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Mesmerizing/Quirky New Promoter of CR and tRF - Nun Amen Ra

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Google's algorithm decided to serve me up an interesting new youtube interview today that already has over 100,000 views. This guy is mesmerizing, but I'm not sure what to think of someone from Louisiana who now lives in Maryland, has taken the name of the Egyptian sun god, and likes to talk like an academic while mispronouncing words like autophagy :)  It seems like he read "The CR Way" and is now trying to start a cult following from it, haha... I don't actually believe his claims about his calorie intake (1000-1500/day) but I really enjoyed the interview.

 

https://youtu.be/dR1FCJS8DoM

"Subjecting yourself to self-imposed discipline is the surest way to increase the quality of your existence."

         -Ra (or should I say hoorah)

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Intriguing guy. He is mesmerizing. 

 

But he sounds like a robot. I get the sense he's putting on airs when he speaks, to seem more profound than he (or his message) really is. I'm surprised his diet includes dried fruit, but apparently not fresh fruit (6:30). His staples are "nuts, grains, tubers and dried fruit." What no vegetables!?

 

Sounds like he tries (schedule permitting) to work out three times per day, with aerobic exercise twice earlier in the day and afternoon. Then he says it is important (for muscle building) to do resistance exercises in the evening, and then eats his one meal per day after he works out in the evening. That definitely seems suboptimal to me, and clearly goes against the CR Way recommendations (if he has indeed read it). 

 

I too am skeptical about his claim that he (and his wife) each only eat 1000-1500 kcal/day. No way he can have that physique eating that few calories for 15 years. In fact, I'm pretty skeptical you can get this physique without steroids, although he claims to hold the dead-lift (world?) record for steroid-free men in his weight class. But I mean come on, take a look at him:

 

E5MjnsR.png

 

There is no way this guy is eating only 1500 kcal once per day, and does only what sounds like a relatively brief resistance workout once per day. His mispronunciation of "autophagy" is quite annoying, as you said. 

 

Here is the diet protocol from his website:

 

The Amen Protocol is the result of a decade of rigorous research and systematic self-experimentation. The Protocol has a pentavalent nature, consisting of 5 principal parts: (I) a fasting component, (II) a dietetic component, (III) an exercise component, (IV) an informational/educational component, and (V) a psycho-ascetic/meditative component. Essential elements of the Regimen include the following: 
  • A daily, diurnal fast, 23 hours in duration, wherein no calorie-containing foods or beverages are partaken [incipient Amen Adherents may initially fast for 21 hours/day]
  • An aerobic exercise session executed in the morning; a resistance exercise session executed in the evening
  • A single nocturnal meal not exceeding an hour in duration [for Inveterate Amenites]
  • Intellectual assimilation of the extensive information and practical principles that undergird the Regimen
  • Intervals of Amenistic Meditation interspersed at opportune junctures throughout the day
 
Defining features of the Amen Diet are the following:
  • Calorically restricted, with a mean caloric content of 1250 [range 1000-1500 kilocalories]
  • Thoroughly vegetal, devoid of meat
  • Low in glycotoxins (i.e. advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) produced by the chemical combination of simple sugars and proteins both inside and outside the body)
  • Antioxidant rich, adequate in essential micronutrients (i.e. minerals and vitamins)
  • Inclusive of select supplemental or nutraceutical agents known to exert inhibitory effects on the aging process and/or age-related diseases
We offer expert advice on the implementation of the Amen Protocol. Each Agent of Amenta has practiced the Protocol for a period of time ranging from a half to a full decade under the guidance of its originator, Dr. Nūn Amen-Ra. We offer nutritional counseling and several health-enhancing services. We also offer detailed treatises authored by Dr. Amen-Ra, explaining the theoretical, scientific and experiential elements of the Amen Protocol.
 
He writes like he talks - so at least he's consistent ☺. Speaking of writing, here are two papers [1][2] he authored back in 2006, from a new Longecity thread about him. Both were from the Medical Hypotheses Journal, one step up from the Journal of Irreproducible Results ☺. Again, he appears (from the abstracts) to write like he talks. It appears he basically subscribes to a model by which hormesis is a big factor in longevity, as a result of evolutionary pressure to survive famine and harsh conditions. 
 
