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Someone asked me off-list what my current diet looks like, and I realized I haven't updated the on-line information about it in a long time, although I've alluded to it in scattered places on this forum. I figured I consolidate and expand on what I've shared, for others to criticize :)xyz :

 
These days I eat the following (by calories):
  • ~30% vegetables
  • ~15% starch,
  • ~35% fruit,
  • ~20% nuts/seeds by calories
  • a few other miscellaneous things.

Vegetables

The vegetables are a huge variety, and prepared once per week into a big mix. Its a combination of 'chunky' vegetables (just about any veggie in the produce aisle), and greens - where the greens typical include a mix of Kale, collards, chard, spinach, and spring mix - mostly organic. I also eat about 80g of homegrown sprouts and microgreens per day, a mix of broccoli, fenugreek, radish, and arugula sprouts.


Starches

The starches are about 1/2 sweet potatoes, and the other half and even mix of lentils, black beans, chickpeas, wild & brown rice, quinoa, and barley, all cooked al dente.

 

Fruit

My fruit calories come from the following. Below the first two, which are the biggest calorie contributors, the others are probably similar in calorie contributions:

  • Berries - Mix of strawberries, blueberries, wild blackberries, cranberries, sour cherries every day

  • Bananas - I modulate these depending on my weight trajectory - I'm around 2-3 per day these days.

  • Melon - Alternating between cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, papaya, pineapple

  • Durian - I admit it, I'm addicted to durian...

  • Orange - 1/2 an small orange per day, with a bit of the peal/pith

  • Apples - One small-to-medium (crabapple-like) wild apple per day, picked in the fall from wild trees near my house

  • Other Tree Fruit - Persimmons (one of my favorites), plums, peaches, nectarines, pears, pomegranate. Depending on the season. About 1/2 of one of these per day.

Note - this does not include the non-standard fruits I eat, like avocado (1/2 per day), cucumber, zucchini, tomato (~100g / day), etc.

 

Nuts / Seeds

The nuts I eat include: Hazelnuts, Almonds and Walnuts, in equal parts.

The seeds I eat are a mix of the following (in descending order of calories): Flax, chia, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame.

 

Miscellaneous

The miscellaneous category includes the following per day:

  • 1/3 ear of corn - 'buttered' with avocado and 'salted' with curry powder, because its tasty.

  • 12g of natto - for vitamin K2 and amyloid breaking.

  • 1.5 tsp of fresh chopped mix of garlic, ginger, tumeric root & horseradish

  • 2 tbsp of cider vinegar

  • 2 tbsp of my ketchup - a homemade mix of cider vinegar, water, tomato paste, sriracha, hot mustard and psyllium as a thickener

  • ~2 tbsp of wide mix of herbs and spices, heavy on the tumeric, but just about anything from the spice aisle you can think of, in a mixture I sprinkle into my "salad dressing" and on my starch mix.

  • 1 Tbsp of fiber & resistant starch - Used as thickener for my salad dressing. Even mix of psyllium husks, plantain flour and potato starch.

  • A small amount of sweetener in my salad dressing (see below) - erythritol & pure stevia.

 

Other Notes:

The dressing I make to put on my salad is taken from some of the items listed above, blended together until smooth in my Vitamix. It includes:

  • About 150g of the salad greens - so I don't have to eat them all in leaf form :-)

  • 60g of berry mix

  • The 1/2 orange

  • ~60g of cucumber

  • 100g of tomato

  • 2 tbsp of cider vinegar

  • ~100ml of water

  • 1 Tbsp fiber / resistant starch

  • ~1 tbsp of spice mix

  • A bit of sweetener - erythritol & pure stevia - to make it a little tastier.

 
I eat the exact same thing every day - except for minor variations in fruits and veggies depending on seasonal availability
 
The macronutrient ratio of my diet is about 70:15:15 C:P:F
 
I eat one meal per day, from 6-7:30am.

 

I also drink a lot of lemon water (distilled) before and after my meal from this stainless steel tumbler to avoid coffee/tea close to meal which impedes mineral absorption - ~40oz per day.

 

I also drink a mix of cold & hot brewed, heavily filtered, coffee, black/green/rooibos/herb tea, & ground cacao - about 40-50oz per day.

 

I haven't been counting calories - but it is probably shockingly high, given that I'm weight stable at a BMI of 17.3 (115lbs @ 5'8.5" tall) and my Fitbit tells me I'm exercising in one form or another for an average of about 8-9 hours per day, about 5 hours of that pedaling leisurely at my bike desk.

 

That's it (I think). Criticize away!

--Dean

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Dean, thanks for sharing! I'm familiar with how your diet has changed over time from reading your website and following your posts in the mailing lists. I think I know the answer to some of these, and I'm not suggesting I disagree with your approach, but rather it always helps to have more info and I'm a curious person.

 

  1. Why have you changed from two meals to a single meal, and why in the morning?
  2. Why have you settled on your current ratio of food choices/categories?
  3. In another thread you mentioned not (always, or ever?) tracking calories. How do you regulate your intake?
  4. You do a lot of physical activity. What is the level of exertion during your typical 8-9 hours of physical activity each day? I know most is walking or biking while at a desk. Is this truly "physical activity" or could it be considered "exercise," and how/why did you settle on that volume each day?
  5. You seem to base CRON success on BMI, perceived well-being, and blood tests. Are you concerned that you are consuming too many calories to balance the high physical activity, such that you may be at least partially negating some of the primary anti-aging effects of CR?
  6. Are you still gardening?
  7. What do you feel is the greatest benefit of your current dietary approach (either in general or compared to previous approaches)?
  8. What do you feel is the most difficult aspect of your current dietary approach (either in general or compared to previous approaches)?
  9. What is your average caffeine consumption? I assume alcohol is zero?
  10. Do you add fiber supplements for textural improvement of your dressings and/or are you specifically including them for functional purposes (even considering your otherwise high fiber intake)?
  11. What would you say is the average daily food volume (or weight, as roughly 1ml = 1g)?
  12. As an extension of #11, and most important for giving anything other than general feedback, do you have a sample day in CRON-O-Meter you could share?

