Personal Confusion Regarding Dr. Valter Longo's Proposal of Low-Protein Longevity Diet

Hello everyone, I want to ask how you view Dr. Valter Longo’s statement on longevity diet, which suggests a low-protein diet, primarily plant-based, and avoiding animal protein intake before the age of 65. Is this viewpoint still highly credible? Thank you.

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This is what I’ve been following for years (decades), believing it’s the best for health. Now however, at 68, I added a little more animal protein in my mostly plant based diet. Still no meat.

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Personal confusion and dietary choices go hand in hand! Seriously, nutritional science is some of the worst quality scientific data sets out there, making it very difficult and confusing to decide which way of eating is best. There are accomplished, smart folks out there pushing innumerable versions of the “best diet” for health and longevity. What I find is that most people (me included) start the search for a better diet with many biases, then confirm those bias with the research/evidence that they lean into. We’re all human, so that’s to be expected. For me, a plant-based diet doesn’t seem to make sense, however I’ll be the first to admit that I could be wrong. Since it seems that people seem to be doing just fine on all kinds of dietary schemes, it might not be that important exactly how you structure your food intake, as long as it doesn’t contain a lot of junk food. The more I read and think about this issue, the more humble and nuanced my own opinions become.

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Many credible people in the longevity field believe that the optimal daily intake of protein is considerably higher than Dr. Longo does. He recommends .31 to .36 grams per pound of body weight daily. Using the midpoint, .33 grams, a 155 pound person is recommended 51 grams of protein per day.

Mike Lustgarten would seem to favor approximately 98 to 101 grams per day for such a person based on his video’s.

Rhonda Patrick has indicated that she personally has an intake roughly in the same range (per pound of bodyweight) as favored by Mike Lustgarten (or possibly a bit higher). However, she has not refuted podcast guests who have recommended higher daily protein intakes.

Matt Kaeberlein, on podcasts with Peter Attia, has indicated that he personally consumes protein at a bit higher rate than the level than Lustgarten or Patrick. But, he has not refuted Peter Attia’s position that protein intake should be 1 gram per a pound of bodyweight. Attia’s recommended daily protein intake is roughly the highest recommended intake of those in the longevity field.

I know that Luigi Fontana recommends protein intake similar (identical?) to Dr. Longo’s recommendations. But they are more or less partners and have even collaborated on at least one published paper.

So, you have to decide yourself.

My guess is an intake of .65 grams per a pound of bodyweight (Lustgarten and Patrick personal intake) is better than a lower intake. After the age of 65, I believe an even higher protein intake is beneficial.

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Thank you for your wonderful reply. How do you view using plant-based protein instead of animal protein? If I don’t eat chicken, I will be very miserable,

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Thank you for your wonderful reply. How do you view using plant-based protein instead of animal protein

Thank you for your reply. I am also considering trying a plant-based diet, but at the moment, I am very fond of chicken

If you are fond of chicken, then it could be good for you. I don’t like chicken taste and smell, so it’s easy for me to be on a plant based diet without making any sacrifices. I eat only what I like, and it happens to be plant based.

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Well everybody’s got an opinion and I have mine, haha. IMO, plant-based proteins seem clearly inferior to animal-based proteins, so I’m not sure why anyone would prioritize plant-based over animal-based protein unless perhaps one believes it is better for the environment (I disagree) or for animal-ethics reasons, both of which I can understand. I prioritize animal-based because humans just don’t have a list of essential amino acids, we need these amino acids in certain ratios for optimal health. Animal-based foods provide essential amino acids in ratios that are closer to what humans need, and they do it in a substrate that is generally more absorbable than plant-based. Also, it just seems more natural and healthy to consume a modest-sized streak (yum) for example than to chug a bunch of pea- or soy-based protein powder (not so yum). Oh, and that steak will provides a ton of other nutrients in the bargain. If you love chicken, same deal. I do love lots of plant foods though, to each their own. As I go through life I continue to look at the pros and cons and ethics of foods and make choices as best I can, and I could be eating differently in the future as my knowledge grows.

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As you’ll see from the commentary, there is wide variation in interpretation of nutritional science. I won’t get into the specific dietary recommendations because it risks wading into religious arguments with people finding what they want to find on all sides.

I will just say that Valter Longo is a well-respected scientist, and actually does clinical studies on his dietary regimens. So - unlike most diets that don’t have human clinical studies, the science is reasonably good I think. My thinking is generally you want to go with a diet that has more clinical trial data behind it vs. less clinical data (i.e. avoid the more correlative based nutritional information vs. ones with human clinical studies).

But generally I try to avoid nutritional / diet discussions because the data is pretty fuzzy, and lots of people with agendas driving the discussions. I think you have probably read this thread, but if not, The Longevity Diet (Valter Longo et al)

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Valter Longo is for protein restriction to reduce mTOR.

[…] Similarly, the inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/S6K signaling results in increased lifespan and the reduction of aging phenotypes (7, 44, 45). In summary, essentially all model organisms used in aging research support a link between dietary protein uptake and aging in that reduced protein intake is associated with a sex-independent increase in lifespan.

