Does Coffee Help Trigger Autophagy?


Autophagy is the body’s built-in system to remove damaged cells to stimulate the body to produce newer, healthier cells. “Autophagy” literally translates to “self-eating”, and while the term self-eating is a little unnerving, it’s a good thing for your body to eat some cells. The body can remove damaged and unwanted cells while reusing parts of the cells to recycle them towards cleaning and repair. At a cellular level, removing toxic proteins can help protect the body from disease and research is now showing that the removal of damaged cells may be beneficial in preventing some cancers. With different ways to encourage autophagy, there’s likely a way that will fit in your lifestyle. 

What Is The Fastest Way To Induce Autophagy?

Now that you know what autophagy is, you may be wondering how to induce autophagy. Fasting is the quickest way to trigger autophagy, and some people believe that by doing a water-only fast for three days can actually reset your immune system. Many people find that starting with a 24 hour fast is a great way to help their body reset without having to do a three day fast. You can work up to a three day fast, or some people even choose to fast as long as seven days, but it’s a wise idea to check with your doctor before doing any type of fasting. 

Getting your body into a state of ketosis is also thought to help trigger autophagy. When you eat a diet high in fat and low in carbs, it often can help the body receive the same benefits as fasting to induce positive metabolic changes. A ketogenic diet usually consists of 75% of the daily calories from fat, and 5-10% of the calories from carbs. The change in calorie sources stimulates the body to make changes to the metabolic pathways, using fat for fuel instead of glucose from carbs. 

How Do You Trigger Autophagy?

Fasting and ketosis are two of the biggest factors in what triggers autophagy, but there are other ways to help get your body into that state. When the body is not spending energy digesting food, it can concentrate on cleaning up the cells in the body. Fasting may be the quickest way, but many people have a hard time going for extended periods of time without consuming calories. Some people can’t  fast at all due to their health status. For those people, inducing autophagy may be easier using other methods. 

Exercise may be a way to help encourage the body into autophagy. When the body exercises, it puts a healthy stress on the body and in turn, may help the cells start to clean themselves. Scientists have recently found that turmeric (curcumin) may also be helpful in inducing autophagy. One study showed that curcumin can help protect the body against diabetic cardiomyopathy. More research needs to be done to prove that curcumin is actually effective in inducing autophagy, but the preliminary studies are promising. 

How Long Do You Have To Fast To Trigger Autophagy?

If you’re wanting to try fasting as a way to trigger autophagy, you may be wondering “how long should I fast?” Depending on your personal metabolism, autophagy may start to occur anywhere between twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It’s believed that autophagy starts to begin when insulin and glucose levels start to drop considerably. Studies have shown that autophagy begins at twenty-four hours, with a peak occurring around forty-eight hours. A minimum of a twenty-four hour fast is a good idea to trigger autophagy, but the longer you can fast, the more benefits you will often see. Autophagy benefits are wide for certain diseases, cancers, infections, viruses, and bacteria. More research needs to be done to understand the reasons autophagy works.  

Does Coffee Hurt Or Help Autophagy?

Does coffee stop autophagy? Good news for coffee drinkers regarding coffee and autophagy! A study has shown that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee may be helpful in inducing autophagy, specifically in the heart and muscle. Coffee can help mimic caloric restriction, which may be one of the reasons it can be helpful in triggering autophagy. Some people may choose to do what’s called “intermittent fasting” where they don’t eat after 7pm to 11am the next day. Drinking black coffee during the intermittent fasting period may trigger autophagy while increasing fat burning. Adding coconut oil or MCT oil and collagen may also help the body detoxify faster. Overall, it appears that coffee induces autophagy and is more beneficial than harmful in triggering autophagy.  

Does Coffee Help Trigger Autophagy Faster? 

Now that you know that coffee may be helpful in triggering autophagy, you may be wondering if there are other autophagy triggers that can help your body in the detoxification process. Many people find that black coffee is a delicious way to fast without feeling deprived, but for those who can’t fast, some alternatives may be helpful. Some of the compounds that may help induce autophagy include:

  • Green tea
  • Coffee
  • Pomegranates
  • Ginger 
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Ceylon cinnamon
  • Dark chocolate

Some people like to drink what they refer to as “bulletproof coffee”, a concoction of coffee mixed with MCT oil and butter. This combination is rumored to help stimulate the body, help it burn fat, and feel satisfied. Not only may it help trigger autophagy, but it may also have added benefits like protection against liver disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, various forms of cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease. With the added health bonuses like antioxidant effects, weight loss, and reduced mortality, it may seem like a no-brainer to drink a lot of coffee, but there are side effects to drinking too much coffee. Increased anxiety, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and reduced sleep cycles can all happen with too much consumption. 

Does Coffee Break A Fast?

If you’re looking to do a fast, you may be wondering if you will break a fast with coffee. Depending on your goals and coffee choice, drinking coffee may break a fast. If you’re concerned about doing it exactly by the books, drinking black coffee may be your best bet, as it takes the least amount of energy for your body to digest it. Bulletproof coffee is probably a safe choice as well, as it contains easily digestible fats, providing your body with a quick and easy energy source. If you’re fasting for weight loss or metabolic health, coffee likely does not break a fast. If your goal is a gut reset or longevity, coffee is most likely considered to break the fast. 

Do You Combine Intermittent Fasting and Coffee For Quicker Weight Loss Results?

Now that you know the benefits of intermittent fasting and coffee, you may be wondering if you can combine intermittent fasting and coffee for quicker weight loss results. If you’re going to give it a try, drinking the bulletproof coffee may be the best option, as it can help put your body into a state of ketosis to help burn more fat. Intermittent fasting generally lasts 10-16 hours, and that time period allows your body time to work on detoxifying instead of having to spend energy digesting food. In addition to the fat-burning properties, coffee has additional health benefits including antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and may increase energy and mood. 

What Can I Drink During Autophagy?

When you’re fasting with a goal of detoxification, you may be wondering what to drink during autophagy. While water is always a safe choice, there may be other beverages and liquids that are good choices to drink while you are fasting. Plain water is always a safe choice, as it doesn’t have a negative impact on digestion at all. Not only does it help keep you hydrated, but it doesn’t have an enzymatic effect, which is important when it comes to fasting. For those who follow fasting to a T, drinking anything that stimulates enzymatic activity in the gut breaks the fast. What are some things you can drink during autophagy?

  • Water 
  • Tea 
  • Coffee
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bone broth
  • Salt water

Any of these choices are most likely safe to drink while you are fasting with a goal of autophagy. If you’re a fasting purist, plain water will be the safest choice. Staying hydrated is extremely important while you’re fasting. 

Supplements May Help

While triggering autophagy is a wonderful way to help the body detoxify, supplements like spermidine may be helpful as well. Spermidine helps counteract aging and promotes autophagy. As the body ages, the levels of spermidine naturally fall. Taking a supplement is a great way to boost the levels naturally, helping to regulate cellular processes. Whether you’re 30 years old or 60, taking spermidine is a great choice.


  • 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.