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James,

 

Thanks ]for all your great questions! Here is my attempt to answer each of them.

 

1. Why have you changed from two meals to a single meal, and why in the morning?

 

I find it easier both logistically and psychologically to limit my eating window to about 2 hours in the morning, starting about 3 hours after I get up.  I also put some stock in the idea that a long period of no food each day, and therefore low glucose, is likely to have beneficial health effects.

 

2. Why have you settled on your current ratio of food choices/categories?

 

I'm an ethical vegan, so that narrows things down quite a bit. In general, my food choices are based on a combination of health and aesthetics (what tastes good to me). Feel free to ask me about particular foods if you have specific questions about them. Some of them, like corn and durian, are simply tasty to me. Others, like natto and lots of berries, I eat both because I enjoy them and because of their health benefits. There are very few vegan foods I don't like the taste of, however I like some more than others.

 

One overarching theme I stick to is variety, as you can see from the details of my diet below. As I've said previously, since I eat (nearly) the exact same set of foods in the same amounts every day, I try to maximize variety to cover all my nutritional bases, and to make sure I'm not eating too much of any single food item, in case it contains some unknown toxin(s). 

 

Since I do very little food prep since I eat most things raw, and the prep I do do I tend to do once a week (or less), it isn't hard to include a lot of variety in my diet. Shopping for it all can be the biggest challenge!

 

3. In another thread you mentioned not (always, or ever?) tracking calories. How do you regulate your intake?

 

I weigh most of the food I eat each day - I just don't (or haven't, until today) put it into CRON-O-Meter. I also track my weight very carefully, to make sure I'm balancing calories in and calories out. As you can see from the graph in the first CRON-O-Meter snapshot below, my weight hasn't strayed by more than +- 1lb from 115lbs during the last month, so I've got it pretty dialed in.

 

4. You do a lot of physical activity. What is the level of exertion during your typical 8-9 hours of physical activity each day? I know most is walking or biking while at a desk. Is this truly "physical activity" or could it be considered "exercise," and how/why did you settle on that volume each day?

 

Yes, I exercise and am physically active a lot. I jog a couple miles a day and during that my heart rate is pretty elevated (~130-150 bpm). The 45min of daily resistance training and body-weight workout is modestly strenuous (e.g. 8 minute of planks, 10 minutes of abs, etc.). I can describe the details of my resistance training (a 4-day split) for anyone interested. I walk outdoors for 2-3 miles per day, walking with my wife and our dog. It is a moderately brisk pace - about 3.5mph. I ride on my stationary road bike (mounted on a magnetic trainer) for 3h / day - 2h before my meal and 1h after my meal. It is reasonably strenuous, but not terribly so, with my heart rate averaging around 105-110 bpm (for reference, my resting heart rate is about 50 bpm, but drops to the low 40s overnight). During that time I pedal the equivalent of about 45-50 miles. The remainder of my physical activity (4-5 hours) comes from pedaling at my bike desk (like I'm doing while composing this post). I pedal at about 10mph, with a modest level of resistance. My heart rate averages about 75 bpm - so not too strenuous. I pedal about 40-50 miles per day on the bike desk. In total, my Fitbit reports that I jog/walk/pedal the equivalent of about 43,000 steps per day, or about 22 miles on average over a period of about 500-550 active minutes (8.5-9h) per day. I figure walking burns about 100kcal / mile, so to first approximation, my daily physical activity burns about 2000kcal, more or less. Yes, I know that is a shocking amount for most people.

 

Why so much exercise? I enjoy it, I've found ways to be productive while doing it, I like the way it makes me feel, I enjoy the tasty food I get to eat because I exercise a lot. I've found this way of eating enables me to maintain a level of net calories and weight, that I have never been able to sustain doing CR with fewer calories and less exercise. Every time I approached the weight I maintain easily now on a low-cal / low-exercise regime, I've felt so crappy (lethargic, foggy thinking & the sense of physical fragility) that I felt compelled to back off and gain weight. These days I'm feeling very robust, energetic, and cognitively sharp, despite being a about my lowest weight since starting CR (115lbs, BMI 17.3).

 

Plus, I'm pretty skeptical about the longevity benefits straight CR is likely to offer humans, particularly individual humans. Statistically, I think it is optimistic to think CR will provide anything more than a couple years of life extension on average. It may be somewhat more or somewhat less, depending on an individual's genetics, other lifestyle factors, whether they get hit by a bus or not :)xyz , etc.  If my biomarkers suffered as a result of this shift from low-cal / low-exercise to high-cal / high-exercise, I might think twice about it. But I haven't seem significant changes in any of my biomarkers, so as far as I can tell, I'm likely to be benefiting from at least most of the CR magic, if anyone is... I know - it is heresy and maybe not what people want to hear. And who know, I may be deluding myself, but see my answer to the next question...

 

5. You seem to base CRON success on BMI, perceived well-being, and blood tests. Are you concerned that you are consuming too many calories to balance the high physical activity, such that you may be at least partially negating some of the primary anti-aging effects of CR?

