What Is The Most Effective Fasting Method For Autophagy?


Autophagy is a process by which our cells naturally degrade and recycle damaged cellular parts to maintain homeostasis. This process rejuvenates cells by ridding them of harmful toxins accumulated over time. Autophagy happens naturally on its own but can also be induced through periods of intermittent fasting. There are many benefits of Autophagy, and it is an important process for maintaining cellular health.

Can You Achieve Autophagy with a 12 Hour Fast?

Fasting and autophagy go hand in hand. Intermittent fasting is one way we can induce autophagy. Many people may wonder what is autophagy fasting and how to do autophagy fasting. When fasting, our cells are deprived of nutrients, forcing the cell to resort to other means and sources of energy. Autophagy is one such means, during which the cell digests damaged or old cellular components providing the energy needed for survival, but what is the best fasting time for autophagy? When does autophagy start? Does autophagy start after 14 hours? . A 12 hour fast may be enough to reach autophagy in some people, but is dependent on the individual person’s metabolism. 

Experts believe that autophagy begins when there is a considerable drop in glucose and insulin levels. You can increase autophagy with physical exercise and a diet that restricts carbohydrates. Some foods are believed to trigger autophagy, including: 

  • Ceylon cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Green tea
  • Peanuts
  • Pomegranates
  • Red grapes and red wine
  • Turmeric

Is a 16 hour fast Sufficient for Beginning Autophagy?

If you have tried intermittent fasting for twelve-hour periods and have not experienced desired results, you can increase your fasting time to 16 hours. The Leangains diet uses the 16:8 method of fasting. Following this diet means that a person can eat during an eight-hour period and then do 16 hour autophagy fasting

People usually finish their dinner by 8 o’clock in the evening and do not eat again until noon the next day during a 16 hour fast. One study conducted on mice found that there were benefits to only eating during an eight-hour window. The benefits of a 16-hour fast include:

  • Reduced rates of obesity
  • Lower inflammation
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Lower risk of liver disease

Is It Better to Fast for 24 Hours Instead of 16?

Many of the health benefits associated with fasting are the results of lower insulin levels. Insulin levels rise when we eat. Lower insulin levels in our body produce a more significant amount of fat loss during fasting.  

One doctor conducted a study to find that an 18 to 24 hour fast is the best time for intermittent fasting. There is a more significant drop in insulin levels than in 12 or 16 hours fast during this time. There is also an increase in lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fat in the body. 

Is It Possible to Reach Autophagy With Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets are two ways to trigger autophagy in our cells. Fasting is the most effective way to induce autophagy, as it causes cells to begin “self-eating.” Our cells start their self-cleaning process by breaking down and recycling their damaged organelles when we fast. 

When we eat, and insulin levels are increased, autophagy is low. But as insulin drops during fasting, autophagy increases. As we age, autophagy slows, and damaged cells begin to accumulate. When we practice intermittent fasting, our rate of autophagy resets to that of our younger selves. 

Which Type of Fasting Is Most Effective for Achieving Autophagy?

Your cells must be starved of energy in order to trigger autophagy. When you fast, and after you exercise, a protein is released that lets your body know it is running low on energy. As a response, autophagy will kick in to break down old cells to use a fuel source. 

Extended fasting over the course of several days, or intermittent fasting over the course of several hours, both promote autophagy. The type of fasting needed to jumpstart autophagy typically requires 14 to 16 hours without eating, though this is dependent on your body’s metabolism. Start small and work your way up when you decide to start fasting for health reasons. See how your body responds to a 12 hour fast, then work your way up to more extended periods of fasting.

How Will You Know When Your Body Has Entered Autophagy?  

While your body is constantly undergoing autophagy, this process is stimulated through fasting and physical activity. It is impossible to say precisely when autophagy starts, but it increases with fasting length as your insulin levels drop. The start of autophagy differs with each individual based on certain factors such as:

  • Age
  • Fitness Level
  • Lifestyle
  • Underlying Health Conditions
  • Metabolism

While there are no clear signs of autophagy, the results over time are evident. Many people report the following benefits of autophagy: 

  • Increased energy
  • Reduced pain and inflammation
  • Better physical fitness
  • Clearer vision
  • Improved healing
  • Younger looking skin
  • Weight Loss
  • Improved mental health
  • Better mental clarity

How Do I Improve Autophagy?

If you are researching how to improve autophagy, the answer is clear. Intermittent fasting and regular physical exercise activate and enhance autophagy. You will feel an increase in energy, a reduced waistline, and other benefits when you abstain from consuming food for 16 or more hours per day. 

Before you begin your journey into fasting, you should consult your doctor. Intermittent fasting may not be the best choice for you if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, planning to become pregnant or have a chronic illness. It is essential that you do research on the pros and cons before starting a new diet and exercise regime. 

Spermidine Supplements May Help

Autophagy is a naturally occurring process in which our cells are detoxed, and their waste is used as energy. This process rejuvenates our bodies, so it's no wonder why it is referred to as “the fountain of youth.” Fasting, exercise, and adequate spermidine levels all lead to improved autophagy. 

Spermidine is a naturally occurring molecule that interacts with our cells to help promote autophagy. Foods rich in spermidine content can help promote autophagy, however it can be difficult to reach the recommended daily dose of spermidine through diet alone. Recent research has shown spermidine intake to mimic fasting’s effects on autophagy. SpermidineLIFE® is the world’s first spermidine rich dietary supplement created to help ensure you reach your daily dose of spermidine.


  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.