Fast Now and Then, Live Forever

Over the past five years, I’ve attempted diet upon diet, some more obscure than others. Ketosis. Slow-Carb. Ornish. Chipotle Diet. I even invented a few. For a time, I ate mostly pistachios, tossing aside bread and meat. My old Microsoft peeps purchased a handy bowl, customized for the green nut and leftover husks to keep the needle-like shells off the office carpet. This two-tiered system (the bowls rest neatly on top of each other) failed to solve the problem but made a good white elephant gift.

With any diet or gag gift, the motto buyer beware applies. I find battles with weight deeply personal. Body type. Age. Geographic location. Job type. And the inputs, don’t forget these. I’ve shifted workouts to cardio (helps but didn’t move the needle as I lost more by not running), experimented with unique supplements, and adjusted when the dinner bell rings (reducing eating windows). Today, I’m at least ten pounds heavier on my Fried Chicken and Mac and Cheese diet (this is a vegetable in my parts). Based on body mass, the pistachio diet wins out. As we are all unique travelers in this universe, please realize what works for me doesn’t apply to everyone. I’m no role model. My weight fluctuates. Some of my bad ideas show results, but I find the scientific method works wonders. Losing twenty-plus pounds may impact other parts of your mind and body. Mood. Blood pressure. Cholesterol. In chess, lose your Knight to take a Queen. Give and takes happen. Answers are hard. I grasp at straws. Measuring is key.

After reading the Longevity Diet by Valter Longo, my thinking on carb intake, supplements, and eating shifted. That being said, clinical trials for this diet and the corresponding fast haven’t been completed on a large scale yet. For this reason, I removed lengthy highlights on fasting and wouldn’t recommend attempting without consulting a doctor first. As there were pages upon pages reviewing the science and program, I’d recommend reading the book. I wouldn’t want to mislead or misinterpret Dr. Lango’s intent. These notes are for me to go back and ponder upon. Call this my disclaimer.

Thoughts on the Opening Chapters:

  • “The diet of longer living folks consists of a lot of vegetables, garbanzo beans, olive oil, anchovies, codfish, and mussels.” I love pouring a solid olive oil on good beans, sorry canned bean of choice, but the real deal makes the better chili. Soaking an hour in advance, cooking for another hour, and then letting these legumes cool takes a little pre-planning. Still, I find the taste worth the effort.
  • “If aging is the central risk factor for all major diseases, it’s much smarter to intervene on aging itself than to try to prevent and treat diseases one by one. Even great success against one disease may be minimal or rendered irrelevant if accompanied by an increased incidence of another—few people know, for example, that curing cancer or cardiac disease today would increase the average lifespan by only a little over three years.” This reminds me of climate change. It’s so hard to be strict on your inputs day in and day out. Easier to kick the can down the road and double down on the Hershey bar. That doesn’t mean you should go crazy in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. We all know what happened with those selfish kids. Oompa Loompa forever. 
  • “These are the diets that tend to get debunked over time. When you look at multidisciplinary studies, you realize that the high-protein, high-saturated-fat, and low-carb diet is one of the worst for your health. Populations with record longevity do not eat this way, and theoretical, clinical, and epidemiological studies supporting this kind of diet’s long-term and longevity benefits are very few. Also, if we examine the laboratory studies, we see that both high protein intake and high saturated fat intake are associated with aging and disease, an additional and key vote against a high-protein, high-saturated-fat diet.” I’ve used a high-protein diet to lose; however, after seeing the results from blood tests my cholesterol increased (not the good kind). That’s why dieting sucks. Lose your Rook to save the King. There is no magic pill. 

