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Lucius

Calorie Restriction vs Protein Restriction vs Amino Acid Restriction

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Is there a consensus on this forum which of these three increases lifespan the most? I have read a bunch of studies on these topics and it seems that as time evolved, scientists went from believing that CR increases lifespan to believing that CR is unnecessary and that PR alone increases lifespan to now playing with the idea that only restriction of certain amino acids increases lifespan.

I'd like to get some practical advice from people who have researched this more than me on how I should optimize my diet. Is CR out of the question? Is PR necessary and how much should I restrict? Or should I restrict only certain AAs like methionine + BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine)? I'm vegan btw, so all of my protein comes from plant sources.

Edited by Lucius

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As there is no consensus among the scientists and we still have rather limited knowledge on the subject, I doubt anyone today can provide a definitive honest answer to a specific question such as this one.

 Probably all three play a role.  Your best bet is to eat plant-based whole foods, practice moderate CR, and maintain cardiovascular fitness and reasonable muscle mass.

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12 hours ago, Ron Put said:

Your best bet is to eat plant-based whole foods, practice moderate CR, and maintain cardiovascular fitness and reasonable muscle mass.

Is having BMI of 22-24 equivalent to practicing moderate CR?

Edited by Lucius

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4 hours ago, Lucius said:

Is having BMI of 22-24 equivalent to practicing moderate CR?

IT depends on your fat percentage, above all abdominal fat. Do you have an estimate of it (there are visualization tables which are useful for an approximate estimate, which is all we need).

Also, we cannot define protein restriction or AAs restriction if we don't know our specific individual needs. The probability distribution function of basic protein requirement is a lognormal distribution with significant variability, and requirements ranging from about 0.35 to 0.8 g/kg/d in the 90% of all individuals.

This is an issue to date without a solution unless you are so patient that you check regularly, for a given amount of protein and a given amount of exercise and a given amount of energy (calories) and a given ratio of macronutrients (above all carbs and fats) and basic typology of diet (vegan diet), your lean mass. You can do it by calipers plus circumference of biceps and thighs and abdomen, trying to keep fat constant and measuring if your muscle mass keeps constant. 

IF, for a given set of the above variables muscle mass keeps constant, then that's your basic requirement (zero nitrogen balance) and that's the optimum amount of protein, the amount which arguably will enhance your longevity. 

IF muscle mass decreases, then you are on a negative nitrogen balance and are eating less protein than required. 

IF muscle mass increases, the other way around.

The above assumes a normocaloric diet. If you want to practice CR, then you are very likely to loose muscle mass initially, and it is a decision of yours if that's desirable or not.

Many users in this forum do not mind at all about their muscle mass, whereas I do mind. Even if muscle functionality is preserved, I just hate to look emaciated and frail, for example.

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20 hours ago, Lucius said:

s CR out of the question? Is PR necessary and how much should I restrict? Or should I restrict only certain AAs like methionine + BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine)? I'm vegan btw, so all of my protein comes from plant sources.

My personal advice is that.

  • You practice a normocaloric diet, defined as the diet which allows you a 10% to 15% percentage of fat mass, given a level of exercise
  • You start from the WHO protein RDA of 0.8 g/kg d, then you may fiddle around as in the previous post if you have the patience
  • All AAs should never go below their respective RDAs (the RDAs in cronometer), but you can avoid that they go too much above, especially so leucine, methionine+ cysteine, tryptophan, arginine, the AAS ruling the mTOR activity. I think there isn't a RDA for arginine though.
  • You exercise moderately and regularly, both cardio and resistance exercise (free body or weightlifting).
  • You sleep regularly.
  • You avoid contaminants in environment and in foods
  • You practice stress management.
  • You check regularly your blood works and have all basic health checks, depending on your age.

Many of the above rules are the longevity strategies preached by authoritative gerontologists such as Valter Longo, Luigi Fontana and so on.

Edited by mccoy

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3 hours ago, mccoy said:

IT depends on your fat percentage, above all abdominal fat. Do you have an estimate of it (there are visualization tables which are useful for an approximate estimate, which is all we need).

I used this body fat calculator https://www.calculator.net/body-fat-calculator.html and got 10.3% then looked at some images of people with different body fat percentages on Google and 10.3% seems to be accurate.

3 hours ago, mccoy said:

If you want to practice CR, then you are very likely to loose muscle mass initially, and it is a decision of yours if that's desirable or not.

