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Diet that mimics fasting appears to slow aging (usc.edu)
301 points by jhartmann on June 18, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 291 comments



The authors disclosed they have equity in a company called L-Nutra, which intends to sell diet food packs:

http://www.l-nutra.com/index.php/products/prolon

Nothing for sale yet, but hopefully the price will be competitive with do-it-yourselfers. I am cautiously optimistic about this direction.


An easy way to fast frequently is to just skip breakfast everyday. Then you automatically get a 16+ hour fast and keep your eating to a short window during the day. This helps kick in autophagy [1], a process whereby our cells repair themselves; a garbage collector for our body if you will. This is most likely the process the scientists are observing as slowed down aging. It's not really a foreign topic as there's 397 published papers on autophagy on PubMed. No fancy hyphenated diet products needed.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autophagy


I used to think this but then I read a few studies showing larger breakfast breaking the overnight fast result in better blood sugar/insulin/body fat scores.

In comparison to intermittent fasting, chronic fasting/starvation everyday like you're doing is probably not good for your body. It responds by keeping more bodyfat to last you through your 16 hr window, giving you a belly and raising your insulin when you start eating.

It seems the best balance for insulin/optimum bmi is a large breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/08August/Pages/Is-breakfast-the-...


Agree! There's also a BBC documentary on intermittent fasting. The idea is to eat just normally 5 days a week, and then two days a week you eat 500 calories if you are a woman, or 600 calories, if you are a man - pretty optimal routine for modern lifestyle :)


I've been doing this for quite a while and it works great for me. It's 1:30PM here and all I've had so far:

1. a cup of milked tea in the morning

2. a chicken salad for lunch

My dinner will be slightly heavier (usually low carb) and will be before 8:00pm. Throw in 2 more cups of tea and that's my day.

It took me a very gradual tapering off of caloric intake lasting over a year to get to a point where I can do this without actually feeling hungry. My body weight is constant (so I know I'm not at a deficit) and I take vitamin supplements (to cover the proportional loss of micro-nutrient due to cutting down on food).

Once a week I have a pig-out day when I usually drink a lot of beer and eat steak, pork chops or something along those lines.


Vitamin supplements are generally in a form that is more difficult to absorb; for long-term health, I'd consider including foods with high vitamin content.


Exactly. I've been using Ambronite instead of Soylent to get my vitamins as well as calories from real food ingredients but in a liquid form.


That's exactly what I've been doing for more than a year, including the pig-out day! I lost more than 15 kg 10 months and now my BMI is constant too. I don't need vitamin supplements though and i drink more coffee than tea :)


I have skipped breakfast for the last 10 years of my life (not anymore though), and I would hardly call it fasting. I tend to just compensate it later with lunch and dinner. In fact it's less healthy according to the "many small meals instead of a few big ones" theory.


Me too! I used to burn like a factory. Big meals including breakfast, snacks all day, weighed 140 lbs. Then I started gaining, so I cut out snacks until after lunch. Then until after 2:30. Then altogether. Then I cut out breakfast. Nowadays I sometimes skip dinner too.

Ultimately I expect to be eating a slice of bread at 1:00 and exist on oxygen otherwise.


Most of this and related studies seem to tie back to insulin one way or the other (the article mentioned IGF1, many of the autophagy studies mention the process only happening with low insulin levels eg http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(10)0...). It would stand to reason managing meal glygemic index would be important (naturally fasting lowers insulin, presumably so would low glygemic index diets)


Oh cool, I love your hypothesis. Based on science, easy to implement. I definetly have to test this.


There's lots of studies behind intermittent fasting and there definitely seems to be an effect. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermittent_fasting


In the case cancer, I heard the reason it's good is that the cancer cells die off faster than the normal ones do, when they're not being fed.


So, I tend to skip dinner as it lets me sleep through the parts where I'm hungry :p

My real question is why would breakfast be optimal? Dinner for me would typically be a bigger meal and at a time when I'm most inactive (and will be for another 10-12 hours)


Skipping dinner would work too. I don't know which is more optimal. Skipping breakfast just works better for me.


Ah, this gets me extremely suspicious until there's independent verification.


You are probably talking specifically about the four day diet cycle referenced in this article, but I want to point out that there are already many, many studies supporting the link between calorie restriction and slow aging -- this literature review has links to many peer-reviewed papers: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/361


If it can't be independently verified, it can't be called science, no matter how promising the study is when they run it.


Inversely, if it can be independently verified, it can be called science, no matter how suspect they are.


Exactly so.


Why do you think it can't be independently verified? There is a link elsewhere in this thread to the related patent application which I would think contains enough info to verify.


Well, to be fair, I have no idea. I saw some reference here in the comments that there was not enough data for someone to replicate it. I saw some other reference here in the comments that they are going to sell diet packs and have a commercial interest. That's not really enough to draw a conclusion, is it?

Thing is, it isn't my intent to draw a conclusion. Merely to say that if they do not make it reproducible and testable by another team, then all the studies and data in the world do not qualify as science.


it is going to be very hard to be price-competitive with "not eating"


Perhaps. I remember when bottled water became a big thing. I thought "What the? This is stupid, choice between free at the tap or buying a bottle of water? This will never work."


If you have kids check out The Lorax movie where the two marketing dudes are pitching the ad for bottled air.


just sell the test kits for all the supposed markers of longevity.


I'd love to see this study replicated, only instead of "proprietary (expensive?) product", it was just 40% of your daily caloric intake.... in soylent.

There's been multiple studies I've seen now indicating that fasting does this, the questions I want to know are:

1. How much of a caloric intake drop is required?

2. How much does it matter what specific types of calories are used for the lower-calorie period? (ie, 500 cals of fast-food vs. soylent vs. prolon vs. ensure)

3. Is there any tell-tale sign we can test for indicating when a sufficient 'period' has occurred for the benefits, thus knowing we can resume normal diet?

I can only imagine if these scientists are associated with a specific product, they probably don't have a huge reason to find out if a cheap existing product (soylent/ensure) works just as well as their most-likely-more-expensive-proprietary one. But it's the first thing I want to know.


I'd love to see this study replicated, only instead of "proprietary (expensive?) product", it was just 40% of your daily caloric intake.... in soylent.

Why? Soylent's just another proprietary product.


Soylent open-sourced their recipe afaik, that was part of the whole appeal for many, they could replicate the entire formula and tweak as desired. There's other food-replacements as well, like ensure, which I cited.

Edit: Soylent has an entire forum of various varients of their recipe: https://diy.soylent.com/recipes


You can also automatically generate recipes using auto-soylent: https://github.com/nick/auto-soylent The nutrient profile can be taken from the patent.


There was a 10 year study that concluded this year that vitamins pills don't help with cancer and heart disease. The quality of delivery of vitamins to the body is important and based on this study, I don't think soylent is a good long term solution for overall health - unless you eat it with fruit and vegetables.


As to what it is: "Prolon™1 and 2 are proprietary, solely plant-based products, comprised of vegetable medleys, broths, energy drinks, teas, and nutrition bars." So, it's a limited, plant-based diet you follow at intervals. I wonder if adopting a full-time plant-based diet would have similar effects, but without the caloric restriction.


"V.D.L. and T.E.M. have equity interest in L-Nutra, a company that develops medical food. 100% of the L-Nutra equity belonging to V.D.L. will be donated to non-profit organizations. Neither author had any role in data analysis."

from the paper.

VDL is the PI though.


That page has an exceedingly high ratio of TM superscript.


That's interesting. Thanks for sharing.


I currently intermittent fast by skipping breakfast + lunch, partially because I'm lazy, partially because it allows me to easily eat 'all my calories' in the end of the day. I really like this as it provides a 'buffer' for unexpected food, such as random cake, or random lunches with colleagues etc.

