Fasting and Autophagy – Fasting 25

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What is autophagy? The word derives from the Greek auto (self) and phagein (to eat). So the word literally means to eat oneself. Essentially, this is the body’s mechanism of getting rid of all the broken down, old cell machinery (organelles, proteins and cell membranes) when there’s no longer enough energy to sustain it. It is a regulated, orderly process to degrade and recycle cellular components. junker_sot_up

There is a similar, better known process called apoptosis also known as programmed cell death. Cells, after a certain number of division, are programmed to die. While this may sound kind of macabre at first, realize that this process is essential in maintaining good health. For example, suppose you own a car. You love this car. You have great memories in it. You love to ride it.

But after a few years, it starts to look kind of beat up. After a few more, it’s not looking so great. The car is costing you thousands of dollars every year to maintain. It’s breaking down all the time. Is it better to keep it around when it’s nothing but a hunk of junk? Obviously not. So you get rid of it and buy a snazzy new car.

The same thing happens in the body. Cells become old and junky. It is better that they be programmed to die when their useful life is done. It sounds really cruel, but that’s life. That’s the process of apoptosis, where cells are pre-destined to die after a certain amount of time. It’s like leasing a car. After a certain amount of time, you get rid of the car, whether it’s still working or not. Then you get a new car. You don’t have to worry about it breaking down at the worst possible time.

The same process also happens at a sub-cellular level. You don’t necessarily need to replace the entire car. Sometimes, you just need to replace the battery, throw out the old one and get a new one. This also happens in the cells. Instead of killing off the entire cell (apoptosis), you only want to replace some cell parts. That is the process of autophagy, where sub-cellular organelles are destroyed and new ones are rebuilt to replace it. Old cell membranes, organelles and other cellular debris can be removed. This is done by sending it to the lysosome which is a specialized organelle containing enzymes to degrade proteins.

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. The Nobel prize winning scientist Christian de Duve coined the term autophagy. Damaged sub cellular parts and unused proteins become marked for destruction and then sent to the lysosomes to finish the job.

One of the key regulators of autophagy is the kinase called mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). When mTOR is activated, it suppresses autophagy, and when dormant, it promotes it.

Nutrient deprivation is the key activator of autophagy. Remember that glucagon is kind of the opposite hormone to insulin. It’s like the game we played as kids – ‘opposite day’. If insulin goes up, glucagon goes down. If insulin goes down, glucagon goes up. As we eat insulin goes up and glucagon goes down. When we don’t eat (fast) insulin goes down and glucagon goes up. This increase in glucagon stimulates the process of autophagy. In fact, fasting (raises glucagon) provides the greatest known boost to autophagy.

This is in essence a form of cellular cleansing. The body identifies old and substandard cellular equipment and marks it for destruction. It is the accumulation of all this junk that may be responsible for many of the effects of aging.

Fasting is actually far more beneficial than just stimulating autophagy. It does two good things. By stimulating autophagy, we are clearing out all our old, junky proteins and cellular parts. At the same time, fasting also stimulates growth hormone, which tells our body to start producing some new snazzy parts for the body. We are really giving our bodies the complete renovation.

You need to get rid of the old stuff before you can put in new stuff. Think about renovating your kitchen. If you have old, crappy 1970s style lime green cabinets sitting around, you need to junk them before putting in some new ones. So the process of destruction (removal) is just as important as the process of creation. If you simply tried to put in new cabinets without taking out the old ones, it would be pretty fugly. So fasting may actually reverse the entire aging process by getting rid of old cellular junk and replacing it with new parts.

Autophagy is a highly regulated process. If it runs amok, out of control, this would be detrimental, so it must be carefully controlled. In mammalian cells, total depletion of amino acids is a strong signal for autophagy, but the role of individual amino acids is more variable. However, the plasma amino acid levels vary only a little. Amino acid signals and growth factor/ insulin signals are thought to converge on the mTOR pathway – sometimes called the master regulator of nutrient signalling.

So, during autophagy, old junky cell components are broken down into the component amino acids (the building block of proteins). What happens to these amino acids? In the early stages of starvation, amino acid levels start to increase. It is thought that these amino acids derived from autophagy are delivered to the liver for gluconeogenesis. They can also be broken down into glucose through the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. The third potential fate of amino acids is to be incorporated into new proteins.

The consequences of accumulating old junky proteins all over the place can be seen in two main conditions – Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and cancer. Alzheimer’s Disease involves the accumulation of abnormal protein – either amyloid beta or Tau protein which gums up the brain system. It would make sense that a process like autophagy that has the ability to clear out old protein could prevent the development of AD.

What turns off autophagy? Eating. Glucose, insulin (or decreased glucagon) and proteins all turn off this self-cleaning process. And it doesn’t take much. Even a small amount of amino acid (leucine) could stop autophagy cold. So this process of autophagy is unique to fasting – something not found in simple caloric restriction or dieting.

