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Here's How Intermittent Fasting Rewires Your Metabolism

Caroline Muggia
January 20, 2019
Caroline Muggia
By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.
Image by Nataša Mandić / Stocksy
January 20, 2019

We commonly think of exercise and a high-protein diet when it comes to boosting our metabolism, and while these may do the trick, a new study suggests that intermittent fasting could be the solution.

It turns out it has to do with our circadian clocks, which respond to changes in light and our food intake to keep our body in equilibrium. While food has long been known to influence our body's clocks, up until this point, it was unknown how a lack of food could affect our circadian clocks and what impact this could have on our health.

In a new study published in 1Cell Reports1, researchers from the University of California–Irvine discovered a new link between IF, our circadian clocks, and our metabolism. After analyzing cell tissue from mice throughout 24-hour fasting periods, they found that time without food affected their biological clocks and caused fasting-sensitive cellular responses. These reactions caused a reorganization of genes in the skeletal muscle and liver, causing their metabolism to speed up.

The lead author Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Donald Bren professor of biological chemistry at UCI's School of Medicine, explained in a statement, "the reorganization of gene regulation by fasting could prime the genome to a more permissive state to anticipate upcoming food intake and thereby drive a new rhythmic cycle of gene expression." Meaning intermittent fasting could drive changes in our metabolism via our circadian clocks, which the researchers suggest could positively affect our overall health and protect against age-related diseases.

While more research is needed to determine optimal intermittent fasting plans and nutritional guidelines to maximize the metabolism-boosting benefits of intermittent fasting, this study is exciting as it suggests an already popular diet (that you can try!) can help support a healthy metabolism.

If you're ready to give intermittent fasting a whirl, remember you can start small. Gut health specialist Dr. Vincent M. Pedre recommends starting with a 12-hour fast to see how your body responds. Could intermittent fasting be the secret ingredient to a fast metabolism? Time will tell, but this is an encouraging start.

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Caroline Muggia author page.
Caroline Muggia

Caroline Muggia has a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College. She received her E-RYT with Yoga Works and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A writer and environmental advocate, she is passionate about helping people live healthier and more sustainable lives. You can usually find her drinking matcha or spending time by the ocean.