Intermittent fasting has become a popular method for reducing bodyfat. Brad Pilon’s popular book Eat Stop Eat is the go to resource for all things intermittent fasting.
Fasting itself is quite simple, just stop eating for a predetermined length of time. But it seems that people cannot leave well enough alone and always want to add something to make their fasts better, or tweak it in hopes to improve the outcome.
This has lead to a recommendation for taking BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) during a fast. There is a belief that by taking BCAA’s during a fast, you can promote a greater degree of muscle growth than if you fasted without taking them.
This assumption comes from the role BCAA’s play in affecting something called the mTOR pathway in your muscle cells and a mechanism known as ‘Autophagy’.
Autophagy is defined as “the consumption of ones own body”
In typical fitness/bodybuilding media bro-science, this process is mistaken for the loss of muscle mass. Words like ‘catabolism’, ‘muscle break down’, “protein loss’ etc are used to explain this cellular process. These phrases sound like it would be detrimental effect to the process of building/maintaining muscle, however that is not the case.
Autophagy may be more accurately described as ‘cellular cleansing’ (or even just taking out the garbage) which is a normal process that happens constantly in all of your cells. It may even be that if this process is impaired it can lead to accelerated cellular aging and other metabolic problems.
In other words, it’s not correct to view autophagy as a negative event that must be stopped by taking BCAA’s, but rather it is a necessary step in the proper functioning of a healthy cell.
In today’s podcast, we’ll explain what autophagy is and how it relates to muscle growth, aging and the overall health of a given cell.
You’ll get a different perspective on what anabolism and catabolism mean, and another way of viewing fast with or without BCAA’s.
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