autophagy fasting

Autophagy and fasting 9 most important questions

Autophagy literary means eating thyself. In autophagy, the body uses its own damaged parts in cells for energy in other word body eats its own damaged cells.

Renowned longevity expert “Peter Attia” once asked his audience whether they will switch place with warren buffet? Will they trade their health with a wealth of warren buffet?

Consider this you have all the wealth of Warren Buffet, you can buy almost anything, you can go anywhere but with a body of 88 years old person.

I ask you same question will you trade your healthy body for the wealth of warren buffet? I will not do this and certainly, you also not do this either.

This question emphasizes the fact that health is important than money. So spending 1-2 hours per day for a healthy body is more important than spending 12 hours a day on work which earns you money.

Autophagy was first described in 1962 when researchers noted an increase in the number of lysosomes (the part of the cell that destroys stuff) in rat liver cells after infusing glucagon (Glucagon is hormone just like insulin).

On October 3rd, 2016, the Nobel Assembly at “Karolinska Institutet”, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to “Yoshinori Ohsumi” for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy.

What is autophagy ?

Even if we clean our house daily, we clean it thoroughly before spring or major event. Why we do that? Because we understand regular cleaning is not enough. House accumulates lot trash over the time which is not cleaned in daily routine. You need to clean every part of the home at least once in a year to keep it in good shape.

Similarly, our body cleans itself daily by sweat, urine, and poop. But it’s not enough, lot of toxic trash accumulates inside the body over time and we need to clean this trash every few days to keep our body in good health. If this cleaning not done toxic trash may harm our health in longer period of time.

Autophagy is a process which means self-cleaning, all the proteins and cells need to be recycled. It is an important cellular process that takes care of cleaning cells just like you clean your house, car and yourself. It is the mechanisms by which cells clean themselves.

What does autophagy do for the body?

What will happen if you don’t clean your home, don’t repair or remove broken furniture, electronics? Initially, it will degrade your standard of living and after some time you can’t live in that house because most of the things are broken or not working.

Same way if autophagy doesn’t work, the body will start accumulating toxic trash, and slowly it will degrade your health they eventually you will be a victim of major disease like cancer and die.

No matter how many times you clean your home regularly if this cleaning stops, the quality of living will suffer. Similarly, cells accumulate lots of unwanted proteins and parts which it doesn’t need anymore, with some malfunctioning part cell themselves become broken and dangerous to the body.

At cell levels, this cleaning is done by something known as “lysosomes”. They act like a garbage truck, they pick up all the waste inside the cells and break that garbage in smaller pieces which used as energy by a cell.

Refer below pic for more details on cells structure

autophagy fasting

Degenerative diseases like Cancer, Alzheimer and cardiovascular diseases occurs because the body was not able to clean garbage in its cells.

But why in first place this damage occurs in cells, it’s due to free radicals. If you control these free radicals your body will have less damaged cells. Fasting or eating very low calories means low free radicals which result in low garbage inside cells.

for example, the liver is an important organ for food digestion when you don’t eat liver activates its cleaning mechanism and dumps toxic substance out of the body and replacing damaged cells with a new one with help of autophagy.

On other hands, if you keep eating every now and then, the liver never gets a chance to repair itself and eventually starts to fail. So one thing you can do to improve your health is stop eating or snacking every now and then.

When we are young, cell cleaning works well, as we age cell cleaning start to slow.

When brain biopsies were done for younger people, very little junk found in brain cells compared to older people had a lot of cellular debris. Which may be accumulating since 20-30yesr back.  If you want this plaque junk to get out of your brain autophagy is the way.

What is apoptosis?

Apoptosis is very similar to autophagy, apoptosis means programmed cell death. Means every cell in body programmed for death after some time. After which dead cells are replaced with new cells.

Cells die prematurely due to various reasons like chronic stress or inflammation.

It’s somewhat different from autophagy, in which bad parts of cells are recycled for energy as well as replaced by new functioning parts.

autophagy fasting

When you buy a new car it will work flawlessly for some days after which you need to service it, and may need to replace few parts like oil filter, suspension which is very similar to autophagy whereas after using car for multiple years you will find car is turned to junk and you might want to replace it with entirely new car which is very similar to apoptosis

What is “mtor” ?

In simple words, mtor (mammalian target of rapamycin) is a kind of protein pathway or enzyme (master controller of protein synthesis) which controls various cells activities like cell growth, cell recycling and many other.

When mtor is high it promotes growth and when low body goes in repair and maintenance mode also called as autophagy.

What makes mtor high are glucose and amino acids, what makes it low is fasting and low calorie diet.

What triggers autophagy ?

Autophagy occurs in the body without any special trigger, but studies shown that one can increase the speed of autophagy in fasting or low-calorie diet.

There are 3 major ways to speed up autophagy

  1. Fasting
  2. Exercise
  3. Low carb, low protein high-fat diet (ketogenic diet)
  • Exercise triggers cell cleansing, by doing exercise you force the body to renew cells and remove old ones.
  • When a person goes in ketosis or short in energy from glucose body start the autophagy process to get energy from junk inside the body.[Study 1]
  • Normally fasting for 8 to 12 hours increases the speed of autophagy. 24 hour or longer fast show wonderful results.
  • A small habit like skipping a meal or no snacks between meals can also increase the speed of autophagy.
  • Fasting increase level of glucagon hormone which increases the speed of autophagy.
  • Fasting not only raises the speed of autophagy, it also increase growth hormone in the body which stimulates new cell growth. Which mean a renewed body.

What turns off autophagy?

Glucose stops autophagy, even a small amount of food can generate glucose and raises insulin levels. Which can stop autophagy completely.

That’s why fasting is more effective than low calories diets for triggering autophagy.

Life thrives on balance, too much autophagy is not a good thing. Hence fasting must be followed by normal eating for new cell generation and removal of toxic substance during the fasting period.

Autophagy diet plan?

Intermittent fasting is the best way to increase the speed of autophagy. However, a diet which is high in fat low in carbs and protein can also trigger autophagy.

Fasting for 3 days in a week and having a ketogenic diet on remaining days will show good result within few days.

For more details read here.

What are autophagy benefits?

Below are major benefits of autophagy

  • Anti-aging
  • Reduces the risk of chronic disease like cancer, Alzheimer, dementia etc. [Study 2]
  • Improved muscle mass and body composition
  • Increased level of human growth hormone

Read more in details here

Autophagy and Loose skin

  • Weight loss by low-calorie diet or intermittent fasting both produce a different body.
  • On low-calorie diet, a person has loose skin which looks ugly like an empty sack. Because body still holds on those empty fat cells previously used for storing fat but now empty. Also to the fact that the body doesn’t know what to do with those empty cells.
  • Either person needs to undergo skin removal surgery or wait for nature to phase out those cells and tighten skin.
  • In intermittent fasting person puts his body in autophagy consistently, the body starts using those empty fat cells for energy. In result is skin automatically gets tightened without loose skin or stretch marks.
  • How much time it will take to show visible effect will depend on the time you spend on fasting. The longer term fasts you do, early you see visible effect. A longer-term means longer than 48 hours.


  • Autophagy is a process which occurs inside body cell.
  • Cell collects all the broken part of itself, and break down those parts to provide energy to the body.
  • It can be speed up by external factors like fasting, exercise or low calories diet.
  • If you have any health condition or taking any kind of medicine, please consult your doctor before trying out anything.
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