Using proven principles regulating autophagy you can indirectly tell if you are in autophagy or not. It’s a bit more difficult to measure autophagy at home than in a lab and of course, we can’t get the same detailed scientific results at home, but we can still see signs of autophagy in many ways.
This article covers the main signs of autophagy and best practices, foods, and supplements that can be used to induce autophagy.
What are 11 Signs of Autophagy?
1.) Increased Ketone Levels
Ketones, which are molecules that can be used as energy by the body, are elevated when your blood sugar is lowered. The autophagy process can lower your blood sugar.
Ketones are also released when autophagy is increased in times of stress, such as starvation or injury.
2.) Weight Loss
Autophagy helps with fat oxidation. So weight loss can be a sign that you are in autophagy. When your cells are functioning properly, they’re able to break down food more efficiently and use it for energy. When cells are damaged or old, they’re not as efficient at this process, which can lead to weight gain.
The metabolic changes that occur during fasting and ketosis—methods used to increase autophagy—boost fat-burning and can improve insulin levels, both of which contribute greatly to a reduction of body fat and weight loss, as well as increased energy levels.
3.) Decrease in Insulin to Glucagon Ratio
Low insulin to glucagon ratio (IGR) promotes catabolism (the breakdown of complex molecules to form simpler ones), weight loss, and AMPK, and can promote autophagy. You can track this by monitoring your glucose/ketone index (GKI).
It’s not as complicated as it sounds and once you do it the first time, it’s easy to add to your daily routine. Takes about 3 minutes. Note that this indicator applies to a fasted state. If your IGR is low, but you’re not fasting, you may be in ketosis, but not yet autophagy.
KETO-MOJO GK+ Bluetooth Glucose & Ketone Testing Kit + Free APP for Ketosis & Diabetes Management. 20 Blood Test Strips (10 Each), Meter, 20 Lancets, Lancing Device, and Control Solutions
4.) Improved Memory
One of the exciting signs of autophagy is better memory formation. Science Direct studies show restoring hippocampal autophagy activity levels can reverse (age-related) memory deficits.
5.) Reduced Appetite
Not hungry, even while fasting? Your body may be producing ketones that start to feed your brain and body. The actual definition of autophagy—self-eating—may sound a bit gross, but you are in essence “eating” your own body fat.
The process helps to break down and recycle unused or damaged cells, including those in the stomach. As a result, the body requires less food to meet its energy needs, leading to a decrease in overall appetite.
6.) Clearer, Healthier Skin
Wrinkles and skin damage can be caused by oxidative stress. Your skin reflects your overall health and the health of your gut and digestion.
7.) Reduction of Insulin IGF-1
According to the NIH, randomized clinical trials investigating fasting’s impact on IGF-1 levels concluded that IGF-1 levels were significantly reduced by fasting. So in general, it appears that fasting insulin of <20 would be a good indicator of being in an autophagic state.
Fasting, ketogenic diets, and other methods of inducing autophagy have been linked to low energy levels and fatigue. But, you can avoid this and instead have limitless natural energy (like I did), with a daily vitamin/mineral drink. Read about my 37 pound weight loss on an intermittent fasting plan for the easy mix instructions or see at bottom of this page.
You’ll have to slow down the start of autophagy a bit with this method, but to me, it was worth it to not have to suffer through 2-3 days of debilitating fatigue and withdrawal headaches that usually happen at the start of fasting.
9.) Bad Breath or Metallic Taste
This can also be one of the less-positive effects of fasting, intermittent fasting, omad diet, etc. Once again, however, this can easily be avoided by giving your body all it needs with the vitamin and mineral drink I use. Recipe and links on the bottom of the page.
10.) Increased Bowel Movements
Autophagy is the body’s natural detoxification process and it causes the recycling of cellular components, which may lead to an increase in bowel movements as your body eliminates toxins. The increase in bowel movements is usually mild and temporary and doesn’t cause any discomfort.
11.) Eye Goop
Another sign is having a bit of eye crust, similar to what you may have when you wake up from a deep sleep. It’s a combo of waste, skin cells, mucus, and oil. It’s not lovely but is easily removed with warm water.
