Can there really be autophagy when there is still fat to burn?

(Jacqueline Buffinet) #1

Hi everyone, this is my first post, but I have been hanging around learning from you all for a while.

So here is the thing. I have been on the Keto WOE for nearly a year now and lost 100 lbs. I’m a 62 yr. old female, 5.3 and down to 180 lbs. I would keep going, I WANT to keep going, but my skin is going to be an issue, and frankly I would rather stay where I am at now than to have seriously deflated skin. So I was hoping if I maintain a while, but keep taking collagen (new to me) and practice intermittent fasting, that my skin might catch up over time and then I can resume to lose the rest that I need to lose.

But my logic keeps telling me that there is no reason for my body to go into any truly effective autophagy while there is still fat to burn. I don’t want to do extended fasts. In fact I’m pretty sure I won’t do them.

But even if I did, how does autophagy work if there is still fat to burn? Is there any realistic hope that I can maintain and let my skin heal and catch up with where I am now?

I hope I entered this post in the right place. And nice to formally meet you all.

(Doug) #2

Hey Jacqueline. :slightly_smiling_face: The increase in autophagy that occurs with extended fasting is due primarily to nutrient deprivation, almost entirely the absence of protein and carbohydrates. Fat has vastly less effect on mTOR and AMPK, as well as on insulin and glucagon - these are the primary things that speed autophagy up or slow it down, when we’re talking general autophagy all over the body.

Protein is a potent inhibitor of autophagy, followed by carbohydrates. Fat may make some difference via its presence in the stomach and small intestine, due to hormone secretion in response…? I’m not sure if this has been studied.

Fasting itself, where the body is using its own stored fat, avoids that, but there are genetic controls/limits on autophagy, and it’s also a self-limiting process to an extent, as it breaks down some protein structures and cellular components into the constituent amino acids, including leucine, which is the most potent inhibitor of autophagy of all. Thus, even with no protein consumed from external sources, the body is still ‘making’ some leucine, etc.

There’s an argument that eating only fat won’t affect the increased autophagy that we gain from fasting, or won’t affect it much. As far as I know, this is far from settled. But eating protein or carbs every day (even once a day) pretty well cuts you off from increased autophagy.

Getting rid of loose skin operates differently for different people. Not everybody loses all of it or most of it through fasting; it really varies. Overall there is a big difference between extended fasters and those who don’t do it - the real consumption of loose skin tends to occur in the extended fasters, although it doesn’t happen with every individual.

Even at the increased rate of autophagy after a few days of fasting, the amount of protein that’s processed in a day is far less than the amount of fat. It’s mostly two independent things that are going on - the body using fat for fuel, and then also having an increased rate of “house cleaning” going on. As one becomes very lean, this changes somewhat - the portion of lean mass consumed, versus fat mass, increases while fasting.

For you personally, perhaps staying at your new lower weight would help with loose skin. The elasticity of one’s skin makes a difference of course, to start with. I don’t know about taking collagen or any other treatments, but my gut feeling is that almost everybody would see some improvement, even if over time. Just a guess on my part, there - if the body does not need as much skin, perhaps it won’t replace all the cells as they die off?

(Full Metal KETO AF) #3

Autophagy is more about protein recycling than fat burning. It works at a much slower rate. If you aren’t willing to do extended fasting it will be slower considerably but intermittent fasting is great. As you age skin looses elasticity and doesn’t “snap back” as easily. I would say to carefully consider health first. I’m about your age and realize that regaining my youth is impossible at this point, (I look good WITH clothes!) :joy::joy::joy: I wish you the best and I have definitely had some skin shrinkage if it makes you feel better, just not nearly at the rate I had hoped for. :cowboy_hat_face:

(Bunny) #4

From what I understand from the literature that I have read on fasting and personal experience there are two important things to remember:

•Shorter fasting is PROTEIN SPARING (the birthday suit stays and the fat might be burned)

•Extended Fasting is Catabolic and DOES NOT SPARE PROTEIN (the birthday suit gets eaten i.e. autophagy for fuel but takes many reps of fasting extensively and time to do).

