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Concepts in Fitness: The hunger gains

December 3, 2018 11:41 am Updated: December 3, 2018 11:44 am


Feeling and looking young; we all want it. And in today’s youth-obsessed culture, more and more people associate aging with losing beauty, love and even respect. And these insecurities (which are not just limited to women) have fueled the multibillion dollar anti-aging industry; making it a very profitable business.

If you’re a regular reader of my column, chances are you understand how important the essentials like sleep, clean eating, exercise and regular relaxation are for healthy aging. But there is another piece of the puzzle that won’t cost you anywhere near what you’ll pay for a syringe of Botox; that’s autophagy.

The process of autophagy is the breaking down of banged up cells that aren’t functioning very well and then recycling the remaining good parts to help build fresh new healthy cells.

“Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes” says Colin Champ MD a board certified oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Here’s what the doctor means. Think of autophagy as that very special car that you loved so much. When it was brand new it ran perfectly; but over time things need to be replaced like the battery. So instead of buying a new car; you replace the old battery with a new one.

The same thing happens in the body; cells become old and break down. Rather than killing off the entire cell (apoptosis) only some cell parts need to be replaced. And it’s the accumulation of this cellular junk that scientists believe is responsible for many of the effects of aging.

But you can pump up the autophagic process and slow down the aging process by focusing on WHEN you eat. Time Restricted Eating (TRE) is when you limit your eating to a certain number of hours each day. An example of TRE is when you choose to eat all your food for the day in an 8 hour window — like 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The remaining 16 hours are the fasting period during which no calories are consumed.

Exercise will also boost autophagy according to research. By spending at least 30 percent of your workout on high intensity exercise increases longevity by 13 percent compared to exercising at a moderate pace consistently.

One of the quickest ways to shut down autophagy is to eat large amounts of protein which stimulates IGF-1 and mTOR which are inhibitors of autophagy. By switching to a high fat low carb diet that consists of 60 to 70 percent healthy fat, 20-30 percent protein and keeping healthy carbs between 40 and 50 grams a day will boost autophagy and decrease the aging process.

The take home message is that your lifestyle determines your fate in terms of how long you’ll live and ultimately how healthy those years will be.

Following these guidelines will likely put you in the most advantageous position for maximizing autophgy as well.

Reach Mary Schoepe at