conditions.
The problem is that when glucagon circulates with high levels of catecholamines such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, they negate this change and actually reverse it. As they are all catabolic hormones, they also reduce protein synthesis and increase protein breakdown, particularly in muscles cells while also lowering metabolic activity in visceral organs. They also increase lipolysis to increase circulating fatty acids in the blood, which can become problematic if not utilised.
As catabolism is directly associated with water moving out of cells, it also directly causes dehydration which will negatively impact our capacity to use fat as fuel (needs water to break the carbon chains of fat, beta-oxidation).
When we now look at what we have done in this scenario, we can see.......
. Loss of muscle mass and total possible energy expenditure
. A reduction in visceral organ metabolic rate
. Reduced beta-oxidation
. Increased circulating free fatty acids
While there is so much more to talk about here with multiple positive and negative effects of fasting, long story short is if you're already producing too much of your endogenous stress hormones, fasting via the just not eating method may not be a great way to go about it.
So what can you do?
Often pseudo fasting can be a better idea to start with, what this entails is merely supplementing with specific amino acids during your fasting period. The key is to counteract the loss of protein and dehydration; this can be done by ingesting the amino acids-
. Glutamine in the morning (to protect from muscle loss, improve hydration and function of the liver)
. Alanine in the morning (to improve hydration and the movement of potassium inside of the cells)
. Ornithine and lysine during the day (to increase glucagon secretion)
. Arginine, Ornithine and lysine directly befoe bed (to increase growth hormone release)
This strategy allows you to gain the majority of the benefits of fasting while protecting you from the adverse effects that can further damage a dysregulated metabolism. Often those in a state of metabolic syndrome will benefit from fasting in this manner for 24-48 hours at a time with a minimum of two weeks gap.
For those looking for a strategy more suited to an intermittent fasting kind of routine, a similar approach can be used just squashed into your standard IF eating window. The most important points are to increase intracellular hydration, prevent protein loss and increase growth hormone production.