Has anyone here actually ever TRIED fasting a full 24h day? I have. I HATED it. Well, the fasting itself wasn't that bad, however, the next day my body went FULL berserk mode and I literally couldn't stop myself from eating. It was really weird and I never had such strong biological urges. That's when I decided I'd just stick to fasting until 5 pm when I eat diner.


Yes. My religion teaches it (along with some other healthy things). It was actually reiterated very recently (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/is-not-this-t...). The emphasis is much less on the health benefits but they are none-the-less talked about from time to time.

I think part of it that doing it a couple of times help reduce the extreme biological need. Also, when did you finish your fast? Dinner (5pm - 5pm) seems to be a good way to do it. Break it by drinking a lot of water to start.

Edit: I also find myself eating (snacking) less the next couple of days because I'm used to holding back.


Be careful not to assume that all of a group's practices are healthy just because one practice happens to be healthy. Also be careful not to assume that such a practice being healthy means that all of the group's claims are valid.

As a meta note, in general, it's probably bad form to bring up religion on HN in unrelated threads, especially in a subtly proselytizing way.


GP response to a direct question doesn't seem unreasonable, especially given the prominence of fasting in many religious traditions (judeo-christian-islam, hindu/buddhist, ...)

http://drjohnday.com/do-mormons-live-longer/ includes additional description and links to a UCLA study of "other healthy things" associated with LDS longevity (includes no tobacco, marriage, church attendance, physical activity, moderate BMI, etc.).


Look, I'm an atheist, and I think religion is mostly a bad thing for humanity. But you are off-base here. The parent was in no way proselytizing. It was apropos to the current discussion. Are you so sensitive that you can't handle someone mentioning that they have a religion?


Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the culture of the particular religion mentioned. Every member is expected to proselytize at every oppprtunity. They are told by their leaders to "plant seeds" everywhere, and to use social media to spread their gospel. Every mention has an ulterior motive. Trust me, I used to do exactly the same things.

It's a particularly insidious strategy because anyone who catches on and speaks out will be accused of being overly sensitive.


You are right that we have a culture of missionary work. And my post probably does double as subtle proselytizing (Props on using the right word - Mormons have come up with some not quite word).

On the other hand, my comment seemed completely appropriate. My other comments hacker news make no mention of, although in them you can see I have principles and I do quote religious leaders once in a while (twice besides this I think), generally unattributed, and paraphrased/adjusted for clarity. I'll leave it to you to decide whether I'm here to preach or not.


I am very familiar with the "particular religion mentioned" the Latter Day Saints aka Mormons.

The OP was obviously just bringing up an anecdote from his/her own life and in a very harmless way. Your comment was rude and your meta note is off base. Bringing up religion on HN is fine if done in a sane and approachable way. I've done this multiple times in an attempt to learn and to offer my opinions. I feel it has been beneficial for both myself and others here in the community and I've never received negative feedback from anyone like what you've posted.

I feel as if you've done a disservice in misrepresenting the respectful nature of our community regarding religion in most cases. If the op is trying to use his account to convert people on HN it's pretty obvious from his past comments that he's not doing it enough.

I've seen polls on here about religion, articles about religion, and other comments about religion. It's part of our history as a species and shouldn't be ignored, even if you feel that further practice of any religion is detrimental to society. Writing anything out of history tends to be bad practice.

Side note: I'm not Mormon but I was raised as one.


I think that a lot of dietary traditions can be rooted in some level of observational benefit... for instance pigs are one of the few animals that can cross-carry viruses between humans and other species, and a lot of mutation happens in them. Not that all things are necessarily proven out, but a lot of them are.

Though, I do think there are also a lot of logical fallacies propagated as "faith". Just the same, I don't think it's worse than what a lot of commercial industries, or interest groups propagate. Look how long it's taking to get past the "fat == bad, lowfat == good" mindset that really took hold in the 80's.


No doubt good and bad ideas can be found in all places, and some portion of religious and cultural superstitions may be emergent (or deliberate) results of real phenomena (e.g. avoiding pork because the last guy you saw eat pork got sick).

Fortunately we now have science, which basically amounts to a hill climbing algorithm for identifying valid and rejecting invalid ideas over time. I'll note that I was once extremely active in the same community mentioned in the comment to which I replied, so I do have experience on both sides of the aisle.


I really like your statement that science is a hill climbing algorithm (with the ability to get away from local maximums). I think it's important to note that science isn't always right, but if it's not there currently, it's working on it and will get there.


Yes. For the last year, I've been eating 1-2 meals a day in a 2PM-8PM window, which is something I started doing after accidentally fasting 24+ hours a couple times and realizing that it wasn't that big a deal. I can get a full 24 hour fast simply by holding off until 8PM for dinner, which I do sometimes too.

I definitely don't get berzerk-mode hungry after 24 hours.


Did it have any impact on your ability to do a good days work? Were you more focused? I wouldn't mind fasting if it makes me more focused and productive.


I dunno about parent, but I find skipping lunch and maybe just having a very small snack does tons for my productivity.. The swing in blood sugar after lunch makes a noticeable dent in my work output quality and volume. It also usually means I am hungry by 5pm giving me even more incentive to stop working "on time" and be available for my family. Then on top of that, I am not eating so late that my sleep quality is poor.


Meh, I mean, apart from never being distracted by wanting a snack anymore.


I recently did a 3-day fast. It wasn't too bad. I fact I thought I would be ravenously hungry at the end of the 72 hours but I just ate a normal meal and it was fine.

I can't say I felt any better after the fast. I had lost a few pounds but nothing else noticable.

One problem that people might have with fasting and then wanting to binge is that the starchy, sugary diet that the USDA and FDA have been promoting as "healthy" for the last four decades is actually the opposite. The food pyramid is pretty much upside-down. If your diet is mostly simple carbohydrates, they metabolize quickly and leave you hungry for more.

If you eat a diet richer in fats and proteins and leafy vegetables your appetite is slaked for a much longer time.

The idea that intermittent fasting is healthy makes sense to me. Prior to the last few hundred years, certainly prior to the last few thousand years, our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably routinely went without food for a few days at a time. Our metabolism would have evolved to operate optimally with that.


If stupid food scientists would make stupid kale taste as good as yummy chocolate cake I would eat more of it.

Seriously though, despite the obvious health benefits, sometimes I can't get the good stuff to be nearly as satisfying as the bad stuff. I wish sugar wasn't so damn addictive.

Food is the issue I'm most embarrassed about. I'm not obese, but I'm not svelte either. Self-control is easy right up until the second it isn't, and everything else in this world seems easy to control against my daily fight with food.


Recognize it for the drug it is, and keep it out of the house. A steak and big salad slathered in olive oil can be even more satifying.

Give your self some fun and walk for an ice cream on the weekend, or pasta, whatever. But think of it as the same as going out for a beer, because thats what it is.

As you can see, swilling down alcohol three times a day is not a recipe for good health. Theres a great video where a doc explains that fructose has most of the same negative side effects as alcohol, just without the buzz.

Maybe we need to start up a Carboholics anonymous?


Yes, sign me and my wife up for that one, unfortunatelly...


They can't make kale taste as good as chocolate cake without lacing it with drugs for a very good reason: A large part of our response to foods like chocolate cake has nothing to do with the actual taste, but with how the affect your brain chemistry.

A typical extreme example of this is if you drink a glass of coke when you're full vs. when you have low blood sugar. The subjective taste experience is drastically different.

It'd be amazing if we could make foods that were better for us trigger the same responses, but that will almost certainly either require making us take drugs, or lace those foods with drugs.


Agreed... I downright get cravings for pasta and bread... though the really sweet stuff (candy), not nearly as much after a while without.


I've been fasting one day a week (24h and recently closer to 36h) for a little over a year now. The first few times were hard to get through, and at first I experienced the next-day binge you describe. The worst part was having trouble sleeping through the second night of a longer fast.

After a few repetitions I got used to it. I don't feel like stuffing myself the next day. The hunger during fasting is still there, but it's much easier to deal with now. And sleeping during a longer fast is starting to feel easier now that I do that more consistently.

