Understanding Blood Sugar
Understanding intermittent fasting means understanding the things it affects.
First, we will talk about blood sugar and calories.
Calories are the unit of measurement for the energy contained in things that you can eat or drink. Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and proteins contain 4 calories per gram. Fats contain 9 calories per gram.
When you consume calories, your body breaks down whatever it is into parts that it can use for the functions it needs to perform. Fats break down into glycerol and fatty acids, proteins into amino acids and carbohydrates into simple sugars, such as glucose.
Blood Sugar is Glucose
Glucose is immediately usable as an energy source. In order for your body to use it, as soon as you taste something sweet (glucose or fructose usually), the body starts to release insulin from the pancreas. The pancreas will continue to release insulin until glucose levels are back to a normal range after you are done eating whatever it was. Insulin allows glucose to enter the body’s tissues (mostly muscles) to be used as energy.
The liver will convert and store glucose as glycogen for use later. Glucose left over when your glycogen stores are full and you don’t use as energy is stored as fat.
Glycogen is stored mainly in the liver and muscles. This is why men, who generally have more muscle than women, can eat more calories and not gain fat. The average amount of glycogen that can be stored is between 1600 and 2500 calories. Every gram of glycogen is 4 kilocalories (the real name for the calories on a food package, they are actually 1,000 real calories each).
How Much Glycogen Can I Store?
Figure out your weight in kilograms. (If you weigh yourself in pounds, divide by 2.2).
Multiply that number by 6.25.
(The maximum a person can store is around 15 g of glycogen per kilogram of body weight, but the average is 6.25).
Then, multiply that number by 4.
The average person has an average of 2,000 calories of stored energy. That is why 2,000 calories are the recommended amount per day.
Once your glycogen is full, the macronutrients (fat and carbs mostly, protein not so much) that you eat after that are generally turned into body fat.
What is Fasting?
Fasting, according to Wikipedia, is the willful refrainment from eating. To enter your body’s fasting state, all food must be digested and no calories consumed.
When you fast, you are no longer burning fresh energy. Your body takes from energy storage and uses what it has.
When your blood sugar gets low, your liver triggers the pancreas to release glucagon (the opposite of insulin). Glucagon converts glycogen into blood glucose (raises your blood sugar). This uses your stored glycogen and allows you to still have the energy.
Intermittent Fasting and Insulin Sensitivity
The more glucagon you release, the higher your insulin sensitivity. That means your blood sugar stays lower more efficiently and it becomes harder to gain body fat.
Once your glycogen stores are depleted, your body enters ketosis.
Ketosis means that your body is now out of glycogen/glucose to use as fuel and turns to the next best thing: stored fat.
The liver uses fats to make things called ketones. Ketones are acids made using fat, that can be used for energy. Once the ketones are created, they enter your bloodstream in place of glucose.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is entering a fasting state for a certain number of hours (or days) and limiting eating to the rest of the day (or week).
One of the most popular intermittent fasting formats is the 16:8 format. This means fasting for 16 hours a day and limiting your calorie intake to an 8-hour window. Part of the 16 hours is the time a person would be sleeping, which makes it much easier to follow.
While sleeping, we burn approximately 0.3 calories per pound of our body weight per hour.
A 200-pound person will burn around 60 calories an hour, or 480 calories in 8 hours of sleep.
A 140-pound person, on the other hand, will burn about 42 calories per hour, or 336 calories in 8 hours of sleep.
You can imagine if you burn that many calories while sleeping, you definitely burn more while you are awake. This is how you lose weight without exercise.
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, the formula for figuring out how many calories you naturally burn in a day is as follows:
- Men: 66 + (weight in pounds x 6.2) + (height in inches x 12.7) – (age x 6.76)
- Women: 655.1 + (weight x 4.35) + (height x 4.7) – (age x 4.7)
Even without intermittent fasting, if you eat less than the calories you burn, you lose weight. With intermittent fasting, your body combines glucagon release, insulin resistance and finally ketosis to supercharge weight loss.
Eating fewer calories but not fasting while awake makes it near impossible for the body to enter ketosis. Without the ketosis step, it takes much longer to lose body fat.
What Else Can Intermittent Fasting Do?
The main reason for anyone to commit to intermittent fasting as a way of life (the main component of the MetaFire Life) is to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
However, it does provide other benefits as well.
Focus and Clarity
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, intermittent fasting can help to reduce the possibility of inflammation in the brain. Reducing brain inflammation improves its general function and cognitive ability and greatly reduces the risk of neurological health problems, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
Since intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity, it drastically reduces the risk of diabetes, even in those with a family history of the disease.
Intermittent fasting can lead to lower blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides and cholesterol. All of these promote a healthy heart and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
While intermittent fasting does not directly reduce your risk of developing cancerous cells, it does improve the health in many areas that are known to increase the risk of cancer, such as:
- excess body fat
- high blood pressure
- insulin resistance
- bile release (excessive fat intake)
Intermittent fasting is not just for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.
It is a healthy choice for many reasons.
Are There Any Downsides to Intermittent Fasting?
Like anything else, if it isn’t done right, intermittent fasting can cause problems.
The main thing a person can do wrong is overeating during their eating hours, or binging on junk food.
Intermittent fasting does not mean that you can eat as much as you want during your eating period.
You need to eat healthily, both in type and amount of calories per day.
Exercise is beneficial and recommended. It will increase all the benefits of intermittent fasting.