Do electrolytes break autophagy?

Breaking this down in detail for you today.

What Exactly is Autophagy?

In order to have a better understanding of electrolytes and their effect on the body, we need to first understand the concept of autophagy.

The simplest way to describe is autophagy is that it enables the body to dismantle and repurpose aging cellular components, enhancing cellular efficiency. 

It’s a built-in purification mechanism initiated when cells undergo stress or face nutrient scarcity. 

In other words, it’s the body’s process for reusing old and damaged cell parts.


They are the foundation for our entire body as they clump together to form each of our organ systems.

Healthy cells build healthy tissues, which build healthy organs, which build healthy organs systems, which makes an all around healthy you! 

  • Cells → Tissues → Organs → Organ systems → Body!

Think of it like recycling whereas a cell can get rid of the parts it no longer needs, but also be able to reuse the pieces that it desires to preserve for new, usable cell parts.

Autophagy and Gut Health

In case it wasn’t clear already how this process benefits your gut, let me break it down a little further with some facts:

  1. Autophagy is required to maintain anti-microbial defense, epithelial barrier integrity and mucosal immune response. Dysregulation of the autophagy process causes disruption of several aspects of the intestinal epithelium and the immune system that can lead to an inappropriate immune response and subsequent inflammation. (source)
  2. Psychosocial stress is a critical inducing factor of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), while autophagy is a novel central issue of IBD development. (source)
  3. If fasting for longer than 16 hours, autophagy occurs. Similarly, gut microbiota (GM) has been shown to have several beneficial effects on almost every organ and tissue in the body. (source)
  4. Autophagy helps in regulating inflammation and homeostasis in the intestinal mucosa. (source)

Honestly, do any research within the science realm of educational content and you’ll see a direct correlation between autophagy and the gut.

Do electrolytes break autophagy for gut health

How to Achieve Autophagy?

So, if we accept that autophagy is important for gut function, then how do we achieve it?

Well, the good news is that if you’re already in the Gutsy community and have been following this work for any length of time, there is a chance you’re already doing many of the things.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, you can induce autophagy through:

  1. Strictly fasting. However, this isn’t your typical 12-hour fast. Depending on the individual’s metabolism, significant autophagy may take two to four days of fasting in humans. Autophagy is believed to begin when glucose and insulin levels drop considerably. Animal studies have shown evidence of autophagy after 24 hours of fasting, which starts peaking at around 48 hours of fasting. (source)
  2. Calorie restriction. This is not the type of caloric restriction, however, where your body is not getting enough calories. It’s knowing exactly what your body needs and then limiting calorie intake just a little to force your cells into autophagy in order to compensate for the lost nutrients.
  3. High fat, low carbohydrate. This particular dietary regimen, often known as keto, alters your body’s energy metabolism. Rather than relying on carbohydrates or sugar for energy, it shifts to burning fat instead. This metabolic shift can activate autophagy.
  4. Exercise. Depending on the type, and intensity, exercise can induce autophagy.

Note for caution:

Doing all or even one of the above might not be for you right now and this article is certainly not intended as medical advice. There are definitely groups of people who the medical community would caution the above for.

Before starting any form of longer fasts, reduction in caloric intake, lowering carbohydrate consumption, and doing high-intensity training, you must consult with your medical practitioner.

Despite the fact that clinical research backs autophagy, a lot of people are not in the current place where they will benefit from it. Proceed with any/all with caution and definitely don’t go at it alone.

Do Electrolytes Break Autophagy?

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Do electrolytes break autophagy

So, if we accept that autophagy can benefit gut health, then let’s break down how electrolyte supplements can help during the process.

Electrolytes and the Fasting Period

Too many people neglect essential electrolytes while fasting. The result is that they feel tired, crampy, and weak during the fast. 

This usually gets blamed on lack of food. And that’s certainly part of it. Fasting should cause some hunger, and it’s generally not conducive to peak performance.   

But it shouldn’t cause dizziness, weakness, fatigue, or cramps. These fasting-related symptoms typically have one of two causes:

  1. Low blood sugar regulation (hypoglycemia)
  2. Inadequate electrolytes


Cause #1, hypoglycemia, is mostly a problem for type 1 or type 2 diabetics on blood sugar-lowering drugs. That’s why diabetics shouldn’t fast without medical supervision. 

Inadequate Electrolytes

But cause #2, low electrolytes, can affect anyone who fasts. Food is our main source of electrolytes, and during a fast, you’re not consuming anything. You also excrete more sodium in a fasted state (this is called the natriuresis of fasting and it’s something clinicians monitor when fasting patients therapeutically). 

So, fewer electrolytes come in during a fast and more go out. Which makes it easy for a deficiency to develop—and the cramps, headaches, and other uncomfortable symptoms that come along with it.

Consuming electrolytes during a fast can help prevent this. 