There is a balance here, of course. You get sick from too much autophagy as well as too little. Which gets us back to the natural cycle of life – feast and fast. Not constant dieting. This allows for cell growth during eating, and cellular cleansing during fasting – balance. Life is all about balance.

2017-10-19T12:49:28+00:00 141 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Fung is a Toronto based kidney specialist, having graduated from the University of Toronto and finishing his medical specialty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He is the author of the bestsellers ‘The Obesity Code’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’. He has pioneered the use of therapeutic fasting for weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal in his IDM clinic.

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141 Comments on "Fasting and Autophagy – Fasting 25"

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Stephen Gordon
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I have been doing IF for 1,193 straight days. Eating every 16 to 20 hours but mostly 18. I also exercise heavily. I’m 67 & have never felt better. Also have been on a Paleo diet for 6 years.

The results have been that I’ve lost a 100 pounds & got rid of a host of metabolic syndromes without any medications. I started seriously taking care of my poor health at 57 & the point is is that it’s never too late to turn your health around…

Ermias
Guest

Does eating a sandwich stop the fast?
Just joking.
I’m having trouble understanding why people are having trouble understanding.
Fasting means fasting – as in no calories. None. As in zero.

Lil' Edgy
Guest

Yes Ermias, it will stop the fast unless you are merely eating the sand, which is there. Very old joke

Wenchypoo
Guest

Does autophagy happen in the brain too…as in beyond the post-menopausal blood-brain barrier? If so, how does the waste matter get OUT of the brain (through the post-menopausal blood-brain barrier)? Is there any sort of supplement help we can give to speed up the cleanout of our aging brains?

sten Bjorsell
Guest
A lot of the debris is reformed to energy and useful amino acids according to the post. Maybe some of that takes place “in situ”, and some conversions are made in the liver. The “Blood brain barrier” is in essence blood vessel capillaries as in other tissues, although they may have special filters in the brain, but nutrients and wastes need to exchange well also there! If I am wrong please correct! Regarding the frequent question on how long before autophagy is initiated, it must depend on the amount of activity in the fasted state, activity the day before and… Read more »
karalee
Guest

The lymphatic system extends into the brain. When I have done extended fasts I felt de-toxing from the brain too 🙂 A good quality rebounder designed to move lymphatic fluids is also good for helping the lymph system move buildup of toxins out of the brain – and the rest of the body too.

R.Srinivasan
Guest

I am a hindu brahmin observing full fast for a day once in 15 days , that day is called as Ekadhashi .

Next day early moring we break the fast & take light food after doing puja .

So with this autophagy will work out better .

R.Srinivasan ( India )

Misty
Guest

How long do you need to fast to get this result?

Robert
Guest

Brad Pillion’s Eat Stop Eat goes into this a little more. He suggests that autophagy peaks in the 16 to 24 hour range of a water only fast. Hence his recommended 24 hour fast, once or twice a week.

Sarah
Guest

Hi Robert,

Will coffee (without sugar, milk, cream or butter) cause the autophagy to stop? Any pointers on this? Black coffee helps stop my hunger pangs and hence I do have 2-3 cups of black coffee while fasting for 24 hours.

Thanks,
Sarah

Nils
Guest

Drinking coffee while fasting actually promotes and increases autophagy. Interestingly, both caffeinated coffee and decaf have the same result. However, putting sugar or other sweeteners in the coffee will interfere with autophagy. More info: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=caffeine%20promotes%20autophagy

Mari
Guest

Your link doesn’t work. I’m trying to find studies corcerning Caffeine & Autophagy.

Andrea
Guest

I don’t see any article about the sugar interfering with autophagy.

Shane
Guest

Awesome

Anthony
Guest

Looks like some studies even support the hypothesis that caffeine it actually can promote autophagy. I also wanted to know if I had to give up coffee and put “caffeine promotes autophagy” in google. It returned a lot of great info that says it may be beneficial. I don’t know that there is any definitive answers yet but from what I’ve seen, it seems like it’s ok. No cream or sugar of course.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25268764

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.4161/auto.7.2.14074

Dr. Whi
Guest

I just finished my first 24 hour fast and feel amazing! Had 3 cups of black coffee and two cups of tea in addition to plenty of water entire day yesterday. You don’t have to worry about coffee or tea, but beverages with artificial sweeteners do mess up the hormonal balance.

Julie
Guest

Can u add cream to coffee? If it doesn’t spike insulin shouldn’t it be ok?

Bill
Guest

No it won’t.

Rubana Manzur
Guest

Just follow the us, the Muslim ( you don’t have to do it all 30 days) and do it from sun up to sun down starting tomorrow the 6th June

Servant of Jesus Christ
Guest

Muslims don’t fast. You gorge yourself on all kinds of food at night and don’t eat during the day. That isn’t a fast.