 

Possible, but not too concerned, for the reasons expressed above. I'm skeptical of the anti-aging benefits of CR in humans in the first place, and believe if there are any to be had, I'm likely to enjoy them based on my biomarkers, and based on the fact that my diet is free of animal products (esp animal protein and fats), and generally very healthy. Plus, I think it most likely that if CR works in humans, it works not be reducing "wear and tear" through fewer calories burned. Instead, I suspect it does its 'magic' by putting the body in a special state of heightened maintenance and repair, with reduced focus on growth and reproduction. My biomarkers, and many aspects of my psychology/physiology (e.g. body temperature, heart rate, 'calm abiding' attitude, libido...) suggest to me I'm as much in this "CR State" now as I was when eating & exercising less.

 

Plus, and this is a personal philosophy of mine in all aspects of my life, I enjoy "going out on a limb", being different simply for the sake of trying something that not many other people have tried.

 

I know it is a bit crazy, since CR practitioners are rare enough. But I'm interested in exploring the relative merits of the diet/lifestyle I follow vs. the 'herd' way of practicing CR with many fewer calories and a lot less exercise. Sure, I risk "crashing and burning", but so does everyone else practicing CR, and at least we'll learn something from my experience. I figure if I can't be a shining example, at least I'll be able to serve as a dire warning.  ;)xyz

 

6. Are you still gardening?

 

It was a pretty mild fall here in Western Pennsylvania, so I've been gardening up to 1 week ago. In fact I just polished off the last of my kale today. I picked a bunch of green/yellow tomatoes right before the first really hard frost we had a week ago, and very surprisingly, they continue to ripen. They way its going, it looks like I should have home grown tomatoes through at least mid-december, which is pretty amazing for Pennsylvania. So yes, I still garden, but it doesn't take much upkeep if that's what you're getting at. I wouldn't really count it as contributing significantly to my daily physical activity, even during the summer. I don't have to weed, I water once or twice a week, even in mid summer, and harvesting only takes about 1/2 hour every couple days. But its well worth it, for all the really nutritious, organic food I'm able to harvest during the 6 month growing season here.

 

7. What do you feel is the greatest benefit of your current dietary approach (either in general or compared to previous approaches)?

 

See above. I feel a lot better physically and mentally than when doing low-cal / low-exercise CR. One meal-per day turns out to be easy for me, and then I don't think about food for the rest of the day, which is nice. Plus I think an extended daily fast is likely to be healthier / longevity promoting relative to more frequent meals - but that is just a hunch and others (Michael) may disagree...

 

Finally, by eating one really big meal a day, I'm able to eat pretty much as much as I want. In the past, when eating multiple meals, I always felt like I'd like to eat more at the end of each meal, and sometimes I'd find it somewhat difficult to stop... That's not a problem with this eating strategy.

 

8. What do you feel is the most difficult aspect of your current dietary approach (either in general or compared to previous approaches)?

 

Shopping for all the food! Although I've got it down to a science / system. I grocery shop once per week, and hit the asian market about once every four weeks. I get most of my produce at Aldi's, supplementing a few things from my local grocery store chain (Giant Eagle).

 

The other challenge is exercising immediately after eating all that food (see below). I jog a mile within about 10-15 minutes of finishing my single meal for the day, which is nearly 4kg (8.5 lbs) of food (see below), and then do resistance training for 30min and ride my stationary bike for a little over an hour, to bring my glucose down post-meal. Surprisingly, I don't find it too difficult, even the run, despite being quite full.

 

9. What is your average caffeine consumption? I assume alcohol is zero?

 

Yes - I don't drink any alcohol. Never have. My father (and many men on my father's side of the family), had trouble with alcohol...

 

Regarding caffeine. As you know I drink a combination of cold- and hot-brewed coffee, cacao and mixed teas (green, black, rooibos & herb). The amount of dry matter of each that I prepare is as follows:

  • Coffee - 35g
  • Cacao - 25g
  • Green Tea - 5g
  • Black Tea - 4g
  • Rooibose & Herb tea - 4g

I suspect the dual extraction (i.e. hot and cold) I do sucks most of the caffeine out of the coffee and tea. So I estimate I'm getting the caffeine equivalent of about 4-5 cups worth of caffeinated coffee, 3-4 cups of green tea, 2-3 cups of black tea. In other words, quite a bit of caffeine, and hopefully all the beneficial polyphenols as well.

 

10. Do you add fiber supplements for textural improvement of your dressings and/or are you specifically including them for functional purposes (even considering your otherwise high fiber intake)?

 

The added fiber, in the form of psyllium husks, potato starch, and plantain flour is largely to serve as a thickener for my salad dressing and homemade ketchup (see below). But I also think resistance starch as special benefits for the health of the gut microbiome, and want to make sure I'm getting a significant amount of it.

 

11. What would you say is the average daily food volume (or weight, as roughly 1ml = 1g)?

 

Just under 4kg (8.5lbs). See below for breakdown. Yes - that is quite a bit to eat in a window of slightly less than 2 hours...

 

12. As an extension of #11, and most important for giving anything other than general feedback, do you have a sample day in CRON-O-Meter you could share?

 

Ah, I figured you (or someone) was going to ask that. OK, here goes. You asked for it...

 

Below are three big screen snapshots of what I'll be eating tomorrow. It is extremely representative of what I eat every day. In fact, the only things that vary (with season and price) are the pineapple (sometimes substituted with cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, papaya, or rarely, fresh jackfruit), and the persimmon (substituted with other tree fruit such as peaches, nectarines, plums, pears) and the pomegranate (only while in season, replaced with more berry mix other times of the year).

 

My biggest surprise was in the macronutrient ratio. I'm eating a lot more fat (almost all of it nuts / seeds, but with 1/2 an avocado & some fat in durian as well). The ratio is 58% carbs, 33% fat, and 9% protein. Much lower carbs and much higher fat than I'd been estimating. I guess it should be all that surprising. It would be very hard to get as many calories as I'm eating from high water-content fruit and vegetables during a single meal.