From Protein Quantity and Source, Fasting-Mimicking Diets, and Longevity

People taking rapamycin get the benefits of mTOR inhibition without the side effects and drawbacks of calorie restriction, protein restriction or fasting. In fact that’s the whole point of rapamycin.
This has been explained in a several talks by Matt Kaeberlein (among others) who also advocates for more proteins.

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Thank you for your detailed reply. To be honest, I have been using Valter Longo’s Prolon FMD 5-day fasting mimicking diet. I have completed 2 cycles so far, and it has indeed reduced my waistline and abdominal fat. I really like this program, although the process can be a bit challenging, haha

There are clearly multiple good methods to get and be healthy. And multiple ways to extend life span as we’ve seen in mice. There may not be a “best” way. And likely the best methods change by age and other individual criteria. How many ways can you impact mtorc?

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If the only reason you are using a restrictive diet is to lower MTOR, why not just use Rapamycin and eat what you like? I guarantee that Rapamycin will lower your MTOR more than any diet!

And, if that’s not enough, throw in some Metformin to help.

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I’m not sure but there may also be a bit of what people are optimizing for. Simplified

  • if you are optimizing to avoid frailty, sarcopenia, osteoporosis then more resistance training and accompanied higher protein intake may be helpful

  • if you are optimizing for chance of longest longevity per say, then in my view the evidence is for not overdoing protein as it is pro-growth and in many ways pro-growth seems to be anti longevity

Given how the risk of eg a hipfracture in old age often leads to early death or at least decreased healthspan, etc, one might want to weigh the first path above more.

If one is instead is optimizing for longevity escape velocity and/or think one either has less risks of sarcopenia/osteoporosis and/or think that one is young enough that good interventions for frailty will come online in time before becoming frail (eg myostatin gene therapy type of things) then one may want to lean more towards the second path.

While also a simplification, most of the value of higher protein seems to be connected to building/retaining muscle (and hence avoiding frailty and perhaps in the interim also having better glucose control, etc). If one does not spend time on the resistance training part of the first path or if one has good muscle outcomes with less protein then it seems like one may want to increase the percentage one follows the second path and more protein is not “being used”/“needed” and hence while increase the cost of the negative pro growth signaling.

Personally I cycle periods of building muscle and higher protein with periods with lower protein and in both cases monitor my muscle mass and aim to ensure that I have the minimum (and no more) of protein where I personally still achieve those muscle goals and while longer term I am also monitoring my bone health via annual bone density dexa scans.

I also time the protein intake to be higher around the days when I am focused on resistance training and proteins intake to be lower on days that are way from resistance training days (either more cardio focused or rest day)

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De Strider,Thank you for your valuable advice. I am indeed considering starting to take Rapamycin. However, my main concern now is that I have seen many people on forums reporting elevated blood sugar and triglyceride levels after taking Rapamycin, eventually leading to discontinuation of the medication. How do you view this issue, and do you have any effective solutions? Additionally, what is the appropriate weekly dosage for a typical 40-year-old male? Thank you, and I hope to receive your further response.

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And just saw this published yesterday I think

https://twitter.com/agingdoc1/status/1714758250305114582?s=51&t=zJMJ1xVdRJYEDYz-DHipTw

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I can only tell you what I do, so please take it with a grain of salt as no one knows for sure what the best dose is.

I have also added ezetimibe daily to lower LDL cholesterol and provide an energy boost.

I have slightly higher HBA1C at 5.7 (5.6 is the normal cutoff)
I have high LDL at 122 (99 is the cutoff)
These are the only two parameters that are abnormal. And since then I have added ezetimibe for the LDL and more Metformin for the HBA1C. I am confident these will help.

Prior to my last bloodwork, all my parameters were normal.

Personally, I feel the benefits of Rapamycin outweigh the negatives listed above. I will be checking my blood work shortly after Christmas and let all of you know the results.

(I am also switching to a very high dosage for the following two months as a trial. I am not recommending it until I get the results)

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Dr. Dudley Lamming, a aging and rapamycin scientist people seem to generally like a lot on this forum, is the senior author of that new study and said:

“We know that many people deliberately consuming high-protein diets or consuming protein supplements to support their exercise regimen are not metabolically unhealthy, despite the body of evidence showing that high-protein levels can have detrimental metabolic effects,” says senior author Dudley Lamming, Associate Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) at the Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin.

“Our research may explain this conundrum, by showing that resistance exercise protects from high-protein-induced fat gain in mice. This suggests that metabolically unhealthy, sedentary individuals with a high-protein diet or protein supplements might benefit from either reducing their protein intake or more resistance exercise.”

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Might be worth looking into what optimal ranges are vs just “normal”. Even if close to “normal” they may be far from optimal.

Both of these are among the most important ones anyone optimizing for health and life extension probably wants to nail.

So while “the only two” they really are “two crucial ones”.

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