Many of us look in the mirror and lament that our skin is not clear, those last 10 pounds won’t come off, that slight bloating never really goes away, and our headspace gets a bit fuzzier every year. While there is an inevitability to some aging, each of these challenges can be addressed with a shift in how you think about dietary fat. There is a lot you can do with diet to bring your sexy back. Today we will discuss why and how you can use fat in your diet and simple lifestyle switches to add youth to your years.
Your new favorite word is autophagy – literally meaning “self-eating.” Although cell death is a messy event, cellular self-eating is a well-coordinated effort by your cells to digest parts of the cells that don’t work well anymore and rebuild the parts that are damaged, while sparing the rest of the cell. Think of autophagy like getting a perfect organ transplant: out with the old, in with the new, right where and when it is needed. Autophagy allows cells to become younger and work better by refreshing themselves, which promotes longevity, improves lean muscle mass, supports supple skin, reduces cancer risk, and helps quell inflammation.
Read on to learn how your protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake activate your autophagy and bring your sexy back.
This mechanism is ancient. Animals evolved using autophagy to conserve energy and repair damage when energy became scarce. For instance, when you fast for more than than 12 hours and limit carbohydrate intake, you run low on a quick fuel source called ATP. As ATP is used, it turns into AMP, which activates a compound called AMP Kinase – and this kinase not only activates autophagy but also tells the liver to avoid making triglycerides and instead burn fat!
In a prolonged fast where protein (and carbohydrate) are restricted, a signaling pathway called mTOR is inhibited, which reduces cell growth and activates autophagy instead. Furthermore, limiting protein and carbohydrates reduce your pool of something called acetyl-Coenzyme-A. Lower levels of this stuff also increase your autophagy. So the net of this science talk is: When we eat carbohydrates or protein, insulin goes up, which activates mTOR, brings sugar into the cells to boost ATP, creates a lot of acetyl-Coenzyme-A, and autophagy is turned off. What is so interesting about these routes to autophagy is how they overlap. Nature really wants us to burn fat and do this repair work in times of scarcity!
Weighing In on Fat
So how do we trigger this autophagy and fat-burning? We know that the hormone insulin shuts down autophagy. An opposing hormone, glucagon, turns autophagy on. Glucagon, as its name indicates, is released when glucose is gone and encourages the body to release energy from storage as well as process some amino acids (protein parts) into sugar or fat as needed.
Insulin sounds like insulate–and that’s just what it does. Eat carbohydrates and your blood sugar levels rise, driving up insulin. Eat protein and insulin rises as well, although not as sharply as it does when you eat carbohydrates. More insulin will build muscle, but also leads to more fat storage, more inflammation, higher risk of cancer, and more sugar burning in your cells. Using alternate day fasting and protein cycling to support muscle growth while encouraging lean, well-supported muscle during periods of autophagy is a great strategy for getting the health benefits of autophagy and weight loss without compromising energy or muscle mass.
There are two major ways to reduce insulin and activate glucagon that we can manipulate with diet:
- True Fasting by limiting all food consumption encourages the body to burn fat but also break down some of its own protein for energy. My favorite way to apply the science of fasting is through something called Intermittent Fasting Protein Cycling.
- Consuming A High Healthy Fat Diet pushes the body into fat-burning mode by decreasing insulin and increasing glucagon. The best way to encourage this is to eat fats first, carbs later. Start your day with a high-fat breakfast, restrict carbs and go moderate on protein. Later on in the day, add in healthy carbohydrates for the evening meal. In weight loss research, an alternate-day-fasting approach that uses fat as fuel while reducing protein and carbohydrate intake most of but not all of the time is sometimes called a “fasting-mimicking” diet and has shown a lot of efficacy. Positive results are precisely what we want! No pain, all gain!
In my book, Glow15, I will show you how to use a high-fat diet and cycle your protein intake wisely to do both! Let me help you hack your metabolism to lose weight and bring your sexy back as you renew skin, hair, nails, improve muscle quality, and defend against long-term disease!
Here are 15 Ways To Get Your Sexy Back Starting NOW:
- Start your morning with delicious fat – maybe a couple of eggs and some avocado or a handful of olives.
- Or, skip breakfast and have a cup of autophagy-inducing tea. You can make your own by steeping a bag of green and Earl Grey tea made with real bergamot, some Ceylon cinnamon and a couple teaspoons of virgin coconut oil.
- Start adding intervals of high-intensity bursts to your workouts. If you don’t have an exercise routine, go for a 20 – minute walk and cycle through a minute of walking as fast as you can and a couple minutes of walking at a comfortable pace.
- A couple times of week add some heavy lifting to your workout. This could mean a yoga class, swimming, weight lifting or even just carrying your grocery bad instead of using a shopping cart. Get creative and get moving!
- Boost the effects of exercise with a hot shower afterwards. The heat will boost autophagy and prolong the effects of your workout.
- Snack happy. Fat boosts our feel-good neurotransmitters. Trade your afternoon chips and salsa for kale chips and guacamole. What we all need at 3pm is definitely not a sugar crash, but a boost in morale and good energy.
- Indulge in veggies. You can never have too many non – starchy vegetables. They are filled with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Get creative if the thought of filling your plate with celery sticks bores you. Try radish, dandelion greens or watercress to add some adventure to your routine!
- Set yourself up for success by meditating first thing in the morning. This is when you need it the most since your blood pressure and stress hormones are at their highest. Stress rules your sexy so if you want to look and feel hot, make meditation part of your daily ritual.
- Take advantage of your circadian rhythm and your second sleep by taking a nap. Find a dark place -whether a room in your home, your car, or even a stall in a public bathroom, and allow yourself 10 minutes rest to recharge and face your day.
- New to fasting? Here’s a tip to get started: brush your teeth after dinner. When your mouth is minty clean and ready for bed, you’ll be less likely to raid your fridge and break your fast.
- Feeling festive? Celebrate with the Powerphenol resveratrol. Have a glass of red wine.
- Get sensual. I love taking a beauty bath to calm down and tune out the external world. Getting in touch with how it feels to be in you body boosts your connectivity and self confidence, Take your beauty bath to the next level by adding some essential bergamot oil. Not only is it great aromatherapy but it’s also great for your skin. Add 2-3 drops to your bath.
- Get your sexy on – literally. Initiate autophagy by having sex tonight. Not only will you reconnect with your partner, but you’ll both be making each other’s cells act younger.
- Enjoy feeling good in your body with professional bodywork such as acupucnture or massage therapy.
- Or, practice some DIY beauty treatments that will leave your skin feeling fresh and renewed.
You might not be able to do all 15 of these in a week but adding a few here and there can make a difference in how you. Small steps lead to big changes, especially if you repeat the new behaviors until they become favorite habits.