Is Autophagy The Same as Ketosis?

“Auto” means self, and “phagy” means eat, so the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.” While this may sound like a bad thing, this process is actually good for you and your body and can increase your longevity. This is because autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cell organelles to regenerate healthier cells. 

This process can be beneficial for several different reasons. On a larger scale, it prompts regeneration and healthy cells, but more than that, it provides energy and building blocks for cells that can still benefit from repair. It also recycles residual proteins and removes toxic proteins from cells attributed to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. 

What is the Difference Between Autophagy and Ketosis?

If you are researching diets, especially longevity diets, you have certainly come across the keto diet several hundred times. The idea behind the keto diet is to help induce ketosis throughout your body. You may be wondering if ketosis and autophagy are the same thing, or what is the Difference between ketosis and autophagy?

While both processes help improve your longevity, they both go about it in different ways. Ketosis happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy. Instead, your body will begin to burn fat, creating things called ketones, which are used for fuel. As you can imagine, this process is very beneficial for those looking to lose weight. 

How to Achieve Ketosis

As we just mentioned, the keto diet is designed to get your body into the ketosis metabolic process. Studies have found that diets that promote ketosis are highly beneficial for weight loss as well as longevity. Unfortunately, achieving ketosis can be rather difficult, especially if you are unsure of what you are doing. Here is some keto for beginners tips to help you achieve ketosis:

  • Reduce your carb consumption - When your carb intake gets low, fatty acids are released from fat stores in the body. The liver will then convert these fatty acids into ketone bodies
  • Exercise - Being active can help you get into ketosis. During exercise, your body loses its glycogen stores. In response, your liver increases its production of ketones, which are used as an alternate fuel source over carbs
  • More healthy fat - A large amount of healthy fat can help boost your body’s ketone levels
  • Fasting - Ketosis and fasting go hand in hand. You can achieve ketosis by fasting for several hours. In fact, many people go into mild ketosis between dinner and breakfast. Diets, such as intermittent fasting, can induce ketosis

As you can see, some planning and patience are required if you are to achieve ketosis on a regular basis. It isn’t as simple as merely cutting carbs from your diet. Using one or more of these methods to test ketones can help you determine whether or not you need to make any adjustments. 

How Do You Know When Your Body is in Ketosis?

Since it may be difficult to induce ketosis, it’s essential to know keto symptoms. This way you know when your body is in ketosis when it isn’t, and what adjustments you need to make to your body. Here are a few common signs and symptoms of ketosis, both positive and negative:

  • Bad breath - Elevated ketone levels can often lead to bad breath. This is because acetone, a specific ketone, exits the body in your urine and breath. While no one ever wants bad breath, it can be a positive sign for your diet
  • Weight loss - Keto diets can lead to weight loss. You will experience both long-term and short-term weight loss when on a ketogenic diet
  • Appetite suppression - One of the reasons why the keto diet leads to such rapid weight loss is because of the appetite suppressants that accompany the diet. While it’s still unclear how exactly the keto diet suppresses your appetite, if you feel full and don’t need to eat as often as before, you may be in ketosis
  • More focused - When in ketosis, your brain will start burning ketones instead of glucose. If you have noticed more brain function, it can be due to ketosis
  • Short-term fatigue - The initial switch to the ketogenic diet can lead to short-term fatigue and weakness. If you initially suffer from low energy, it could be a sign that you are in ketosis and it will eventually pass

Be vigilant of these signs and symptoms when you are attempting to induce ketosis. Keep in mind, some of these effects, especially the negative effects, are usually only temporary. As your body grows used to the keto diet, the negative side effects will subdue. 

There are Three Ways to Measure Ketosis Status

We’ve mentioned signs and symptoms that you are in ketosis, but how can you know for sure? As of right now, there are three known types of ketones and three ways to measure them. Here are three ways to measure your ketosis status and what ketone they test:

  • Urine strips - acetoacetate
  • Blood tests - beta-hydroxybutyrate
  • Breath - acetone

Some of these tests can be done at home, while others may require a trip to your doctor’s office. To get the best results, it’s recommended that you take a trip to visit your doctor. This will give you the most accurate results possible. 

What Color Should Ketone Strip be For Ketosis?

One of the easiest ways to test for ketosis is by using DIY at-home ketosis strips. These keto test strips test your urine to determine whether or not your body is in ketosis. The urine tests are similar to pregnancy tests, except they will measure acetoacetate, a ketone we mentioned earlier. 

All you need to do is dunk a test strip into a urine cup for a set amount of time. These strips are made out of paper that reacts to ketones by turning a different color. You will then match your ketosis urine color on your stick to an accompanying color chart. Typically, the darker the color, the more acetoacetate the strip picked up. This means there’s a high chance your body is in ketosis. 