Ahmed, a simple muslim
Guest
Ahmed, a simple muslim
The good Islam practitioner will follow the teachings of Islam about fasting. It looks however that you have come across many Muslims who don’t live those good practices. Fasting goes like this: fast fom dawn to sun-set, breakfast at sunset over few dates (ideally seven) and some water, go do sun-set prayers, you can later eat after prayers under the condition that you only eat a maximum of one third of your stomach and drink another one third and one third is empty. You should take “Sohour” which is the meal before dawn which should be at minimum to drink… Read more »
Jay
Guest

That was very kind of you to take the time to describe Muslim fasting in the manner in which you did. Thank you

Danni
Guest
The beauty of fasting in Islam is, Who said U “have to” eat before Sunrise? Its not mandatory, You can just sip a water, then U fast, so I think more than 18 hour from last dinner. But for women, just google it, fasting cannot to long like men, also when a person have arrythmia cannot extend to long to fast. And during fasting, we cannot say bad to other ppl, or commit sin, there are different level of fast, the highest fast is beside eat drink, sins, is his mind is must focus to God. So moslem 24 hours… Read more »
Danni
Guest

Yes a Muslim cannot eat until full, Prophet Saw said “Stop eating before your stomach full”,

Dude, I was wondering is honey suppress autophagy? honey contain zero protein.

Does anybody know what prophet SAW eat daily from morning when not fasting?

Thanks

Frances
Guest

If you eat before sunrise and then after sunset (as during Ramadan then I wonder whether you will get the benefits of autophagy which requires fasting of 16-24 hours.

Jeanmarie
Guest

Dear “servant of Jesus Christ”:
It’s inappropriate for you to tell someone from a different faith tradition that their mode of fasting is not true fasting. That’s not your place to judge. Why don’t you just concentrate on being more Christ-like instead?

bachcole
Guest

Looking for the bad in others and then spewing back at them in anger doesn’t seem terribly Christian to me.

Determined
Guest

Amen!

David Gilks
Guest

I,ve been using intermittent fasting for about 7 years and have noticed amazing results. I am a 51 year old natural bodybuilder and I have watched people in my age group get older at such fast rate and yet I ( or so I have been told ) don’t look older than my early 40’s. I have investigated nutritional practices for the last two decades and this process has been the most profound I yet to come across.

Ermias Giovanni
Guest

Do you eat a specific type of diet along with the IF schedule?
I wanna be like you when I grow up! 🙂

margy waugh
Guest
Once again a great explanation Dr. Fung. I am a follower of both you and the Diet Doctor! In August 015 my husband had a wake-up call, ending in the ER with what we thought, a cardiac problem, turning out to be a hyper-glycemic state. Having been privileged to accompany brilliant individuals with paradigm shifting concepts in the healthcare environment, simplifying, their brilliant ideas, when I came across one of your first presentations regarding DT2 and carbohydrates, immediately applied the strategy without discussing it with his physicians. (having dealt with the community for over 3 decades …. and totally respecting… Read more »
Andrea Chang
Guest

Hello, I’m trying to help my mom stop or reduce her meds. But we need to do it on our own because here (Lima, Peru) doctors don’t want her to stop eating and just keep telling her she needs to eat carbs. Can you please tell me what your husband did? For how many days did he fast? Didn’t his blood sugar level dropped too low at some point? Did he fast drinking just water or fuits and veggies juice? I’d be really greateful if you can help me

Nyo
Guest
Hello Andrea. If having her fasting is an idea stretched too far I suggest that you silently cut down the carbs and replace it with lot of fat and proteins. Maybe it will be unnoticed. Carbs is the worst of all because it triggers the insulin spikes and consequently prevents any autophagy. Have her replace rice, potatoes and quinoa (since you live in Peru I suppose you have lots of it) by caudiflower with full of cheese spread on it. Give her also lots of green vegetables, advocatoes, eggs, and again cheese. Fish and meat are good too. Last thing:… Read more »
Jennifer
Guest

My nutritional list told me that quinoa is not a grain. It is a seed. It is high in protein low in carbs.

Elena
Guest

Yes, technically a seed not a grain and higher in protein than most other grains and seeds but still too high in carbs….

Victoria West
Guest

I was wondering how long also. I eat 500 calories on my fast days; does that stop autophagy? Also does not eating any calories for 15-16 hours each day give enough time for autophagy?

Bernard P.
Guest

In the above post, Dr. Fung explains that eating even a little stops autophagy. See next-to-last paragraph.

If you eat 500 calories on a given day, you are not truly fasting. You are restricting calories. Why not go all the way and try a true 24-hour fast, with only water, tea, or coffee (no sugar)? Believe me, it’s easier than you think, and it gets easier as you get used to it.

Dr. Fung’s approach is based on true intermittent fasting.