That’s why we get left with lots of loose skin when we lose body fat too fast.

I would not advise anyone to fast extensively without medical supervision?

(Polly) #5

Welcome @Jacqueline_Buffinet

I am a 63 year old woman and have lost 45lbs slowly [several years]. I have done one extended fast [72 hours] occasional 24 hour fasts and generally use time restricted eating on a 16:8 basis daily.

I have a bit of loose skin on my belly, but none in other places and I attribute that in part to having had a series of pregnancies.

Even at our ages, loose skin will slowly diminish and as @David_Stilley said looking good with clothes is good.

Good luck with whatever approach you decide to take and do let us know how you are getting on.


I’m a HUGE fan of collagen supplementation! Couple years ago when I lost 100lbs I noticed real quick my skin wasn’t going to keep up for long. I make sure I get in my collagen and I’m also pretty anal with my skin care. Make sure you’re doing the obvious basics like a good moisturizer with firming agents in it, if you can find a firming cream with Ghk-Cu in it that stuff is amazing! I actually inject the stuff daily but you can get it in creams as well. It stimulates collagen production and re-thickens the skin. It also seems to be fading some of my stretch marks which are years old at this point.

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #7

Welcome to the forums. Autophagy is a catabolic process, and the metabolism on a ketogenic low-carbohydrate diet is primarily catabolic–it’s one of the characteristics this way of eating shares with fasting. Insulin is the anabolic hormone par excellence, so it has to be low for much autophagy to be able to take place, and therefore, giving up on ketogenic eating is not going to help.

I lost somewhere between sixty and eighty pounds of fat after embarking on a ketogenic diet, and there was never a point where my skin was particularly loose, partly because my fat loss was slow enough. But there have been stories of people with tremendous loss of fat whose skin tightened up quite nicely on its own, no surgical intervention required. Fasting helps stimulate autophagy, and in this connexion, Dr. Jason Fung has pictures on the IDM site showing one client in particular, whose skin was disturbingly loose yet tightened up, just from fasting properly. There are also pictures on these forums posted by people who achieved the same result from ketogenic eating and/or fasting.

(Jacqueline Buffinet) #8

Thank you, Old Doug. This is my hope. Your entire post is all good information to consider as I make my decisions going forward.

(Ellenor Bjornsdottir (spare me thy resistant starch spiel)) #9

I lost 50kg and I have loose skin on my belly still.

(Jacqueline Buffinet) #10

Yes, encouraging words. Thank you. I definitely remind myself that looking good WITH clothes does make this WOE for a lifetime worth it. It’s the health too, though. For years I dieted for events and then after the event came and went, I crashed and burned in my efforts, going back to the SAD. This time around is very different. I did it for my health, and I did it for a sustainable life change. I didn’t even weigh myself at the start. That came later because I decided I wanted a better accounting of how the foods I ate affected me.

(Jacqueline Buffinet) #11

I have a few reasons that I don’t want to do extended fasting. Among the top is that right now I have tremendous support from my husband, but he will NOT support me in extended fasting. He is entirely against it and will do all he can to subvert any effort on my part. I don’t see this as a bad intention from him, but a caring one. He wants to keep me around, you know and doesn’t see the benefit in it. But even without that sentiment from him, I don’t think it’s for me. I did a couple of ten day fasts when I was younger and came away not wanting to do them again.
I always like reading your take on things BTW.

(Jacqueline Buffinet) #12

Than you, I hope you and David Stilley are both right.

@lfod14 Thank you for the tips on skin care, I think my second year as a Ketoginian is going to have super focus on eating and supplementing for my skin as well a a better skin care regimine.

NOT GOING TO GIVE UP KETOGENIC EATING! No, I am a lifer in that now. I am only talking about slowing down the weight loss aspect of it in order to let my skin catch up in the healing process, if that is possible. I have seen you and others mention that slow weight loss is better for skin, so that is my thinking in talking of maintenance. This is a hard decision for me to even just slow it down. I am at odds with myself over even thinking of it. The decision is not made yet and won’t be until the end of June. I am doing a “Clean 30” challenge this month to end my first year successfully and start off my second year in good order. I haven’t had one single cheat all this year.

