Give the Fast-Mimicking Diet a Try for Optimal Health
June 18, 2018 | 1,618 views
By Dr. Mercola
In 2017, I interviewed Valter Longo, Ph.D., a professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, about the fast-mimicking diet, a method that he and his team developed to help improve longevity.
Longo has done extensive research on optimizing mitochondrial health through dietary changes, and has discovered that the fast-mimicking diet affects important disease and aging pathways in your system, such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), glucose and ketone bodies.
Longo’s research also uncovered how the target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway affects aging and the protection of cells. Learning how food can impact this aspect of your biological process is key in helping you optimize your health.
How the Fast-Mimicking Diet Can Benefit You
You may have heard that calorie restriction may help improve longevity. However, studies in this area are still limited. The evidence that is available suggests that periodic calorie restriction may have benefits, if you focus on limiting your intake of proteins and sugars.
Initially, trials were conducted using mice. Longo’s research demonstrated that when calorie restriction is done intermittently, the body maintains a memory of the metabolic switch, which can last a long time.
In one experiment, middle-aged mice were given a periodic fasting schedule with a restricted diet of four days, twice a month and consumed normally for the remaining days. The diet was high in fats while being restricted in protein and sugars. Results indicated that the test group had half the tumors compared to the control group who had no fasting period. More importantly, the tumors of the test group were mostly benign and appeared at a later age.
In a human trial conducted by Longo and his team, a fasting period was done five days per month for a total duration of three months. The subject ate a diet low in sugar and protein, while high in complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. This can put your body into a state of temporary nutritional ketosis and, according to Longo, the following benefits have been observed:
- Lower IGF-1 and glucose levels
- Elevated ketone bodies
- Decrease in abdominal fat
Maintain Healthy Amounts of Protein by Cycling Them
Another aspect that Longo’s research focuses on is protein cycling. In this method, you simply rotate between high and low amounts of protein on certain days. For example, you can eat 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body weight on days where you perform strength training, and then back to 1 gram per kilogram when you don’t train. This method helps you balance out your protein consumption, as there are downsides to excessive protein consumption.
Other Tips That Can Help Increase Longevity
According to Longo, there are other methods you can adopt to help increase longevity. Chief among them include:
- Focusing on a fish- and plant-based diet with low protein consumption that is sufficient for your needs. As you age, you will have to slightly increase protein intake.
- Maintaining a normal weight and consuming only nourishing whole foods.
- Cycling eating and fasting (time-restricted feeding), 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
- Eating only two meals a day if you’re overweight. If not, you can eat three meals a day. Ideally, lunch should be your biggest meal, and you should avoid eating three to four hours before sleeping.
- Taking a multivitamin supplement every three days can help eliminate nutrient deficiencies.
To learn more about the fast-mimicking diet, visit my article “How a Fast-Mimicking Diet Can Help You Live Longer.”