Brian Ralston
Guest

I personally suspect that fasting means what it says: – not DIETING. FASTING = NOT EATING. To me, that means ANY calorie intake whatsoever during a ‘fast’. Otherwise you are turning ‘fast’ into a ‘diet’. It’s seems that is very hard for some people to get one’s head around NOT EATING. Apparently, for centuries, we all have been ‘programmed’ to EAT, EAT, EAT. Fasting, to me is a form of ‘controlled eating’, which translates into a health exercise – NOT starvation or self abnegation.

Valeria
Guest
Dr. Fung does suggest that if one were to eat purely fat, and no protein that they could actually take in hundreds of calories and not interfere with autophagy as MTOR is the regulator of autophagy and a protein sensor, so protein is the turn off for that. If you ate zero carbs, zero protein and a pure fat, you could get all the benefits of fasting without actually fasting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Aw0P7GjHE Around 30 min mark. This is what I was looking at as I want to do a water fast for the benefit of autophagy, but I have daily medication… Read more »
Thomas Yates
Guest

Would eating the fat engage the digestive process though?

Lil' Edgy
Guest

Hi Valeria, I read someplace that fat can raise a hormone which in turns lowers Growth Hormone which in turn inhibits the ability to avoid muscle loss during fasting. I did read it the study in NCBI so It’s not a joke. I can’t find the article right now but I agree with others here to just go cold turkey from about dinner to dinner the next day.

Lil' Edgy
Guest

This is the article about the mistake to eat fat during fasting…https://kinobody.com/diet-and-nutrition/the-truth-about-fat-fasting/

and this is the NCBI study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1967585

Bill
Guest

I have found the easiest way to ‘get over the hump’ on a fasting day is to keep busy! Drink water, tea, or coffee, your favorite (zero calorie) apple cider vinegar cocktail. Water with some salt in it helps me. Brush your teeth-the mint will suppress your appetite. Go for a walk. Read a book. If all else fails, take a nap!. The killer for me is turning the TV on. If I do, I’ll end up eating.

Nils
Guest

In order for autophagy to kick in, you need to have a break of at least 16 hours between meals. One easy solution would be to eat in an “eating window” such as 2 p.m. till 10 p.m., then fast between 10 p.m. and 2 p.m. (16 hours of fasting)

This would give you four hours of autophagy per day.

Madeline Winter
Guest

Are there any studies on adding MCT oil, coconut oil or exogenous keytones to fasting ?
Thank you for this post.

Cristi Vlad
Guest

any caloric foodstuff or beverage you put in your mouth breaks the fast. why use oil and other fats to increase ketosis when most folks have more than enough on their own bodyfat for that purpose?

Michele
Guest

I”m so glad you wrote about this. I was also wondering how long one needs to fast before autophagy starts. 😀

Nils
Guest

The scientific studies I’ve read suggest that autophagy STARTS after 12 hours of fasting. So it’s recommended that you fast for 16 hours a day. This gives you 4 hours of autophagy. It’s also good to, once in a while, spend an entire day or day and a half (24 to 36 hours) fasting. This allows for a “deep cleaning.”

P One
Guest

Nils, could you post references to studies that show the levels of autophagy in humans 12 or more hours after a fast begins?

Jons
Guest
Glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis are partly under the control of glucagon, a hormone produced in the α-cells of the pancreas. During the first 8–12 hours of fasting, glycogenolysis is the primary mechanism by which glucose is made available (Figure 1A). Glucagon facilitates this process and thus promotes glucose appearance in the circulation. Over longer periods of fasting, glucose, produced by gluconeogenesis, is released from the liver. Figure 1. Download figureOpen in new tabDownload powerpoint Figure 1. Glucose homeostasis: roles of insulin and glucagon. 1A. For nondiabetic individuals in the fasting state, plasma glucose is derived from glycogenolysis under the direction of… Read more »
Chip
Guest

@Misty – This paper (http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/17/3/183.full) states “During the first 8–12 hours of fasting, glycogenolysis is the primary mechanism by which glucose is made available…Over longer periods of fasting, glucose, produced by gluconeogenesis, is released from the liver.” This seems to suggest one would need to fast longer than 12 hours to get this effect.

Bernard P.
Guest

Exactly, Dr. Fung has explained this in one of his videos.

J. Bowen
Guest

What about the concentration of Leucine found in bone broths? Is this amount negligible? Long Cooked Chicken Bone Broth
serving Size 8 fl. oz.= ~276.33 mg

Monica
Guest

I looked it up and the most abundant amino acid in bone broth is Glutamic Acid- I wonder if that amino acid does not interfere with autophagy?

Kevin
Guest

I usually will take some essential amino acid supplements when fasting to prevent muscle loss. I am trying to lose about 40 lbs and have started two 24-hour fasts per week. If I understand the post, Leucine stops autophagy…I take supplements that are 30 calories and have 410 MG of leucine. (8 capsules of Now Sports Amino Complete before and after exercise) I do not want to lose muscle while fasting but want all the benefits of autophagy. Any clarification and advice would be helpful. Thanks

BobM
Guest

Kevin, I don’t take any protein while fasting and have gained strength while fasting. In fact, I’ve gained so much strength that I re-injured an old shoulder injury to the point where I had to stop lifting weights. I also had to stop doing leg presses with machines, as I got to the point where I could lift the entire stack for too many reps.