Other aspects of his protocol:
  • Amen Protein Elixir - isolated Soy, spirulina, brewer's yeast. 
  • He likes beans - cannelloni beans, red beans.
  • He also eats roots and tubers.
  • Fruit and fresh "vegetation" are not high on list of staples - too high in indigestible cellulose and water content. They "take up too much space". You want "nutritionally dense" foods to derive most nutrients in smallest amount of time. He says in the long run such foods promote, rather than satisfy, hunger.
  • For dessert he and his wife eat nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter (crudely crushed peanuts) and (royal) jelly sandwiches! Roasted peanuts with dark chocolate. Roasted to avoid aflatoxins.
  • He drinks a lot of green tea, black tea, hibiscus, rooibos, herbal infusions. 
  • Stevia in his tea - the only sweetener he uses.
  • Supplements/nutriceuticals - niacin, glucosamine, cucurmin, resveratrol, pomogranete extract, blueberry extract.
  • He takes (and promotes) use of a multi-vitamin / multi-mineral supplement. 
  • He says he sleeps only ½ as much as a typical person (doesn't specify # of hours).
  • He wholly recognizes the inevitability of aging and death, but just wants to prolong his healthy lifespan.
  • "It is important to have sufficient physical and mental energy in order to arrive at the psychological, philosophical, existential state you which to attain before that ultimate end."

I have to admit, he's done his homework. He talks about hunger, ghrelin and BDNF release in the hippocampus starting at 24:00. At various times he talks about other aging-related processes - glycation, autophagy, detoxification in the liver by phase 2 enzymes etc. He talks about them in reasonable ways, although obviously not in depth in a YouTube video interview like this.

 

His protocol and scientific rational will resonate with most of us here. But his mannerisms, speech, and appearance send my BS detector into overdrive. I think it is the incongruity between the reasonableness and scientific credibility of his message and the over-the-top guru persona he exudes that makes him so mesmerizing. 

 

He says he doesn't sell his education materials, but "releases them with a donation to individuals who are earnestly interested. Our regiment is ascetic and rigorous - it's not for everyone."

 

If nothing else his motto is a pithy summary of my perspective on life as well:
 

"Subjecting yourself to self-imposed discipline is the surest way to increase the quality of your existence."

 

I wonder if he has discovered cold exposure ☺

 

--Dean

 

--------
[1] Med Hypotheses. 2006;66(5):978-84. Epub 2006 Jan 10.
 
Humans are evolutionarily adapted to caloric restriction resulting from
ecologically dictated dietary deprivation imposed during the Plio-Pleistocene
period.
 
Amen-Ra N(1).
 
Author information: 
(1)Amenta Press Inc., Damascus, MD 20872, USA. AmentaPr@AmentaPress.com
 
Comment in
    Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(1):198.
 
Humans are evolutionarily adapted to chronic undernutrition as a consequence of
ecologically dictated dietary restriction. Increased aridity, cooler temperatures
and increased climatic oscillation effected an alteration of the quantity and
quality of vegetation upon which hominids depended for food during the
Plio-Pleistocene period. Hominids responded physiologically to climate-induced
caloric curtailment in the same way organisms respond to experimentally imposed
caloric restriction: by reducing the rate and/or altering the manner in which
they metabolized fuel. Such metabolic alterations are mediated principally by the
hypothalamus and it is herein hypothesized that the human hypothalamus was
subjected to substantial selective pressure, promoting an energetically
conservative hypometabolic state. Moreover, the most salient phenotypic
characteristics typifying the human species - long lifespan, low reproductive
potential, lengthy development and high brain/bodyweight ratio - are effectuated 
in organisms undergoing caloric restriction. These phenotypic/physiological
characteristics - herein termed the quadripartite complex - can be modulated by
metabolic rate, which is, in turn, modulated by the hypothalamus. An appreciable 
alteration in climate occurred between 2.0 and 1.5 million years ago, a juncture 
at which one hominid lineage (Paranthropus) went extinct. Paranthropus was
characterized by such external adaptations as robust cranio-facial morphology and
pronounced enamel deposition, indicative of subsistence on tough, low-quality
vegetal foods. Conversely, the Homo lineage responded to its marginal dietary
repertoire through internal means, centering on metabolic suppression. It is
herein hypothesized that this adaptive metabolic alteration, enacted in response 
to ecologically imposed caloric restriction, produced the defining morphologic
attributes of Homo and enabled the evolutionary success of the human species.
Among the implications of this line of thinking is that modern humans may be
particularly sensitive to the deleterious effects of excess energy intake and,
concomitantly, particularly amenable to the ameliorative effects of caloric
restriction.
 
DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2005.11.013 
PMID: 16406387
 
--------
[2] Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(5):1147-53. Epub 2007 Apr 18.
 
How dietary restriction catalyzed the evolution of the human brain: An exposition
of the nutritional neurotrophic neoteny theory.
 
Amen-Ra N(1).
 