So you might want to try again once or twice and let your body adjust. Or not—ultimately you have to find something that works for you.


Weirdly, after 24 hours, I am the opposite of ready to binge-eat. I feel hungry, but I'm also very quickly satiated.

The revelation for me was after my second accidental 24hr fast, before doing anything deliberate with my eating schedule. I had skipped lunch the previous day, and then household drama prevented me from eating dinner. The next day, we had a team dinner set up at Publican in Chicago, which is hugely a metric fuckload of calories, and so I skipped lunch that day as well.

I was pretty hungry when we got to the restaurant but found myself too full to eat pretty quickly, much more quickly than when I'd been eating on a more "normal" schedule.

I also find that on an IF-y schedule, I'm a little hungry at 2PM; I eat a couple eggs, and then I am basically never hungry at any other time. I still eat dinner, but mostly because we cook for the family.

A fringe benefit of this lightweight pseudo-fasting schedule is that it's very easy to control macronutrients. I haven't eaten in 18 hours, so I'm eating because I legitimately should be eating, and so almost anything works for me; I don't find it at all difficult to opt for proteins and fats over carbs, which is challenging on the "normal" schedule.

Basically: the "normal" eating schedule is, in my case, just dumb.


One year is a quite long period; do you see some noticable changes since you started to fast: wieght loss, more/less active, etc?


  > Has anyone here actually ever TRIED fasting a full 24h day?
I've been IF throughout the past 8 months. It's by far the best way of losing weight I've found (10kg in 8 months). I'm planning on doing more fasting this month to lose another 2-3kg which will get me to my goal weight.

The longest stretch for me has been 5 days.

It's hard for me to describe how I go longish periods(some go for a month+), but essentially it is a 100% mental effort. I visualise my hunger as a switch which I turn off. When the switch is off I am immune to hunger. It sounds ridiculous but this kind of visual imagery works for me.

I've tried going into a fast without first spending about half a day "tuning" my brain via visualisation and it was a disaster, just as you describe.

For me fasting has by far been the best (easiest, most effective) way of losing weight. Before this I spent about 3 months cardio training with only minimal dietary intervention which resulted in huge muscle tone in my legs (had a work colleague once remark : "dude! your calves are fricking huge!") and no noticeable abdominal fat loss.

Throughout my fasting I've also been weight training. The results at the 3 month mark are unbelievably cool :)


> For me fasting has by far been the best (easiest, most effective) way of losing weight. Before this I spent about 3 months cardio training with only minimal dietary intervention which resulted in huge muscle tone in my legs (had a work colleague once remark : "dude! your calves are fricking huge!") and no noticeable abdominal fat loss.

Pedantry: muscle tone doesn't mean what you think it means. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_tone)


cool, thanks for the fyi :)


By losing weight you mean losing fat or mostly muscles? I know that if are already in good shape then you mostly lose muscles not fat first.


From experience bulking and cutting during 10+ years of power lifting, it's fairly hard to lose muscle during short term low calorie diets. It will appear as if you lose muscle as you will flush fluids out of your muscles very early on, and unless you're very lean to start with it's not obvious that this isn't muscle loss.

You will also often appear to be weaker - e.g. I don't hit my 1 rep max when I'm not on a protein heavy diet with a calorie surplus. If I ate badly the day before exercise, I simply do not manage to push myself to my limits. There's no way I've then lost muscle to cause that (if I had, I wouldn't be back to normal next workout with a stricter diet). When I'm cutting that effect is much stronger.

Couple fluid loss and feeling weaker, and it's natural that people assume they've lost lots of muscle, but it takes quite a while or quite extreme deficits before you actually lose enough to notice.

(Even then, training back up again is much easier than the first time)


I don't this this is correct. I've read a few articles on this (trying to restrict my reading to published studies as far as possible) and it goes roughly (from memory) glucose/sugars first, then fat, then muscle. You may begin to lose some muscle before you lose all of your fat, but this takes a 'while' ... the studies were never clear on how long it takes for this to happen.


The majority of the weight loss has been fat. I've put on a considerable amount of muscle since Christmas 2014 and the scales show me at 10kg lighter.


You are hurting your metabolism. Try reading "The Great Starvation Experiment".


Fasting is not the same thing as a chronic low calorie diet.

Even if there were no health benefits from fasting, worrying about eating every two to four hours must be mentally exhausting.


Can't even get a good nights sleep that way!


> hurting your metabolism

What do you mean by this? Do you mean I'm affecting the long term ability for my body to extract energy from food? I very much doubt that a few days of fasting would have any such long term effects. Quite the opposite in fact. Fasting has been clinically shown to have many positive side effects.

The book you refer to seems to be about intentionally inducing a prolonged state of starvation which would undoubtedly be bad.


It helps if you're already in ketosis (on a ketogenic diet), so you don't pay physical switching costs (day 2 and 3 are hardest). I can drop meals or whole days without much body-grumbling, as is the common experience.

And you must feed electrolytes like you mean it. 5g sodium, 3g potassium, mag+calcium if you need it, attenuate for size.


Do you have any references for the electrolyte requirements? I just add a small amount of salt to the water I was drinking during a fast, but never had any idea how much I should or whether I should ...


Yup, I have. I've fasted for almost 2 full days and felt fine. When I finished my fast I had some water and small snacks and then later had a larger meal—my throat is usually a bit dry and it can hurt jumping into a big meal. I find when I fast that my mind is more alert and I'm more efficient too.

I've grown up as a Mormon though so since I was a teenager I had usually fasted at least once a month for two meals so maybe I'm more used to it than most people would be. Also, I'm naturally quite thin so that probably has something to do with it too.


I've been doing 5:2 style diet since March. I absolutely love it. Going through the day not eating is relatively easy for me, and for the rest of the week I don't have to care what, when or how much I eat. So far I lost about 5kg.


+1 for 5:2, been on it all this year. Feels good to assert some discipline around eating, toughens up body and mind. Plus I'm now 6 months older than I was to start with, which proves that it extends life, right?


What 5:2 stands for: 2 days of fasting per week? If so, what days do you fast at?


You can pick any 2 non-consecutive days, and they aren't actually full fast days. You just limit to 500-600 calories on those days.

http://thefastdiet.co.uk/how-many-calories-on-a-non-fast-day...


5:2 fits my lifestyle perfectly )


You've got to get past about 36 hours before your body / brain stop acting so "berserk." After that, you stop being hungry and you can look at food with relative equanimity.


Oh, God. Where did this meme come from? I have fasted for 5 days and never wasn't hungry. The hunger severity comes and goes, just like anything but I was still hungry!!!

I fast pretty regularly for a day here and there. Used to do it every 4 days but fell off the bandwagon. Have done plenty of 2 day fasts too.

This is one of the silliest things said about fasting - and that is saying a lot.

Never had all this energy either.


Perhaps it has different impacts on different people?


I'm sure it is but this meme has taken a life of its own as the only true experience.


I agree. Earlier this year I fasted for 23 days (consuming only water) and the hunger and desire to eat went away after the third or forth day. The need to eat was replaced by a burst of energy that lasted for the remainder of the fast and several weeks after.


Did you find that you got light-headed when you stood up too fast after 14 or so days? I fasted for 25 days (water) and found that I would get a little bit light-headed if I stood up from a seated position too fast. I also found that I would have these weird nightmares where i was eating a ton of food and would wake up thinking I had ruined my fast...very bizarre. I have never talked personally to anyone that had also fasted longer than a week, so I was interested if your experiences mirrored mine and if you found any way to reduce that light-headed seeing stars kind of feeling when you stood up. Other than that, I'd say I didn't notice many other issues except for maybe a quicker onset of fatigue if I was climbing a flight of stairs or something.


Not so much, no. I did attempt to paint a wall around day 16 I think and didn't feel comfortable looking up while standing on the ladder so decided to put it off until I ended the fast. Other than that I felt as normal as can be during the entire fast, although I couldn't get myself to stay up very late and so my evenings would end around 9pm.