I've been practicing CR for the past 3 years without even intending to do so. I've been going through a stressful period in my life and started skipping meals which eventually led to a loss of appetite and me going from 70 kg (154 pounds) down to 60 kg (132 pounds). But now I would like to start lifting weights and put on some muscle to not look so skinny anymore 🙂 I'm assuming CR can be practiced even when one is trying to build muscle and eats a caloric surplus, as long as he stays within a healthy BMI and body fat range, is that correct?

3 hours ago, mccoy said:

My personal advice is that.

  • You start from the WHO protein RDA of 0.8 g/kg d, then you may fiddle around as in the previous post if you have the patience

Do you think that 0.8 g/kg of protein will be sufficient for building some decent amount of muscle? I care more about the longevity benefit of a low-protein diet than about building as much muscle as possible, so if 0.8 g/kg works decently enough and I will see progress on my body while still getting the longevity benefits, I will be happy.

Thanks for all the advice, I will download the Cronometer app, start tracking my AAs and try to keep my intake of the ones connected to the mTOR activity as close to 100% of RDA as possible.

Edited by Lucius

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2 hours ago, Lucius said:

I'm assuming CR can be practiced even when one is trying to build muscle and eats a caloric surplus, as long as he stays within a healthy BMI and body fat range, is that correct?

The opinions in this forum are differing, but, conceptually speaking, if bodyweight is the parameter which governs CR, as it should logically be, then exercise should be compensated by a higher caloric input, least bodyweight falls below the expected or desired threshold. Strict CR is not possible while building muscle, unless possibly if you start as an obese person.

2 hours ago, Lucius said:

Do you think that 0.8 g/kg of protein will be sufficient for building some decent amount of muscle? I care more about the longevity benefit of a low-protein diet than about building as much muscle as possible, so if 0.8 g/kg works decently enough and I will see progress on my body while still getting the longevity benefits, I will be happy.

Usually the RDA is not enough to build muscle, but that depends on people, on age and other factors. Pls also note that the protein RDA for a vegan diet tends to be 10-20% higher than in the omnivorous diet, so in your case it would be more like 1 g/kg/d. Besides, if you lift weights, that would increase up to 1.6 g/kg/d or more, depending on the intensity and volume of exercise.

What's your age by the way? A lot depends on that. If you want to increase lean muscle mass in a healthy way I would advise you to lift weights twice a week not more, follow a hypertrophy routine (not very large loads, but loads which allow at least 6-8 repetitions), increase calories and protein (soy products, seitan, vegan protein), do moderate cardio. mTOR must be activated to allow muscle protein synthesis, and exercise is the biggest signal in it, but you need the building blocks (protein) plus the signaling amminoacids I mentioned previously to trigger mTOR activity in muscle cells. A trick is to have a proteic meal within 3-4 hours of your workout to maximize the effect of protein (so eating less of them with the same effect).

After you gain some muscle mass, then you'll be able to cut calories and eat less protein, keeping muscle mass is far easier than growing it. 

Bottom line: building muscle does not rule out longevity, there is an optimization even in that. In his latest book Luigi Fontana advises resistance exercise and even suggests some hypertrophy routines. It is enough not to exceed like fanatic bodybuilders do.

 

Edited by mccoy

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Sorry for not responding earlier. Life got in the way, plus I wanted to do some more research on the topics I brought up here. I've read through a good portion of older posts on this forum, including all posts where protein restriction is mentioned. This is what I've picked up. CR is basically equivalent to avoiding obesity, so it's not necessary to severely restrict calories and keep oneself looking skinny. As long as I am not obese, I am practicing CR. With regards to PR (protein restriction), this study was often mentioned: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673798/ PMID: 18843793. Its obvious flaw is that it compares vegans on an RDA-level protein diet (0.76 g/kg per day) to (presumably?) omnivores on a high-protein diet (1.73 g/kg per day). I can't understand why are vegans being compared to omnivores, since it allows for two possible conclusions to be drawn about the IGF-1 levels. Either the IGF-1 levels are lower in the vegan, RDA-level protein group because they have been consuming lower amounts of protein. Or they are lower because they have been consuming protein exclusively from plant sources. That is a very important distinction for all vegans who would like to know whether they should restrict their protein intake or not. Are diets high in protein bad for longevity? Or just diets high in animal protein? I'm planning on starting weightlifting very soon to finally build some muscle, so I'm especially curious about these questions. If anyone on this forum knows about a study where they compare two vegan groups, one on a low to moderate-protein diet and one on a high-protein diet and measure their IGF-1 levels, please let me know, I'd love to read it.

