You are in a meeting. You feel lethargic. There is a plate of biscuits on the table. You eat one. Hey presto you feel energised… for a bit at least.
We all know food is our fuel. So how come so many people report having heaps of energy and that they can concentrate better on fasting days? One word. Fat. When are bodies are healthy and working properly we simply move from burning sugar for fuel to fat. Nature designed us to use our fat stores to deliver sustained energy for all those times sugar wasn’t available. Put simply, sugar sources are for immediate, short term use and fat is there to keep us energised and alive during longer periods of time without food.
When we fast, we use up our stores of sugar based energy first. First up is the sugar from the last meal you ate in the form of glucose. To do this the pancreas releases insulin to move the glucose from your last meal from out of the blood and into the cells. The cells use this for energy to perform a vast array of functions. Any glucose not immediately needed is laid down as fat. As the glucose from the blood decreases, the pancreas releases another hormone called glucagon. This releases stored sugars from the liver and the muscles as additional sources of sugar-based energy.
After 16-18 hours of fasting, these stores are depleted and crucially insulin levels decrease. Without insulin present, the body can use energy from other sources such as fat and protein. Our muscles use fatty acids from fat metabolism as energy. Our brain and central nervous system use ketone bodies from fat and protein metabolism. Our bodies are programmed to prioritise using fat as the main alternative fuel instead of muscle as a survival mechanism.
This ability switch between the various forms of energy is called metabolic flexibility. Having metabolic flexibility is highly desirable if you want consistent energy levels all day every day and to maintain a healthy weight.
Unfortunately, due to the food and lifestyle choices many of us make, as we become adults we become less metabolically flexible as we get used to running primarily on glucose. Consequently, we find it harder to switch from fuel type to another. If you have ever hit the wall doing endurance sport, you will know how much this can hurt. Outside of endurance sport, oftentimes people just feel tired once the glucose stores run down if they are less efficient at switching to another fuel type and reach for a sugary fix to make them feel temporarily better.
This continued reliance on glucose can result in insulin resistance. This means the insulin signals to the cell to take in glucose are being somewhat ignored. To counteract this, the body produces more insulin to try and get the cells to take in the glucose. Over time this strategy back fires resulting in the cells ignoring insulin due to this bombardment. Now the cells can’t get all the energy they need and they stop performing properly. As a consequence, you feel tired and hungry. Left unchecked this could eventually lead to pre-diabetes or even Type 2 diabetes. You may be wondering why the body doesn’t just use fat or protein instead? It can’t because insulin signals are still present. While insulin is still in the blood these other fuel sources cannot be accessed by the body.
By fasting you give the body a well-deserved break from insulin. This gives the cells a chance to become more sensitive to insulin signals once again so insulin can do its job at normal levels. Just as nature intended. Cells become more sensitive to insulin signals and insulin can do it's job – move glucose out of the blood and into the cells – more efficiently and at lower levels. Overtime, this break should ensure any insulin resistance present is reduced and your metabolic flexibility is improved. Your cells become more efficient at getting the energy they need from glucose, fat or protein giving you more consistent energy levels.
An added bonus is the effect moving into fat burning mode has on mitochondria (think of them as your bodies batteries or the place where energy production occurs). These delicate structures don't like being in a sugar burning environment as they get damaged by a side product of this process - oxidative stress. Being in fat burning mode is a much cleaner environment for them and it gives their structures a chance to recover so they can work properly once again.
FASTING+ helps with this transition in several ways. You get fat by consuming the product. The blend also triggers enzymes that release fat from fat cells - in particular visceral fat cells - so your body has an internal source of easy available fat to use for energy. Plus it works to move your metabolism over to fat burning mode in several ways to make this transition to fat burning as easy as possible. By ensuring fat is available to burn from energy you are also giving your body more reasons to leave muscle stores alone and giving your mitochondria a chance to recover. In addition the blend has polyphenols that trigger a process where the body produces more mitochondria, improving energy levels further.
So if you find you have lower levels of energy on fasting days, you may just be working through some insulin resistance. Be assured that once you do, you will feel great (and that FASTING+ could help with this transition). If you already have heaps of energy on fasting days congratulations. Keep up the good work and you will continue to be rewarded with consistent energy levels.
On a serious note, if you experience significant daytime tiredness during a fast, stop fasting. This is not normal and could indicate a hormonal imbalance that is not being helped by fasting. Break the fast by eating something. Eat well, get some sleep and try again another day. If it persists see your doctor or another health professional such as a Nutritional Therapist.