I didn't have nightmares but I do remember that my dreams during the fast were incredibly vivid. I never imagined such dreams were possible and it's one of the things I miss most since ending the fast.


Can you please explain what you ate or drank over that 25 day period?


Not the OP, but when I fasted I only drank water, usually distilled. You don't eat anything, hence the term water fasting. I should mention that I personally got weekly blood tests to keep track of the vitals (especially potassium levels) and this is something you definitely should do especially if it's your first prolonged fast.


Interesting. Why did you stick to distilled water, as opposed to having some (non-caloric) electrolytes?


Most people do not reach a point where their electrolyte levels are dangerously low when undertaking a prolonged fast of up to 40-45 days. Low levels of electrolytes are an indication that your body is unable to continue in a fasting state for one of several reasons, and it must be stopped.

IMO, artificially supplementing those during the fast will throw off your body's sensors if you will of knowing when something is abnormal.


Only water. Tap water or bottled water, not distilled for me. Other than that I ate nothing, no vitamins or electrolytes or anything, just water.


I find this remarkable. Not saying that I absolutely don't believe you, but I'm struggling. This would seem more like starvation than fasting, and sounds potentially very dangerous. For a little context: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-long-can-a-per...


Sorry- but you mean that you didn't eat anything at all for 23 days? And you felt energized?


Correct. I did not consume anything but water for those 23 days. And yes, past day four I felt more energized than at any time in the last 10 years or so. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but I guess it's one of those things you have to try to feel for yourself :) Even the people around me that knew I was fasting were surprised to see the progression and how much more energetic I seemed. Anecdotally, I did feel at least five years younger at the end of the fast - physically and mentally.


It's not really that counter-intuitive. Presuming humans evolved to cope in situations where food was sometimes very scarce, and had to be acquired through hunting and gathering, likely in competition with other individuals and groups, then being listless and incapable for months as our body's stores of fat and muscle drained away would not be helpful. Far better for the body to expend its store in a few weeks of energetic activity spent searching for replacement food supplies.

I've heard it said that what most people in the developed world describe as "hunger" is really just appetite. A different phenomenon, and an uncomfortable one, but separate from true hunger, which tends to set in after a few weeks, and is more like a psychological impulse to acquire food by any possible means, including violence.


@crusso, haha I only heard about this show when my friend suggested that I go ahead and apply to participate. It does take some mental effort to cruise through a prolonged fast. It's especially hard in our society where so much is centered around food. It was inconvenient at times to be the one who doesn't eat in social functions and such, but you get over it. The key is not to talk about it and have to explain to people why you're not picking up a beer at the BBQ. Also this wasn't my first prolonged fast, and I know from experience that it does get easier the more you condition your body to rest and take a break from constantly digesting.


Inspired by this thread and your post, I decided yesterday to try at least a 24 hour fast. After a breakfast shake yesterday, I played tennis and went about my normal activities. I eat a fairly ketogenic diet, so the hunger wasn't too distracting, although I felt very laid back in the evening.

This morning, I woke up about an hour earlier than usual with a great feeling of energy and focus. No real hunger. I'm going to push it a little further as long as I feel good. Thanks.


Glad to hear! Feel free to reach out via email if you have any questions or interested in several resources that will go into great detail with regards to prolonged water fasting.


None of the people I've seen so far on Naked and Afraid seemed "energized" after not eating for days.


I think they are often also dehydrated, full of bug bites, uncomfortable, lacking sleep, and stressed out, so not sure how comparable it would be to fasting in the 1st world.


How much time in between prolonged fastings do you believe is healthy to do it? I'm pretty interested in finding a good time eating - time fasting intervals where I could take advantage of the energy given by the fasting time and the reload of food in our bodies? Hmmm a guess for me (I don't know about the topic) would be a 10 days each 2 months, maybe? You did some kind of exercise or some activity that required big efforts?


Take into account that eg day-on day-off fasting would also have an effect on your body, not just the long fasts.


I have a similar experience when fasting!I feel a bit more energised and definitely have a clearer mind.


I went thru the same on a 14 day fast. More energy after about day 3, clearer thinking etc.


Add a bit of salt/minerals to your water or you risk lack of electrolytes, but you probably know.

I feel a bit dizzy at around 20 hour mark, past this I feel absolutely fine, can do interval training like always and have no hunger at all. On 3rd day I can start noticing some physical limitations, like when I tested how many hills can I climb on a MTB until I hit the wall hard (shaking muscles, mild spasms etc.), and the time I can spend doing athletic level of activity decreases every day (like 6 hours in the beginning to 1 hour after two weeks).


How much weight did you lose over this period? With a TDEE of 2400 cal/day, you'd theoretically lose almost 5 lbs/week, though I imagine your metabolism slows down. Still, I'd guess you lost 10-15 lbs?

Did you happen to get measures of your body fat pct before and after?


Not OP, but in 25 days of water fasting I lost 30 pounds. 196 -> 166. I gained about 15 lbs back within a week after I stopped fasting, then settled in the mid 180s. I did not measure body fat percentages, but I could tell I was losing just as much muscle mass as fat by the second week.


No OP also... I was about 1-1.5 lbs a day once you get past the first 3 days.

Another method I've done is a net-zero where I eat say 600 calories and run a few miles so there's not as much muscle loss.


It's generally accepted that a deficit of 3500 calories causes 1 lb of weight loss. And most men burn around 2000-2400 calories day. So 1 lb (much less 1.5) surprises me. I wonder why the math doesn't quite add up.

I like the net-zero approach. Do you make those 600 cals primarily from protein? BTW, it's about 100-120 cals/mile typically. (I'm a runner and use 100 cals/mile since the math is easier and close enough.)


I lost 35 pounds. I didn't measure anything else, and since ending the fast 2 months ago I regained about 5 pounds. For several weeks following the fast I only ate fruits and veggies which is why I think the weight gain has been so little compared to those who fast and then resume their old diet fairly quickly.

Also, in the first 48 hours of the fast I did a rather extensive physical workout program which is meant to bring your body into a keto state much earlier than it would otherwise.

At the end of the day I feel like I got to know my own body on a whole new level. I didn't do it with the intention of losing the weight, but of course it was a welcome addition to all the other benefits I took away from this experience. In a year or two I plan on doing another one for 40 days.


Thanks for the info. I'm interested in fasting just because I like to do these sorts of experiments. I fast once a year for 24 hours and I'm pretty hungry by the end... so I'm not sure I have the resolve to go through the hunger pangs much longer than that. How long do those last?

My other concern is that I run 50+ miles/week and I assume that would be impossible while fasting. I'd also be bummed about loss of muscle mass.


Is this safe? How do you know what your limits are? I thought around 21 days you were at the point of starvation? What about your weight? How over weight are you (if you don't mind me asking)? I'm assuming someone with a normal BMI couldn't do something like this for so long???


Just about anyone can do it safely, with the exception of people with very specific health situations. Even very skinny people who need to but cannot gain weight seem to reverse that trend following a prolonged fast. The body is very smart in turning a prolonged fast into a series of corrective actions needed to maintain its own well being.

For two years prior to this fast I suffered from mild pain in my left knee which made it very difficult to get up from the floor or run for more than a few minutes. Two weeks into the fast, that knee began to hurt like crazy. By day 16 I was unable to bend it. But that was somewhat expected. Many peopl who undertake a prolonged fast report what is referred to as a "healing crisis"- when the body is in a state of self healing during which pre-existing symptoms flare up as the body works to get rid of them.

Who knows what I had in my knee. Gout, pre arthritis, some nasty build up of fluids... Either way, it's all gone. After 3 days of being unable to stand or even slightly bend that knee - it all disappeared. I woke up on day 19 and it was as if I had a new knee. All symptoms are gone since then and I have resumed my hiking and biking activities and am glad I let it heal itself.