P1
Guest

BobM, how do you time your weight workouts relative to the fasting period? You fast how many hours per day?

Stuart Mather
Guest
You won’t lose any muscle at all up to the 36 hr period of water fasting. and only negligble amounts daily thereafter. So 24 hr non caloric fasting is ideal to get the cellular benefits of autophagy if done a couple of times a week. Even the tiny amounts of muscle you lose on slightly longer total caloric fasts is probably a good thing anyway. Because in my experience you put it back on more efficiently than before you fasted. Think about this. Humans are the ONLY species on earth that does not thrive on Eat Stop Eat automatically. Even… Read more »
Cindy
Guest

I just read last night in ‘The complete guide to fasting’ that you don’t loose muscle until ALL the fat has been used.

QC
Guest

Why do you say Warrior diet is the worst way to fast? It really makes sense to follow circadian rythm regarding to food intake. Also, it makes sense that ancestors hunted or collected food all day and ate at night only. Also, food intake relates to sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. I think if you are going to fast for 24h, ie. eat only one meal per day, then you should be eating it at night.

MachineGhost
Guest

I suspect it’s because the insulin response is substantially higher at night than daytime. And stuffing an entire’s day worth of calories into one meal or meals over a four hour period doesn’t seem too healthy from a post-prandial perspective. And it’s also how Sumo wrestlers eat.

Gerald
Guest
Eating at night or after sunset doesn’t seem healthy cause of circadian Rhythms, in my view your body clocks are out of whack and disease can begin, by sunset your brain is telling your body to slow down and switch off … but your body clocks (liver etc) are saying no I can’t cause Ive just had a meal and have to start working, so your brain clock – the major clock is saying sleep and calm down, relax, slow down but you eat and start the digestive process and your peripheral clocks HAVE to work, they have no choice… Read more »
Bernard P.
Guest

Dr. Fung has at leat one post on this web site where he explains why fasting doesn’t cause loss of muscle mass. Therefore, you don’t need to take supplements for that, especially with a comparatively short 24-hour fast.

Damian
Guest

I’ve been taking L-arginine (amino acid) with the hope that it would lower my BP without meds. Is this supplement detrimental to my fasting? Thank you!

Arvin Aquio
Guest

Fasting itself will help regulates your BP. In fact, its one of the major effect of IF along with decreased of triglycerides and maintenance of blood sugar to an optimal level.

John C
Guest

How do you switch from fasts to feasts? – With “e” s 🙂

Sandra
Guest

😀

yeo
Guest

hmm… talk about fortuitous timing! mercola’s site just published this article about autophagy and other ways to boost autophagy, other than intermittent fasting.

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/03/11/autophagy.aspx?e_cid=20160311Z3_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20160311Z3&et_cid=DM99804&et_rid=1395113384

P.E. Descoteaux
Guest

Does fasting and autophagy increase the probability of ADN mutations?

Achromatic
Guest

I would reason that it lowers the chance as mutations are more frequent in damaged/not perfectly functioning cells. As autophagy gives the body the opportunity to clean out old or damaged cells, the occurrence of those is reduced. Hence this would result in a better relation between healthy and damaged cells and therefore indicate a lesser probability of mutations.
But that is only based on logical reasoning, i dont know of any studies regarding the question…

sten Bjorsell
Guest

Here is what a UK professor in immunology says about autophagy and DNA mutations in short:
“.. Our models show that the lack of autophagy, particularly in white blood cells, leads to an accumulation of toxic waste, which then leads to DNA mutation transforming these white blood cells, for example into a leukemic cells.”
A one page interview about autophagy here: http://www.ndm.ox.ac.uk/katja-simon-autophagy

Abby
Guest

Lol…”fugly”… You must have grown up in the 80s like me :0)

Great reading, as usual!

Jeff
Guest

https://www.bulletproofexec.com/what-is-protein-fasting-bulletproof-diet/

Interesting article on doing protein fasting to bring about autophagy.

sten Bjorsell
Guest
Jeff, in the article you linked to Dave Asprey claims carbs are neutral for autophagy! That is in direct contradiction to what Dr Jason says here, that glucose and insulin turns autophagy down. This study http://www.jbc.org/content/284/45/31484.full (on mice !) supports Dr Jason that high insulin as in insulin resistance turns off autophagy, while lower insulin also promotes it. Hence carbs could be neutral only when insulin is kept low but never with even slight insulin resistance. Hence best avoided in “protein fasting” if any health issues at all, as most today are related to metabolic syndrome, the common denominator in… Read more »
Nils
Guest
What Dave Asprey doesn’t explain all that well, perhaps because he’s not familiar with the latest research. is that there are several types of autophagy, triggered by different dietary protocols. Here’s an easy way to understand it: 1) The simplest way to go to into autophagy is to simply stop eating all nutrients for a few days, and having only liquids like coffee and green tea and water. However, there are some dangers in doing so, including electrolyte depletion. 2) For this reason, some people try to induce autophagy by restricting CARBS (i.e., a period of fasting followed by eating… Read more »
Petra
Guest

Does adding lemon or lime to your water break the fast? I have been trying to figure this one out, but can’t find any info.