 

The calories are (obviously) obscenely high - around 3400kcal / day. Of course about 1000 of those calories are from nuts and seeds, which given recent evidence from the USDA (posted above elsewhere), and the fact that I'm eating so much at once, I suspect I may be extracting many fewer calories than CRON-O-Meter reports. But on the other hand, it might not be too far off, considering my estimate of my exercise being equivalent to walking about 22 miles/day, which is approximately 2200 kcal/day. CRON-O-Meter reports my basal metabolic rate is about 1050kcal/day. If we add 1050 bmr + 2200 exercise + a couple hundred extra calories for other casual activity, we get in the ballpark of 3400. So it may be pretty close.

 

Here are the gory details of my diet, starting with an overview of the nutrition facts, along with a graph of my weight over the last month (click to enlarge):

post-7043-0-47794900-1449276129_thumb.png

 

Here is the high level profile of the one meal I eat (click to enlarge):

post-7043-0-57835700-1449276153_thumb.png

 

And here is the same meal with all the recipes (except spices) exploded so you can see each of the individual items I eat in a day, and the approximate quantity of each (click to enlarge):

post-7043-0-90928700-1449276255_thumb.png

 

I know this is quite a bit to digest (pun intended). I look forward to comments, questions and criticisms... One criticism I will entertain if someone insists, but would rather not, is the controversial topic you brought up (and I tried to address) in question #5 - the risk that I'm shooting myself in the foot by eating so many calories, despite having a low and stable BMI and biomarkers suggesting I remain in the "CR Zone". 

 

--Dean

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That's it (I think). Criticize away!

It seems like I've read that the DRI for protein is around 56g for men and 46g per day for women.  At close to 100 grams of protein per day with 3,000+ calories and 500+ grams of carbohydrates, this seems a bit like a High Protein / High Calorie / Very High Carbohydrate diet, which you're eating via High Glycemic Load / High Volume / High caloric meals containing several hundred of grams of sugar and Stupid High amounts of polyunsaturated fats between hours of daily chronic cardio (burning carbohydrates?), while sitting at a low BMI (Low muscle mass / Low lean mass?)

 

This seems like a bit of an unusual approach to calorie restriction.  I suppose the goal here is to create a high level of hormesis and reactive oxygen species and create a caloric deficit by ramping up oxidation?

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Sirtuin,


 


Thanks for the feedback. I think you've pretty accurately characterized my diet and exercise regime, although the part about 'Stupid High' seems a bit harsh...


 


Where I think you've missed the mark is in your characterization of the goal. While I believe (perhaps more than some, like Michael) that there is something to hormesis, both physiologically and psychologically - Nietzsche was onto something when he said 'whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger'. But in this case, a high level of hormesis and elevated ROS levels are not my goal, as you suggest. In fact, I try to minimize the stress and strain of exercise on my body, e.g. by choosing low impact forms of exercise (like biking) and running in barefoot shoes on grass rather than pavement.


 


Instead of hormesis, my goal is to explore the hypothesis that one can garner whatever (IMO probably modest) longevity & health benefits that CR has to offer people by staying in the 'CR Zone' (which I believe to be an active state the body shifts to when operating at a calorie deficit in order to focus on maintenance & repair rather than growth & reproduction) while at the same time eating more calories that other CR practitioners but burning them off through mild, but nearly continuous, physical activity to maintain a calorie deficit.


 


I readily admit this is only a hypothesis, perhaps even just hunch, and it may not work out well in the end...


 


But I also maintain that the evidence for the longevity benefit of CR in humans is weak or absent, and the evidence against my hypothesis is weak or absent - which taken together suggest it may not be as crazy at it might at first seem.  Since I also find this approach to diet & lifestyle to be easier, more enjoyable and a more 'vibrant' way to live than the 'hunkered down' style of low-cal / low-exercise CR I've practiced in the past, it seems to me to be worth investigating.


 


I'm not advocating this style for anyone else, just that it seems to be working for me based on several physiological and psychological metrics I consider important for a healthy and flourishing life.


 


--Dean


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Thanks,Dean,extremely interesting. My approach tends to be seasonal: in winter, when Seattle is too dark and rainy for much outdoor exercise, I favor the "hunker down" low calorie low activity mode, then as the days grow longer and the rain abates I walk 5-10 miles a day and increase calories accordingly, but always with a deficit.

 

How do you deal with social situations like being invited to someone's house for dinner?

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Hi Liz,

 

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad to hear about someone else experimenting with modulating exercise while maintaining a calorie deficit.

 

How do you deal with social situations like being invited to someone's house for dinner?

 

My friends and family are by now acutely aware of my unusual dietary habits. When I visit with them, I either don't eat, or eat just a simple salad with them. It used to be awkward, but not anymore.

 

--Dean

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It seems like I've read that the DRI for protein is around 56g for men and 46g per day for women.  At close to 100 grams of protein per day with 3,000+ calories and 500+ grams of carbohydrates, this seems a bit like a High Protein / High Calorie / Very High Carbohydrate diet, which you're eating via High Glycemic Load / High Volume / High caloric meals containing several hundred of grams of sugar and Stupid High amounts of polyunsaturated fats between hours of daily chronic cardio (burning carbohydrates?), while sitting at a low BMI (Low muscle mass / Low lean mass?)

 

100 g/d protein is not excessively high, especially considering it is 100% plant-based and Dean is very active. Similarly, Dean's intake of sugar and total carbohydrates are high, but research and Dean's personal results show that healthy glycemic control can be maintained in some individuals. Generally being lean, being active, being habituated to a high-carb/lower-fat diet, consuming low saturated fats, and consuming carbohydrates earlier in the day all help here, and Dean has these pretty well covered.