And to answer your other question, at 5'9 I weighted 182 at the beginning of the fast and 147 on day 23. I wasn't terribly overweight, and now at my ideal weight.

And day 21 is far from being at the point of true starvation. That doesn't normally happen until at least day 45.


It is _really_ important to bookend a fast with healthy food. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables the days leading up to and following a fast will leave you feeling a ton better.

And for those pursuing longer fasts: day 3 is when most people turn a corner and the hunger is no longer horrible. I haven't gone that far, but am planning on it soon. And I've been told there are some remarkable physiological and psychological cleansing process that kick in on day 3. They say you become hyper-alert, clear-headed, and focused.


I have a lot of experience fasting. All the stuff that you mention is complete BS. Theres always hunger and no hyper-alert focused BS.


Please don't do that. If you're going to come here and engage in a debate/conversation with someone, try to be civil and avoid resorting to words like "complete BS" and an overall aggressive tone. You'd convey the exact same idea with "There's no scientific evidence for the phenomenons you report and as with someone with experience fasting, I haven't ever experienced it" and it wouldn't create an atmosphere of unneeded conflict that is detrimental to the community.


I don't know about the science, nor do I care, I am speaking of my own experiences. Experiences other than "I never felt hungry and I had nothing but energy after a couple of days" are discounted and hidden when speaking about fasting by the people who support it. It has taken a life of its own and spoken as fact. Other experiences need to be heard too and we need to acknowledge there is a wide range of people who have a wide range of experiences and people can have different reactions and that's ok. The ones who don't have such experiences need to be welcomed too.

People do speak a lot of BS when it comes to fasting.

I guess my comment was more of a reaction from being attacked for my experiences fasting, not here but elsewhere. That's why I no longer spend time those places. It did come out wrong in retrospect and reactionary.


I just finished a 4 day water fast. I've done 3-4 days a few times over the last few years and they all seem to follow the same pattern for me at least: Day 1 is really hard (all I can think about is food and the hunger is intense); Day 2 is less so; Day 3 involves diarrhoea & a few stomach cramps; Day 4 is fine and usually makes me think of going further. I tend to lose 1Kg a day and feel pretty damn good afterwards. While fasting, I'll drink a lot of tea (usually herbal, sometimes black tea with milk) and a reasonable amount of water (sometimes with a pinch of salt [not sure if this is necessary or not] and lime for flavour). Purely anecdotal of course, but I've noticed that it seems to help with some health conditions seem to improve afterwards. YMMV. EDIT: I forgot to mention that on night 3 & 4 I tend to get insomnia a bit. Nothing unpleasant, it's more like I am awake enough not to sleep, rather than really tired and unable to sleep.


It happened to me several times in the past, when I was so focused on what I was coding/debugging, that I forgot to eat multiple times in a row.

Now, when I don't want to be disturbed by a growling stomach, I usually give him an apple just to keep him busy.


During my v.early coding years I would often go, esily, through a couple of days without eating, and little sleep. Decades later, I'm married with kids -- they complain if I don't join them to eat.


I tend to get that to a smaller degree if I don't eat something mid-afternoon... even an apple, or 1/4 cup of nuts is enough to notice a difference in what/how much I eat at dinner.

I tend to be pretty sated after lunch, and will usually continue working until well after 6pm, when I start to get hungry again... I pretty much have to force myself to have something around 2 or 3pm, and it cuts the cravings way down.

I also notice that when I watch TV in the evenings (even without commercials), I tend to eat a bit more, and randomly.


>Has anyone here actually ever TRIED fasting a full 24h day? I have. I HATED it. Well, the fasting itself wasn't that bad, however, the next day my body went FULL berserk mode and I literally couldn't stop myself from eating. It was really weird and I never had such strong biological urges. That's when I decided I'd just stick to fasting until 5 pm when I eat diner.

Yeah, Yom Kippur fucking sucks. Every damn year.


I have always heard that skipping breakfast is bad while eating a small dinner is good[1]. Isn't this diet doing the exact opposite?

[1]: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/4/337.abstract?sid=6...



The blog post makes interesting points but it's just an argument without data. Studies like this one[1] seem to show that skipping breakfast and eating late do correlate with negative outcomes.

[1]: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/07/23/why-is-s...


Wasn't that just a myth created by the breakfast cereals industry?


The first three days of 24 hour day fasts are (:edited:) mostly painful. Headaches, migraines, agitation, etc. They are not fun nor for the faint of heart. I'd suggest a five day, if you body can allow it. Days four through ten can be the most rewarding. This is all based on personal experience/opinion.


>pure detox. Headaches, migraines, agitation, etc.

Detox is a pseudo-science word anymore. Is that detox or just your blood sugar level going down?


I think clearing out your bowels would be considered de-toxifying. As, much of that stuff just stays inside your intestines unless you do some kind of colon cleanse (men should do this with their doctor at 40-50; depending on how much red meat they eat). Also, with fat being burned and toxins are mostly stored in the fat, I have a difficult time understanding how losing fat isn't detoxing.

I meant to say it's painful, not 'pure detox'. Headaches and agitation isn't fun to deal with on a constant basis. But science barely understands the wide range of benefits from fasting. Whether that means empowering your immune system (which is what fasting does, energy to digest is now used to fight illnesses, etc.)

A nice read for the uninformed: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1834


Detoxification is a myth: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/detox-my...

There is no science behind it. There is also no science behind extended fasting, giving your body a "break" from digesting and so forth. By all means fast if you feel like it and you believe there is some health benefit - you are harming no one, after all - but please don't try to justify it with medical science.


Actually, not eating for an extended period does have one very significant effect. It radically changes the makeup of your microbiome. I suspect that people who experience health benefits from "detoxes" typically suffer from dysbiosis, and by restricting food supply they essentially hit the "reset" button on their gut bacterial populations.


...and then the bacteria reverts to previous within a few days of returning to the previous diet. Gut bacteria adapts really rapidly to whatever you're eating, whether you do a "reset" in between or not.


Well, probably, but that is not absolutely certain. Sometimes, after a forest fire, the types of trees that end up dominating are different from the trees that dominated before the fire.


I find it strange that you picked a newspaper article with interviews and I posted an academic article filled with scientific citations. Maybe your ingrained belief feels validated with a newspaper article but I'd hope you'd have some scientific rigor and look at actual studies.


Agreed, but certain harmful/negative things ARE stored in your fat cells (THC from marijuana is one such example) and these do get released during extended fasts as your body burns fat. I don't think this is really in doubt.


Which specific "toxins" are in your fat?

If your colon isn't working properly you are very sick and you need a doctor ASAP not a fast.

The fact fasting (perhaps) has benefits has absolutely nothing to do with "toxins."


And what are the LD50's of those "toxins"? This is my first question to people who go on about "toxins" and "detox" and "cleansing".

I don't want an exact number, just a ballpark. Is it micrograms, milligrams or grams per kg body mass? Surely these people who know so very much about "toxins" must know the one fact that distinguishes the things we informally call toxic from the ones we don't.

It would be the hieght of intellectual dishonesty to claim something was "toxic" without having any knowledge of the LD50.


"Toxins" could be a poor word choice on my part. But our body can be slowed down with the modern food we eat, the poor environments we live in, and genetic predisposition. I think fasting is a way to remove road blocks in our body, for whatever reason they appeared.

But to be clear, I think a lifestyle of eating fruits and veggies is more effective than fasts, when trying to achieve this.

There are a lot of medical, yes scientific, benefits to fasting. At the end of the day, it helps the body out (strengthens immune system), among other ways, whereas it might be struggling with eating regularly. Also, most research would never encourage people to go without eating more than seven days, as that's starvation mode and the Hippocratic oath has some things to say about that.


Absolutely nothing you said supports the notion that toxins are looming in fat and losing fat releases them and makes you fell sick - which is exactly what you said. When questioned about this you just changed the subject to something completely different.

I'll ask again - Which specific toxins are stored in your fat? Its a simple question.


