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Any benefits to periodic 5 day fast as addition to daily 16/8 or 20/4 fasting?

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The more I read the more I come to a more conservative position on this topic

 

Most eye opening is the synopsis here ( sorry, no full text available):

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26374764

 

In essence, most of the benefits of fasting arise and reach near maximal levels within the first 12-24 hours of fasting: lower average fasting glucose, lower average fasting insulin, increased insulin sensitivity, lower mean CRP / TNF-alpha / IL-6 inflammation as well as near peak levels of autophagy by the end of each day's fasting cycle That being the case, I don't see how regular 5 day water fasts improve upon this unless they carry additional benefits.

 

For the sake of discussion, let's leave out caloric restriction as a benefit as this can be achieved in either or neither regimen). In other words, if 20/4 intermittent fasting is a (mostly) daily ritual, the cumulative influence of daily spurts of of autophagy may not benefit any more from performing an annual or semi-annual or perhaps even monthly 5-day fast.

 

It appears that longer (e.g. 3-5 day+ fasts) do temporarily do several additional and unique things that daily 20/4 intermittent fasting has not been demonstrated to do:

For example, a higher level of ketosis/ ketone bodies during the fast, and upregulation of sirtuin pathways that take several days to activate. This won't be achieved by daily shorter fasts by itself in the absence of overall caloric restriction.

 

However, I do not see evidence these unique changes achieved with and specific to prolonged fasts are in any way lasting once completing such fasts. Thus while the impact of autophagy (something both daily 20/4 fasts and 5 day fasts both have in common) is expected to persist --- ie, once a cell undergoes apoptosiis, or autophagy eliminates defective proteins or damaged nucleic acid, etc --- in contrast, the things unique to 5 day prolonged fasts such as upregulation of sirtuin pathways are short-term and transient phenomenon.

 

Since the benefits that are accrued by and unique to 5-day fasts appear to be proportional to the time in these pathways, even a monthly 5 day fast is still ~ 5/30 or a bit longer to the extent the cascade does not shut off right away. Less so for less frequent 5-day fasts. So it is not clear to me that 5-day fasts, unless performed very frequently add anything to a 20/4 daily time restricted feeding. The advice "if you are healthy perform a 5 day fast twice a year or quarterly if you are healthy" ( paraphrasing Valter Longo) may not apply if you are already performing daily intermittent fasting.

 

What do you think? Do 5-day fasts add anything unique AND clinically significant above and beyond the potentially benefits of shorter daily ( "intermittent") fasts? Does anyone here practice or feel that the data is supportive of doing both?

 

Edited 2/16/17am

Edited by Mechanism

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Mechanism,

in the seminal paper co-authored by Longo:

 

there is a section on the regenerative markers which is not specifically covered by the review you cited (I only cursorily read the whole article).

 

Maybe that's the main, non-negligible difference between IF and PF. 

 

In summary, this study indicates that FMD cycles induce longlasting beneficial and/or rejuvenating effects on many tissues, including those of the endocrine, immune, and nervous systems in mice and in markers for diseases and regeneration in humans. Although the clinical results will require confirmation by a larger randomized trial, the effects of FMD cycles on biomarkers/risk factors for aging, cancer, diabetes, and CVD, coupled with the very high compliance to the diet and its safety, indicate that this periodic dietary strategy has high potential to be effective in promoting human healthspan. Because prolonged FMDs such as the one tested here are potent and broad-spectrum, they should only be considered for use under medical supervision

 

  • Effects of the FMD on Immunosenescence and Bone-Marrow-Derived Stem and Progenitor Cells
  • Figure 2. Periodic FMD Cycle Reduces and Delays Cancer, Rejuvenates the Hematopoietic System, and Induces Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells
  • Effects of the FMD on Motor Coordination, Memory, and Neurogenesis
  • Figure 3. Periodic FMD Cycle Improves Motor Coordination, Hippocampal-Dependent Learning, and Short- and Long-Term Memory

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Since I have a very low BMI, I am really afraid of doing FMD. Since there is not much to improve upon my biomarkers, instead, I do feasting 1-2 times for 2-3 days in a month by increasing my calorie intake as well as adding some animal protein in order to capture some rejuvenation benefits that I may lack. For other days, it is just plain plant based diet This is also parallel how our ancestors lived; mostly food scarcity (though I don't limit my food intake for apparent reasons), but when found eat as much as you can.