 

As an example, I consume a very similar carbohydrate and protein intake but much less fat, also whole-food vegan, and my fasting glucose, post-prandial glucose, HbA1c, IGF-1, and inflammatory markers are all low-normal in line with a CR practitioner. I'm also quite lean and try to be somewhat active with light bodyweight workouts and a treadmill desk.

 

I'm not sure why you say 50g of PUFA from whole-foods with a good n-3/n-6 balance is "stupid high." Most research I'm familiar with showing high PUFA intake to be unhealthy included purified oils, a high free-sugar or processed food intake, n-3/n-6 or other fatty acid imbalance, or obese subjects. Dean doesn't qualify for any of these and seems to be doing quite well otherwise. Perhaps he could get his tissue fatty acid composition, oxidative markers, or advanced lipid testing done but I'd bet any potentially negative effect of 50g whole-food PUFA would be hidden by his otherwise beneficial lifestyle and diet.

 

Ultimately, I support (and personally follow) Dean's approach to first measure biomarkers and subjective well-being, and second measure BMI and body composition, as markers of CR. There is some evidence that it is total calorie intake which matters, and that consuming more calories and exercising more to obtain the same calorie restriction as a sedentary CR subject abolishes the CR phenotype, but Dean has shown he's able to maintain a CR phenotype demonstrated through blood tests, anthropometry, biometrics, and subjective observations.

 

This seems like a bit of an unusual approach to calorie restriction.  I suppose the goal here is to create a high level of hormesis and reactive oxygen species and create a caloric deficit by ramping up oxidation?

 

It is indeed an unusual approach to CR, but what is the goal of CR except obtaining a set of biomarkers that are associated with health and longevity outcomes? Research and many practitioners' experiences suggest "classic CR" with low calorie intake and just enough activity to maintain physical health is the most reliable way to obtain the associated biomarkers, but the approach is only a means to an end rather than the goal itself (the biomarkers). For example, research clearly demonstrates that extreme weight and fat loss are a consequence of a CR diet but are not required to obtain the benefits of CR. Conversely, stimulating weight and fat loss without CR usually does not fully replicate the biomarkers associated with classic CR benefits.

 

I'll repeat that Dean (and me, and a few others I know) are able to obtain the markers of classic CR while being somewhat outside of the norm for dietary intake, physical activity, and/or anthropometry typically associated with classic CR. Most practitioners must follow classic CR to fully obtain these biomarkers. The real question that can't be answered is related my my question #5. That is, despite biomarkers, Dean and other outliers may be losing out on the some CR benefits despite having good biomarkers. I'd reason that the biomarkers are in place so he's probably going to get the classic CR benefits, but my primary concern is with cardiovascular changes associated with extreme levels of physical activity, but these are usually associated with prolonged high-intensity activity.

 

For example: Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects From Excessive Endurance Exercise

 

Article Highlights

 
■ People who exercise regularly have markedly lower rates of disability and a mean life expectancy that is 7 years longer than that of their physically inactive contemporaries. However, a safe upper-dose limit potentially exists, beyond which the adverse effects of exercise may outweigh its benefits.
■ Chronic intense and sustained exercise can cause patchy myocardial fibrosis, particularly in the atria, interventricular septum, and right ventricle, creating a substrate for atrial and ventricular arrhythmias.
■ Chronic excessive sustained exercise may also be associated with coronary artery calcification, diastolic dysfunction, and large-artery wall stiffening.
■ Veteran endurance athletes in sports such as marathon or ultramarathon running or professional cycling have been noted to have a 5-fold increase in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation.
■ Intense endurance exercise efforts often cause elevation in biomarkers of myocardial injury (troponin and B-type natriuretic peptide), which were correlated with transient reductions in right ventricular ejection fraction.

 

We don't know all the pieces of the puzzle, so maybe there's something we aren't measuring or that can't be observed which is negating the health-span and (especially) lifespan prolonging effects seen later in life in experimental models. We can speculate and made educated guesses, but that's the gamble with CR. I side with Dean that he gets immediate benefit and pleasure from his CR approach, and he can reasonably expect late-life benefits similar to classic CR based on what we know of the mechanisms, and if future research or well-reasoned arguments are presented in the future then Dean would probably change his practice to maximize the potential life-long benefit.

 

As a last random comment I think your eating a single meal at the same time every morning would have a very profound positive impact for entraining your circadian rhythms. Breakfast would be better than evening-only as it would better synchronize the central and peripheral clocks. However, I vaguely recall a study showing strengthened circadian entrainment by eating twice each day as breakfast + second meal, but that breakfast-only showed no benefit. I'll have to dig it up. I tend towards a large breakfast, moderate lunch, and light dinner (45%, 35%, 20% daily calorie intake) partly for the entrainment and metabolic benefits.

 

Circadian rhythms seem to play a massive role in regulating health and potentially aging, and CR seems to be the most profound non-light circadian modifier, with restricted meal times (modified fasting) coming in a close second. For example [both free full-text]:

Impact of the Circadian Clock on the Aging Process.

Circadian rhythms, aging, and life span in mammals. (This is a fantastic paper!)

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James,

 

Thanks for the feedback, and the support. I agree with your statement:

 

I'd reason that the biomarkers are in place so he's probably going to get the classic CR benefits, but my primary concern is with cardiovascular changes associated with extreme levels of physical activity, but these are usually associated with prolonged high-intensity activity.

 

Regarding ill-effects for the cardiovascular system, that's why I avoid high intensity exercise. I get an EKG during my annual check-up and my heart has always appeared to be in great shape. Perhaps it is the natto preventing fibrosis in my heart and keeping my arteries supple ;)xyz.  I've got my annual checkup next week, so we'll see how my heart is functioning this year.

