I’m not a big fan of eating breakfast.
I know. A lot of you out there are already saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
And I know you’re right. But I can’t get seriously excited about food until about 10 in the morning.
Breakfast is “breaking” a “fast” from our last meal the night before. And I don’t skip an early breakfast because I’m trying to lose weight. I just listen to my body and try to do what works for it.
But what happens when you skip meals for an extended period of time? There are any number of fasts out there that are suppose to “cleanse” our bodies of toxins. What happens to our bodies when we go without solid food and nothing but water or lemon water for several days?
A research study in Denmark tested eight healthy men for body changes that occurred to them during a 72 hour fast. That means they went three full days without eating. They found that a key regulator of muscle cell growth mTOR was decreased by 50%. When this happens, muscle wasting begins to occur.
This sounds bad, but there are rodent studies that suggest that blocking mTOR triggers “cell survival responses” that might even prolong our life.
Young healthy people who go without eating may experience a weakness that we see in a much older population. But, conversely, there is some evidence that temporary periods of fasting might actually help people live longer.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Without muscles, we wouldn’t be able to move. And muscle wasting is a serious problem in seniors who have lost their appetites and experience profound muscle wasting. The research study demonstrates why the muscle wasting occurs. And periodic fasting might offer some benefits to younger people. But there are still a lot of questions about the physiologic effects of periodic fasting.
A problem with muscle loss for most people is that muscle burns more fuel. That means the more muscle we lose, the less fuel we burn. That translates into far fewer calories we can eat to satisfy the needs of our bodies.
As we age, beginning as early as our late 20s to early 30s we can lose as much as a half a pound of muscle per year. It would appear that maintaining our muscle mass seems to be an important factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Yet the study seemed to indicate that losing a certain amount of muscle could contribute to longevity as well.
The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules just yet. Research is still being done on the benefits and disadvantages of fasting. It still sounds as if doing things in moderation is still a good approach to life.