 

On 9/27/2020 at 10:30 PM, mccoy said:

What's your age by the way? A lot depends on that.

I'm 22.

On 9/27/2020 at 10:30 PM, mccoy said:

If you want to increase lean muscle mass in a healthy way I would advise you to lift weights twice a week not more, follow a hypertrophy routine (not very large loads, but loads which allow at least 6-8 repetitions), increase calories and protein (soy products, seitan, vegan protein), do moderate cardio.

Interesting, I've always seen recommendations to lift weights 4-5 times a week. Why do you think lifting only twice a week is superior?

On 9/27/2020 at 10:30 PM, mccoy said:

A trick is to have a proteic meal within 3-4 hours of your workout to maximize the effect of protein (so eating less of them with the same effect).

I'm currently eating OMAD (one meal a day), so I'm planning to eat my only meal of the day right after I finish my workout (within 30 minutes). I've already done some research on working out in a fasted state, which I will be doing, and it seems that the sooner you eat your meal the better. One thing I'm still not sure about is whether I am going to be able to absorb all the protein if I will eat all of it in a single meal. Need to do some more research on that.

On 9/27/2020 at 10:30 PM, mccoy said:

In his latest book Luigi Fontana advises resistance exercise and even suggests some hypertrophy routines. It is enough not to exceed like fanatic bodybuilders do.

I'm planning to read his book very soon. I've recently read Valter Longo's The Longevity Diet which didn't impress me much, so hopefully Fontana's book will be better.

Edited by Lucius

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On 10/2/2020 at 2:28 AM, Lucius said:

orry for not responding earlier. Life got in the way, plus I wanted to do some more research on the topics I brought up here. I've read through a good portion of older posts on this forum, including all posts where protein restriction is mentioned. This is what I've picked up. CR is basically equivalent to avoiding obesity, so it's not necessary to severely restrict calories and keep oneself looking skinny. As long as I am not obese, I am practicing CR. With regards to PR (protein restriction), this study was often

Not precisely so, Calorie moderation means not to be overweight, whereas calorie restriction means to deliberately restrict the energy intake below the energy required to maintain a lean but not overly skinny structure. In a few words, to be calorically restricted a normoweight person should have a BMI not above 20, as an estimate.

Even in this forum of CR practitioners, opinions differ as to if strict CR is preferable to CM (calorie moderation).

As to protein restriction, as I wrote in a previous post, we can restrict, or moderate, or eat the minimum requirement, only if we know what our requirement is exactly. The RDA is not a minimum requirement, it's a cautious value which protects 97.5% of the population from a protein deficit. That is, most people, if they eat the RDA, will eat more than needed. The WHO study on nitrogen balance based on the RDA value has been criticized but it still constitutes the standard reference. The RDA does not include exercise though, only average activity, but even that is not very clear.

On 10/2/2020 at 2:28 AM, Lucius said:

Interesting, I've always seen recommendations to lift weights 4-5 times a week. Why do you think lifting only twice a week is superior?

For people above 50, once or twice is the optimum because it's recovery is slower. But even for young people your age, the optimum for hypertrophy is to hit the same muscle group once or twice a week. Of course you can train 4-5 times, but not optimally on a whole-body training scheme. If there is not enough rest or recovery, MPS (muscle protein synthesis) simply will not occur. The very worst you can do, due exceptions made and barring the use of androgens, is to train the same muscle groups every day.

 

On 10/2/2020 at 2:28 AM, Lucius said:

I'm currently eating OMAD (one meal a day), so I'm planning to eat my only meal of the day right after I finish my workout (within 30 minutes). I've already done some research on working out in a fasted state, which I will be doing, and it seems that the sooner you eat your meal the better. One thing I'm still not sure about is whether I am going to be able to absorb all the protein if I will eat all of it in a single meal. Need to do some more research on that.

True according to the reference article on that, by Brad Schonfeld, Mike Aragon and others. Probably you are going to absorb the protein, especially so if after a work out. I'm not a big fan of OMAD, but that is because It doesn't seem to be the optimum for my digestion.

 

On 10/2/2020 at 2:28 AM, Lucius said:

I'm planning to read his book very soon. I've recently read Valter Longo's The Longevity Diet which didn't impress me much, so hopefully Fontana's book will be better.