 

... if future research or well-reasoned arguments are presented in the future then Dean would probably change his practice to maximize the potential life-long benefit.

 

You are right, if I saw or suspected negative health consequences from my diet / lifestyle, I would definitely reevaluate and consider modifying my approach. For now it seems to be working well.

 

--Dean

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Thanks Dean for that astonishingly comprehensive assessment of your approach to health.

 

Astonishing also for the extent to which you appear prepared to pursue the severity of the goals you have set for yourself.  With just one-fifth your determination, I would have gotten down to a BMI of 20.0 long long ago!  (And a school report around 1960 said of me:  "His determination is unquestionable."  !  Not joking.)

 

I would like to take issue with one aspect of your data that I think I know something about (!).  I believe you are getting ***far*** more exercise than is good for your health.  Not only too much of it in the aggregate but, imo, poorly 'organized' also.  It was the East Germans who discovered in the 1970s and 1980s that if you are training for endurance events at olympic level you become measurably more fit if you train LESS!  ('More fit' being defined as speed over events involving at least five minutes of non-stop 100% exertion - 'endurance', 'aerobic'). 

 

It seems counter-intuitive, but it is not difficult to understand why:  Athletic training breaks down muscle cells and the body wants to rebuild stronger.  In order to gain the benefit of any training workout, but especially a severe one, the body requires about three days to recover, so that it has rebuilt and is ready to take advantage of the next severe training session.  But if you 'train' equally hard every day, you are just breaking down cells day after day after day. Your body never has the opportunity to rebuild.  An olympic contestant would train very hard (and long) every third day, and train for much shorter time periods - and light, fast activities - on the intervening days.  They will still train every day, but with the volume of training on a highly cyclical schedule. 

 

Now I (and presumably you) are not training for the Olympics.  Nevertheless to gain the benefits of exercise you need a fairly sizeable load and must give the body time (three days approximately) to recover and rebuild after a day of heavy workload.

 

In my case, one day a week of considerable exertion (walking fairly briskly for six to twelve miles, depending on the opportunites the local geography offers) combined with just normal activity in the intervening days is likely more than adequate as representing the low end of the cycle for someone in my situation.

 

In your case, given your remarkable level of enthusiasm, you might want to make it two days a week spaced well apart, compared with my one, with all your seriously heavy exercise concentrated into those two days.  If you wanted to take part in some relatively minor activity in the two intervening days then fine.  But it should not be substantial exertion. 

 

This is one topic where, imo, the motto:  "The unverified conventional wisdom is almost invariably mistaken" is true is spades. The idea that you must exercise at least five days a week is, imo, completely misguided.  It is counter-productive, compared with once every three days.

 

There is a rule of thumb that, to achieve considerable benefit, on the heavy workout days a training session must involve non-stop heavy exercise for at least 45 minutes at whatever 'load' the athlete is capable of at the then-current stage of training.  My three miles at 4 mph, followed by a rest, followed by the three miles return trip is two sessions of 45 minutes of activity.  Obviously twelve miles - six plus six - is more strenuous.  At the very start of a season's training the load would be rather small - but still for at least 45 minutes - compared with the intensity later in the season when the athlete already has built considerable capability.   More than one such 45 minute session with intervening rest periods is better than just one.

 

I wish I could give you references for the above recommendations, but when people are winning the Olympics they tend not to tell everyone how they are doing it by publishing the explanation in scientific journals!

 

Rodney.

 

===============

 

"The unverified conventional wisdom is almost invariably mistaken"

Edited by nicholson

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Rodney,

 

Thanks for the feedback. I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure it applies to me and the exercise I do. I wouldn't consider any of the exercise I do to be "heavy workload" or involving "considerable exertion". I do engage in a 4-day split of my resistance training, i.e. training different muscle groups each day in a 4-day rotation. But even my resistance training is not that strenuous. 

 

I'll readily admit that I'm not getting (nor am I after) the usual benefits of athletic training your outline, namely to break down muscle cells so the body rebuilds them stronger / bigger. I just do it to maintain muscles & aerobic fitness, to burn calories, and for the psychological benefits. I've been exercising 7 days a week since I was a kid, including daily aerobic activity (jogging) and a 4-day resistance training split since I was in college (30 years ago). Its part of my identity. So far (knock on wood) I never seem to 'break down' or feel the need for a recovery day. I can't remember when I last missed a day of exercise - it has been a few years at least.

 

I do possess an unusual level of self-discipline. My wife characterizes it as fanaticism.

 

--Dean

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Dean:

 

Thanks for your updated routine.  The data dump is always interesting.  

 

What I wondered while reading this write-up is do you ever have issues eating this much quantity in a single meal?  Vegetables, for example, are typically nutrient dense, high fiber and filling.  Physiologically, I don't think I could even eat this much in a single meal, or I would be forced to eat it slowly over ~3 hours.

 

Thanks

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Prophets,

 

It is a lot of food (~8.5 lbs), but its high water content, and I eat it not quite over 3 hours, but over an extended period of time (1:45min). Perhaps it is a function of eating large meals over many years, I've worked my way up to it.

 

It reminds me of Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi, the thin 'competitive eater' and 6-time winner of the Nathan's National Hotdog Eating contest who has eaten up to 69 hotdogs and buns in 10 minutes. His other records are even more disturbing, including 57 cow brains (17.7 pounds) in 15 minutes. I seriously recommend against eating what he does, or how much he does!

 

But his training regime is familiar: In his own words: 

 

You have to gradually build up your gut by eating larger and larger amounts of food, and then be sure to work it all off so body fat doesn't put a squeeze on the expansion of your stomach in competition.

