Maximizing the Benefits of Fasting and Autophagy
Walking for exercise can rejuvenate both the mind and the body. If you can do it exercise can enhance your fasting experience. Exercise can not only stimulate natural growth hormone, but according to some very recent research it also stimulates autophagy, a process by which cells digest their own garbage and thereby become younger and more efficient. I believe in fact that autophagy is the primary process involved in biological age reversal at the cellular level. So if you can do it you should try to incorporate exercise into your fasting program. Walking for exercise can be done by most anyone even if they are fasting.
For this reason I attempt, when I am fasting, to do as much exercise as I can. As of this writing it is summertime, I am doing some fasting, and I am walking about 6 miles a day and swimming a half mile to a full mile per day. You can see the results in the above pictures. That guy in the pictures is young and healthy and having fun!
I am within 60 days of my 69th birthday and this amount of exercise feels good, but is pretty intense for me and I do not think I could do it if I were doing a typical 9 to 5 job. I am self employed and work three exercise sessions, a couple naps and my work time into a very flexible schedule. I frequently do work in the middle of the night. In my spare time I raise, cook and care for an 11 year old child who usually joins me for my last walk every day.
If you are a beginning faster you may not be able to exercise like this. Fasting sometimes just takes all the energy out of you. I have had many days fasting that I felt like doing nothing but sleeping. If that is the case you should sleep! I tell people that it is fine to exercise when fasting, but if you are forced to choose between fasting and exercise by all means choose fasting. There will be plenty of time to exercise after you recover from the rigors of fasting. I always experience a huge burst of energy following a long fast. At that time exercise feels better than ever.
Exercise can stimulate the appetite and this can be problematical for the faster. Gary Taubs in Good Calories Bad Calories discusses this problem. Exercise does burn calories, but not as much as we would like. If you wanted to walk off a pound you would need to walk about 35 miles. And after walking 35 miles you could probably sit down and consume 5,000 calories and end up gaining back more weight than you lost!
Gary Taubs makes another important point. Lance Armstrong is not thin because he cycles; Lance Armstrong cycles because he is thin. If you are not overweight it is fun to exercise, but if you are already obese exercise is a drag.
So it is possible that if you are a bit chubby you may need to just fast until you get your weight down some before you can even start exercise. Remember fasting is what is important; don’t screw up your fast with exercise if exercise is making you miserable.
In spite of what Gary Taubs says I believe that with a little mind control it may be possible to TURN OFF APPETITE with exercise. You must experiment and see what works for you. But the next time you feel the refrigerator calling try, instead of eating, to do something that works up a sweat. It may be just a way of distracting you from eating, but in my experience it can work.
What kind of exercise should you do? Well before starting this discussion I should warn you I have a bias. On rare occasions I have watched one of those “biggest loser” types of shows. The show I watched had the trainer coming into the fat guy’s apartment and setting up a bunch of exercise machines so the fat guy could exercise without leaving his apartment.
Well I must tell you I hate exercise machines and I hate gyms. Many years ago I spent about $700 on a Nordic Tracker and I used it less than one hour before selling it at a garage sale for $50. I could not use it more than 10 minutes without going out of my mind with boredom.
There is a big beautiful outdoors out there and all you need to explore it is a pair of shoes. And Mother Nature charges no monthly fees. Walking is the greatest exercise. Walking also stimulates the mind particularly if your brain is running on ketones which is usually true after about the third day of fasting. I get my best ideas walking. I wrote most of this article in my mind while walking this morning.
You can walk anywhere even in big cities. Some of the nicest places I have walked have been in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Parks are everywhere and parks are free.
What do you do about bad weather? Well if you get out and walk it will not seem so bad. The Norwegians have a saying: there is no such thing as cold weather, there is only cold clothing. Learn how to dress for all kinds of weather.
Now I have to make a confession. I have been in the past a fanatic distance runner. I used to run in excess of 100 miles per week and Sunday was not Sunday without a 20 mile run. When I was living in Northern Wisconsin I trained one winter for the Boston Marathon in April. That meant I had to get up in the dark and run miles and miles in bitter cold, wind and snow. I enclose a picture of me after a 20 mile run when it was 27 degrees F below zero. Yeah that is ice hanging from my face mask. What is interesting about this picture is that although I may look cold I was actually hot. That was a great winter for me. I felt like I was in Florida. I was outside all the time and I was always hot. If you get used to walking everyday and dressing properly and getting out in all kinds of weather it gives you a great feeling of not being trapped inside all the time. It will lift depression if that is what you are dealing with and help you with fasting.
If you are a runner then by all means run. But for most people I recommend walking for exercise. The combination of exercise, fasting, weight loss, fresh air and sunshine can change your life. Go for it and it will take years off you and rejuvenate both your mind and body. And all you need to experience all these benefits is a pair of shoes!