The authors report that the key characteristics of the optimal diet appear to be moderate to high carbohydrate intake from non-refined sources, low but sufficient protein from largely plant-based sources, and enough plant-based fats to provide about 30 percent of energy needs. Ideally, the day’s meals would all occur within a window of 11-12 hours, allowing for a daily period of fasting, and a 5-day cycle of a fasting or fasting-mimicking diet every 3-4 months may also help reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and other risk factors for individuals with increased disease risks, Longo added.
He described what eating for longevity could look like in real life: “Lots of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables; some fish; no red meat or processed meat and very low white meat; low sugar and refined grains; good levels of nuts and olive oil, and some dark chocolate.”
Diet as a whole, encompassing food composition, calorie intake, and the length and frequency of fasting periods, affects the time span in which health and functional capacity are maintained. Here, we analyze aging and nutrition studies in simple organisms, rodents, monkeys, and humans to link longevity to conserved growth and metabolic pathways and outline their role in aging and age-related disease. We focus on feasible nutritional strategies shown to delay aging and/or prevent diseases through epidemiological, model organism, clinical, and centenarian studies and underline the need to avoid malnourishment and frailty. These findings are integrated to define a longevity diet based on a multi-pillar approach adjusted for age and health status to optimize lifespan and healthspan in humans.
Longo is trying to put all of the pieces together, but so many are missing from the puzzle. While I can agree with much of what he says, I found his support of a high carbohydrate diet to be strange given these statement in the paper:
In addition to the protein-endocrine axis, sugars can also play a central role in signaling leading to the acceleration of the aging process. As well established for S. cerevisiae, glucose may also contribute to mammalian aging by both increasing the release of insulin and possibly by directly activating certain pro-aging pathways.
The high circulating fat content does not appear to have the pro-aging effects of the protein- and sugar-endocrine axes, possibly because fat catabolism, fatty acids, and ketone bodies are at the center of fasting responses
despite this, he recommends a longevity diet that is
characterized by a mid to high carbohydrate and low but sufficient protein intake
and then he says something terribly incorrect about carbohydrates and insulin:
the relatively high complex carbohydrate consumption may also contribute to avoiding frailty at all ages but particularly in the elderly, thus providing energy without increasing insulin and activating glucose signaling pathways.
When you consume food of any kind, but particularly any kind of digestible carbohydrate, you do increase insulin., and any such carbs will also increase glucose once they are digested. How could he honestly say that eating a complex carbohydrate would not increase glucose signaling pathways?
EnrQay, I think you dissected some of his highly contradictory positions well.
This is an eminent scientist, and his rationale (several podcasts) for not eating lower carbohydrate “well, nobody that lives long eats low carb”. That’s his CAUSATION science?!
He’s Italian…major conflict of pasta interest.
The literature is filled with insulin and glucose signalling inversely correlated to longevity.
The scourge of western metabolic dysfunction (eg. T2D) EXPLODED when the US guided away from fats to carbohydrates (Ancel Keys)…the rest is history. Every pharma commercial on TV is for a CGM or a glucose reducing drug. Just shake your head.
During 1971–2000, the prevalence of obesity in the United States increased from 14.5% to 30.9%
Many of the longevity experts I respect the most, Peter Attia, Rhonda Patrick, Blagosklonny, Kaeberlein, etc. reject many of Longo’s ideas. I sometimes think he has a hidden agenda of transforming everyone into vegetarians. Further, I see his $250 for 5 day fast as scam. There are numerous sources on the net that tell you how to the right macro mix and calorie count for the five days (assuming you wish to do such a thing) and you’ll spends less than $20 for the food. In his book he tells of good results had with his fast-mimicking by extremely overweight people who would get great results from any of many different low calorie interventions. I guess, in short, I am saying he is not the person you should be listening to.
I, like you, tend to agree more with the longevity-focused people you mention, but calling Longo’s meals a scam seems to be going too far. I may disagree with him on some things, but I feel like he’s doing a good effort at trying to help people, with the studies to back it up… and he’s donating all his profits from the food company … so while they may not be a good value for you and I, for some people I’m sure they work well and provide value. Moreover, for people who don’t want to buy his food, he publishes books (and articles) describing his approach, and the research behind it.
I can easily point to some longevity researchers who seem much, much more interested in commercial promotions for personal benefit (vs. public benefit) than Walter Longo. Many, perhaps most, of Longo’s work seems to be well supported and well followed by the longevity leaders we like - Peter Attia and many others are very supportive of the fasting aspect of Longo’s suggestions. The exact optimal diet will always be up for discussion, and individualized… so I see that as an ongoing debate, with hopefully increasingly better data going forward. But this type of effort is a reasonable start (or contribution to an ongoing debate), I feel.
" inventor of the Fasting Mimicking Diet™ technology, Valter Longo PhD generously donates all profits from his 60% ownership in L-Nutra to the CreateCures Foundation."
Its not that high carb is good, its actually that high protein and fat is worse. For example mice that were protein restricted but ate additional carbs to make up calories lived longer than normal. BUT mice that did not make up the additonal calories lived even longer.
Protein is basically signaling abundance very strongly , and abundance shifts focus away from maintenance and towards proliferation. Mice fed high protein low carb had better reproduction but they lived shorter.
