Fasting and Autophagy

24-48 hours is commonly cited as the time frame for autophagy to kick on animals. Research on humans still needs to catch up, and here are recent studies regarding how many hours of fasting does a human need before autophagy begins:

Time-Restricted Feeding Increases Autophagy in Humans: This 2022 study published in "Cell Reports" observed increased autophagy markers in participants following 18 hours of daily fasting within a time-restricted feeding window. Notably, it highlights the flexibility of individual responses, requiring further personalized approaches

Intermittent Fasting Does Not Trigger Autophagy in Human Skeletal Muscle: This 2023 study in "Cell Reports Medicine" found no significant changes in autophagy markers after various lengths of intermittent fasting in participants. It emphasizes the need for context-specific investigations depending on tissue and individual variations.

The Impact of Diet and Exercise on Autophagy in Human Skeletal Muscle: This 2023 review in "Frontiers in Physiology" summarizes different factors influencing autophagy in human skeletal muscle, acknowledging limitations in our current understanding and emphasizing the need for further research on dietary interventions and exercise protocols.

Main Takeaways:

There is still no definitve answer

 Unfortunately, there's no single established duration for optimal autophagy in humans. Factors like individual metabolism, health status, and diet can impact when it starts.

24-48 hours might be an overestimate 

While this window may hold true for some, evidence suggests autophagy might begin sooner. Investigated the effects of intermittent fasting (16:8) and exercise on autophagy markers in healthy adults. Results showed increased autophagy markers after 16 hours of fasting, suggesting earlier onset than previously thought.

Longer fasts don't necessarily equate to more benefits 

The optimal fasting duration for autophagy in humans likely varies. Extended fasts (beyond 72 hours) may not offer additional benefits and could even be detrimental depending on health conditions. Some studies examined the impact of prolonged fasting (5 days) on muscle protein synthesis and autophagy in healthy young adults. Found increased autophagy markers but also protein breakdown, highlighting potential drawbacks of extended fasts.

Consider alternative methods 

Aside from fasting, other practices like exercise, calorie restriction, and specific dietary protocols may also stimulate autophagy to varying degrees.

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