Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Fasting Mimicking Diet

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s the actual fasting mimicking diet (FMD).

Day 1. Consume 1,100 calories

  • 500 calories from complex carbs (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.).
  • 500 calories from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil)
  • 1 multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • 1 omega-3/omega-6 supplement
  • Sugarless tea (up to 3-4 cups per day)
  • 25 grams of plant-based protein (ideally from nuts)
  • Unlimited water

Days 2-5 consume 800 calories

  • 400 calories from complex carbs (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.).
  • 400 calories from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil)
  • 1 multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • 1 omega-3/omega-6 supplement
  • Sugarless tea (up to 3-4 cups per day)
  • Unlimited water

Day 6 Transition Diet

For 24 hours following the end of the five-day FMD eat a diet based on complex carbs (veggies, cereals, pasta, rice, bread, fruit, etc.) and minimize fish, meat, saturated fats, pastries, cheese, milk, etc.)

It’s worth noting that there are some standard side effects of the FMD, these include:

  • Feeling weak during parts of the fast
  • Light or average intensity headaches
  • Slight back ache

OBVIOUSLY, STOP AND SEE A GODDAMN DOCTOR IF THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL

Most people feel hungry during the first few days of the FMD, but the effect is usually greatly reduced by day 4 or 5.

 

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Exercise

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s exercise.

  1. Walk fast for an hour everyday. I’m lucky to live in New York City and have begun walking to and from subway stops a bit further from my office and taking at least half an hour out of most days to get outside during the work day. I realize this might be harder in other environments. If you have any tips, leave ‘em in the comments.
  1. Ride, Run or swim thirty to forty minutes every other day plus two hours on the weekend. Longo recommends cycling, which I do, but those who follow this site know running is my passion. I often do significantly more running and cycling than this, which Longo might look askance at. But hey, ya gotta live (and BQ).
  1. Use your muscles. I’ve got a heavy ball in my office with which I do various exercises throughout the day. I also make a habit of pushups and pull ups at least three times a week. When I can, I try to get to the gym in the basement and just fool around. You should do these things too.

Longo’s Longevity Protocol — The Diet

I was very impressed with Valter Longo’s book The Longevity Diet and have implemented most of his recommendations on diet, exercise and fasting in my own life. For my own reference, I’m documenting those recommendations here. This is the barebones of the recommendations with my own comments, but without the extensive evidence Longo provides in the book.

You really should buy the book.

 

As should be obvious, do not take medical advice from some random guy on the internet. I am not a doctor, nor a dietitian, nor even particularly smart. Consult a doctor before doing anything stupid, which includes radically changing your diet or going on fasts.

I’m breaking this down into three pages, diet, exercise, and fasting. Here’s diet.

  1. Eat a plant based diet, plus some fish. Keep fish consumption to no more than two or three times per week. Choose fish, crustaceans, and mollusks with high Omega-3, Omega-6 and vitamin b-12 content such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, cod, sea bream, trout, clams, and shrimp. Minimize eating other animals, such as beef, chicken and pork and other animal products such as milk and cheese. (Note that this says minimize. I will on occasion indulge in meat or cheese if it would be rude to do otherwise, or if my wife insists on the duck ragu dish at the local Italian spot.)

 

  1. If you’re under 65, like me, keep your protein intake low. (0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). Most of us aren’t going to do these protein calculations on a regular basis, but it’s worth doing once or twice to get a sense. Consume beans and other legumes as main source of protein. Those beyond age 65 should increase protein intake and consider re-introducing some animal protein.

 

  1. Endeavor to get most of your vitamins and minerals from food, but buffer with a multivitamin every 3 days.

 

  1. Based on your weight, age, and abdominal circumference, decide whether to have two or three meals per day. I tend to gain weight very easily so I am eating two meals a day plus two low sugar snacks of less than 100 calories. Longo recommends eating breakfast and either lunch or dinner. That doesn’t work for me, so I’m eating a breakfast snack and then lunch and dinner.

 

  1. Confine all eating to within a twelve-hour window. Don’t eat anything within three or four hours of bedtime. (I do this, mostly, but make exceptions for family events that fall outside the window.)

 

  1. Until age 65-70 depending on weight and frailty, undergo five days of fasting mimicking diet every one to six months, based on your goals and, if possible, medical advice.

NB:

Longo also recommends eating as your ancestors did, which, while it makes sense evolutionarily, (and is nice for Longo himself since he’s Italian) my ancestors lived on a rocky island in the North Atlantic and ate basically potatoes and blood sausage, so nope. Not gonna do that.

On Re-Reading Gifford’s Spring Chicken and Thinking About Improving My Health Span


Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying)
Bill Gifford

I almost never re-read books. So the fact that I have now read Bill Gifford book on the science of aging twice should show you something about my current obsession with aging. As I said last time I read it, the book hits just the right point of science, personal reflection, and interesting anecdote. This stuff is catnip for someone like me – a middle age dude attempting to expand my “healthspan”* and maybe set some new PRs along the way.

My first read of this book was my gateway into following anti-aging research. This second read, and a lot of ancillary reading in this area, has left me focused on three things I’d like to incorporate more into my life: (i) fasting, (ii) cold exposure, and (iii) weight training. (I’ll likely write a separate piece about diet and supplements, which I’ve also been thinking a lot about, in the future)

Early research has shown that intermittent fasting, whether it be the popular 16/8 split or alternate day, appears to have a range of health benefits and no real down side. Assuming you’re a healthy person, and not at risk of developing an eating disorder, why wouldn’t you skip breakfast?

Same with cold exposure. Many, many health gurus talk up their ability to improve your health, but one of the few who has allowed his methods to really be tested is Wim Hof, who combines cold exposure and breathing techniques to, apparently, improve autoimmune system. Studies are starting to back up his claims (though some wonder if there’s a placebo effect happening).** Again, when done in moderation, there appears to be no downside to cold exposure. So why not take that cold shower?

Of the three listed above, weight training is the biggest no brainer. Unless actively engaged in strength training, a man my age could be losing up to 20% of their muscle mass. This combined with weaker core muscles and failing balance are leading causes in reducing one’s health span. So, while running remains my first love, I need to balance it with more time in the gym (and standing on one foot).

These three points are really just blips in this very informative book, but they’re the blips which stuck with me. Read it yourself to figure out what you can learn about getting older without breaking down.

Recommended.

* Health span is the period of your life when you are not only alive, but active and healthy
** I review the leading book on Wim Hof here.