Move over Keto! Try the new autophagic diet and shave off years in just 15 days
Have you put on weight you just can’t lose? Do you crave more energy and stamina? Or is your skin and hair drier than it used to be? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions then help is at hand. In her new book Glow 15 (£9.99, Aster), top nutritional consultant Naomi Whittel looks at the breakthrough Nobel Prize-winning science of autophagy – a natural process by which your body renews and repairs itself. By triggering this process, you can drop pounds, get glowing skin and restore your energy in little more than a fortnight.
“Research shows that about 70 percent of longevity is related to lifestyle,” explains Naomi. “By the time you turn 35, cellular ageing is compounded by outside forces like processed foods, sugar, poor quality sleep, technology overload, environmental pollutants, sun exposure, anxiety and more.” But by kick-starting autophaghy you can stop this process in its tracks.
Autophagy – which literally means ‘self-eating’ because your cells eat away their own rubbish – is a fundamental yet little-known detox process that your body undergoes to clean out damaged cells and regenerate new ones. This process usually works quietly away behind the scenes and only kicks into high gear in times of stress, as a way to protect the body. When you activate autophagy, you slow down the ageing process, reduce inflammation, prevent disease and boost your body’s natural ability to function.
“Autophagy is activated in ‘stress mode’ so you want to stress your cells a little to get them to start dining on your fat, wrinkles, brain fog and exhaustion,” explains Naomi. The easiest way to do this is through a combination of high-intensity exercise, potent antioxidant supplements and smart nutrition, combining intermittent fasting with protein cycling, where you alternate between low protein consumption and normal to high protein consumption. Here are some of the key elements of the diet:
1. Eat a high fat diet
“While many of us have been conditioned to think of dietary fat as our enemy, this is simply not the case,” say Naomi. “Fat is a nutritional hero with incredible powers to help you achieve optimal health.” For the best results, choose medium chain glycerides and omega 3 fatty acids found in avocados, nuts, butter, oily fish and coconut oil. “Fat needs to be the dominant macronutrient in our diets because it’s different from protein. Protein can turn into a carb and become a sugar, but fat can’t.” Following a high fat, low carb diet makes your body burn fats instead of carbs, a process that naturally occurs when you’re fasting, which increases the process of autophagy.
2. Practise intermittent fasting
On four days a week, called ‘High Days’, you can eat normal to high amounts of protein but three days a week, called ‘Low Days’, eat only within an eighthour window. By skipping breakfast and only eating between midday to 8pm you will increase your body’s autophagy process. “If you’re constantly eating it doesn’t give your cells a chance to repair and clean up the waste and toxins they have accumulated,” says Naomi. “Short periods of not eating give them the time to take care of those tasks.”
3. Go on a protein fast
On Low Days – when you practise intermittent fasting – don’t eat more than 25g of protein a day. Research shows that withholding certain nutrients from your body is actually better for your metabolism than continuous calorific restriction. “Because your body can’t create its own protein it is forced to find every possible way to recycle the protein you’ve already provided it,” says Naomi’ “This means that your body will not store the foods that you eat as fat but instead work to build muscle and burn fat.”
4. Fat first, carbs last
One of the key principles of Glow 15 is that ‘timing matters’, so start every day with fat. This is because it triggers ketosis – a natural metabolic state in which your body uses fat as fuel – which is one of the best ways of boosting autophagy. Often described as an ‘autophagy hack’, ketosis gives you a lot of the same metabolic changes and fasting benefits without actually fasting. Save your carbs for your last meals,” says Naomi. “This will help your body process fat as fuel throughout the day.”
5. Exercise frequently
Practise both high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance exercise training (RET) both of which have been shown to promote autophagy. Remember, autophagy is a bodily response to stress, and both HIIT and RET put you in the good-stress sweet spot because it stresses your body just enough to provoke biochemical change. Exercise on High Days for 30 minutes. This means you’ll work out four times a week for a weekly total of 120 minutes.
6. Get restorative sleep
You can reap the benefits of autophagy while you’re asleep too, says Naomi, but you have to get good quality sleep. Before bed, turn off electronics and stay away from all technology for at least 90 minutes and set your thermostat to cool. Also try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to stay in tune with your circadian rhythms (your body’s natural time-keeping system that regulates sleep and wakefulness).
Follow these guidelines and you’ll see a difference in just 15 days!
Include lots of fermented and sprouted foods as they are packed full of nutrients.
On low days
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
On high days
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
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