The problem? Most of the electrolyte products on the market are either loaded with sugar or woefully lacking in actual electrolytes.

Enter LMNT.

LMNT electrolytes

LMNT even has a 100% unflavored, raw variety. This means there is NO stevia added. 0 calories, 0 carbohydrates, 0 protein, and 0 fat.

Created by former research biochemist Robb Wolf and ketogains founder Luis Villasenor, LMNT has enough sodium, potassium, and magnesium to move the needle—and keep you feeling and performing your best.

Plus it has ZERO sugar, artificial colors, or other dodgy ingredients to hold you back.

All this means that LMNT supports your fast—intermittent or extended—without breaking it. It also supports your general hydration. And is especially important if you train fasted, since you lose extra electrolytes through sweat.

As a bonus, research suggests that sodium supplementation also mitigates weight rebound after a fast. 

Will LMNT Break the Fasting Period?

But will LMNT break my fasting window? And if I consume these electrolyte drinks, does it impair the process of autophagy I’m trying to achieve?

According to Robb Wolf, the answer is no. He states:

What does it mean to break a fast? It’s a simple question that requires a nuanced answer. You could say that consuming calories breaks a fast, but many fasting protocols show benefits from merely limiting calories. And besides, not all calories are created equal.

The extent to which a food or drink “breaks a fast” hinges on two main factors:

  1. The number of calories consumed
  2. The type of calories consumed

The first factor is fairly straightforward. The more calories you consume, the more likely you will disrupt the fast. 

The second factor is the type of calorie. The greater the body’s insulin response is to a macronutrient, the more disruptive that nutrient will be.

Here’s how macronutrients rank, from most to least disruptive to a fast.

  1. Carbohydrate
  2. Protein
  3. Fat

​What’s in an LMNT Electrolyte?

To prove this point, here’s what’s in LMNT from a carbohydrate, protein, and fat standpoint:

  • 10 calories that come from:
    • 2g of carbohydrates
    • 0g of protein
    • 0g of fat

Here is the exact label for the Grapefruit Salt flavor:

What's in an LMNT Electrolyte

And by the way, the Grapefruit Salt flavor makes a killer Margarita mocktail.

Want to try it? Here’s how.

Grapefruit Salt Mocktail


  • 1 stick pack LMNT Grapefruit Salt
  • 16–32 oz soda water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • handful of ice


  1. Stir or shake to mix well.
  2. Serve over ice.

However, despite the fact that you see 2g of carbohydrates, don’t let that deter you from thinking these essential electrolyte are ruining your fast.

As Robb states,

Still, I must remind you that the dose makes the poison. A teaspoon of honey in your tea or electrolyte drink won’t ruin your fast. Of course you could just as easily use stevia, but my point is that IF you want to use a splash of honey here and there, I do not see a problem. We’d do well to dispense with the nearly religious fervor that emerges around the nuance of fasting.

Robb Wolf

The good thing is that LMNT does not use honey; instead Stevia, which contains virtually zero calories.

Sodium Intake

One common question I’m asked is…..but isn’t this far too much sodium?

And I’ve addressed this head on.

Too much salt CAN be hard on the heart and potentially cause higher blood pressure.

However, the exact amount of salt that is safe to consume each day is under constant debate. The Dietary Guideline for Americans currently recommends less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

However, some individuals may find success with more or less sodium than the recommended amount.

Make note: The founder and created of LMNT, Robb Wolf, has done extensive research on sodium over the years since it’s gotten such a bad rap. He details his findings via two great articles that I wanted to be sure to share with you for further reading:


Remember, my goal with A Gutsy Girl is to give you all sides of a coin so you (and your doctor) can make the best decisions for your health.

Also remember that you don’t have to automatically assume that the FDA and the WHO are always the end-all, be-all.

In fact, if I did that throughout my gut-healing journey, I would never have arrived at the “health” place I am today. I’m just sayin’….

Minerals and Electrolytes

Another way we can look at the health benefits of electrolytes and fasting is like this…..

Excluding added sugar, sweeteners, or flavorings won’t interrupt your fasting period, and replenishing minerals and electrolytes may prove beneficial. 

Fasting can deplete your body’s electrolyte levels, leading to feelings of lethargy or dizziness. 

To counteract these effects, consider incorporating sodium, magnesium, and potassium supplements. 

Flavored sugar-free electrolyte supplements with minimal calories can complement your fast, promoting hydration and encouraging increased fluid intake.

So what’s exactly in the LMNT Electrolyte Powders?

Good news, LMNT naturally contains sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

There are only six ingredients in this electrolyte mix, three of them being the actual electrolytes themselves.

Sodium Chloride

The first ingredients is salt, otherwise known as sodium chloride. This electrolyte is found in the highest amount of the mix and for good reason.

The latest nutritional science studies shows that a salt intake between 4-6 grams is optimal for preventing health complications such as stroke and cardiovascular disease.

