Protein Fasting: Does it Work?

There are plenty of diets to choose from, but the protein fast is something people do not talk about as much. It is because protein is an important structural component of cells in the body and not consuming enough does not make sense, but there are a few benefits. Entrepreneur and health enthusiast, David Asprey, believes so, and makes a case for protein fasting in his blog. 

In a video attached to the content, Asprey explained why he thinks it works. The idea behind protein fasting on one day a week and consuming 15 grams or less of protein, on perhaps a cheat day, is to give the body a chance to cleanse itself of damaged cells. While allowing yourself to indulge in a little bit of sugar and fruit, and cheat on the low carb diet a bit, restraint must be exercised on protein just for this day, Asprey advised.  

But why? He said that within two days, startling results will appear. A cellular repair process is initiated called autophagy. Studies have said that you have to fast for 24 to 48 hours to induce autophagy with best effects. Intermittent fasting, ketogenic diets and exercising are some of the other routes taken to achieve the state. Autophagy helps turn off inflammation and turn on mental focus by stimulating the dormant cellular repair process active in all cells. It recycles dead and dying cells, and repairs them, boosting immunity in the process.  

An important regulator, mTOR (mammalian target of rapomycin), enables the process of autophagy. An expert on intermittent fasting, Dr. Jason Fung, is also a proponent of protein fasting. He said that  mTOR is a protein sensor and does not support the function of autophagy when there is a lot of protein available in the body.

Fung added that since mTOR is only turned off by protein but not by calories per se, consuming nothing but high calorie fat could surprisingly still enable autophaging. He said that consuming products like the bulletproof coffee a couple of times a day can add 1,000-1,500 calories. However, it has short term benefits such as inducing autophagy. 

Consuming animal or plant proteins does not make a difference. Whole proteins from vegetables, beans and rice can reduce mTOR's abilities as it senses them equally. Attaining a state of autophagy is crucial to removing dead cells and organelles to ensure longevity and prevent aging. There is more research that needs to be done to support these multitude of theories, but there is enough anecdotal evidence to try it at least once.   

36 Chicken Breast Going on a protein fast once a week can enable a process called autophagy that cleans out dead cells and repairs the body, boosting immunity. Getty Images