Loose skin can be a source of frustration when trying to lose weight. It can take away a woman’s confidence at a time when she should be filled with pride in her accomplishment. Doing longer fasts – between 1-3 days – or combining exercise, good nutrition, and intermittent fasting can prevent loose skin from occurring while putting in the weight loss effort to look and feel your best.
Bat wings, stomach aprons, thigh rubbers. Call that loose hanging skin on your arms, belly, bottom, neck, and thighs by any name . . . it doesn’t matter. All of it is unwanted and can steal your self-confidence when you should be celebrating on your weight-loss journey.
Some women opt for surgical removal of the extra skin, but if that isn’t the right option for you, perhaps fasting is.
There is a genetic component to loose skin after weight loss, but genes aren’t the only culprit. Not everyone who loses weight will experience hanging skin. But for those who do, it is usually due to decreased collagen and elastin production.
Collagen and elastin are proteins found in connective tissue. They work together to give the skin firmness and elasticity. Collagen provides structure and helps keep skin firm and supple. Elastin is responsible for bringing the skin back to its original shape after being stretched. Both are required for healthy, elastic skin.
Other reasons for saggy skin or wrinkles are:
There is so much information about the fat-burning benefits of fasting that many ask: can fasting tighten skin too?
Fasting refers to when you refrain from putting nutrients into the body for a length of time. When in a fasted state, the body switches from using sugars from the foods you eat for energy to burning your stored fat for fuel. If you remain in a fasted state long enough, you will trigger the body’s natural cell recycling process of autophagy.
Fasting and autophagy don’t directly rid the body of loose skin, but they help trigger processes that can prevent the skin from loosening in the first place.
Autophagy is how the body gets rid of the faulty parts of the cell that cause issues such as disease, inflammation, and aging. The process repairs the damaged cell and heals itself.
There have been several studies on how autophagy prevents loose skin. The research shows that the cells of our connective tissues make collagen. The collagen fibers keep the skin firm. As we age, the cells have more difficulty performing, and in some cases, are unable to produce collagen due to a buildup of waste clogging up the cell. This leads to both wrinkles and loose skin (1).
Extra weight on the body over stretches the skin and weakens the collagen and elastin fibers. The skin “bounces back” less easily after significant weight loss. The heavier a person is and the longer the weight has been carried, the looser the skin (2).
Autophagy is the perfect remedy for cleaning up the cellular waste that is causing the lack of collagen and elastin production that results in loose skin. The increased collagen and elastin due to autophagy naturally firms up the skin and keeps it elastic (3)
There is no exact fasting length that kick-starts autophagy. Depending on factors such as what you last consumed before fasting, autophagy for some people may start as early as 12 hours into the fast. But the maximum benefits of autophagy seem to occur between 24-48 hours of being nutrient-deprived (4).
A water fast or prolonged fast means not eating for 24 or more hours. How water fasting benefits skin, especially loose skin, is by allowing the body time to take full advantage of autophagy. During this time, the damaged goods are cleared away, allowing the process that keeps the skin firm and elastic to function properly. These fasts should be done periodically, not daily.
Adopting an intermittent fasting lifestyle can trigger autophagy on a more consistent basis, but note that you likely won’t be receiving the same skin-related benefits with a shorter fast.
Try the 16/8, the 5:2, the alternate day, or other methods and receive the intermittent fasting skin benefits, especially when combined with other autophagy-inducing activities.
Fasting benefits skin appearance by keeping it firm yet flexible, reducing loose skin while losing weight.
Loose skin is usually the result of decreased skin elasticity due to a decline in collagen and elastin production. It can occur because of age, significant or rapid weight loss, and poor diet.
Staying in a fasted state for enough hours triggers autophagy. The clogged cells that produce collagen and elastin are cleaned so they can function correctly.
Periodic water fasting for up to 3 days is recommended to combat sagging skin. Intermittent fasting, good nutrition, supplements, and exercise – along with skin massage and lotions – can also help.
1. Kim HS, Park SY, Moon SH, Lee JD, Kim S. Autophagy in Human Skin Fibroblasts: Impact of Age. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(8):2254. 2018 Aug 1. doi:10.3390/ijms19082254
2. Sami K, Elshahat A, Moussa M, Abbas A, Mahmoud A. Image analyzer study of the skin in patients with morbid obesity and massive weight loss. Eplasty. 2015;15:e4.
3. Tashiro K, Shishido M, Fujimoto K, et al. Age-related disruption of autophagy in dermal fibroblasts modulates extracellular matrix components. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014;443(1):167-172. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.11.066
4. Alirezaei M, Kemball CC, Flynn CT, Wood MR, Whitton JL, Kiosses WB. Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Autophagy. 2010 Aug 16; 6(6): 702–710. doi: 10.4161/auto.6.6.12376
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