How Long is it Safe to be in Ketosis?

Many of our customers who are attempting a keto diet often wonder how long they can be in ketosis before it becomes dangerous. When it comes to the keto diet, you should only begin to follow it if you can maintain it as a lifestyle change. There is no finite limit to how long you should be in ketosis as long as you know how to navigate carb-infested situations properly. 

It should be noted, that before you notice the keto side effects long term, you will have to go through a period of adjustment. It can take two to six weeks to start noticing big-time changes. So if at first, you don’t succeed, be patient and the results will come. Early on, your body is becoming used to relying primarily on fat versus glucose or carbohydrates. 

Can Ketosis be Harmful?

Much like every other diet, there are negative side effects that you should be wary of before beginning the diet. As is the case with every other diet or lifestyle change, you should consult with your doctor to ensure that it is safe. Here are some of the negative side effects of ketosis to be on the lookout for:

  • Keto fatigue - Many people report feeling sick, tired, and achy when they first start ketosis from fasting. It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of the people who start the keto diet feel these symptoms. The process of burning fat for energy will make your body feel tired for a few days
  • Diarrhea - Unfortunately, diarrhea is a common side effect of ketosis. This is because the gallbladder can begin to feel overwhelmed. The keto diet is also low in fiber, which can lead to diarrhea
  • Reduced performance - Recent studies have found that some professional athletes actually perform worse after four days on the keto diet. This can be due to the keto fatigue previously mentioned
  • Weight regain - Many experts don’t recommend the keto diet as a long-term solution. This is because many people will gain the weight they lost on the keto diet back once they start eating carbs again
  • Increased risk of heart disease - Some people see the keto diet as an excuse to eat nothing but butter and bacon. However, a healthy keto diet includes plenty of vegetables and lean sources of protein

If you are noticing any of these side effects, it may be time to evaluate your diet and lifestyle. While some side effects, such as keto fatigue, are temporary, others can be long term. 

Is Ketosis The Same as Fasting?

Ketosis is not the same thing as fasting, however, many people combine intermittent fasting and keto to achieve optimal results. This is because intermittent fasting may help your body reach ketosis quicker than the keto diet alone. When fasting, your body maintains its energy balance by shifting its fuel source from carbs to fat. 

As you may have already noticed, this is the exact premise of the keto diet. During a fast, your insulin levels and glycogen stores will decrease, leading your body to start burning fat for fuel naturally. Adding intermittent fasting to your keto diet can help you better reach ketosis. 

How Long Do You Fast For Autophagy? 

Fasting doesn’t only increase your chances of inducing ketosis. Fasting can also greatly increase your chances of inducing autophagy. Autophagy fasting is very similar to intermittent fasting and ketosis fasting. 

Many experts agree that the autophagy process initiates in humans after 18-20 hours of fasting. The maximum benefits are believed to begin occurring once the 48-72 hour mark has been reached. While this may sound excessive, many experts recommend that you go on a 48-72 hour fast once or twice a year. 

What Triggers Autophagy?

There are three things that we can do to help our bodies reach autophagy. The first way is to limit the amount of time we spend eating. Another way is to limit the amount of food we eat. Lastly, we can limit the number of nutrients we intake. 

The most common initiating factor for autophagy is a lack of nutrients. A lack of yeast, nitrogen, glucose, amino acids and zinc have all been linked to autophagy initiation. We can also consume compounds such as spermidine, which can help induce autophagy. 

What Can Autophagy Heal? 

We have discussed autophagy in relation to ketosis, but how exactly does autophagy benefit our body? Here are a few of the benefits of autophagy:

  • Longevity - The main function of autophagy is to preserve your life. This process kicks in during extreme stress, infection, or starvation. In fact, animals evolved using autophagy to conserve energy and repair damage when energy became scarce
  • Quality of life - Instead of taking in new nutrients, cells undergoing autophagy recycle the damaged parts they have. This means they can remove toxic material and fix themselves up
  • Reduced risk of disease - Many diseases develop because they are the result of proteins in and around your brain cells that don’t work properly

The process can also help reduce the effects of aging, leaving you looking younger and healthier. The process provides numerous skin benefits. 

Supplements That Can Help Induce Autophagy 

To reiterate, the three main ways your diet can induce autophagy is by reducing the amount of time spent eating, reducing the number of calories consumed, and reducing the number of nutrients consumed. Your diet is the best way you can induce autophagy. You can maximize your results by pairing your diet with regular supplements. Here are some of the supplements that support autophagy:

  • Bergamot
  • Berberine
  • Resveratrol 
  • MCT oil
  • Omega-3
  • Spermidine

By taking spermidine supplements every night with your dinner, you will not have to worry about consuming the amount of spermidine you need through food. This makes it much more likely that you consume your recommended daily intake. 


  • 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.