Cellular Autophagy And Fasting
Keto Diet

Cellular Autophagy And Fasting

Scientists have found that reducing caloric intake by 25% to 30% compared to the general situation, while ensuring basic nutrition, can have a life-extending effect. The reason for this is that when cells are starving, they eat useless or harmful substances in the body to provide the necessary energy for their survival. This cleans up the aging proteins and keeps the cells alive. This phenomenon is known as “cellular autophagy”. How does it relate to fasting? How can we enhance cellular autophagy by fasting?

What is Autophagy?

Autophagy means “eating oneself”, which comes from the Greek words Auto meaning “self” and Phagy meaning “eating”.

Autophagy is the breakdown of unwanted, damaged proteins and cellular debris into different protein structures and their conversion into amino acids with the help of an intracellular enzyme called a lysosome to create more healthy new cells.

Simply put, autophagy acts like a small landfill and recycling station in the body, responsible for the cleanliness and safety of the entire body and providing a source of nutrients for the function of other body organs, making the body younger and less prone to disease.

Autophagy has been found to control many of the body’s physiological energy supplies. It provides the body with rapid energy when it is starving or responding to other stresses; it destroys viruses and bacteria when the body is infected; and it eliminates aging, broken organelles, and proteins, which is important for the body’s anti-aging efforts.

Cellular Autophagy

What Conditions Can Stimulate Cellular Autophagy?

There are several ways to stimulate autophagy. in 1962, Dief coined the term “autophagy” and did a study on rats. When he forcibly injected glucagon into the liver cells of rats, he found a massive increase in autophagy, implying that a rise in glucagon could lead to cellular autophagy.

When we eat, our insulin rises and glucagon falls, and if we fast, our insulin falls and glucagon rises, and the process of rising glucagon stimulates cellular autophagy. Therefore, stopping eating and depriving the body of the food, energy, and nutrients it needs is what we commonly call fasting, and it is one of the most common ways to stimulate autophagy.

Fasting not only stimulates cellular autophagy and initiates cellular self-repair functions, but it also has a very important role in stimulating the growth of growth hormone, which stimulates our body to grow more new cells so that our body can function in a new way.

In addition, regarding autophagy, there is a very important regulatory enzyme, the target of rapamycin (mTOR), which inhibits autophagy when mTOR is stimulated and may induce autophagy when mTOR is in a dormant state.

What Conditions Stop Autophagy?

When we start eating, autophagy stops, especially after we consume high carbohydrate food, insulin rises, glucagon falls, and autophagy stops instantly, and some studies have found that consuming protein, may also make autophagy stop.

To make autophagy stop, the amount of food intake does not need to be too much, a very small amount of food intake will make autophagy stop, and some studies have found that autophagy stops automatically after ingesting very little leucine (leucine).

So, cellular autophagy is the patent of fasting, dieting, and eating less and more meals that do not have this effect, and it is impossible to have the benefits of autophagy and the benefits of stimulating growth hormone secretion. If you want to have the effect of autophagy and enjoy the benefits of fasting to your body, try to eat only one meal and less when you try light fasting, and make sure to find ways to shorten the eating time.

Besides Weight Loss & Anti-aging, What are the Benefits of Autophagy?

Cellular Metabolism

Autophagy plays a key role in metabolism and the turnover of damaged organelles, proteins, and nucleic acids to enhance intracellular quality control. Autophagy occurs every day as our bodies gradually replace the internal substances of cells in our bodies. Harmful substances are removed from the autophagosome and proteins are resynthesized into new proteins in the body once they have been broken down into amino acids. For an adult male weighing 60 kg, approximately 240 g of protein is resynthesized in the body through autophagy every day.

Removal of Harmful Substances

Autophagy removes long-lived proteins, macromolecular complexes, and aging or damaged organelles, and many studies have confirmed that cellular autophagy acts as a defense mechanism to protect us from bacterial and viral invasion.

Anti-inflammatory Role

Autophagy plays a key role in inflammation by influencing the development, homeostasis, and survival of inflammatory cells, including macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes; they play a key role in the development and pathogenesis of inflammation.

Reduces the Chance of Developing Cancer

Since damaged and aged mitochondria release more free radicals that allow cancer cells to survive, cellular autophagy removes damaged mitochondria, reducing the chance of cancer and many diseases arising. Some studies have shown that in early-stage cancers, autophagy can stop tumor growth and prevent the spread of cancer. However, in the case of advanced cancers, autophagy may contribute to their growth. In other words, autophagy may help reduce the chances of developing cancer and early-stage cancer, but if you have cancer, follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations.


As we age, cellular autophagy declines and is eventually lost. The loss of autophagy is very frightening, and the long-term failure to clean up abnormal proteins and organelles in the system leads to the accumulation of a large number of harmful substances at the bottom efficiency, which can cause various diseases.

Therefore, for elderly people, it is necessary to stimulate autophagy by special means if the autophagic mechanism declines. For many older adults, light fasting is a good approach. Many studies have found that eating less can lead to a longer life, and, it is healthier to eat less while ensuring nutrition.

How to Effectively Stimulate Cellular Autophagy


Fasting is a possible trigger for autophagy. When cells are starving, they can break down proteins through autophagy to produce energy. There are many ways to fast, so you can find what works best for you based on your preferences and work schedule.


Keto Diet

A keto diet is one in which the majority of your daily calories come from fat and 5% to 10% from carbohydrates. This shift in calorie source causes your body to shift its metabolic pathways. It will begin to use fat as fuel instead of glucose, which uses carbohydrates, and you will begin to produce ketone bodies, which have many protective effects. Studies have shown that ketosis can also cause starvation-induced autophagy, which has neuroprotective effects.

High-intensity Exercise

High-intensity exercise can trigger autophagy. Results from Japan suggest that low-intensity exercise may be more effective in activating skeletal muscle autophagy, while high-intensity exercise may be more effective in activating liver autophagy.


Although cellular autophagy has many benefits for the body and can be induced, each individual has a different health status. Long-term fasting, calorie restriction, and diets that limit the variety of foods available may pose risks for people with chronic diseases and cancer. Therefore, before taking any steps to induce autophagy, ask your doctor if this is right for you.