Longo's book is a pretty good one, conceptually speaking, even though I may understand you prefer more technical reasonings. I'm not a big fan of his longevity diet, but I'm a fan of his fast-mimicking diet.

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2 hours ago, mccoy said:

Not precisely so, Calorie moderation means not to be overweight, whereas calorie restriction means to deliberately restrict the energy intake below the energy required to maintain a lean but not overly skinny structure. In a few words, to be calorically restricted a normoweight person should have a BMI not above 20, as an estimate.

Even in this forum of CR practitioners, opinions differ as to if strict CR is preferable to CM (calorie moderation).

Fair enough. From what I've read here though, not many people believe anymore that CR works for life extension. And since this forum is called CR Society, that probably hints at something. I'd happily practice CR my whole life if the data on it was more solid and there was a good chance that I will get some 10-15 extra years. But because there's so much uncertainty and I want to take my quality of life into account as well, I'll pass up on CR for the time being until more convincing studies emerge. Quality of life is something I feel others seem to forget about. Is it worth it to practice severe CR your whole life for the benefit of life extension that is not guaranteed? Do they not think they would be happier if they didn't have to keep themselves looking skinny all the time? Plus the lower libido must definitely be a blow to one's ego (5-syllable rhyme not intended). I agree with Dean Pomerleau's approach of leading a healthy, obesity-avoiding (CM as you call it) lifestyle instead of practicing CR, mainly because I have not seen anyone provide sufficient evidence as to why CR should have a good chance of extending one's life.

2 hours ago, mccoy said:

Longo's book is a pretty good one, conceptually speaking, even though I may understand you prefer more technical reasonings. I'm not a big fan of his longevity diet, but I'm a fan of his fast-mimicking diet.

After reading his book, it seems pretty obvious that he developed FMD (fasting-mimicking diet) only because he wanted to make fasting more appealing to the masses. But FMD doesn't seem to provide any extra health benefits over a traditional water-only fast. And funnily enough, I would even argue that water-fasts are easier to do than FMD because on FMD, by eating low amounts of calories every single day, you are constantly triggering a feeling of hunger in your body. Whereas during a classical water-only fast, the hunger pangs stop after a few days.

Edited by Lucius

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9 hours ago, Lucius said:

From what I've read here though, not many people believe anymore that CR works for life extension. And since this forum is called CR Society, that probably hints at something.

 It's an open debate.  On one side are a small number of  serious calorie restriction (CR) practitioners who still believe in CR's life-extension potential  (eg.Michael Rae). On the other side are a larger number of  people who don't believe that serious CR is necessary or sufficient for L.E.  Instead,  they practice calorie moderation ,  along with their personal take on an optimal diet,  usually WFPB,  protein moderation,  and exercise, and possibly other things such as  cold exposure,  or gambling on some supplement regime  or drugs (eg. metformin, rapamycin) etc.

You are quite right, though,  to notice that the heyday of CR enthusiasm has passed.

Quote

it seems pretty obvious that [Longo] developed FMD (fasting-mimicking diet) only because he wanted to make fasting more appealing to the masses

In fairness it should be pointed out that  he wanted to develop a fasting protocol for cancer patients as an adjunct to chemotherapy (and potentially for other kinds of patients as well),  and he had to get around the incredible resistance to normal fasting from the medical establishment.  That was a motive as well for developing the FMD approach.

Fasting mimicking diet as an adjunct to neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer in the multicentre randomized phase 2 DIRECT trial (June 2020)

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Introduction

Extensive preclinical evidence suggests that short-term fasting and fasting mimicking diets (FMDs) can protect healthy cells against the perils of a wide variety of stressors, including chemotherapy, simultaneously rendering cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and other therapies15.

Essentially, fasting causes a switch in healthy cells from a proliferative state towards a maintenance and repair state. Malignant cells, in contrast, seem to be unable to enter this protective state because of oncoprotein activity, and therefore fail to adapt to nutrient scarce conditions. Instead, fasting deprives proliferating cancer cells of nutrients, growth and other factors, which renders them more sensitive to cancer therapy and increases cell death1,3.

The phenomenon by which normal but not cancer cells become protected to toxins is termed differential stress resistance (DSR)2,3 whereas the specific sensitization of cancer cells to stress is called Differential Stress Sensitization (DSS)1,6.

Declines of plasma levels of insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), insulin and glucose are among the mediators of the effects of fasting on cancer cells, as these factors can promote growth and prevent apoptosis14,6,7. Fasting periods of at least 48 h are required to induce a robust decrease in circulating glucose, IGF-1 and insulin levels6,8.