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What do you think? Do 5-day fasts add anything unique AND clinically significant above and beyond the potentially benefits of shorter daily ( "intermittent") fasts? Does anyone here practice or feel that the data is supportive of doing both?

I'm hoping 5-day fasts do add unique and "clinically significant" benefits beyond shorter, daily intermittent fasts. I do both. I do many 3-7-day water/coffee only fasts and also daily intermittent fasts. My question seems opposite of most people who find fasting difficult -- I find it easier to not eat than to eat, so that's what I do. What's frustrating is I have no way of knowing how much is too much, and where's the sweet spot for this behavior? Assuming the goal is increased health span and increased longevity, beyond subjective experience, anecdotal testimonies from others similar to me (who enjoy fasting) and the scant scientific evidence that exists -- we just don't know.

 

I enjoy fasting for 3-7 days and it gives me strength, endurance and clarity. Oddly, my BMI hasn't sunk lower while fasting (I fasted a total of 92 days in 2016 -- usually one or two fasts per month and I've continued this practice into 2017, and have already fasted 19 days this year...) By any normal American behavior this is regarded as extreme and probably indicative of an eating disorder. Yet I feel much stronger and healthier here pursuing this fasting regime than I did while practicing chronic CR. Also my BMI is higher now than while I was on CR, so I'm not sure what's up with that. Sources I've read (Longo, Mattson, Goldhamer) seem to say we don't lose lean muscle tissue while practicing prolonged fasting, and this holds true for me. Maybe it won't for you, but it does for me. I'm still lean as a stick, but more muscular and stronger now than when I was on CR, when I was even leaner and uglier than I am now.

 

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Mechanism,

in the seminal paper co-authored by Longo:

 

Thanks, this paper along with several of Longo's other published work is one of the papers that keeps me warm when fasting feels lonely and pointless. Which it often does, I'll admit, there are few places to go to express how fasting transforms lives. And unfortunately "most people" who pursue fasting as a consistent lifestyle choice are doing so because they're overweight or obese. I'm not in that category. I'm seeking maximal health span and longevity extension by whatever means are available to the lay consumer community.

 

I'd like to know how much fasting is too much fasting. Most people would like to know how to lose weight. Those are very different questions, and the community of seekers seems very small and, if these people even exist, they're now pretty quiet about their experiences.

 

Since I have a very low BMI, I am really afraid of doing FMD. Since there is not much to improve upon my biomarkers, instead, I do feasting 1-2 times for 2-3 days in a month by increasing my calorie intake as well as adding some animal protein in order to capture some rejuvenation benefits that I may lack. For other days, it is just plain plant based diet This is also parallel how our ancestors lived; mostly food scarcity (though I don't limit my food intake for apparent reasons), but when found eat as much as you can.

I had this worry, too, about a low BMI and similar concerns about fasting lowering me even further. But this hasn't been the way it's worked out for me. Today my BMI is 18.7. On consistent CR it was 16.5. So this is a big change.

 

Am I eating more when not fasting? I track my refeeding on Cronometer, and yes, some days I "feast" and it's mostly legumes, nuts, and olive oil that send up my calories. But when I do the cumulative, 6-month thingy on Cronometer, it reports my daily average calorie intake is around 1,300 per day. This seems really low -- so maybe I'm misreporting and mis-remembering things. I'm trying to be as accurate as possible, but we everyone must face limits.

 

Tl;dr: I'd like to know how much fasting is too much fasting, what are the relevant clinical biomarkers to test, and what science, if any, is currently ongoing with regard to fasting and health span extension. The answer, I think, is typically: "we don't know." Meanwhile, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing because my doctor said keep doing what you're doing.

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Mechanism,

in the seminal paper co-authored by Longo:

 

there is a section on the regenerative markers which is not specifically covered by the review you cited (I only cursorily read the whole article).

 

Maybe that's the main, non-negligible difference between IF and PF. 

