Rethinking Fasting: Autophagy, Exercise & Your Health With Dr Tony Boutagy

Rethinking Fasting: Autophagy, Exercise & Your Health With Dr Tony Boutagy

In episode 330 of "The Sound of Movement - The Unity Gym Podcast," hosts Yani and Rad Burmeister brought in Dr Tony Boutagy, and Phil White from ADPT Physio to discuss the most updated research on intermittent fasting and cellular autophagy.

Autophagy, a cellular pathway for recycling damaged cells, has been a topic of increasing interest in the health and wellness field, particularly in relation to fasting and exercise. A recent podcast discussion delved into these fascinating concepts, providing insightful and nuanced perspectives that challenge conventional ideas.

The discussion started with a question about autophagy's role in fasting and calorie restriction. The conversation flowed towards intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating, practices that many people have adopted, including some of the podcast's guests. They shared their experiences with time-restricted eating and its potential impacts on their lifestyles and fitness regimens.

One thing was clear throughout the discussion: the effectiveness of fasting, time-restricted eating, and autophagy largely depends on individual goals and contexts. For instance, those engaged in endurance sports often struggle to maintain energy balance, and these eating regimes may not serve them well.

Scientific understanding of autophagy has advanced in recent years. Initial studies, conducted mostly on rodents, suggested that fasting could rapidly up-regulate the process of autophagy. However, subsequent studies on humans have indicated that the time scale differs markedly, with fasting periods of several days required to trigger significant autophagy.

Contrastingly, a single session of exercise has been shown to up-regulate autophagy significantly, specifically in the mitochondria and skeletal muscle. This makes exercise an incredibly potent tool for health promotion, potentially more effective than fasting for promoting autophagy.

The podcast discussion also touched on the issue of aging. With age, maintaining muscle and strength becomes paramount, which requires regular protein intake. Long periods without protein exposure, as might occur during prolonged fasting or time-restricted eating, may not be beneficial for individuals over the age of 45-50.

Interestingly, the conversation also highlighted that the benefits of autophagy and exercise apply even when someone is overweight or perceived as unhealthy. Autophagy occurs continuously across the body's systems. Exercise and physical fitness appear to enhance the body's ability to utilize autophagy.

The podcast guests further explored the use of time-restricted eating for metabolic benefits, such as metabolic flexibility. The health benefits of time-restricted eating when compared to normal food exposure seem to be minor. Nevertheless, it can be an effective strategy for those who struggle with overeating or have metabolic disorders.

In conclusion, while autophagy, fasting, and exercise are all critical facets of health, context is essential. What works best will always depend on an individual's specific goals, lifestyle, and overall health. The takeaway from the podcast was that exercise remains an excellent strategy for health promotion and, for most, may be more beneficial than strict fasting or time-restricted eating regimens.

For a deeper understanding of these subjects, listen to the full podcast episode here.

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