Author information: 
(1)Amenta Press Inc., P.O. Box 236, Damascus, MD 20872, USA.
AmentaPr@AmentaPress.com
 
The purpose of this theoretical treatise is to explain the evolution of human
encephalization. The evolutionary expansion of the human brain is herein regarded
as a single component of an interrelated complex encompassing depressed somatic
and sexual development and increased longevity. These cardinal phenotypic
features, termed the Quadripartite Complex, were selected for their adaptiveness 
amidst the environmental deterioration extant during the formative phase of human
evolution--the Plio-Pleistocene period. This interval of environmental
transformation inevitably eventuated in ecological alteration and dietary
diminution. Suggestively, experimentally imposed dietary restriction routinely
results in lengthened lifespan, delayed sexual maturation, depressed growth and
increased encephalization as a concomitant consequence of body mass reduction and
brain mass maintenance. Thus, dietary restriction ostensibly induces discernible 
metabolic adaptations whether incurred ontologically or evolutionarily. Several
experiments indicate that dietary restriction promotes the preservation and
generation of neurons via induction of neurotrophic factors. To the extent that
neurogenesis is a molecular mediator of mental acuity, it is evident that
nutrition and cognition are intimately linked. Extrapolating to an evolutionary
context, increased intelligence ought to confer advantages to organisms enduring 
dietary deprivation insofar as increased intelligence ensures more facile food
acquisition. This reasoning underlies the nutritional neurotrophic neoteny (N(3))
theory, which holds that humans exhibit an altered pattern of neurotrophin
expression resulting from positive selection for heightened intelligence amidst
environmental deterioration and consequent dietary deficiency. The altered
pattern of neurotrophin expression exhibited by humans, it is deduced, results in
a protracted phase of developmental neurogenesis and a resultant retention of
neurons that would otherwise be extirpated due to programmed cell death.
Importantly, during neonatal neurogenesis mammals produce an excess number of
neurons whose eventual destruction is dictated by neurotrophic factors. An
altered pattern of neurotrophin expression during neurogenesis, as N(3) proposes,
could therefore furnish a larger adult brain. As to how humans could afford to
accrete exuberant neural tissue under conditions of chronic food scarcity the
homo hypothalamic hypometabolism (H(3)) theory offers a plausible answer: reduced
growth and delayed sexual maturation, mediated by the hypothalamus and its
endocrine effectors, offset the energetic costs of increased encephalization in
humans. H(3) is herein presented as a general theory of human evolution while
N(3) may be regarded as a special theory of human encephalization.
 
DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.02.035 
PMID: 17445994
 
 

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"it is the incongruity between the reasonableness and scientific credibility of his message and the over-the-top guru persona he exudes that makes him so mesmerizing."  Good summary!   He takes "speak softly and carry a big stick" to a whole new level, haha.  I have taken the liberty of (attempting) to introduce him to cold exposure  ;)xyz  as well as inviting him to post here.  I have not received any reply however.  I doubt that he is interested in interacting with folks like us, but it would be funny if he were actually a lurker here.  He has obviously read a lot of the same material many of us have read.  Hope he does something more productive with his life than being a guru, but I must say he is good at that.

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Nice 'stick' comment Gordo! :-)

If I had to guess, I'd say, like Dr. Greger, he is sincere and truly wants to help people. But there is something more going on than meets the eye, given his physique.

I will say this, he may be a (self-promoting) guru, but as gurus go, he makes a lot of sense and seems to know what he's talking about, at least on the surface (can't tell how deep his knowledge goes).

People could do a lot worse than following his advice. In fact, with a few adjustments, including:

  • Throwing in fresh fruits and especially veggies
  • Eating his one meal earlier in the day
  • Ditching the protein powder, nutraceuticals and multivitamin in favor of whole (plant) foods
  • Track his nutrition (and calories!) via CRON-O-Meter
  • Chilling out a bit, both literally and figuratively :-)

his recommended regime would be pretty much spot on in my book!

 

--Dean

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Dean,

 

I agree with him sending one's BS detector into overdrive. Something doesn't seem to add up and I'm not sure what. I wonder what the hell the camera man was doing when filming. He kept swaying back and forth, and I wonder if half of the mesmerizing comes from that. I tend to agree that the caloric intake he mentions seems impossible. Though some individuals (i.e. Jack Lalanne) are alleged to maintain incredibly muscular physiques on very few calories.  They are certainly the exception rather than the rule. The stretch marks on his shoulders indicate rapid weight gain at some point.  I spent a ton of time in the gym and it can indicate steroid use, though sometimes it's simply just rapid weight gain when getting into lifting. Having said all this, I could be completely wrong. He seems like an interesting personality who is very intelligent, and who would make a great addition to the forums here.

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This guy is pretty interesting. His life style reminds me of Herschel Walker... one of the most amazing athletes of our time. The only meal Herschel claims to eat is dinner... consisting of soup, bread, and salad.