Best Ways to Induce Autophagy
Here are a few ways to stimulate autophagy:
- Practicing Intermittent Fasting (IMF). This means going without food for certain periods, and then eating only during certain hours.
- Follow a Ketogenic Diet. This is a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats.
- Fasting. This includes prolonged periods of time where you don’t eat anything at all.
IMF, Fasting, or a Keto Diet, have been shown to be effective in inducing the process of autophagy. According to some clinical research and many human studies, these methods are more effective and show more health benefits than calorie restriction.
Disclaimer: This should not be considered medical advice or replace your doctor’s instructions. You should research the studies and scientific evidence about the benefits of autophagy. Autophagy may lead to improved health conditions, but extended fasting may be unhealthy for some.
Q & A
What are the Supplements that Promote Autophagy?
These are just a few:
- Green Tea Extract
- Ceylon Cinnamon Bark Powder
- Chaga Mushroom
- Wheat Germ
How Long Do You Have to Fast for Autophagy?
- At 12 hours – Ketosis may begin
- At 18 hours – Fat-burning mode is activated
- At 24 hours – Autophagy usually starts
- At 48 hours – GH levels are higher (as much as 5X)
- At 54 hours – Insulin levels decrease, insulin-sensitivity boosted
In fasting, you are forcing your body to create energy by eating its own damaged, old cells.
A great way to experience ongoing periods of autophagy without staying in full fasting mode is to fast for 25 hours, then eat for 1-3 hours. You can do this form of intermittent fasting with great benefits. The only issue is that it messes up any schedule you might have. At some point, your eating window gets too close to your “stop 4 hours before sleeping” time. At that point, you could adjust to IMF 20/4, IMF 18/6, or OMAD (one meal a day), or take a few days off, then start again.
What is Autophagy?
Autophagy is your private Roomba. It means “self-eating”. Your body breaks down unneeded or damaged components in cells and reuses them to repair cells and to form new cells. Cells undergoing autophagy are cleaned up by the Roomba! As autophagy increases, it gets rid of waste and damaged proteins.
What Are the Beneficial Effects of Autophagy?
- Helps Prevent Obesity and Diabetes (NIH)
- Promote Longevity
- Preventing Cancer
- Preventing Heart Disease
- Preventing, (Possible Reversing Early) Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s
- Supports a Healthy Immune System
- Helps to Break Down Fat Cells
- Promotes Cellular Repair, Cellular Health, Including Brain Cells
- Reduces inflammation (Everywhere) for Health and Wellness
- Protects Against Disease
- Improved Memory and Mental Clarity, Brain Function & Brain Health
- Boost Metabolism, Weight Loss
- Skin Health
What Can I Eat or Drink?
Calories impact autophagy. When fasting you can eat or drink these things:
- Coffee, Bulletproof Coffee
- Bone Broth
- ACV (apple cider vinegar)
When doing IMF or OMAD:
Eat or drink whatever foods you choose during your eating window. Of course, healthy lower-carb and healthy fats are best, but I eat literally whatever I want, sometimes even pizza or ice cream, just for a break.
Here’s my Vitamin Mineral Drink Recipe to avoid headaches, lethargy and fatigue.
This drink has 3 different packets that cover all the nutrients I need to not harm my body during fasting. Total cost for each bottle is about $3 a day. I use two bottles a day. I also, no longer spend money on Starbucks.
- Water: 6-pack of 33-ounce smart waters (any brand, 33.8 oz for mixing), or if you hate plastic bottles, try this glass bottle. I keep smart waters in my car so I don’t find myself without my drink. Nothing store-bought can replace it. You can refill empties with filtered or spring water, but not tap. Too many impuirites. Dump about an ounce to make room for the mineral paks.
- Packets: Modere Go, 1 packet Modere Revitalize, 1 packet Power-Pak, 1 packet.
- Shake and pour over ice. Steel Tumbler, $10.
- For packet ingredients, click links.
- Drink up, refill through the day. Remember there is caffeine in the green tea extract, so cut off about the same time as your last meal so you can sleep well.
I share products I use, love, and recommend for my own clients. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links and I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!