Longevity Diet Rules:

  • “Follow a pescatarian diet. Aim for a diet that is close to 100 percent plant- and fish-based, limiting fish consumption to two or three portions a week and avoiding fish with high mercury content (tuna, swordfish, mackerel, halibut). If you are past age sixty-five and start to lose muscle mass, strength, and weight, introduce more fish into the diet, along with other animal-based foods commonly consumed by populations with record longevity, like eggs and certain cheeses (preferably feta or pecorino) and yogurt made from goat’s milk, all of which are commonly consumed in high-longevity areas.”
  •  “Consume 0.31 to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. If you weigh 130 pounds, that comes to about 40 to 47 grams of protein.” I need to eat more protein. You’ll be shocked how hard reaching these goals are without red meat or chicken, which isn’t recommended by the good doctor.
  • Reduce bad fat and maximize good carbs. Bread isn’t terrible and glycemic load matters.
  • Limit sugar. This sucks. I love the Cheesecake Factory and chocolate peanut butter Oreo milkshakes. I should write a book how both at every meal improves your health. I’d make millions. And lose sleep at night when science catches on to my ploy ten years down the road. 
  • Try fish oil tablets. Omega Three is your friend.
  • Eat twice daily with snacks.
  • Minimize the eating window. Ten hours seems to be the magic hour for weight loss. I’ve talked with some folks who practice four to six, a fast of eighteen hours between the last and first meal of the day.
  • You should also not eat within three to four hours of going to sleep. My loaf of French Bread with a glass of wine at night isn’t a best practice. 
  • “I think the common denominator is not spirituality per se, but a sense of purpose, a will to live. A distinguished colleague once told me his theory: “What many of the longest-lived people in the world have in common,” he said, “is a belief in a higher power.” Not a dieting tip; rather, believing in a high power has always correlated with longevity. 
  • “Even in Southern California, the center for fad diets, members of the longest-lived community consume lots of vegetables, legumes, walnuts, and almonds, which they spread across two or three daily meals served within twelve hours.”
  • “Bicycling may be healthier than running because it minimizes stress on the joints. However, a long-term study showed that long-distance running among healthy older adults was not associated with osteoarthritis, so an injury caused by long-distance running may be less common than we would expect. In fact, another study that followed 74,752 runners for seven years concluded that running reduced both weight and the risk of osteoarthritis.” Exercise. Walk at least one hour each day.
  • Reduce supplements to three days each week. Don’t overload with the daily multi-vitamin. 
  • Even in ancient times, we fasted often. I like to think of the Bible as a spiritual self-help guide.
  • If you take in 150 more calories each day than you consume, this can lead to 15 additional pounds by year-end. I think that’s why my Fried Chicken diet isn’t winning. Hold the gravy on the mashed potatoes?

High-Level Rules for the Diet (redundancy from the above):

I’m a fan of simple rules. All folks have lines they refuse to cross, virtues and values. I find creating my own makes sticking to the current diet easier. Typically, I like simple. Nothing white (that limits sugar, potatoes, milk, etc.,). Green equals good (eat green beans, kale and salad). High fat works. There are a few more rules here, which makes this challenging to follow (not including the fast), but in total I think the see are worth following:

  • No red meat or chicken (excluding fish).
  • No dairy.
  • Large amounts of vegetables.
  • Legumes are cool.
  • Whole grains, less than 100 grams per day. Complex carbs are good. 
  • Fruits are fine, limit to one to two apples a day, a handful of strawberries, etc.,
  • Bathe in olive oil. Think the 300 movie. Be a Spartan warrior.
  • Eat more nuts (30 grams per day).
  • Once again, two meals within a 10 to 12-hour window.
  • Limit sugar.
  • Protein ratio highlighted above (.31 per pound).
  • Exercise.
  • Fast. The fasting diet comprises 1,100 calories on the first day and then 800 calories or fewer from Days 2-5. Complete a fast as often as once a month, depending on physical condition. If you’re healthy, once every six months works. Some folks don’t fast at all once ideal health optimized. Use own definition here.

Links and Notes:

  • World’s Greatest Fried Chicken. The Loveless Cafe
  • Worth noting, that fasting seems to help those undergoing treatments for cancer. 
  • Picture is from a camping trip, can’t remember how the fire turned out.