On the list of amazing, mysterious things our bodies can do, autophagy ranks pretty high. We’ve been chatting with wellness boss and the author of  Glow15, Naomi Whittel, all about autophagy (pronounced: aw-tof-uh-jee). Read our first story with Naomi or dive deep into her new book, then learn how to execute on all that knowledge below… 

Autophagy is a biological process where cells remove toxins, recycle parts and repair their own damage. It becomes less efficient as we get older, and this degradation has been blamed for the signs of aging — from weight gain, to energy loss and even age-related diseases. The good news: You have the power to activate autophagy to look and feel younger – and it’s easier than you think.

6 Ways to Boost Autophagy

try INTERMITTENT FASTING | Not eating, or restricting caloric intake for a short period of time, has been shown to induce autophagy. When your cells lack nutrients, it stresses them out — this is a good thing. That stress increases autophagy or the rate at which cells recycle components, to make sure your systems function well. One of the simplest ways to do this is by fasting for 16 hours. Hold on, I know it doesn’t sound simple to go without food for that long – but if you stop eating after dinner, continue to fast while sleeping (which should be the norm!) and then just skip breakfast — you’ve done it. That’s it, skip one meal. And there is no reason to go any longer than 16 hours (I’m looking at you, over-achievers!). This short-term fast has been shown to have a profound effect on autophagy in your brain. So stay sharp and try working up to three non-consecutive fasting days per week.

about PROTEIN cycling | One of the main purposes of autophagy is to supply the body with a constant level of amino acids (products of protein) by breaking down muscle tissue. If no protein is supplied through eating, the body still needs that amino acid. Limiting protein intake forces your cells to find every possible way to recycle the existing protein you’ve already provided it, thereby activating autophagy. There is evidence that protein cycling can help reduce the risk of diseases, diabetes, cancer and heart disease, in addition to enhancing autophagy. To limit your protein consumption, aim to eat less than 25 grams on the same three days you fast.

EXERCISE in bursts | Think workouts are stressful? Well, you should — and again, that’s a good thing. Autophagy rates increase when cells are under physiological stress (you know, like when your heart is beating fast and your muscles are straining). This stress is a good thing, as it has been shown to boost autophagy in your brain and muscle tissues. A minimal amount of exercise can give you maximum benefits. Just 30 minutes of exercise has been shown to have profound autophagic effects. There are two great types of workouts to boost autophagy: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance exercise training (RET). The former has been shown to boost mitochondria – the power plant of your cells providing energy – and the latter helps prevent the loss of muscle mass, while improving strength.

get quality SLEEP | Autophagy is key to beauty sleep. Not only is it activated because you are denying your body of nutrients (assuming you’re not eating while snoozing!), but it is linked to your circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep. So, getting quality rest will help your autophagy. Here are my tips to help you “glow to sleep:” No technology for 90 minutes before bed, lower your room temperature to 65 degrees, and try brown noise – like the sounds of wave crashing – which you can find in a sound machine or sleep app.

take RESVERATROL | Go ahead – enjoy a glass of red wine and indulge in some dark chocolate! They contain a powerphenol called resveratrol. Studies have shown that resveratrol-trans is the best type of resveratrol to enhance autophagy. I like to take resveratrol-trans as a supplement, which offers the benefits of hundreds of glasses of red wine (and doesn’t leave me with a hangover!). Resveratrol-trans is best taken once or twice daily as a 250mg nutritional supplement.

make autopha-TEA | Yes, you can sip yourself skinnier and smoother with the ultimate youth boost – AutophaTea! Enjoy up to four cups of this delicious and nutritious autophagy-activating drink daily — just make sure you switch to decaf after 2 pm. It will keep you satiated, focused and energized.

Whole Citrus Bergamot Earl Grey Tea. Induces autophagy to remove toxins from your cells and keep your heart healthy. By doing so, it improves insulin sensitivity to lower blood sugar.

Green Tea.  Active polyphenols like EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea activate autophagy.

Coconut Oil.  Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of healthy medium-chain fatty acids. It eases your hunger and stimulates autophagy by increasing ketone levels — especially in the absence of carbs.

Cinnamon. This spice, high in antioxidants, has been shown to increase autophagy. Look for Ceylon cinnamon, as it is considered “true cinnamon” and is of the highest quality.


1 green tea bag
1 whole citrus bergamot Earl Grey tea bag
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp raw coconut oil


In a kettle or small saucepan, bring 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups water to a boil.
Pour the water into a large mug and add the tea bags and cinnamon stick. Let steep for at least 3 minutes (the longer the better), then remove and discard the tea bags.
Add the coconut oil and stir it in using the cinnamon stick.
Mix it all together for 20 to 30 seconds. You can also blend the tea to help mix the flavors and emulsify the oil.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 

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