- Eating more carbs, less protein, and fasting can extend lifespan, a new article suggests.
- Co-author Valter Longo is a longevity expert who designs diets for celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow.
- There is evidence that plant-based carbs are healthy. Fasting has mixed evidence and side effects.
If you want to live as long as possible, you may want to reduce your protein intake, eat more carbs and fast regularly, sometimes for days in a row, suggests an article published April 28 in the journal Cell.
According to the researchers, Dr. Valter Longo, a professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and Rozalyn M. Anderson, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Longo is also the founder of a company that sells meal kits and “fasting-mimicking” diet plans designed to provide the benefits of fasting by drastically restricting calories but allowing you to eat small portions of specific foods. Celebrities who are fans of Longo and his diets include Gwyneth Paltrow.
Although fasting and other diets are often linked to
Longo argues that they’re also important for long-term health.
“The Longevity Diet is not a dietary restriction intended to cause weight loss alone, but a lifestyle focused on slowing aging,” he said in a press release.
The Longevity Diet is high in carbs, low in protein and mostly plant-based
To promote a longer lifespan, an optimal diet relies primarily on plant-based carbohydrates like legumes, whole grains and vegetables, with about 30% of daily calories coming from healthy fats like nuts, oil olive and dark chocolate and fish, according to the researchers.
They also advise avoiding red meat and processed meat, as well as refined grains and added sugars, and consuming a minimum of white meats such as poultry. Recent evidence suggests that replacing processed foods and meat with more whole foods and plants could add up to 10 years to your life.
The recommendations are also similar to traditional diets in the so-called “blue zones”, regions of the world where people live the longest and healthiest lives, according to some research.
Researchers also suggest that limiting protein intake could help prolong your life. There is evidence that consuming lots of protein and amino acids can speed up biological processes, like the production of certain hormones, which can speed up aging, based on human and animal studies.
Researchers also recommend intermittent and multi-day fasting
The article also suggests that when you eat, not just what you eat, can make a difference to lifespan. To optimize health, researchers recommend eating for 11 to 12 hours each day and fasting for the remaining 12 hours.
Known as intermittent fasting, the limited eating window has been widely studied for weight loss and health benefits, although research has been mixed.
According to the researchers, periodically fasting for several days at a time or following a diet that mimics fasting could also be beneficial.
They recommend a five-day fasting cycle once every three to four months, based on evidence from human and animal models suggesting that prolonged fasting may reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar control to contribute to a longer, healthier life.
Some experts say the side effects of low protein and fasting aren’t worth the potential benefits.
Not everyone agrees that fasting and skimping on protein is a good idea.
Fasting, especially for multiple days, can have side effects such as muscle loss, lethargy and hunger, nutritionist Robb Wolf previously told Insider.
In contrast, staying physically active and eating mostly whole foods in moderation is a safe and well-researched way to improve your health and your life through food, he said.
“There are some things that maybe work as well or better than calorie restriction, and I would say they’re much worse,” Wolf said.