I don't have an answer for specific 'toxins', as the way I worded things is based on experience.

All I do know is that fasting has tremendous benefits to our bodies, which is based on science (most papers speak of 12 hours to three days; rarely longer). As for the granular details (answering the 'how' and 'why' questions), I'm not certain science has a definitive answer for that. My perspective is that, subjective.

Also, the tone of your comments are a bit harsh. If it's a simple question, well, cite the scientific papers that establish your point of view. Contraction point of views aren't constructive, what's your more scientifically established idea, as it relates to the benefits (or lack thereof) of fasting?


In a very loose sense of the word you could call sugar a toxin. But it has a ridiculous LD50.

(I agree with you mostly, just don't think your argument is holding water.)


I think the argument holds. Sugar has a huge and quantifiable LD50. So does, well, water. This tells us that they are pretty much non-toxic at lose doses.

If the LD50 of the "toxins" is similar to water, how can one claim that "de-toxing" will have any benefit?

In other words, how can you call it "detoxing" if none of the things are toxic?


> This tells us that they are pretty much non-toxic at lose doses.

Just because sugar doesn't kill you fast (in an LD50 way), doesn't mean it's not bad for you.

You are indeed right that those `toxins' people `detox' for are pretty nebulous.


One thing to keep in mind is that you need to drink lots of water during that time because you'll be using your fat deposits and you need water to process the fat.


Detoxing from what? Personally, my liver and kidneys pretty well no matter what I am eating (or not).


I a word.

"My liver and kidneys work pretty well."

Also headaches, migraines, agitation can be caused by lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure than what you are used to.


I believe the idea is toxins do tend to get stored in fat, so when you are running on stored fat - you can release them. I can confirm you can have sudden ups and downs when fasting and I never experienced headaches until i started.


Both headaches and sudden irritability are symptoms of low blood sugar:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hypoglycaemia/Pages/Symptoms.as...


Which specific toxins are stored in fat?


Your body is digesting food that remained in your intestines and also fat deposits. Toxins are in the fat and removing undigested food can have a liberating affect.


Undigested food does not stay in your intestines and neither does any toxins.

Can you name any of the toxins?


'Toxins' could be a poor word choice on my part. There are things, within fat, that disrupt our body's ability to function. It could just be 'its bad fat' that was ingested by a poor diet.


You think there are pieces of fat getting stuck in your digestive system?


If food is being left behind undigested in your intestines please get off the internet and see a doctor!!!


The longest I've gone without eating was three days... it's liveable, but I can't get anything done!

Can't code, can't solder, can't do circuit design....


Taking a rest from eating...can be invigorating. That's been my experience. But don't force it. I find that I need to be prepared mentally and adjust my days to read more and do less physically demanding tasks, that is if I'm going on longer fasts.


I've done 3, 5, 11 and 20 day fasts. The first 3 days are the hardest but once you get over that hump it's pretty easy. The senses heighten and you become very alert (when you're not napping).

I haven't done it in a while because you need to free to nap whenever you feel like it.


What type of fasting did you do? I've done 5 day water fasts before, but I don't know how comfortable I would feel extending that to 11 or 20 days!


Water and tea.


I fasted for 14 days a few years back. Once you get past the first day or two its easier.

When you do this you re-learn what hungry is, and I found that what I thought was hunger was just desire in many cases.


I believe there's some consensus that eating closer to the time you wake is more advisable then closer to the time you sleep - all other things being equal.


More advisable for what intended result?


check out the warrior diet, similar to an ironman sleep cycle in its extremity. One massive meal a day at night.

http://www.warriordiet.com/


So to the first order the warrior diet is the Ultra Slim Fast diet? "Have a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner"


Wouldnt it be better to have a lunch instead? That way the body has a chance to use excess energy before storing as fat for the night.


Not sure our bodies work that way.


Just for the record, skipping breakfast + lunch has nothing whatsoever to do with fasting. It's not even remotely similar in terms of how your body reacts to it.

And as others have commented yes there are many of us who have fasted for days at a time for religious reasons.


Fasting means abstaining from food for a period of time. Breakfast is called breakfast because you fast while you sleep and break the fast with breakfast so break-fast. Sure a 24 hr fast isn't a multi day fast but that doesn't mean it isn't a fast. 24 hr fasts are a commom intermittent fasting schedule. Religious practices that are called fasting last less than several days. When my doctor wants me in the fasted state (bloodwork/surgery) they say no food for 8-12 hrs. Saying short fasts have "nothing to do with fasting" is totally untrue.


"Skipping breakfast and lunch" is a pretty reasonable way to summarize "intermittent fasting". I don't know how credible "IF" is scientifically, but lots of people use the word "fasting" to describe it.

What's the number of hours you're calling the threshold for "fasting"? I assume it's some high number, like 24-48 ("skipping breakfast and lunch" gets you past 16). Can you cite a source for the stark metabolic difference you're implying?


He said intermittent fasting. IF is basically what he described. 16 hours of no eating with an 8 hour window where you eat. I think some people take it farther--20 hours of fasting (water permitted) followed by caloric intake for four hours.


IF includes a lot of different eating schedules - Eating for 5 days a week and fasting for 2 is a common practice too. When I did IF I fasted every 4 days.


Biochemically, once you have not consumed anything for around 12 hours you are fasting (ie your liver is out of sugar and you are shifting to ketosis). So really it depends on your definition of fast, but scientifically skipping breakfast pushes you to the definition.


do you work out? I'd imagine working out while being hungry can't be good?


There is much more background info on Longo and his work on intermittent fasting if you go digging. More interesting than this particular piece, which is very short on context and science relating to the study of intermittent fasting, calorie restriction as adjuvant cancer therapy, immune regeneration via fasting, etc.

http://gero.usc.edu/faculty/longo/

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uosc-fts06021...

http://michelsonmedical.org/2014/12/26/igf-1-fasting-discuss...

http://news.usc.edu/58074/wanted-a-recipe-for-longevity/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25498742

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25498743

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25549805


Also note that he's the founder of a company that produces the diet under test: http://www.l-nutra.com/index.php/about/team

And he's applied for patents on the technique, e.g. http://patents.justia.com/patent/20150004280


I also recommend looking elsewhere since the OP is an example of terrible science. Due to the proprietary nature of the diet this study is impossible for an unbiased researcher to replicate.


Why is the diet proprietary? Is he publishing without revealing sufficient detail for it to be replicated? Or is this some secret business oriented research that's going on?

I think it wouldn't really be science relevant without revealing the diet so we can look at the nutrients and compare that to the research.


I can't read the article itself, but elsewhere you can find that "the FMD lasted five days every month for three months and provided between 34 percent and 54 percent of the normal caloric intake with a composition of 11 percent to 14 percent proteins, 42 percent to 43 percent carbohydrates, and 44 percent to 46 percent fat."

I agree with you that it doesn't sound especially "proprietary".


Can you tl;dr , please.

Does adjuvant therapy in the form of fasting affect survival in clinical trials in cancer patients?

Is this proven and accepted?


Sure. It's a thing. See this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815756/

"Proven" is of course a continuum rather than a binary state. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that calorie restriction and fasting are beneficial across the board, and in cancer, and specifically as adjuvants. Getting that past the FDA as an official approved treatment is still ongoing, I believe. Most likely because "eating less" is not attached to "we can make a huge amount of money charging for this" so who is going to pay for all the studies and data that the FDA wants? One of Longo's innovations is to have found a way to make that happen within the system, I think.

More:

https://www.google.com/webhp?#q=cancer%20%22dietary%20restri...


The evidence is weak.

In those patients whose cancer progression could be assessed, fasting did not prevent the chemotherapy-induced reduction of tumor volume or tumor markers. Although the 10 cases presented here suggest that fasting in combination with chemotherapy is feasible, safe, and has the potential to ameliorate side effects caused by chemotherapies, they are not meant to establish practice guidelines for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Only controlled-randomized clinical trials will determine the effect of fasting on clinical outcomes including quality of life and therapeutic index.