This means that high amounts of salt are NOT a bad thing. As with everything, moderation is key.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is an additive that is found in many common foods. It helps to keep the ingredients more fresh for longer and bump up the flavor.

This ingredient, while not entirely naturally occurring in this case, actually has some health benefits.

These include:

  • increasing energy levels
  • increases nutrient absorption
  • optimizes kidney health

This additive is considered extremely safe and can actually help with full body health.

Magnesium malate

This compound is a form of magnesium that is created by combining magnesium with malic acid.

It is known to be one of the most bioavailable magnesium sources, meaning that the body can easily absorb it.

Magnesium is an incredibly important electrolyte that helps support sleep, healthy bowel movements, energy synthesis, and exercise performance.

It has also been shown to reduce the risk of medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar.

LMNT ingredients

Potassium chloride

This is a compound made by combining potassium with chlorine.

Its use in the electrolyte blend is in the potassium content, which makes it a great electrolyte.

Potassium helps support full-body health by optimizing kidney function, lowering blood pressure, and playing a role in muscle contraction.

Natural flavors

This ingredient is simply a collection of various flavors from natural ingredients.

Stevia Leaf Extract

Stevia is a type of natural sugar substitute made from the stevia plant. It contains zero calories or carbohydrates, which means that it does not promote the overgrowth of pathogens in our gut such as yeasts, bacteria, and parasites.

This makes stevia a great option for anyone trying out the ketogenic lifestyle or simply attempting to heal their guts.

Sources: HEREHERE, and HERE

Autophagy and Overall Health

As we wrap up, here’s the short answer:

  • Yes, autophagy is good for gut health and the digestive system, the benefits of fasting are being proven time and time again.
  • Things that will not interfere with the process of autophagy include: no-calorie herbal teas and green tea, fresh water with pure lemon juice, black coffee, bone broth (A mug or two of bone broth shouldn’t meaningfully disrupt your fast. It does contain a bit of collagen protein, but the amino acid profile (glycine, proline, etc.) is fasting-friendly. source), and pure electrolytes (without sugars that provide calories).
  • During a fast, what you don’t want is the loss of electrolytes / an imbalance of them. HERE are the red flags for an electrolyte imbalance; side effects range from nausea to chronic fatigue, muscle spasms, and more.
  • A great way for electrolyte balance is to try adding in LMNT to your routine.
  • While a 48-hour fast might be recommended for complete autophagy, you’ll still reap the benefits of fasting for overall health when you fast even 12 – 16 hours. 

Get LMNT Electrolytes

Because I’ve worked for a long time with LMNT (Robb Wolf was even on my podcast back in 2021 – listen to the episode HERE), the Gutsy community receives a FREE sampler pack with multiple LMNT flavors with any purchase.

I drink at least 1 packet per day (more if my activity level is high that day).

Here are some of my favorite ways to include them into my everyday routine:

  • BY FAR my PERSONAL FAVE == ADDING to my morning cup ‘o coffee
  • adding them to plain water or a water bottle
  • adding coconut water to smoothies or in coffee
  • adding LMNT packets to oatmeal or chia seed pudding
  • adding electrolyte blends into a greek yogurt parfait
  • mixing them into sauce and serving with pasta
  • mixing them into natural fruit juice 
LMNT electrolytes

I think you’re going to love these fasting-friendly drinks while still getting enough electrolytes, and keeping your body in the autophagy process.

But don’t just take my word for them. Here are things other people are saying about the LMNT electrolytes:

  • “I wanted to say how amazed [I am] at your product. For religious reasons, I fast from March 2nd to 21st (no food or water from sunrise to sunset). And all these years I suffered from headaches. This year is the first time that I drank LMNT in the morning and I went headache free!!! I absolutely love your product!!!”
  • “I drank LMNT during pregnancy, while I was breastfeeding, all during postpartum, and now while I’m pregnant with my second child! I think it’s the best product on the market…”
  • “I feel a grounded energy when I have LMNT with my morning coffee and I sleep great when I have LMNT as a before-bed treat.”
  • “I suffered from migraines for 40 years. The doctors prescribed everything, now I take a salt tab twice a day, but found LMNT worked even better, especially if I am exercising or going in a sauna.”
  • “I recently had food poisoning while on vacation and LMNT truly helped me recover for the flight home.”
  • “To speed and maximize recovery after surgery or injury, I promote eating, hydrating, sleeping, and moving well. For hydration I recommend water and LMNT, while avoiding drinks high in sugar, caffeine, or additives. For my personal recovery after spinal fusion I drank an LMNT in 32 oz of H2O every day.” – Dr. Chris Dolan
  • “I feel satiated because I’m constantly drinking water with LMNT – I have less brain fog, more energy, and a general sense of well-being because of the quality of products used and no sugar!”

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