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Dr. Amen Ra (he has a doctorate in epidemiology and is a science teacher) does have an amazing physique, but he has developed a science-based protocol of how to build muscle and not add fat. One of the comments on the Youtube video (pasted below) did a good job of summarizing some aspects of how Dr. Amen Ra maintains a youthful body. Further, Michael R's article from October of last year on the CR website (https://www.crsociety.org/blog/8/entry-17-a-surprising-factor-in-cr-maintaining-muscle-with-age/) points out that timing activity-induced anabolic response with the large evening meal promotes quick protein synthesis. I think his elixir also contains some branch chain amino acids, which can feed and repair the muscles expiediently (plus per the comment below, he can recycle old cells to obtain sugar and necessary acids). A lot of the responses online have mostly resorted to ad hominem or appeals to ignorance as their critique (e.g., Vegan Gains), which is not really engaging Dr. Amen Ra's protocol in a substantive way.

 

"So I gave myself a refresher on cellular biology then came and watched this video again. So death comes from 2 factors. Apoptosis and Hayflick Limit. Apoptosis is the self destruction of cells. This occurs for a number of reasons, what's mainly listed is the prevention of diseases, damaged cells, and cellular population control. The Hayflick Limit comes from the shortening of telomeres at the ends of dna strands each time a cell divides through mitosis. The telomere length of a cell gets smaller with each split, and eventually reaches a point where it becomes too small. Any further replications would have disastrous effects and so the cell no longer divides. So when you reach a certain age all of your cells stop dividing and they all die off and then you die. There is a study saying that a human can't live past 120 years of age due to the combination of Hayflick Limit and Apoptosis. Not to say I believe that the 120 year limit can't be broken. Just stating the current knowledge out there for you. Inside a cell you have essentially 4 groups of compounds which are formed from molecules. Sugars, Amino Acids, Fatty Acids, and Nucleic Acids. Sugars and fatty acids are used for energy. Amino acids turn into proteins which are the building blocks for everything within the cell. They're also chemical enzymes used for virtually every cellular function. Nucleic Acids have some energy storage capability, and are mainly used to keep track of the genetic code of the organism. Your body gets the atoms/molecules it needs to create these things from food, air, and water. Most are found naturally, and the stuff needed to build nucleic acids are developed synthetically within the cells through chemical reactions. Ok, had to give you a summary of that stuff in order to explain what goes on here with him. He eats 1 meal a day that consists of 3 parts, and fasts for 23 hours. The first part of his meal is his amino acid nutrient elixir. This Elixer provides his amino acids + other molecules needed for the body to be healthy. But it lacks the sugars and fatty acids which is the energy source for all of the cellular processes. The second part of his meal the, beans and roots and shit, do add fatty acids. Then his dessert has sugars in the royal jelly and bread in the form of carbs and sugars. He limits the caloric intake of the meal so he is actually giving his body less energy than it needs to perform it's processes, but plenty of amino acids. He then makes this up with the fasting which essentially eats away older cells and converts them into energy. So he recycles his own cells for his sugar, and fatty acid requirements. This recycling of cells targets the most inefficient and oldest cells in his body. Which I assume includes the ones with the shortest telomeres. He has a surplus of amino acids and his body only uses enough cells for the energy that it needs. So he builds muscle when he repairs his muscle fibers from the workout, and he gains no fat. Now, his lifestyle of lifting weights, stress free, and meditation is the key to all of this anti aging. These activities for some as of yet unmentioned reason actually help sustain telomere lengths in cells after mitosis. Certain weight training regiments show little to no shortening, while others actually cause more shortening. Only one cell type experiences telomere shortening due to weight lifting. The muscle satellite cells experience shortening because of a combination of the rapid mitosis required for extreme weightlifting regiments, and the over stressing of your nervous system. Also known as "over-training". Which has other side effects such as fatigue. So his body recycles the cells with the most damage and possibly the shortest telomere lengths. He also slows down his metobolism, and lengthens his haflick limit. Thus he possess a younger body in general compared to a person of corresponding age. That's really cool. Now if we figure out a way to activate telomerase (the only thing known the lengthen and replace telomeres) without any negative consequences we can stop aging all together, and we won't need to become ascetics! Edits: I fixed a few annoying spelling mistakes and corrected a statement I made about the shortening of telomeres and exercise."

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I'm not buying the cloak and dagger of his approach, and the writing above shows a lot of naiveté (telomere shortening is not the sole cause of aging nor telomerase a panacea).  If "Dr. Ra" can really go about his normal everyday activities including teaching and weightlifting on 1250 calories without losing any weight or muscle and maintaining a ripped physique, he is truly remarkable and worthy of further study.  Has anyone else duplicated his results?  Are you familiar with breatharians?

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Perhaps he only counts the calories of his 'food' but not his supplements.  Take enough concentrated protein powders and other supplements and one might get by eating rather little food.

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