There’s a lot to longevity, particularly when it comes to nutrition. In this article, we’ll nail down some core time and meal based diets, as well as some specifics on each, in order to help you optimize your healthspan.
To start off, we’ll talk about intermittent fasting. Chances are, on your quest for greater lifespan, you’ve stumbled upon “intermittent fasting” quite a few times. In terms of popularity, there are two main intermittent fasting schedules: 16/8 and 5/2. 16/8 is based on a daily schedule (fast for 16 hours, eat for 8) whereas 5/2 is based on a weekly schedule (fast for 2 days, eat for 5). I’ve tried both these schedules pretty extensively, but for the sake of this post I’ll be focusing primarily on the 5/2 schedule.
So, what are the pros and cons of fasting? Well, let’s go over some:
Well, this should be a duh! We are a longevity app, after all :)
Long-term consistent intermittent fasting schedules are shown to statistically increase lifespan. So if one of your goals is related to longevity, then fasting is a pretty good practice to try and start.
On the other hand, fasting has also been shown to help burn fat. This is less statistically significant than the longevity point, but for some people it can have really good effects. We recommend tying it up with regular cardio exercise and BCAA supplementation for maximum fat burn potential.
There are some more practical benefits to fasting as well. When I was a busy college student, I rarely had time for lunch in between my classes. Having a fasting schedule added some structure to all that, and made me less hungry overall when noontime came around.
While you’ll become less hungry as you continue the fasting regime, that doesn’t change the fact that when you first start out, you’ll be hungry… a lot. This also depends on how much you typically eat -- those who eat a lot either regularly or irregularly will begin to feel a lot more hungry than they’re used to. A big part of fasting, at the beginning of it, is discipline. This is why.
This is another thing that gets better in the long term but serves as something you’ll have to deal with in the short term. With your body not used to the lack of food you’re eating, its energy levels will begin to go down -- you’ll begin getting tired more easily, and have less motivation to do things. Because of this, it's not recommended to start an IF regime if you’re about to go through something that’s going to be taxing energy-wise, such as a basketball tournament or final exams.
This con isn’t directly related to the body, but it can be seen as a con nonetheless. After going through on an IF regime, expect a lot of rescheduling and missed events with friends or otherwise. This is primarily because that dinner date you had planned for Thursday is now not going to work out. Getting everyone else to work to your own schedule is always a bit of a bummer, so this is definitely something you’ll want to keep in mind.
Alright, so that explains everything for fasting. But what food should you pair it up with? Well, you have three main choices:
When it comes to developing your physical longevity, you're going to see a lot of different diets peddled towards you. Unfortunately, a lot of these diets fail to pass the snuff test in long-term research. That being said, there is one notable exception to this; that is the Mediterranean diet, a diet developed in the United States back in the 1980s to reflect the healthy nature of many Mediterranean villages in comparison to modern cities. You can learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.
Plant-rich diets lower risk of premature death. There's many reasons this could be true, but it's likely tied to the lack of processing essential molecules go through within plants as opposed to herbivores (or worse, carnivores).
There isn’t any specific diet that handles plant-based foods. Instead, try some experiments with increasing our vegetable intake; this includes "eating across the rainbow", which is seen as a good indicator of increasing the nutrient diversity for our diet. If you don’t want to go deep into a vegan diet at the start, you can try starting with other diets that are plant heavy -- such as the Mediterranean diet!
The Longevity Diet was created by Valter Longo, a professor at the University of Southern California. In 2018, a book was published detailing the specifics of the diet to the public, and the book has caught on since.
Reading a brief summary of the diet on Valter Longo’s page, we can say that the diet does in fact check out -- though it's perhaps more specific and detailed than would be helpful for a beginner diet. Because of this, we recommend The Longevity Diet as a more advanced routine for someone who wants to take their already existing diet regime to the next level.
Interested in building a longevity diet habit? Find out how Shanah can help!