Fasting – How Do You Know If You Are In Autophagy?

For those of us who seriously want the healing from fasting, read on.  

Autophagy converts cellular debris into energy that gets used for survival. It is a metabolic process by which your cells disassemble and recycle themselves.

Autophagy gets activated primarily while fasting or exercising. If you’ve depleted the major sources of energy your body uses, then it’s going to have to find that energy through other means. Namely, self-eating and recycling.

Fast for 16 hours or more.  Please read, The 7 most important intermittent fasting rules:

Signs of Autophagy:

    Skin Health– Wrinkles and skin damage happens as a result of aging and oxidative stress. Your skin reflects the health of your gut and digestion. With fasting your skin would clear up without using any products or creams. 

    Low Blood Glucose– When your blood sugar drops, the body responds by raising cortisol, growth hormone, and ketones. This promotes fat oxidation and ketosis, which would enable the beginning of autophagy. You won’t go into autophagy with too high blood sugar because there’s excess energy. How low you need – probably have to drop below 70 mg/dl, which is what would happen on a long extended fast.

    Low Insulin and IGF–1 Signalling– High fasting insulin is associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, which happens due to energy excess. Furthermore, a lower insulin IGF-1 signal indicates more autophagy because of decreased nutrient signaling. Fasting, low carb diets, and exercise all stimulate autophagy a bit and they also reduce insulin/IGF-1. Generally, a fasting insulin < 25 mIU/L (< 174 pmol/L) reference range is considered normal.

    Elevated Ketones– When blood sugar goes down, ketones should go up. You can have high ketones while eating, which is why it would probably show autophagy only in a fasted state. Higher ketones just tell you that your glucose stores are being depleted and the body moves towards ketosis and autophagy.

    Weight Loss– The process of autophagy is involved in fat oxidation as well, in which it’s called lipophagy. When you’re fasting you will lose weight and you will probably be in autophagy as well. However, when you’re losing weight without fasting, then you may experience slight increased basal cell turnover but probably not enough for significant autophagy.

    Reduced Appetite– If you’re not hungry while having fasted for up to 24 hours, then you’re producing a lot of ketones that begin to feed your brain and body. This may be accompanied by increased mental clarity and focus. Autophagy does mean self-eating, so, you’re essentially eating your own body fat and therefore don’t need to get hungry. 

    Muscle Loss– Autophagy protects against age-related dysfunction and sarcopenia by degrading misfolded proteins and organelles. If you’re fasting for too long or are undereating, then you will eventually lose muscle through autophagy. How much is too much – the benefits of autophagy hit a point of diminishing returns around day 4-5 of fasting.

These signs of autophagy aren’t 100% accurate as they all have their own confounding variables. They are covering the requirements for autophagy.

How to Measure Autophagy

To learn more please seeHow to Measure Autophagy at Home

Glucose Ketone Index Autophagy

To know what’s your insulin to glucagon ratio you can take blood tests for insulin as well as glucagon from your medical doctor. 

If you do not mind doing the finger prick to learn if your body is in the metabolic process of autophagy, read on. You can also guesstimate it at home by calculating your glucose ketone index.

The Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) is a number between the relationship of your ketones and glucose levels. It can help to monitor your general health in relation to your blood glucose levels.

Here’s the Glucose Ketone Index Formula: (Your Glucose Level / 18) / Your Ketones Level = Your Glucose Ketone Index

   Measure your blood glucose by pricking your finger. Write down the number you got.

   Measure your blood ketones by pricking your finger again. Write down the number you got.

   Divide your blood glucose number by 18.

       If your device is using mg/dl, then dividing that with 18 converts it over to mmol/l

       If your device is already showing mmol/l, then you don’t need to divide anything and can skip this step

   Divide your result from the previous step by your ketone numbers.

   The end result is your GKI.

See the image of the Glucose Ketone Index Formula.

In general, having a GKI below 3.0 indicates high levels of ketosis in relation to low levels of glucose; 3-6 shows moderate ketosis, and 6-9 is mild ketosis. Anything above 9 and 10 is no ketosis.

The GKI indicates an estimated relationship between insulin and glucagon with a lower score being more ketotic. Ketosis and autophagy aren’t mutually inclusive as you can be in ketosis without autophagy.

When Are You In Autophagy

You can only predict it if you’re in a fasted state because that’s the surest way we know to increase autophagy.

You don’t want to be in autophagy all the time because it’d prevent growth and repair of your body. Too much autophagy may lead to muscle wasting and dysfunctional cell death, which is why you want to balance catabolism with anabolism. To learn more please read How to Balance Autophagy and mTOR for Longevity and Muscle Growth

Autophagy should be seen as a life-long process of maintenance and repair that needs to be conditioned and kept active so that you’d prevent it from becoming dysfunctional or inadequate. If you want to know how to cycle autophagy and activate it when it’s beneficial, then check out Siim Land’s book Metabolic Autophagy

This Post has been condensedfrom Siim Land’s post Signs of Autophagy – How Do You Know If You’re In Autophagy

Signs of Autophagy – How Do You Know If You’re In Autophagy

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Lydia Polstra

Author: 2healthyhabits

My goal in life is to experience the exuberance of true good health by returning my body to the healthy state it was meant to have.

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