Nutrition, Wellness
 A Complete Guide to Autophagy Through Fasting

 A Complete Guide to Autophagy Through Fasting

Autophagy is a vital process where the body cells clean out damaged components to regenerate newer, healthier cells.

Autophagy comes from the words meaning “self-eating”. Researchers have found links between autophagy and health benefits. They have also found that fasting can trigger autophagy.

This article will show you everything you need to know about autophagy through fasting.

A 2015 report showed that autophagy is a natural process where the body responds to the buildup of unwanted molecules in the cells that lead to damage.


 A Complete Guide to Autophagy Through Fasting

Autophagy has the following benefits:

-A 2019 study found that autophagy can stall the development of cancer cells. However, the study also found that autophagy can promote cancer cells’ growth in the later stages of the tumour.

Research found that autophagy can help protect the liver from drug and alcohol damage.

-Further research found that autophagy contributes to the stalling of Wilson’s disease, acute liver injury, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic alcohol-related disease.

-Autophagy removes toxic proteins from the cells that are attributed to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

-Autophagy plays a role in delaying the ageing process.

Studies show that autophagy reduces inflammation of cells which are infected.

-Additionally, research shows that autophagy boosts immunity by protecting cells against invading microbes.

Further research still needs to be conducted to determine if autophagy can be used to treat further illnesses.

Signs of autophagy

You can monitor your body from home to see if autophagy is happening.

It’s difficult to measure autophagy properly, but you can observe autophagy-related structures while on a calorie deficit diet or fasting.

They include:

-Low blood glucose. When your blood sugar drops, your body raises cortisol, growth hormones and ketones, which enable the beginning of autophagy.

-Weight loss: Autophagy can help with fat oxidation. Weight loss can be a sign of the process.

-Reduced appetite: If you’re consistently not hungry even while fasting, your body may be producing ketones that will begin to feed your body.

-Lowered insulin levels


Autophagy occurs naturally in the body. However, it’s possible to trigger it.

It’s possible to trigger autophagy through fasting, exercise or calorie-restrictive diets like the ketogenic diet.

Fasting refers to voluntarily going through long periods without food, whereas calorie restriction reduces the regular intake of food.

Fasting doesn’t always lead to calorie restriction because it depends on what you eat after breaking the fast.

The research found that you can trigger autophagy through fasting and calorie restriction. However, the studies were conducted on animals.

Further studies found that you can most effectively trigger autophagy through fasting.

So how can your body trigger autophagy through fasting? When you go on a fast, your body changes its metabolism. It starts using fat for fuel rather than glucose from carbohydrates.

Due to this induced stress, your body will induce a survival repairing mode in your cells. Your body will try to clean out or recycle any unnecessary or damaged parts.

However, scientists still don’t know which specific cells experience autophagy through fasting. For example, you can’t target fat cells when triggering autophagy.


This is how to induce autophagy in other ways other than fasting.

You can achieve autophagy without fasting by:


Studies show that physical exercise can bring about autophagy in cells that are part of the body’s metabolism and regulation processes. These are the muscles, pancreas, liver and adipose tissue.

Further research also suggests that exercise causes stress to the cells. Cells become inflamed after physical exercise, and the body responds by inducing autophagy.

There is evidence that physical exercise induces autophagy in human muscles.

2.      CURCUMIN

Another way to trigger autophagy is increasing turmeric intake. Studies show that curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, restored autophagy in animals. The study further revealed that the autophagy could protect against diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Other studies observed lab mice that had consumed curcumin. The autophagy induced in the brain helped fight cognitive impairment that was caused by chemotherapy.

However, scientists are still uncertain whether consuming curcumin can induce autophagy in humans.


A study observed the effects of intermittent fasting. In the 2019 study, 11 overweight adults ate only between 8 am and 2 pm. They showed more signs of autophagy after 18 hours compared to the control group. They were observed for signs of autophagy after 12 hours.

In another study, a group who fasted for 72 hours showed increased autophagy after a biopsy of their skeletal muscle tissue.

Autophagy begins when liver glycogen is depleted. This is about 12-16 hours into a fast. Autophagy peaks at around 16-24 hours then drop after another 48 hours.


As we have noted before, autophagy has multiple benefits, including reducing the risk of diabetes and counteractive negative consequences of ageing.

You may need to accelerate or boost autophagy, especially since autophagy decreases as you age.

Here are ways you can speed up autophagy.


Some companies produce supplements specifically for autophagy.

Other foods that promote autophagy are coffee, green tea, turmeric, ginger, ginseng, garlic, reishi mushrooms, pomegranate and elderberries.


A dip in nutrients sends signals to your cells to dump ineffective parts and rebuild cells. Some experts suggest the 16/8 IF plan (where you fast for 16 hours and eat within the next eight-hour window) is the most effective to trigger autophagy through fasting.

The 5:2 method (where you restrict yourself to 500 calories for two days and normally eat for the other five) is also recommended.

3.      KETO DIET

The keto diet is a low-carb/high-fat diet. The drastic reduction of carbs puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, which induces autophagy.


This is also known as protein fasting. It involves designating one or two days a week to limit protein consumption to 15 or 20 grams.

It is believed that doing this makes your body experience the effects of fasting without deprivation.

5.      EXERCISE

Moderate exercise for 30 minutes per day can induce autophagy. Excessive exercise will negate the benefits of autophagy.

6.      SAUNA

According to Science Daily, exposing your body to high temperatures stimulates the lymph system, which can induce autophagy.


Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night optimizes your body for autophagy. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, plays an essential role in regulating autophagy. Getting enough sleep keeps your melatonin levels optimal.


Attempting to induce autophagy through fasting or other ways can lead to adverse side effects. Studies show that excessive autophagy can destroy heart cells.

Scientists have also found a link between excessive autophagy and heart complications.

There isn’t much research exploring all the effects and causes of autophagy in the human body. Before you change your diet to induce autophagy, make sure you consult with your doctor.

You need medical advice before changing your lifestyle for autophagy.

You should also consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have diabetes or heart disease before trying to trigger autophagy through fasting.

If you’re trying to trigger autophagy for the first time, it’s recommended that you add fasting and exercise to your routine.

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