Bear in mind this diet was originally created for people on chemotherapy for existing cancers who could not easily perform a five-day water only fast, but get many of the benefits of a fast. His clinical results speak for themselves. It’s not a scam. While he is Italian as someone commented, he is from Genova where they eat a lot of fish in addition to pesto a la liguria. Just Try finding obese people in Liguria
I admit my choice of words was poor and I did not explain my ideas well. I read his famous book “The Longevity Diet”. His approach to diet is set out reasonably. Then the next half of the book, for almost 100 pages tells me of an almost miraculous additional possible component of eating for longevity of incredible value, periods on a “fast mimicking diet”. Although touted for half of the book, I am not told how to implement this. It is kept secret. To partake in this fabulous component of eating for longevity I must pay $250 for a five day kit. I am told I may may want to do this monthly (in which case I can get a discount bringing the cost of a kit down to under $200, wow). With a little bit of searching on the net I find that I can closely enough duplicate the fasting plan, easily and cheaply. This approach to introducing and marketing his fast mimicking diet offends me. The information should have been in the book in the first place. In case you are wondering, I am a 100% capitalist, I have an MBA and am a CPA. I am in favor of all profiting fairly. His methods strike me as unfair.
“With a little bit of searching on the net I find that I can closely enough duplicate the fasting plan, easily and cheaply.”
So if it’s that easy and cheap to replicate, how is it unfair? BTW it’s $187 not $250 ($37/day), still pricey but IMO it’s also fair to deduct the cost of 5 days of one’s normal diet from that price, since it completely replaces 5 days of food.
My problem with Prolon is the palatability (or lack thereof); on the other hand, when I’ve tried do-it-yourself Prolon I haven’t gotten nearly as good results as the few times when I strictly used the boxes. Lowering the carbs and replacing with fats (while keeping calories and protein exactly the same) caused me to lose more muscle mass than fat over the 5 day period, while also feeling crappy the whole time.
Today’s Attia/Drive podcast with Layne Norton addressed the protein/longevity issue. Did anyone else listen? They really emphasize the “pulsatile” nature of protein ingestion and its “temporary” effect on raising mTORC/IGF-1 compared to the “chronic” effect of insulin resistance (and by inference pulsatile is safe).
Repeated “pulses”, as in eating protein throughout the day to equal 1 gram per pound of body weight, effectively adds up to being a chronic stimulus. After all, dietary sugar and white starch is an acute/pulsatile stimulus for hyperglycemia, yet Peter Attia is a blood glucose control FREAK! Why? Because the pulses add up over the period of a day, a week, a month, etc etc.
Also, just because a lean body builder can be healthy and live a long life eating lots of protein doesn’t mean he couldn’t live even longer and be even healthier (although perhaps not having quite as much muscle mass) by cutting back on the protein to some extent.
I don’t dispute the fact that IF you train hard enough and if you want to add every last bit of muscle mass via diet, then 1 gram/lb of protein will maximize hypertrophy, but the question remains at what cost to longevity? I suspect that people who aren’t super lean and who don’t train as hard as Peter or Layne, yet still eat high protein because they’re told it’s healthy, are suffering an even greater impact on their health and longevity while at the same time doing absolutely nothing for muscle mass because their training volume isn’t high enough to need it.
Fair points, Davin8r. Personally, I find animal protein to be the most satiating (delicious) and aim for 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight per day, primarily from grass-fed beef. However, I also practice time restricted eating and typically only eat two meals per day (~7 to 8 hr feeding window), with no snacking in between. Hopefully that keeps my protein ingestion is a fairly “pulsatile” manner. I try to minimize carbs in general, but am not strict keto… around 100 grams of net carbs per day, mostly from lower-sugar fruits and vegetables.
I find it all very frustrating. I am sure many of us do. Both Longo and Attia/Norton are addressing maximizing longevity. Both are addressing optimal protein intake in a situation where a subject does enough general exercise and strength training for maximum longevity. Longo in his book “The Longevity Diet” flat out says studies show that a daily protein intake exceeding .33 grams per a pound of body weight does not increase muscle growth. Attia and Norton have recommended approximately 1 gram of protein per a pound of body weight. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum and all are considered experts. I find it troubling that they can come to such different conclusions. I have read material from quite a number experts. Most seem to recommend in the middle. I don’t think any are as “pro-protein” as Attia. Very few are as “anti-protein” as Longo (although Rhonda Patrick, who I regard very highly does seem to recommend the same daily protein levels as Longo). I wish there could be more definitive guidance on the subject. Personally, I’d like to eat somewhat closer to the diet that Attia would recommend, but I would eat closer to the diet Longo recommends if I were reasonably sure significant health and longevity (and quality of life) benefits were likely to result.
I think it’s pretty well established that those engaged in an intense resistance training program will maximize muscle hypertrophy at approx 1g/lb protein; however, I suspect the real world significance of the protein intake pales in comparison to the exercise stimulus itself and to the need to be in a caloric surplus (healthy carbs!) during cycles of bulking vs cutting. Longo and others can accurately claim that increased protein intake above the RDA doesn’t increase muscle growth because it doesn’t, by itself. There needs to be a purposeful resistance exercise stimulus.
Resistance exercise increases health span, getting lean increases health span and lifespan, but eating all that protein very likely works against one’s efforts at life extension. It would be even worse if one eats 1g/lb, engages in only fairly mild/habitual resistance training, and never even gets lean.