A very low calorie, low protein FMD was developed for its ability to cause metabolic effects on various starvation response markers similar to those caused by water-only fasting, while reducing the burden associated with a water only fast9,10.

Small clinical studies showed that fasting as an adjunct to chemotherapy is safe and well tolerated, while it may reduce its toxicity1114. This multicentre, open label, randomized DIRECT study was designed to evaluate the impact of an FMD on toxicity as well as on the radiological and pathological response to chemotherapy for breast cancer.

 

 

9 hours ago, Lucius said:

..funnily enough, I would even argue that water-fasts are easier to do than FMD because on FMD, by eating low amounts of calories every single day, you are constantly triggering a feeling of hunger in your body.

I pretty much agree with that. Personally, I'm not a fan of the FMD approach;  I prefer the real thing.   Not only does eating constantly potentially trigger hunger, while never giving your digestive system a complete break,  it tends to get you constantly thinking about food,  when are you going to eat next,  what are you going to eat,  how many calories,  what macronutrient ratio,  etc., all of which negates one  of the key "spiritual" aspects of fasting-- going into an altered mental state where the mundane focus on food, and the social rituals around it,  is completely put aside for  some time.    

Of course, a traditional water-only fast (or a minimal diluted-vegetable juice fast)  could be  problematic  for anyone suffering from serious orthorexia. 😈

Edited by Sibiriak

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Re. water fast versus limited fast or mimicked fast:

  • Not everyone has the same response to water fasts. Some people here were endangered by sudden fainting. The only time I tried it I found it very stressful. My target was 7 days water only, I had to limit it to 5 days because I could not study for a university exam. Whereas for some (orthorexic) people that is pretty easy.
  • Longo's FMD is a result of an optimization based on various parameters. Nobody knows presently what's the best fast formula for longevity (pls consult Peter Attia's experiments on 7 days fasting and his nothingburger). In my personal case, Longo's optimization seems to be successful.
  • Not everyone has hunger triggered by eating a calories-poor diet. Especially so after the first two days, when ketosis kicks into. Also, the constant concern about food can be avoided by planning in advance. Right now I developed a personally satisfactory plan, I'll follow that almost invariably, the mind knows that's it and stays put.
  • I agree about the spiritual dimension of fasting but that does not work for everyone. I started fasting when I was 15 but I always found it pretty tiring and the mind was just blunted by it, barring one particular instance.
  • I agree that, in case of digestive problems, total fast, water only, nothing else, is the best.
  • Bottom line: for those who can easily fast on only water for 5 or more days, that's probably the best (durations longer than 10 days may not be advisable at all). For those who do nto stand total fast very well unless there is some particular reason to torture oneself or some atonement is wished, Longo provided a loophole that seems to be pretty effective. 

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Of course,  it's not a binary choice of water only fast OR Longo-style FMD .  There's a range of possible caloric intake between zero and 700 cal.   

I've done longer fasts, but currently I'm doing a series of 4-day fasts with small amounts of diluted green drinks (very low calorie/sugar,  almost none recently), mineral water and some micronutrient etc. supplements with 4 weeks re-feeding between them.  That's in addition to my two fasts a day (8/16),   not strictly observed.

But yes, you are absolutely right,  it comes down to individual physiology and  psychology.   Let a thousand fastings bloom!

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Some people here were endangered by sudden fainting.

Some electrolyte intake (inc. sodium) is often advisable.

Quote

The only time I tried it I found it very stressful.

I've found that I've adapted after multiple fasts,  rather like adaptations to strenuous exercise,  demanding sport, cold exposure etc;  for example, more rapid and easy "metabolic switching".  It took  more than a couple of fasts,  though.   But what really demanding activity,  physiologically and psychologically,   is an easy experience easily mastered on the first or second try?  

The principle of progressive adaptation may  suggest beginning with a shorter fast,  say two or three days,  and then gradually progressing to fasts of five days  or more, the speed of  progression depending on the individual, of course.

For me, that progression wasn't easy, but what started out as very stressful, requiring  serious determination and perseverance-- something I dreaded doing--has now become second nature,  almost stress-free.  I feel I conquered the  resistance, adapted over time, and learned a very useful skill.

Again, as you wisely stated, it's a very individual thing,  we all have to find our own paths.  Yours appears to be working great for you.

Edited by Sibiriak

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