 

He used to be very skinny (e.g. 5'8", 125lbs):

 

Twinkie-eaten-record.jpg

 

but has lately gained weight and put on a lot of muscle. He apparently weighs in in the neighborhood of 175lbs now:

 

takeru-kobayashi-muscles.jpg

 

It takes all kinds...

 

--Dean

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Dean, how do you prepare the natto? Do you heat it or just thaw it out. I was considering including it because a nutrional wonderfood should not be easily dismissed. I would probably heat it and mix it with other foods to bury it as it seems rather disgusting.

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Mike,

 

Glad you're considering giving natto a try! I enjoy natto on its own, but what I typically do is mix 1/4 of a styrofoam container (~ 1tsp) of thawed natto into my 250g daily serving of my starch mix (sweet potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, quinoa, barley, basmati/wild rice), which was also frozen but has been thawed in the fridge overnight. I add various spices and a touch of hot sauce to the mixture and warm it up in the microwave for 1:15 on high. Quite tasty. 

 

--Dean

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Hi Dean

You are eating a lot of nuts.

I suggest you to test the slilou/selou  recipe.

 

sellou-marocain-recette-sfouf-ramadan.jp

 

it is a Moroccan sweet made from toasted various nuts & seeds that has been browned quickly in the oven with olive oil.

It is usually served with some beverage such as tea with mint or some coffee.

 

There are many variations of this recipe depending on the region & the purse of the person.

 

I am used to make a flour-free version with some finely grinded, some just crushed to somehow vary the taste to the palate.

It contains flax mostly, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, & sesame.

I replace sugar with high quality honey or without it sometimes.

 

The only drawback is that people usually eat more than expected because it is so tasty but with your ironwill I do not think it will be a problem.

Edited by Michael R

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Tasbin,

 

Thanks for the suggestion!

 

Slilou does look and sound delicious. Reminds me of the baklava recipe I used to make for my family (crushed walnuts, honey, sugar, cinnamon, butter and many layers of phyllo dough), only without the sugar, butter or phyllo dough - and hence much healthier. I can imagine a variant of slilou that uses dates instead of sugar or honey that would be even easier to rationalize as healthy (because it would be!), and be even tastier.

 

But even my iron will has its limits. In fact, I no longer buy dates because I found them too tasty to have in my pantry. And dates + nuts are a combination that is very hard to resist, even for me.

 

Although my lockbox precommitment strategy to boost self-discipline made dates manageable to have around, I find now, after going long enough without them, I no longer have a hankering for them. And I'd rather not rekindle that hankering with an incredibly tasty dish like date-based sliliou, if you know what I mean.

 

I find it best not to tickle the dragon, if you can help it...

 

--Dean

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Slilou does look and sound delicious. Reminds me of the baklava recipe I used to make for my family

Yep but It is way more delicious than baklava. Also I have tried Slilou with and without honey  and well, I will stick with the sugarfree version because it is difficult to not restrain myself with the too-addictive version with honey.

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  • 2 tbsp of my ketchup - a homemade mix of cider vinegar, water, tomato paste, sriracha, hot mustard and psyllium as a thickener

  •  

 

I didn't notice this the first time I read this post.  I've tried various homemade ketchups with various acceptable ingredients, and this looks promising, so I think I'll try it.

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Although my lockbox precommitment strategy to boost self-discipline made dates manageable to have around, I find now, after going long enough without them, I no longer have a hankering for them. And I'd rather not rekindle that hankering with an incredibly tasty dish like date-based sliliou, if you know what I mean.

 

Dean, that is well said. That is such a good reminder for me. Thank you!

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All,

 

On another thread, Drew asked people to post a picture of what you just ate. I liked the idea, but figured I'd do it here, since it is a more complete record of what I eat in a day. I'll post a link over on that thread to this post. For a high level overview of the meal pictured below, which is the one meal I eat each and every day (with only minor variations), see the first post in this thread, and for more details about exact composition and quantity see the third.

 

This post is meant mostly as eye candy. I hope you enjoy. The ordering of food displayed is roughly in line with the order in which I eat the foods, as detailed here. Quoting from that post:

 

If the two hours of my meal were divided up into 10 equal size time slices, here are the time slices when I eat various food items:

  • Melon (e.g. watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, papaya) - 1-3
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranate)  - 1-4
  • Tree fruit (e.g. apples, peaches, kiwi, persimmon) - 2-8
  • Starch mix (w/ natto & spices) - 2-5
  • Avocado - 2-5 (with starch mix)
  • Leafy greens & non-starchy veggies (too many to list) - 3-8
  • Garlic cloves - 1-8 (nibble on throughout meal)
  • Nuts & seeds - (same as you, + chestnuts, chia & sunflower seeds) 4-10, but mostly 8-10
  • Bananas & durian - 8-10

 

First up - the quickly digesting melons. Today the melon of choice was a ripe juicy mango. When it's a mango day, I eat ½ of the fruit per day. I peal half (as shown below), slicing down along the pit to get a "half moon" of peeled mango, and then dice the half moon into chunks as shown in the container in the second photo:

 

PgLZcyT.png

 

ucjkw38.png

 

Next up are berries - which includes fresh strawberries and a combination of frozen wild blueberries, cherries, cranberries and blackberries, thawed overnight in the fridge. The strawberries are from Aldis. The cranberries are also from Aldis, bought last Thanksgiving and kept frozen and vacuum sealed in my freezer. The blueberries and cherries are from CostCo. The blackberries are ones I picked, froze, and vacuum sealed last summer. Tragically, the huge patch where I harvested about 60 lbs worth of blackberries last summer was trashed this spring by someone building a new McMansion in my neighborhood ☹. Together this is about 250g of berries. I also add another ~75g of mixed berries to my salad dress (see below).