There was a paper published last year by this group where they did a study of Cancer patients (and a bigger study in mice) receiving a particular kind of Chemo, and their immune systems post therapy were basically 'rebooted'. The protocol in that work was a periodic 2 day water fast in 6 cycles timed with the Chemotherapy adminstration. They then did a very small pilot study and saw the reversal of immunosenescence in people who did the cyclic fasting without Chemotherapy. It was a reasonable effect, but the human studies were smallish and probably could use more reproduction.


Do any of these reveal the diet basics? I wonder if a Soylent-like product could deliver?


The Soylent Clone "Jake" https://jakeshake.eu/ has a "Jake Light" version that is just 1500 kcal per day:

https://jakeshake.eu/product/jake-light/


There are a few ketogenic soylents -- check out the sidebar at http://www.reddit.com/r/soylent/


I go for Ambronite - it's real food and 500 kcal makes is perfect for fasting days. Ordered here http://ambronite.com/


Appropriate article since I just completed a fast of 19hrs. No water and no food. Muslims do this every year. Last year, on average our fast was just over 18hrs. We fast each day from sunrise to sunset for 30days. Of course, we as a group of people have been doing it for over a thousand years. Cant say we started it due to science, but cant say we noticed the lack of aging either. ;)


This is a really interesting comment. It's a sort of natural experiment. I wonder if there's any observational studies on the effect of Ramadan fasting on health. Religious Jews do some fasting, but they are two 25 hour fasts and a few other 12 hour fasts all spread throughout the year.


There have been some studies, but I dont have the references at hand. Fasting can regenerate the entire immune system for one, it can also assist in accelerated tissue repair. Anecdotally I can tell you I've been far more productive today than most days because I'm being more conservative with how I expend my energy therefore didnt waste time on things like reddit and FB, and because my body isnt busy both worrying about my next meal or digesting it, I've had much greater clarity of thought which has been great for focus.

Edit: sp and grammar


I imagine that these impacts are varied. For people of poor health with a diet of meager nutrition, or for diabetics with irregular blood sugar levels, Ramadan fasting may lead to worse health outcomes. For people who are not diabetic but at risk of becoming so, Ramadan fasting may lead to better health outcomes. Just a guess.


Those with severe health issues are not obligated to fast. Those that do have health issues but are still able to fast notice an improvement in health if they fast in the recommended way. If they continue with their poor diet at the prescribed eating times then nothing changes.


There's nothing but muslims' so called studies on health benefits of islamic fasting. Islamic fasting may be anything but healthy. It goes like this: wake up in the middle of the night. Eat yourself full and maybe more. Sleep. Wake up. Don't eat or drink anything until the sun goes down. Eat yourself full and maybe more. Sleep until the next cycle begins. Putting on more unhealthy weight during and after ramadan is not rare.

Drinking water is forbidden until the sun comes down and the fasting is over for the day, and in summer, excessive dehydration is fatal.

Also http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Adverse_Effects_of_Islamic_Fasting


Did you create a brand new, anonymous account just to leave this comment? A bit strange and suspect. Wikiislam is not an authentic source of information


> wikiislam

LOL


Why 19 hours? Are you in a northern latitude? Makes me wonder would people in Antarctica not fast at all?


I'm in the UK. Your observation regards antarctica is correct.


And north of the Arctic circle?


If you live in Norway you are allowed to regulate your fasting in accordance with the sunrise and sunset in Mecca. For other places where the sun is visible most of time you are allowed to regulate your fasts according to any other country with a more reasonable schedule.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/17/ramadan-guide-t...


Fasting is limited with te following condition. Quran 2:187 "and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears;" So if it never dawns, or the sun almost never sets, it's impossible to exercise islamic fasting.

So instead of thinking sanely, people come up with "solutions" like 'then exercise your fasting according to meccahs timezone' and such.


I have never met a Muslim that didn't put on 5 kilos during ramadan from ridiculous iftars and judicious day light napping. I suspect that may cancel out any benefit fasting might have.


Hehe. Yes that does happen a lot. Usually with people that fast more due to societal pressure or for cultural reasons rather than for religious reasons. To be honest fasting never was or is for health reasons and though it may seem that way it's not just about food. It's about abstaining from as many evils/ills as possible; not backbiting, no wasting time on trivial things, not being lazy, not being arrogant or egotistical. Etc etc. Call it a personality detox if you will. Unfortunately for outside observers that interact with casual fasters, the discussion tends to revolve around the abstinence from food only.


Nice to make your e-acquaintance. Counter-example: Fasted the last couple of years in a -20% calorie deficit. Did nap during the day, but then worked out right before iftar (dinner). It's not an uncommon regimen. Just like anything else with a n of 500M (+/- 200M depending on number of adults and sick/elderly), it's hard to make a generalization.

Personally though, it went fine in terms of productivity and energy. Trying to work out without that nap was pretty brutal but fasts are long enough to fit it in after work.


Hi! I say that crack about ramadan with all the affection in the world, I really do. I'm from a long line of catholics who give up sobriety for lent. It is my favorite human thing in the world that we can turn a fast holy month into a feast holiday.

Though I am a bit more serious about the the gorging/extra sleep probably negating the benefits. I don't have the studies on hand but I think that most of the fasting studies usually assume a 'normal' diet and lifestyle during non fasting periods.


Yeah, I think it's likely true in many affluent parts of the Muslim world that Ramadan, shall we say, enhances existing trends towards obesity. The irony is indeed morbidly amusing.


To be honest I am suspicious of fasting for health purposes, for example during Ramadan this is me :

- I can only sleep for a maximum of 4 hours each night - During my waking hours I extremely energetic and focused - I never nap, can't physically do it - I lose my appetite when I break my fast, I have to force myself to eat a reasonable amount, about 1 meal and water - I lose alot of weight real fast, which I suspect includes some muscle mass

My father is the same, but not the rest of my family. I would not continue this fast outside of Ramadan for too long for a few reasons :

- Sleeping 4hrs a night does not seem healthy, although I feel fine I don't want to play games with my health - I don't recommend fasting with no water, I don't know if this has any real health benefits.

Of course this is an anecdote, and not scientific in anyway, but my feeling is that genetics and psychology influence the resulting effects of a fast on a person.


Also worth mentioning the positive impact on work productivity: no coffee breaks, no food distraction, no occasional visits to restroom: just solid focus to my work. The only thing I need to take care about is not opening HN periodically.


You can still have black coffee during most fasting regimes. (Though you might want to stick to a beverage more suited to empty stomachs.)



Contents of the diet are on this PDF:

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/pdfExtended/S1550-4131(1...

The human fasting mimicking diet (FMD) program is a plant-based diet program designed to attain fasting-like effects while providing micronutrient nourishment (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and minimize the burden of fasting. It comprises proprietary vegetable-based soups, energy bars, energy drinks, chip snacks, chamomile flower tea, and a vegetable supplement formula tablet.

The human FMD diet consists of a 5 day regimen: day 1 of the diet supplies ~1,090 kcal (10% protein, 56% fat, 34% carbohydrate), days 2–5 are identical in formulation and provide 725 kcal (9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbohydrate).


It really shouldn't be allowed to publish science without the underlying data regarding what you did - barely any of that list gives much hint as to actual ingredients.

That said, this conforms to a lot of previous research regarding fasting, and so it's a reasonable assumption that if you did a once-monthly 5 day fast at 33% of normal calorie intake, composed of a mix of nutrient/vitamin-dense plants and herbs, you would see similar benefits.

In reality this should just be your normal diet - eat lots of plants, add a reasonable amount of healthy meat (i.e. not a kilo of red meat a day). Limit simple carbohydrates, especially sugar. Keep calories reasonably low (which will happen naturally because you'll feel full & satisfied).


There are websites that let you put in your macros and your calories, and the type of diet you want to eat, and they design a diet for you automatically.


