4 Ways to Increase Autophagy During Fasting

Fasting has become an increasingly popular way to improve health and lose weight. One of the biggest benefits of fasting is that it activates a process called autophagy. Autophagy is when cells break down and recycle components that are no longer useful. This article outlines four research-backed ways to maximize autophagy while fasting.

Exercise While Hungry

Research shows that feeling hungry activates a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin signals the body to start using fat stores for energy. It also triggers increased autophagy.

Studies in mice found that those unable to produce ghrelin can become dangerously hypoglycemic when fasting. This is because ghrelin kickstarts the autophagy process which provides glucose to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Humans rely on this same mechanism. Feeling hungry prompts ghrelin release and ramps up autophagy. By exercising when hungry, especially early in the fast, you can amplify the autophagy response. The combination of fasting, hunger hormones, and exercise is a powerful stimulus for cellular cleanup and recycling.

Even light exercise like walking helps. Just avoid overdoing it, which can be counterproductive on an empty stomach.

Get Hungry Again

It’s common for hunger to decrease as your body adapts to regular fasting. However, this reduction in hunger hormones likely impairs autophagy.

The key is to take occasional fasting breaks. This allows ghrelin levels to rebound so you get hungry again during fasts. Returning to a state of hunger when fasting helps reactivate autophagy.

Think of fasting adaptation as going in cycles. Don’t constantly force yourself to fast through hunger. Take a day or two off periodically to let hormones reset. Getting hungry while fasting is a sign your body has not fully adapted – meaning autophagy remains activated.

Use Heat Exposure

Sauna use powerfully complements fasting. Studies show sauna heat ramps up production of heat shock proteins that assist with the autophagy process.

If you don’t have sauna access, soaking in a hot bath may provide similar benefits. The heat exposure mimics sauna conditions. Just be careful not to overheat.

Infrared sauna blankets are another option if you want sauna-like effects at home. While not identical to traditional saunas, infrared also boosts heat shock proteins and autophagy.

For maximal autophagy, use heat therapy towards the end of a fasting period when autophagy is already elevated. This stacks two complementary autophagy-boosting strategies.

Go Low-Carb Before Fasting

Eating lots of carbs causes insulin levels to spike. Research confirms that high insulin inhibits autophagy.

Try going low-carb the day before starting a fast. This primes your body by lowering insulin before fasting begins. Entering a fast in a low insulin state allows autophagy to kick in faster and stronger.

You don’t need full ketosis. Just reduce carbs below your normal intake for a day. This small change can pay dividends in terms of maximizing the autophagy response when you start fasting.

Eating lots of carbs causes insulin levels to spike. Research confirms that high insulin inhibits autophagy.

Therefore, it’s strategic to go low-carb in the 24 hours before kicking off a fast. This primes your metabolism by lowering insulin before depriving yourself of food.

Insulin State Allows Autophagy to Switch On

Entering a fast already in a low insulin state allows autophagy to switch on faster and more potently once fasting begins. The low insulin removes a key autophagy barrier.

You don’t need to be in full ketosis or follow strict keto. Simply reduce your normal carb intake for a day. For example:

  • Skip the bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. Focus on protein, vegetables and natural fats.
  • Avoid sugary snacks and desserts. Limit higher carb fruits.
  • Don’t drink sweetened or carb-heavy beverages. Stick to water, unsweetened tea/coffee, and sparkling water.

Making these simple substitutions the day before a planned fast can pay big dividends. You prime your body for an amplified autophagy response right from the start.

Research also suggests intermittent fasting 2-3 days per week is ideal. This allows your metabolism to reset between fasts, keeping insulin and autophagy fluctuations in balance.

Going low-carb before fasting, along with avoiding daily fasting, lets you maximize the autophagy return on your fasting investment.

Conclusion – for health and longevity benefits

Autophagy provides powerful health and longevity benefits. Use these research-backed tips to squeeze the most autophagy out of your fasting regimen:

  • Exercise when hungry
  • Get hungry again by taking occasional breaks
  • Use heat exposure like saunas or hot baths
  • Go low-carb before fasting

Implementing one or more of these strategies will help you boost autophagy so your fasts are as productive and rejuvenating as possible.

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