Autophagy is triggered by cellular signals your body emits when it is going through stressful conditions. When your metabolism does not have the stored resources to satisfy its demands, autophagy will allow it to recycle damaged parts for energy and building materials.
There are 2 major ways to induce autophagy by applying stressful conditions:
We will cover each in turn, and after that, we will cover another “secret” way to “trick” your body into believing it is under more stress than it really is.
Fasting Induced Autophagy
The simplest (but not necessarily the easiest) way to start autophagy is by not eating. Our bodies, over literally millions of years, have evolved to be able to withstand prolonged periods of inadequate food supply. In these modern times, most people rely on carbohydrates as their main source of fuel. What most people don’t know is that carbohydrates are stored in our bodies as glycogen. We can store glycogen in either our muscles or our liver. The total amount of glycogen we can store is on average 400 grams. If you are a metabolism nerd like we are, you know that one gram of carbohydrate is roughly equivalent to 4 calories. So that means most of have under 2,000 calories worth of glycogen reserves. If you don’t eat for a whole day, you will have thoroughly depleted your glycogen reserves. At that point, any collagen, mineral, protein or other building material you require will also have been used up.
Fuel Source During Fasting
As far as energy is concerned, you will be able to rely on your fat stores. If you do the math (taking weight, body fat percentage and caloric density of fat into consideration), most people have between 50,000 and 100,000 calories stored up as fat! If you fast for long enough, you will enter into the state of ketosis, during which a significant portion of your energy requirements can be met with ketone bodies (beta hydroxy butyrate and acetoacetate, to be specific). These ketone bodies have been shown to provide a variety of benefits, which is one of the reasons the ketogenic diet has surged in popularity recently. As a side note, the ketogenic diet was initially developed as a way to manage drug-resistant epileptic seizures. One possible explanation for why it works is that the brains of epileptics have a limited capacity to use glucose as fuel, and in the state of ketosis your brain can rely on up to 75% of its energy requirements to be met with ketone bodies. And yet another poorly known fact: our liver can produce all the carbohydrates we require using a process called gluconeogenesis. The liver is an amazing organ – good for a lot more than just breaking down alcohol!
Running On Empty
While we have a substantial energy reserve in our bodies, we don’t store building materials to replace broken down cells. This is where autophagy comes in. Over time, the specialized sub-parts of our cells called organelles break down and start malfunctioning. The process of autophagy knows how to recognize these damaged organelles, scoop them up and break them down. And finally reuse the broken down parts for either energy, or as building materials for new organelles.
Exercise Induced Autophagy
The other main mechanism to induce autophagy is exercise. How do we know? Scientists used mice to determine that exercise plays an important role. They used two types of mice: one, the so called wild type mouse, which has no significant genetic mutations. The others are strains of mice with mutations that knock out various molecular pathways involved in the activation of autophagy. First they fed all mice a high fat diet in order to make the poor rodents obese. Then the mice were put on a rigorous exercise regimen. The researchers found out that, in the first place, the mutated mice were not able to run on a treadmill as long as the wild type mice. Second, they discovered that in the normal mice, exercise reversed glucose intolerance, whereas the mutated mice did not experience that benefit. More specifically, in mice – and humans – a single bout of intense exercise has 2 major effects:
- It activates AMP Kinase, a nutrient sensing enzyme responsible for coordinating metabolism and growth
- It mobilizes so called GLUT4 transporters, whose job it is to shuttle glucose back into the muscles after depletion.
The mutated mice did not experience the AMP Kinase activation, and the GLUT4 transporters stayed put, thus preventing the mice from being able to quickly replenish their muscular energy reserves.
But Wait, There’s More!
It has been established that exercise prevents cognitive decline in aging, delays neurodegenerative diseases and improves adult neurogenesis. We also know that autophagy gets rid of protein aggregates (such as beta-amyloids, implicated in Alzheimer’s disease) and damaged organelles in the neurons. An interesting question that arises from these findings, is whether autophagy is at least partially responsible for the three benefits mentioned earlier. While that answer remains to be answered definitively, we do know the following: going back to the two types of mice discussed earlier, the wild type mice show an increase in autophagic flux in the brain after exercise, while the mutated mice did not.
A Third Way To Induce Autophagy
We know that fasting induces autophagy. But how does it work? The lack of cellular nutrients causes the depletion of something called intra-cellular acetyl coenzyme A (AcCoA) and the deacetylation of cellular proteins. If you can deacetylate the proteins in some other way, that will trigger the cellular pathways that initiate autophagy. There are 3 ways to do that:
- Decrease intracellular levels of AcCoA by stopping its production
- inhibit the enzymes that transfer acetyl groups from AcCoA to other molecules
- increase production of deacetylases, which facilitate the removal of acetyl groups
It turns out that there are many natural compounds that produce exactly these effects. These are known as caloric restriction mimetics. And we have distilled all the latest autophagy-related research to formulate a potent blend of these natural compounds to help you induce autophagy faster and last longer.
Autophagy Stack is the first and only supplement designed to boost autophagy. In addition to boosting autophagy, the compounds in this formulation have several other benefits (see here for a study of a very similar combination of ingredients):
- Anti-oxidant, anti-artherogenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Improvement in cholesterol and sugar levels in blood
Another benefit is that if you were to take enough separate supplements to cover all our ingredients, you would probably be taking anywhere from 6 to 8 pills. With Autophagy Stack, we have packaged it in an easy-to-take 2 capsules.
But please keep in mind, you can’t eat a full meal and still force your body to go into autophagy mode. You will still need to restrict calorie intake, just for less prolonged periods.