Maybe you ask what is actually autophagy? Such a strange title. The explanation is simple. It is a consumption of the body’s own tissue. It’s basically eating yourself. Scary, right? It will not be, when I will explain it to you actually it will become your best friend as I hope.
This word came from the ancient Greek word autóphagos. Meaning is not important to us but what is is what it does to us. Autophagy occurs mostly after 16 hours of fasting. An effect will be blind when you eat anything else than water. I, personally, think you can eat some dry, not oily, or higher-calorie supplements and nothing major will happen but for the sake of this blog, I will live it more science-based, OK?
So, what is happening when autophagy occurs. First of all, I have to say autophagy occurs all the time in some parts of our body. Sometimes in our toe, sometimes in our bicep, sometimes, you get the picture, right? After 16 hours it gonna occurs in the full (or almost full) body. First, we lack energy (because of fasting) so we gonna burn fat more efficiently. Second, we don’t have enough proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. We don’t have enough building blocks for anything and then magic happens.
All damaged, dead, old or not properly functioning mitochondria, proteins, fractions of DNA, all viruses, bacteria, toxins, and other damaging pollutants are gathered by special vesicles, called lysosomes, which are sacs full of very strong enzymes within the cell. It is an acid environment and contains 50 different enzymes that can dissolve pretty much everything. Enzymes dissolve those harmful, not needed, or not properly working products into building blocks. Those enzymes are able to dissolve even Advanced Glycation End product (AGE) to some degree. The body, and cells, have enough material to build, what they need to build, after that action. Stored fat is used for energy, building blocks for new proteins, mitochondria, gluconeogenesis, etc.
How long to fast
So now we can see how powerful and desired autophagy is. It’s a recycling and cleaning mechanism of our body and you can bet your ass we need it. The real magic happens from 48 to 72 hours of fasting. Over that time autophagy starts to diminish. Feel free to fast more if you have enough stored nutrients but be careful. Only a very well-experienced person can do just such a long fasting. I am experienced enough but I don’t do more than 3-4 days of prolonged fasting from an autophagy point of view.
Another side of Autophagy
One more piece of advice from me before I wrap it up. Don’t start fast like crazy now. If you are in autophagy too often there is nothing damaged to recycle and then, the body starts to recycle still good working cells. This is what we don’t want. Some cells can’t be replaced. They are with us all life and if there is a possibility that kind of cell is not fully working but still good enough it is better to keep it, right? What I do is monthly 3 days of prolonged fasting (I always target different outcomes from fasting) and about 24-36 hours two times a week. Is it a lot? I don’t exactly know but I feel a lot better than eating every day to full. So this is it from autophagy and don’t think I mentioned all benefits of that miraculous survival mechanism.