 

QRs8ton.png

 

 

Next up is the tree fruit - which always includes about ½ an apple and today about 1/3 of a large & very juicy peach from my CSA. I eat both the core and the seeds of the apple (not worried about arsenic since I don't chew up the seeds):

 

 

cm4g1Jh.png

 

 

Next up are two things I forgot to include in my food ordering list above, red grapes (~300g) and mushrooms (~220g). I very lightly steam / cook the mushrooms in the microwave on high for 1 min, to cut down on some of the (alleged) toxins:

 

ylRmaS8.png

 

Next up is my starch mix (250g). As you might be able to see, it contains quinoa, oats, barley, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, black & basmati rice, yams and purple potatoes:

 

wCOucgq.png

 

To kick the starch mix up a notch flavor-wise, I add about a teaspoon of a mix of chopped fresh ginger, turmeric and horseradish, along with ½ tablespoon of my spice mix (basically every herb / spice I can get my hands on from the grocery story & Indian market, in small quantities) and a couple squirts of my homemade spicy ketchup, and top it off with a dollop of natto (shown on the spoon). Yum!

 

vJBKVKT.png

 

 

I stir and then warm the starch mix in the microwave, along with the next two items, ½ an avocado and 1/3 an ear of corn. The avocado comes from Aldis and the corn is fresh from my CSA this time of year. In the winter, I eat corn on the cob like this which I've saved from my CSA by freezing and vacuum sealing. The corn and avocado come out of the microwave pretty warm, but not too hot. I roll the warm corn in the avocado to "butter" it up, and then sprinkle the buttered corn with a mix of turmeric, curry powder & ground black pepper. The pepper is both for taste and to boost absorption of the curcumin and other curcuminoids in the turmeric. 

 

vhcQfiH.png

 

And I can't forget the the raw garlic cloves I nibble on throughout the meal. I love garlic. I buy them pre-peeled, in 1 lb container, most of which I keep vacuumed sealed in a jar. I eat about 4-5 cloves per day, and it takes me 3-4 weeks to go through a pound of fresh garlic cloves:

 

wy6s3o7.png

 

 

Next comes leafy greens. These include the sprouts and microgreens I grow indoors under lights and harvest daily for my salad, shown here, which include broccoli, radish, mustard, and fenugreek sprouts in the small container on the left, and the curly (and spicy!) cress microgreens grown in soil shown on the right. The sprouts take about 7 days from seed to harvest, and the curly cress about 9 days. I basically use scissors to chop off the roots of all these greens (everything above the soil for the cress) and toss the green upper parts into my salad with my other greens (see below):

 

QchWUgW.png

 

Here are my two big bowls of home grown leafy greens. The bowl on the right contains the greens I eat in whole form. It include all the spouts/microgreens, mustard greens, baby spinach, green leaf lettuce, red endive, sweet and cinnamon basil, sage, parsley, oregano, lemon balm, mint and probably a couple others I can't recall. Basically they are the greens whose taste I enjoy most. On the right is the bowl of leafy greens that I go into my blended salad dressing. It includes kale, more mustard greens, swiss chard, collards, and some basil. It includes the stalks, which I hate to waste and which blend up in my Vitamix just fine. All the greens in both bowls come from my garden or my indoor sprouting operation:

 

Y9SlR9E.png

 

The next components of my big salad are the "chunky" veggies, shown here. See the list of ingredients in the posts at the top of this thread, since they are too numerous to list here. Basically any vegetable you can buy in the produce isle. This time of year much of it comes from the CSA I belong to. The red, orange, yellow and chocolate tomatoes you see on top come from my own garden.

 

CHtumjO.png

 

In fact, those are only about ½ the tomatoes I ate. The other half goes into my blended salad dressing. Here is the full set of home grown tomatoes I ate this morning:

 

RtuMztp.png

 

 

In addition to the tomatoes, I add a chunk of cucumber and ½ an orange (with peel) to my Vitamix:

 

 

aetvyiF.png

 

along with the greens in the left bowl above, some more of my spice mix, a couple squirts of my spicy sriracha ketchup, some cider & balsamic vinegar, a little water, a heaping tablespoon of a mix of various fiber powders (psyllium, plantain flour, potato starch), and a tablespoon of various vegetable powders (including beet powder). It all goes into my Vitamix, which, after quite a bit of tamping, creates a very appetizing-looking (he says sarcastically) salad dressing. Here are the leafy and chunky greens w/o the salad dressing:

 

1cAy9v4.png

 

And here they are with the salad dressing on top. As you can see, it is pretty chucky. In fact, it almost has the consistency of raw ground beef, without any of the cruelty ☺. I mix it all together and then warm it in the microwave for 2 min to take the edge off and warm it to about body temperature, since all the ingredients (except for the tomatoes ☺) are coming from the fridge:

 

PdBVeu1.png

 

 

For dessert, I have my mix of nuts (left) and seeds (right). Sorry for the blurriness. As you can see (kind of), the nuts are a mix of pulverized and nearly whole nuts, of all different kinds (listed above). The seeds have all been ground in my coffee grinder. Between the two it is about 200-250g of nuts/seeds.

 

vsA8khT.png

 

 

And last but not least, are my bananas and durian, eaten along with the nuts and seeds for dessert. As you can see, I like my bananas pretty ripe, and my durian even riper! 

 

WOJ3s0W.png  zKOlNMg.png

 

That's it. That's all I eat in a day. ☺ It takes me about 2 hours or so to prepare (such as it is) and eat it all. I've precessed a bit, so my meal time falls between 5 and 7am these days.

 

If anyone has any questions / comments - fire away!

 

--Dean

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That is an impressive vegan diet in term of diversity and quantity . I have never read  anyone that take diet to that level of almost surgical precision.

 

What is the actual daily costs of your diet?
 

Edited by tasbin

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