If you do intermittent fasting you’re no doubt familiar with some of the science and the health benefits. But one thing that a LOT of you have asked me about is AUTOPHAGY. Fasting for 16 hours, does that start autophagy??
Jerry Seinfeld voice: “What’s the deal with autophagy?”
Out of all the concepts in intermittent fasting, autophagy is the one I HANDS DOWN see the most CONFUSION about.
And I’m sorry to say that some of this confusion is unresolvable, because there ARE doctors who say that autophagy doesn’t start until at least two full days of a water fast. And there are other doctors who say it starts 12 hours in.
This is when your liver glycogen is depleted, and you can start burning fat for fuel!
By the way…if you’re confused right now you should probably check out this video of mine:
OR, if you don’t know what autophagy is at all, here’s my super-quick guide:
The word “autophagy” comes from auto-, which means “self,” and -phagy, which means “eat.” So eating yourself.
I KNOW, you might be thinking, “That sounds horrible! I don’t want to be a cannibal!!” ( I mean, first of all, the body is always consuming itself for fuel anyway. And we want to “eat” our own fat stores, for sure.)
But anyway, the “eat self” refers to a cell eating part of itself, so it can renew. The cell gets rid of its damaged parts and stays alive.
And this process is always happening to some degree in humans, but the healthier you are, the more accelerated the rate, and if you intermittent fast, you can put your cell healing Into Turbo Drive and basically become a superhuman!!
Sounds pretty good, right?
So now that you’re up to speed, what I want to talk about today is that:
SOME doctors say autophagy fasting benefits = after 12 hours
OTHER doctors say the benefits = after 2 – 3 days of a water fast
So, who’s right??
Dr. Axe, who I trust A TON, points to a study showing that autophagy ramps up after 12 hours: Read the study here.
And KEY POINT here, AGAIN, autophagy is always occurring in the cells…it’s just that fasting speeds up the “spring cleaning”!!! 😉
Dr. Jason Fung says it takes 24 – 48 hours for it to begin, however.
I KNOW, it’s frustrating! Part of the problem is that a) many studies are done on mice; and b) it’s difficult to observe and measure autophagy in humans.
Sooo: “Is 16:8 useless for autophagy, fasting-wise?”
I say, no, there is too much evidence that autophagy is significant in a 16:8 fast, despite the muddiness and difficulty in the research!
In an interview with more noted IF-specializing doctors — Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Guido Kroemer — Kroemer mentions a study concluding that liver autophagy happens in shorter fasts. Patrick brings up the fact that a PROTEIN (called IGF-1) that must be depleted for autophagy to ramp up, is gone in about 12 hours.
She also says that drinking black coffee or green tea ENHANCES autophagy and doesn’t interrupt it.
I think the doc knows what she’s talking about, and you can feel confident reaching for your cup of java. 😉
What do you think? Have you heard about any studies that I didn’t mention here, when it comes to autophagy, fasting, coffee etc.??