 

In summary, this study indicates that FMD cycles induce longlasting beneficial and/or rejuvenating effects on many tissues, including those of the endocrine, immune, and nervous systems in mice and in markers for diseases and regeneration in humans. Although the clinical results will require confirmation by a larger randomized trial, the effects of FMD cycles on biomarkers/risk factors for aging, cancer, diabetes, and CVD, coupled with the very high compliance to the diet and its safety, indicate that this periodic dietary strategy has high potential to be effective in promoting human healthspan. Because prolonged FMDs such as the one tested here are potent and broad-spectrum, they should only be considered for use under medical supervision

 

  • Effects of the FMD on Immunosenescence and Bone-Marrow-Derived Stem and Progenitor Cells
  • Figure 2. Periodic FMD Cycle Reduces and Delays Cancer, Rejuvenates the Hematopoietic System, and Induces Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells
  • Effects of the FMD on Motor Coordination, Memory, and Neurogenesis
  • Figure 3. Periodic FMD Cycle Improves Motor Coordination, Hippocampal-Dependent Learning, and Short- and Long-Term Memory

 

Just a note for those that  may not know - Longo's Fasting Mimicking Diet can include up to 600 -775 calories/day partioned to 10% Protein, 45% Carbs, 45% Fat.

 

Randy 

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Great food ( fasting ) for thought ! Thanks for the clarification Randyf.

 

McCoy, yes a lot of my thoughts on the subject were inspired by Valter Longo's seminal paper on it, thanks for the links. from your list:

 

"Effects of the FMD on Immunosenescence and Bone-Marrow-Derived Stem and Progenitor Cells

Figure 2. Periodic FMD Cycle Reduces and Delays Cancer, Rejuvenates the Hematopoietic System, and Induces Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells

Effects of the FMD on Motor Coordination, Memory, and Neurogenesis

Figure 3. Periodic FMD Cycle Improves Motor Coordination, Hippocampal-Dependent Learning, and Short- and Long-Term Memory"

 

I did not identify any documentation that motor/memory benefits require longer fast to accrue -- since intermittent fasting promoted BDNF And no direct comparisons I presume they have a similar effect? Likewise if stem cell regeneration requires a longer fast to accrue, this would also be an argument for longer fasts but I am not aware for this to be the case either.

 

For stem cell rejuvenation, I think this is the major advantage of any periodic fasting with recovery ( along with maintaining lean muscle mass / preventing osteopenia ) over traditional caloric restriction - I think you were getting at this too Burak. But I haven't seen any data so far suggesting it cannot be achieved with daily 16-20 hour fasts via time restricted feeding versus prolonged 3-5 day+ fasts. The question is whether the prolonged fasts add any incremental benefits if added to an already established daily fast routine.

 

The only other argument I am aware of is if once activated the sirtuin pathway downstream effects lasts substantially longer than the fasted state itself yielding clinically valuable additional benefits outside the fasting interval that do not already arise from daily fasting. Anybody aware of data to this effect?

 

Both daily intermittent fasting and rarer prolonged fast appear to achieve comporable average improvements in fasting glucose and insulin.

 

Otherwise I am hard pressed to find any advantages to adding a 5-day fast to daily fasts ( unless indeed these less frequent yet longer fasts promote a greater degree of stem cell rejuvenation than daily short fasts). I am coming up with no data on this so far. Perhaps this is why Dean only practices the former rather than both?

 

Sthira - I'm not sure exactly re: your personal experience when you feel best, but why not, provided adequate overall nutrition, set a minimum BMI to maintain and fast as much as you enjoy / wish up to but not exceeding that point?

Edited by Mechanism

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Mechanism, my assumption, maybe erroneous, is that there is no literature on the rejuvenation effects of CR and IF on the hematopoietic system and on the induction of Mesenchymal Stem/Progenitor Cells. 

 

If there is and if the effects on mice are so evident as they are reported to be in the 'Longo's' study, then I stand corrected.

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Unfortunately I think you are right McCoy, so it is hard to say either way whether or not this is unique to 5 day fasts, hence the question of whether it is worth adding to daily fasts since it is unclear whether this is unique to it and not already covered by daily ( intermittent ) fasts.

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Self reporting here from the wilds of Cronometer, which I've been tracking daily now for more than a year. I hope my documentation is close to accurate, because if so then fasting consistently for the past > 1 year has put me around +/- 20% CR.