I am almost where I meant to be before I was to take assessment of what my goal weight should be, anyway. I began working out last month, but now that’s on a hiatus while we downsize and box everything up for “Tiny Home” style living. We are moving sometime next month.
And for the first time I bought the Keto Mojo to learn how to track GKI so that if I do move into maintenance, I’ll be able to track the changes in my diet.
Your post is encouraging. Thank you.

To all, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines fora almost the entire year, reading and amazed at the knowledge and support in this forum. I knew this was the place to come if I ever had a pressing question. But you guys are so thorough, most of them are answered already. So glad I found you all.

(Bunny) #13

You could try bariatric surgery since your subject of your post was about loose skin?

Or maybe consult Dr. Jason Fung and Megan Ramos in Canada about loose skin?

What ever decision you make, do it for you and not anybody else?

It may just work itself out by itself so give it time?

(Full Metal KETO AF) #14

Isn’t it plastic surgery that would take care of loose skin? She’s not having issues with actual weight loss and bariatric surgery is digestive track modification.

I agree about IDF. Perhaps Jacqueline should show some of that material to her husband and I think 10 days is a particularly long and probably not the best thing compared to a five day fast. :cowboy_hat_face:

(Bunny) #15

I think bariatric surgery may include dissecting loose skin also not just digestive modification? Not sure just a guess? Or done under bariatric supervision like a team of surgeons with specific specialties?

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #16

Bariatric surgery is for the purpose of causing weight loss. The skin doesn’t become loose until after the weight is lost, sometime after surgery. The standard method of then dealing with the loose skin is cosmetic surgery, but Dr. Fung claims that he has never had to refer a patient to a plastic surgeon, because the autophagy of fasting deals with clearing up the loose skin.

I don’t have time to search for the video right now, but in one of his lectures, Dr. Fung shows before and after pictures of a patient of his who developed a lot of loose skin from losing so much weight, but after a number of months of fasting, the skin was back to normal—without any surgery whatsoever.

Also, my understanding is that skin becomes loose in cases of rapid weight loss. In my own case, the loss was slow enough that autophagy could keep my skin reasonably taut throughout the process.

(Jane) #17

I respect your decision not to do extended fasts but it worked wonders on my loose skin. I was 9 months into keto before I did a 72-hr fast and it was to get the last 10 stubborn pounds off.

What I discovered was I lost the flap of belly skin I called my “apron” and the loose skin on my thighs starting tightening up. It was weird because it started above my knees and slowly worked its way up. This took a year of fasting 72-hrs every 4-6 weeks, so not a quick process. I also recommend the collagen.

(Jacqueline Buffinet) #18

Thank you for this. Honestly, you are the first to tempt me to try it. Once every 4 to 6 weeks for 72 hours doesn’t seem as drastic as I have seen some say they do, like ADF alternated with OMAD, or up to five days a week, two to eat and then at it again the very next week. Not for me. I figure whatever approach I take, it will take a long time to see results. My skin has never been great. No way can I go around constantly fasting. I’d have to really stress my hubby, make him worry for me, and on top of that I would not be happy about it either. But 72 hours every month to six weeks feels doable. I’ll give it some heavy consideration. However, if I decide to do it, I won’t be trying it until after we make this major move of ours in the next month or two. We’ll see. :slight_smile:

(Ellenor Bjornsdottir (spare me thy resistant starch spiel)) #19

wouldn’t that be anti-catabolic? and we’re trying to chew up collagen here.

(Jane) #20

I don’t know. In my case I want to chew up loose skin that has lost the collagen underneath. My 86-yo Dad has become a believer in adding collagen to his morinng coffee - really helped thicken his paper-thin skin on his arms. It helped me also.

I don’t add collagen to my coffee when fasting for autophagy, though.