Over on this thread, Khurram wrote:
My CR is diet is (and has been in auto pilot). Yup same for years: raw veggies and a few Purina Primate LabDiet biscuits -- about 1200-1300 total cal/day -- is routine.
I know you're a minimalist and for the sake of convenience and cost you've chosen to consume the monkey chow rather than whole foods. While I'm skeptical of that approach, I can respect and understand your perspective.
But I'm curious why you have chosen Purina primate chow, and that particular formulation, as the supplement to your high veggie diet? Back when you started eating the monkey chow there weren't many options, but today there are quite a few meal replacements alternatives designed for people. I'm wondering why you've stuck with the primate chow, and whether you've considered or tried some of the others.
In particularly, the primate chow you're eating has pig fat ("procine animal fat preserved with DHA") as one of the top ingredients. Not only does this preclude it as an option for veg[itari]ans (which you apparently don't care about - fair enough), but it result in there being nearly as much saturated fat as MUFA in the biscuits. That seems less than optimal in my book. Perhaps even more importantly, the monkey chow is 25-30% of calories from protein - which seems much too high given our current understanding of the role of (reduced) dietary protein in health and longevity.
I thought you might have chosen that particular monkey chow because it was what they fed the monkeys in the NIA primate study, where both control and CR monkeys lived a long time relative to most monkeys in captivity, and which some of the credit may have gone to their healthier diet formulation compared with the Wisconsin monkeys. But in fact, both the Wisconsin monkey diet (Teklad #85387 - see table 1 of this paper for details) and importantly, NIA monkey diet had lower saturated fat (no pig fat as an ingredient) and much lower protein (only 15-17%) than the chow you've chosen. The composition of the NIA monkey chow link is courtesy of Michael's mega-review of the CR primate study.
(Side Note: Michael - in your review of the CR monkey results, did you notice that the NIA monkey chow formulation has 0.1256% (by weight) added methionine in addition to the methionine that was in the fish meal protein that comprised a pretty large part of the chow? Given the apparent benefits of protein/methionine restriction, could this have contributed to the failure of CR to work in the NIA monkeys?! As I recall, the CR monkeys didn't exhibited reduced IGF-1, while human CR practitioners do, except those eating a high protein (hence higher methionine?) diet [Fontana, 2008 PMID: 18843793] ).
Khurram, I can understand you might not be able to get your hands on the NIA monkey chow, but what made you choose this high protein formulation from Purina (5057/5058) relative to the 5037/5038 formulation, with basically the same ingredients as 5057/5058 but much lower protein, i.e. 15-17% - which the chow in the CR monkey studies?
Moreover, now that there are many more options these days for "human chow", I'm curious why you're sticking with the monkey chow. Here are a few, with some of my observations about them:
- Ensure - Perhaps the most oldest and most familiar meal replacement, has lower protein (14% of calories) and no animal fat, but it also has a lot of added sugar so isn't the best option. It is about $3 / 500kcal.
- Soylent - The current darling of the geeky meal replacement crowd. From its nutrition facts, its basically just water, maltodextrin, canola and algae oil, soy protein powder and a multivitamin. Far from ideal, but vegan, only 20% of calories from protein, and reasonably low in saturated fat (2.5g / 500kcal serving) It too is about $3 / 500kcal when you buy it in liquid form, a little bit less in powder, but you need to supply your own fat/oil, and water.
- Huel - Short for Human Fuel. Its a UK competitor for Soylent, although with more protein (30% of calories!) and more saturated fat (3.5g / 500kcal) from MCT powder from coconuts. No soy (pea protein instead), and carbs and fiber from Oats, rather than carbs from maltodextrin. Otherwise pretty crappy ingredients + a multivitamin. Cheap - only about $2 / 500kcal.
- Ambronite is a better meal replacement shake alternative, made from (mostly) organic, whole food ingredients, but it also has too much protein (24% of calories), and it is quite expensive ($8.50 / 500kcal!).
- Meal Squares are nice because they are small cakes rather than a shake, but they have too much protein (40% of calories!), aren't vegan (contain eggs, whey protein), way too much saturated fat (4g/400kcal from coconut oil), are padded with isolated vitamins, but aren't too expensive (~$3.75 / 500kcal).
Honestly none of these is close to optimal from my perspective, even for a heavily-processed meal alternative. They either have too much sugar (Ensure, Soylent), aren't vegan (MealSquares) and/or have too much protein (Heul, Ambronite, MealSquares). If I had to pick one, Ambronite looks the best, but its also the most expensive, not surprisingly.
In case you're wondering why I've done all this research, I've been kicking around the idea of trying to develop a better alternative to all these. Not so much for me - I enjoy whole foods and have plenty of time for meal prep and eating. But for other people who want a convenient and healthy meal replacement alternative.
Does anyone know of other meal replacement alternatives out there? What would people think of, and want to see in, a healthier CR-friendly, meal replacement formula? Mega-muffins and Mega-leather were earlier attempts at this, but I think we could do better today. The question is would anyone be interested?