Danielle
Guest
I don’t think so. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the acid was good for you? Or is that only if you are about the eat a meal that your insulin response to that meal will be lower if you have acid (i.e. lemon/vinegar) before a meal? I have a thick slice of lime in a large glass of water about 4 times a day when I am fasting. I have fasted from 3-7 days at a time over the last month using fizzy water with a thick slice of lime and sprinklings of sea salt… and am… Read more »
Steve
Guest

Hi Petra…from what I’ve seen, both personally and from others, a squirt or two per glass of water is OK. My ketones stay above 3.0 on extended fasting (after three days) when I take 2-4 squirts of lemon juice in my water throughout the day. Dr. Fungs Long Distance Program guidelines allows for use of lemon in water.

Ken
Guest

I am dabbling with 16:8 intermittent fasting and have done one 24hr fast. I find that coffee keeps hunger pangs at bay.

I have added butter to my coffee instead of milk, in case the lactose in milk (added to coffee) induces an insulin response and hence “breaks” the fast? Will a small amount of milk do this? Should I just go with black coffee?

Steve, what (machine presumably) do you use to measure ketones?

sten Bjorsell
Guest

Best keeping high calories like butter,cream and milk out of fasting period and staying with water and squirts of lemon. Reserve the goodies to eating periods for minimum insulin spikes and hunger pangs during following fast, is my take.

Danielle
Guest

I agree

Steve
Guest

I use the Precision xtra blood glucose/ ketone meter. The machine is very accurate when I compare it against lab test results. NOTE: the ketone test strips can be VERY expensive when you buy in the States ($3-5/ each). I recommend using sparingly! Glucose strips are much cheaper. I also have a Ketonix breath ketone tester with pretty good results. Take care.

P1
Guest
Steve, I would love to hear how your glucose and ketone readings change over the first 48 hours of your fast, and how many hours into the fast are ketones at 80% of their maximum value? When do you hit that max value? As soon as I exhaust glycogen – around hour 18 of a fast – I feel horrible and have no energy. My ketones only come up to about 0.3 to 0.5 mmol/L. I really seem to lack metabolic flexibility to shift rapidly into ketosis. I would greatly appreciate learning as much as possible about how glucose and… Read more »
Andrea Chang
Guest

Does juicing stop the fast? I juice fruits and veggies to get the nutrients and also drink 2l of water. Am I doing it wrong? I mean, I take the fiber out the fruits and veggies and just keep the water they contain.

karalee
Guest

My journey toward fasting and better health started after watching the “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” movie 🙂

Nils
Guest

It depends on the nature of your fast, and which juices you’re using. If you’re doing a 5 day “protein resticted fast,” juices are allowed, as long as they contain minimal protein. Parsley juice, celery juice and cucumber juices work well on this type of fast. They are also, incidentally, low in protein. But if you’re simply trying to lose weight by skipping meals, don’t juice during the times when you’re skipping meals…. juice later in the day and have the juice with your meal.

karalee
Guest

There is a specialized juice fasting protocol called The Master Fast System, thought up by Gino DiSerio. His closed FB group has lots of photos and reports of how it is working for people.

King Chiam
Guest

Juicing is a big no no. The juice is all the sugar. To juice one glass of say apple juice, you probably need at least five apples. Try to eat five apples at one go, can you do it? You actually want the fiber in fruit as it is like antidote to the sugar. Juicing does the opposite!

Nils
Guest

Hi King Chiam,

You’re right that many juices are very high in sugar. But some very low carbohydrate vegetable juices, such as celery juice, have almost no sugar.

I usually do water fasting, but once in a while I’ll do a two or three day juice fast, drinking thing like celery juice, cucumber juice and a little Himalayan salt, along with water, black coffee, and green tea.

I’ve found that these very-low-carb juice fasts work well for me…. not as a substitute for water fasting, but as an occasional alternative.

Jana
Guest

Anyone wonder why Dr. Fung recommends All Bran to help increase fiber? The 2nd and 3rd ingredients are sugar and HFCS. I don’t get it.

Kat Lakie
Guest

Hi Jana,
Does he recommend the brand ‘All Bran’? or is he recommending to eat (all bran) meaning bran which has not been de-nuded of it’s fibre………..which is a way to get more fiber?

Nils
Guest

I can’t imagine him promoting the sugary cereal by that name.

