Do you take your car in for regular service?
I am sure you do or else the car will not drive to optimal performance.
Do you do the same for your body?
Well your body does something called autophagy – “self-eating” – It is a regulated, orderly process to degrade and recycle cellular components.1
It is the same as replacing a timing belt, a new exhaust or a new battery for your car.
Cells become old and junky and by turning on autophagy you’re going to promote cellular repair.
“Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes,” stated Colin Champ, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Autophagy also has the ability to clear out old protein that could prevent the development of Alzheimer’s Disease 2 along with these other benefits:
- Reduction in inflammation
- Improved immune system
- Slows down the aging process 3
- Eats up cancerous cells and tumors 4
- Kills infectious particles and toxins 5
What is the best way to promote autophagy in our own bodies?
Fasting – Nutrient deprivation is the key activator of autophagy.6
Fasting also stimulates growth hormone, which tells our body to start producing some new parts for the body as well. 7
How long should you fast for?
- If you have never done it I recommend starting slowly by using the Intermittent Fasting Guide to help guide you through it.
- If you are experienced at intermittent fasting I would shoot for 36-hour mark to promote autophagy.
A study looking at the number of autophagosomes (the cellular organelles that degrade dysfunctional proteins) increased 300% after 24 hours of fasting, and a further 30% after 48 hours of fasting. 8 In addition to looking at the number of autophagosomes in a cell, the brain study looked at a handful of metabolic markers that are indicative of autophagy being stimulated. Almost all of these markers peaked between 24 and 36 hours.
What turns off autophagy?
Eating which causes an increase in glucose, insulin, and proteins all turn off this self-cleaning process.
So this process of autophagy is unique to fasting – something not found in caloric restriction or dieting.
It all leads us back to a balance of feasting and fasting. Not constant dieting.
If the idea of fasting 24+ hours is intimidating, don’t worry and start slow.
The best way to minimize the hunger and discomfort you feel during an extended fast is to reduce your blood sugar fluctuations the day or two prior to a fast.
Do this by cutting way back on refined carbohydrates.
For 1 to 2 days ahead of a fast eliminate rice, bread, pasta, fruit, sugary drinks, and desserts. (anything refined or processed) Replace these with leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc) and healthy fats (avocado, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, etc. If you include enough healthy fats and greens, you’ll still feel plenty satisfied after your meals.
During the fast, make sure to stay busy and drink plenty of water with Himalayan pink salt along with warm liquids like green tea or black coffee to ride out any hunger waves. (no sweeteners)
Also, taking exogenous ketones can give you more energy, suppress your appetite and are the only energy source that won’t disrupt the beneficial processes of fasting. It provides a quick external energy source for the brain – and – encourages the body to break down its own fat stores for energy at a faster rate. This will help make fasting easier as well.
So spring is here and it’s time to rejuvenate your body and mind after a long winter!! So find a friend or partner to fast with because it is always easier when you are not alone.
Have a great day!
1 Genes Dev. 2007 Nov 15;21(22):2861-73.
2 J Neurosci. 1996 Jan;16(1):186-99.
3 Autophagy. 2005 Oct-Dec;1(3):131-40. Epub 2005 Oct 13.
4 Cancer Res. 2006 Oct 1;66(19):9349-51.
5 Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2009; 335: 169–188. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-00302-8_8
7 J Clin Invest. 1988 Apr; 81(4): 968–975. doi: 10.1172/JCI113450
Was this Article Helpful?
If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons below. You will also find other great articles at “Exercise Science“.
My goal is to help transform your life, and inspire you to become happier and healthier. I am part personal trainer, part golfer, part internet entrepreneur, part author, part health coach, and I have a passion for getting the most out of individuals.
Latest posts by Brian Gryn
- Do you take your car in for regular service? - April 10, 2018