 

That is, added up over a one year period my average calories consumed is 1,510 against 2,040 burned (assuming my BMR is correct at 2,040, at six months I'm averaging 1,482 calories, at three months I'm averaging 1,574, at eight weeks it's 1,566, at four weeks 1,581, at three weeks 1,763, two weeks 1,775, and seven days 853 calories.

 

Fasting may provide CR and the alleged benefits of fasting, if those are true in people.

 

I'm doing less well in eating perfectly to provide my body with the optimal nutrition angle of this discipline. Over one year cumulative I'm only hitting 89% of daily RDA (typically short on B12, Niacin, Biotin, Choline, D, Potassium, Sodium, Cholesterol, and Protein (Methionine is 1.06/0.65 g., or 165%, my largest three sources of Methionine are tofu (I know), pumpkin seeds, and garbanzo beans. On the fat front, over a one year period omega3 is 3.4/1.6 (251%), top three sources of omega three are chia seeds, flaxseeds, and flax oil; Omega6 is 20.8/17g (122% -- top sources are tofu, walnuts, pumpkin seeds; and saturated fat is one year averaging 12.4/g per day (chief sources of sat fat r dark, organic, pure, wholesome Blessed By The Guru dark fucking chocolate, olive oil from Amphora, and pumpkin seeds). I eat a shit ton of pumpkin seeds hardyhaha -- gotta givem up sthira...

 

On macros, over one year cumulative I'm 44% carbs/ 41% fat/ 15% protein.

 

I'm weighing all food with a scale. I eat mostly vegan, supplement with B12, D, B complex, Biotin, NR, Resveratrol, Pterostilbene, OPCs, and Curcumin (all these are either Jarrow or Gaia products).

 

I'm considering running one round of 30mg dasatinib and 3,000mg quercetin to potentially clear building senescent cells. This potential self experiment may be met with two thumbs down here on this thread. I'm still debating this inside my head.

 

Back to food, I don't cheat, meaning I never eat out in restaurants or have consumed junk food for the past oh ten years or more, gosh I can't really even remember eating anything processed for a very long time...

 

Anyway, I fast a lot, as I've written here, and by doing such I didn't really think I was practicing proper chronic CR; but according to my cumulative reports from Cronometer, consistent fasting combined with refeeding has given me about 20% CR. Is this beneficial? WTF knows, eh?

Edited by Sthira

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Very interesting, thank you for sharing your regimen Sthira. I used to take Resveratrol myself until I started following the forum along with re-kindling my personal interest in health & wellness ... was discouraged by the data and abandoned this and do not CR ( lots of calories ) but do restrict my feeding window. Sounds like you have moderated over the years too. I have a ton of nuts/seeds myself. Would be neat to have a CR group potluck with contest ( or mere appreciation ) how " clean" we all eat. I Do eat out on weekends though - next time in NY I just discovered a paleo restaurant called "Hu" which I plan to check out next time I'm there. Incidentally, I'll be in Orlando Florida area for about a week in early March coming up and if anyone has any food recommendations while up there, I'd be interested to learn about it.

 

As for the thread here - I'm still deciding whether 5 day fast adds to the equation, taking in feedback / ideas here while study reading the literature to see what can be inferred...

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As for the thread here - I'm still deciding whether 5 day fast adds to the equation, taking in feedback / ideas here while study reading the literature to see what can be inferred...

Longo's work appears to be pointing a Los Angeles finger at that sharp-spiked cactus of mean science out in the desert mirage of yessi-ness. Until someone else comes along behind him (in the next generation) and says nope, fasting doesn't work, then, well, we have papers to reread.

 

You could decide for yourself by trying a five day fast and seeing what happens. With mindfulness and good health, there's little downside risk. My opinion is the only reason for FMD is because Longo knows no one will go for fasting extremes, and his non-profit is hopefully doing some good in the world.

 

If you've got the money or a civilized health plan, you could even try blood testing and see how things go. Maybe blood numbers say important things. You might not lose as much weight and muscle mass as you think during fasting. Lost weight for me seems mostly about "water weight" and it sloshes back. Refeeding is the trickiest part for me -- watery fruit and green smoothies seem easiest on my sleeping digestion, my hollowed stomach. The first day back from a five day fast is usually a bummer for me -- sadness sets in as that light feeling is replaced by more dense plant-churning again. But day two is usually super high energy, and I'm like whoa, strong practice, this is really good.

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