Nils
Guest

….. I just found an article in which he made this statement: “Among breakfast cereals, there is wide variation in the insulin response. All-Bran, with its high fibre and promise of colonic regularity, seems be stimulate insulin much less than cornflakes for instance”

In the above statement, he’s not promoting eating All-Bran, just saying that they vary in the amount of insulin they stimulate, as part of a point he’s making in a two-page article about insulin. He’s not doing a commercial for All-Bran 🙂

Michele
Guest

Following a calorimetry test, I was told by my physician that my REE was very low (its 1250, he estimated that it would be over 1600 based on my weight and height). My question: could fasting cause my metabolism or REE to go even lower? I am a 58 year old female, about 50 lbs overweight. I exercise 3-4 days a week (bootcamp) and follow a low carb diet. I didn’t lose any weight until I started fasting 2X a week. Thanks!

Faith
Guest

If you have done low calorie diets in oast it could have slowed you down. Doing the fasting should reset your metabolism as you fix insulin resistance n lose weight.

P1
Guest

Michele, if you listen to Dr Fung’s videos, one of his main points is that when you cut total calories, the body responds by lowering resting metabolism, thus negating the value of dieting.

The whole point of his approach is to use intermittent fasting to lower insulin while NOT lowering total calories more than a few hundred calories below your metabolic need.

Connie
Guest

Does diet coke stop the fasting process since it has zero carbs/calories? Does the artificial sweetener cause an insulin spike?

Kat Lakie
Guest

Connie,
as a T2D I cannot eat any sort of artificial sweetener without getting a bs spike……..does that answer your question?

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[…] process until I came across it on Dr. Fung’s Intensive Dietary Management blog in the post Fasting and Autophagy – Fasting 25. He has several posts tagged autophagy. He describes the […]

Melinda Pfeiffer
Guest

Question: When you say amino acids stop autophagy, does that mean calories = amino acids?

P1
Guest

Is there any citation or link to discussion about the idea that autophagy is started when glucagon goes high?

P1
Guest

Is there any biochemical marker – particularly one that can be ordered today at a commercial lab – that would signal the body is in autophagy?

P1
Guest

This article is claiming that new research is finding that Metformin may lower blood sugar by lowering Glucagon:
http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/5068/158478/metformin/

If Dr Fung’s claim that high glucagon is the biochemical trigger for autophagy is true, then it might follow that Metformin will slow or stop autophagy.

P1
Guest

Just to add to my comment on Metformin: Metformin has been shown in lots of studies to increase autophagy. The method of action for this is to increase AMPK, which then in turn downregulates MTOR. This upregulates autophagy.

Since Metformin – independently – appears to downregulate glucagon, then one would assume that autophagy is not upregulated by rising glucagon? Because if autophagy increases when glucagon increases, then you wouldn’t be able to explain how Metformin manages to increase autophagy.

Monica
Guest

Wait- a small amount of amino acid will stop the process, I’ve been fasting three days with lots of lemon in my water- like 3 lemons a day. Lemons contain amino acid? Does this mean I’ve just wiped out all my effort?

Monica
Guest

ok, I looked it up and lemons do not contain amino acid. but they do contain 4 carbs, so the question is the same, would 3 lemons a day, negate the autophagy on a fast?

Christian
Guest

Im wondering the same question, I drink 3 cups of thin coffee and a lemon diluted into three glasses, but if this retards the autophagy itd be nice to know so were not waisting our time.

Monica
Guest
thanks for seconding, I also wonder about cucumber water and bone broth. Both are said to be ok by Dr. Fung but he does not specifically state that it does not affect autophagy. Neither cause insulin spike and that is what he is talking about I believe. this is my 4th day of my fast and I’m want to stop insulin resistance as well as clean up my system. At the same time I read that bone broth helps skin- and as a 47 year old female, I’d love to include it. But not if it hinders the process. So… Read more »
Monica
Guest

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4580722/

this is an article that is very technical about amino acid and autophagy, maybe someone smarter than me can tell if Glutamic Acid (bone broth) is included in the amino acids that stop autophagy?

I’m on day 5 of a planned 28 day fast. I’m including both lemon and cucumber infused water and mineral water, as well as coffee and tea. I’m considering adding bone broth on my last week. It would be great if someone could say more definitively if bone broth stopped autophagy or not. Thank you.

Monica
Guest

also please tell me if a long term fast is detrimental to your metabolism. Is doing several shorter term fasts better for metabolism? sorry to be a pest, it just seems that this is the only place to find answers.

Monica
Guest
ok- I am scouring Dr. Fungs blogs and found one that said fasting metabolism stays relatively the same during a 30 day fast. It was only a sentence, and I guess I’d like more reassurance than that. There was a chart, but I could not fully comprehend it. So anyway, Thank you Dr, Fung, you have answered my question. Also I have started adding bone broth to my fast (day 10) partly because I read your blog that talked about how you included it many times because it counters the re feeding syndrome, so you answered that too : )… Read more »
Richard S Stone
Guest
If you read some of the medical and research literature regarding autophagy it seems obvious that the main trigger available to start autophagy is “nutrient deprivation.” Taken simply, that would mean no calories, as in no food. (This would, as I see it, mean eating no fats or cream or other sources of calories.) Reading the various literature seems to suggest that autophagy is in some senses well understood, and in others not so much. A failure of autophagy appears to allow or create cancer cells. And yet there is, as I read it, some sense that cancer cells should… Read more »
Audra
Guest

Maybe intake of fat does not negate autophagy in the way intake of proteins or carbohydrates do. Considering that fats give very little insulin response, and it is the anabolic effect of insulin that promotes protein synthesis (often used by body builders for that reason) and inhibits proteolysis. Could it be simply the lowered insulin levels that allow for protein breakdown? Of course, little response is still different from no response, but a little heavy cream or bone broth is not likely to be too disruptive.

Jennifer
Guest

For autophagy: no bone broth,no cream, no coconut oil – Dr. Fung has stated in his blog that even bone broth will halt autophagy

Audra
Guest

Thank you, good to know!

Audra
Guest

Although, the science he has shared so far only implicates carbs and protein… I need to hunt for more evidence.

Lee
Guest

Do a search for “fasting mimicking diet”. I am a 3 day per month (most months) water only faster myself but found the research to be interesting. It seems mostly that the protein restriction is the magic although their diet was only 40-50% of normal calories.

Audra
Guest

Could this also explain the link between insulin use or hyperinsulinemia and cancer? You should do a blog post about data on insulin as a growth factor.

It may also explain the link between insulin resistance and neuro-degenerative disease. Check out this interesting experiment: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/

Milo
Guest
I have been following a 16 to 18 hour fast 2 times per week for the last 2 1/2 years. I still wonder if it is initiating autophagy. Also how long does a single cell take to move through an autophagy event. Once initiated, does it go to completion once I begin eating. Also, does this apply to all types of cells? Are there some cell that take longer than the 16 to 24 hours for them to initiate autophagy due to the body providing nutrients and proteins to that set of cells? The concept of fasting and autophagy is… Read more »
Mary Cameron
Guest
I am doing my first water fast. I take water and green tea. It took 60 hours for ketones to rise above glucose. I test both twice per day. My ketones are now in the 5-7 range and glucose usually hovers between 4 and 5. I am now on day 9 and feeling good, but do have some fatigue. I am due for surgery in 2 weeks time to remove ovaries and fallopian tubes (suspicious neoplasm 3 cm found on ovary) and I went on the water fast in a bid to do everything I could to put the odds… Read more »
Dennis
Guest

How are you doing now?

Jackie Friend
Guest
Dr. Fung, I’m wondering if you have had issues with patients developing a type of skin rash as a result of ketosis or rapid weight loss. After a time of using fasting for a period of time I noticed that I start to itch and break out in something like hives. After searching the internet to see if others had experienced this, I found that many people had experienced this same thing and the research tends to indicate that it is relatively common amongst people that are in a deep state of ketosis. The medical term for this is prurigo… Read more »
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[…] REAL research confirms how and why fasting is path to health. […]

Doug
Guest

Dr. Jason Fung’s new book, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO FASTING, answers all these questions. It works.
I also take Serrapeptase and Nattokinase while fasting. I usually go for 5 days and eat moderate protein and lots of fat on 6th day and then repeat 5 day fast.
Instead of becoming a carb calculator, check out this site by a retired US Army doctor, Dr. Paul Mabry – the transformation will amaze you http://www.borntoeatmeat.com

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[…] IMG-https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/fasting-and-autophagy-fasting-25/ […]

Jane Morris
Guest

Hi
I have been doing 22:2 fasting for the last 5 days and have noticed an amazing increase in my energy levels.
I was diagnosed with ME about a year ago and have really been struggling to do more that 30 mins activity before I needed a rest.
Today I was active from 9 am till 3 pm without a break!!!
I’m really hoping this isn’t just a fluke.. can someone tell me what’s going on?

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[…] Fasting promotes autophagy. According to Dr. Fung, […]

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[…] Fasting advances autophagy. As per Dr. Fung, […]

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[…] Fasting and Autophagy – Fasting 25 […]

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[…] Jason Fung […]

Pete W.
Guest
Jason this is all fascinating, you are doing phenomenal work! (Although I see now watching your youtube videos why they told me when I did my MFA thesis I was going into too much detail…you are like me in this respect, sometimes.) The blog above about autophagy includes an important reference on how taking a single amino acid can bring autophagy to a halt. I have fasted up to 4 days at a time since the early 1990s after reading Fuhrman’s book. Previous to that, I had tried fasting up to 3 days since learning about fasting as a health… Read more »
Emma
Guest

Hi everyone
Trying a fast for autophagy of my skin, I wonder if I can still take Ltyrosine at dawn and ltryptophane at night as i do since years. Could they breaks the autophagy process ? Sorry for my struggling english I’m French

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