> In reality this should just be your normal diet

Maybe the proportions, but not the total amounts. 725 calories per day is way too low on a long term basis.


Completely agreed - I do think the fasting studies suggest you should find some way to integrate that into your diet, and the easiest way is likely intermittently, trying to space out and decrease your eating in reasonable ways, e.g. taking consistent 12-20 hour breaks between large meals, spending a few days a month on a 1/3 normal caloric intake, etc.

You don't need to keep yourself in a low-calorie state, but it's important to enter that state to some degree, on some number of occasions, to get your body to kick off the internal processes of autophagy and renewal that result in a variety of benefits, to healthspan even moreso than lifespan.


It doesn't seem like the study can be replicated with that little information, and the word "proprietary" is especially worrying on that account.


They'll brand it and sell it, it's obviously the plan. Now question is if this is really any better than all the other intermittent fasting technics, since they all describe pretty much the same benefits, but it's (for now) hard to quantify and compare the results and the risks...


And they didn't include a direct comparison to more common IF: the control in the mice and human was both one's normal diet. So the exact causal claim established a little ambiguous.


Ketosis also "mimics fastings", the main metabolic difference being nutritional ketosis is 0.5 - 3 mmol/L, while fasting is 3 - 5 mmol/L (betahydroxybuterate in the serum). The benefits of ketosis may also add longevity, possibly with similar mechanisms to fasting. It's likely intermittent fasting put the subjects of the study into mild ketosis.

Bottom line: Ketosis may have benefits similar to fasting in terms of aging, but without having to fast :)


Can confirm, keto diets burn weight like a motherfucker. They're also reasonably easy to maintain, since it's pretty easy to order a cheeseburger without a bun and eat it with a knife and fork. Also, bacon and avocado are a delicious combination, and keto says they are ok. I dropped 40 lbs in under 6 months on a keto diet, and built muscle while doing it.

But I had to stop the keto diet because it makes me stupid when I'm on it. I'm not talking the "keto fog" that you experience for a few days when your body is adjusting; operating in extended ketosis for me correlated with a marked decline in mental capacity. I went from being a rockstar knowledge worker to someone who couldn't do simple arithmetic. And my mental faculties would return within an hour if I ate a bagel.

Ketones (what your body burns for energy when there are no sugars available) don't penetrate to the brain, so your body produces sugars from protein through gluconeogenesis, but it wasn't really enough to keep me functioning at 100%. Also, you don't want to be frequently transitioning in/out of ketosis; it gives you horrible headaches.


> Ketones (what your body burns for energy when there are no sugars available) don't penetrate to the brain

[0] says that this is false. Ketones do go into the brain and the brain does use them for fuel.

[0]http://proteinpower.com/drmike/2007/05/22/metabolism-and-ket...


I believe you -- most of what I know about keto I found on reddit so I treat it with a grain of salt. But I also know how it made me feel, and I can't do the diet and hold down the job I currently have.


Ketosis takes at minimum two weeks to adapt to. For some, up to two months. It specifically takes this long because your brain has to switch to using the BOHB for its main fuel source (up to 66% of energy, perhaps higher). The remaining 33% is still glucose (other bodily functions still need glucose to perform, such as the creation of tears), and can usually be supplied by gluconeogenesis from the liver.

I understand the urge is great to talk about science exploration, but if your only source is reddit, you can easily accidentally propagate misinformation. Likely someone walked away from your post thinking that the brain will fail on ketosis because it doesn't have glucose (which is actually a common myth heard from physicians). They will never read this reply. I would highly encourage you to read a complete book before even attempting ketosis, otherwise you won't have the motivation and understanding of the changes in your body to make it worth your time.

If you want something light, read Keto Clarity. If you want a dense but approachable medical perspective, read The Art And Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. I've been in nutritional ketosis approaching a year, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't done their research on it.


I had the same experience.

I cut off all noodles/pastas and breads, and ate no pastries/sweets/chocolates. I went from lifting a few times a week for three months to once a week and my brain could not have a rational thought. I felt like my sugar levels were down all the time some how, so even after eating meats, eggs, vegetables, and dressings, my body would feel light and I couldn't get full. I couldn't work on my computer a lot and basically was on autopilot. It was kind of bizarre because I was eating 4-6 eggs a day and my body started feeling really weird. I think all the protein was messing with my body when it was trying to break it down.


Did you try taking a multi-vitamin? I've seen advice to get magnesium and potassium into your system, so I started using lite-salt. In the early days of my diet I was always tired (slept for 24 hours) and started having a constant headache-- this is after getting into ketosis and being there for a couple weeks. But the lite salt cured it within a day. (I wasn't able to get the right form of magnesium yet, but have been also taking multi-vitamins.)


Yeah, I did the lite salt thing, I was taking vitamins, etc. I physically felt fine; but I was noticeably dumber. Also, the relief after eating something really carb-heavy was pretty immediate.


Aren't most ketogenic diets high in red meat? What about cancer?

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2015/01/02/red-mea...


I wouldn't say ketogenic / atkins diets are high in red meat. The aim is 60-80% of the diet as FAT, not as protein. I love a good steak but won't go out of my way to have one unless it's after a workout when I want more protein.

Either way, I would suggest reading The Big Fat Surprise and/or Why We Get Fat to learn more about the tenuous red meat cancer risk. I would also suggest re-reading the last three paragraphs of the article you linked to, and read studies and books instead of articles!


I've combined the two.

I've been doing an IF of 8/16 where I only eat within 8 hours. Whenever I have lunch, I then have 8 hours to have dinner. I don't have the same schedule each day so sometimes I might start the next day late and fast for 20 hours.

However, since I've been doing this for a couple weeks, I recently stopped eating the second meal. I just wasn't hungry. I don't have the psychological stress- because I'm allowed to eat as much as I want (of the keto diet, so within the 20g of carbs, but I snack on celery) during those 8 hours so if I got hungry I could do it.

It's just when the 8 hours are up I decide if I'm hungry or not.

As someone who is very overweight, the idea of not being hungry is quite shocking. (I don't think it's due to the IF, I think it's due to the ketogenic diet I'm on.)

But if I keep to this, then eating once a day would give me about 23 hours of fasting. But given my uneven schedules many times that's been over 24 hours, though some days it's more like 20 hours. The point being that it isn't really much of an issue- depends on how I'm feeling and about half the time I'm not hungry at the 24 hour mark.

Of course I do drink a lot of water, and I use sugar free "water enhancers" to help. So, as a consequence I am drinking quite a bit more water than I ever have in my life. (probably 1-2 gallons.)

This is an anecdote, so I don't know if it's ketosis, or what that's the effect. I wanted to do everything right this time around so I'm doing keto, IF, calorie restriction, and portion controls. (I pre-make my meals. So I heat up a fixed sized meal, and have to go get a second meal if I'm still hungry, which I did a few times in the early days.)

I'm also learning to cook really great BBQ in the slow cooker.

Yesterday all I ate was some ribs. They were wonderful. (Memphis style, no sauce.)

Here's the recipe: Rub: Memphis Dust: http://amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_bri...

1. Cut the membrane off of the back of the ribs (or at least pierce it.)

2. Coat the ribs with salt. (I use lite- salt to increase my potassium intake).

3. Coat the ribs with Memphis Dust- pretty thick (I use a shaker for this)

4. Lay down a layer of celery in the bottom of the Slow Cooker. (keeps the ribs an inch away from the heat)

5. Put the Ribs in there.

6. Cook on Slow. I set it for 8 hours, it should take 8 hours but they've been done in 6 the past couple times. I think my slow cooker is running hot. So check them at 4 and 6 hours. They'll be done when the meat is falling off the bone.

7. Enjoy!


What's your favorite sugar-free water enhancer?


>Ketosis also "mimics fastings",

Can you please provide a source on this?


https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Ketosis

"During the usual overnight fast, the body's metabolism naturally switches into ketosis, and will switch back to glycolysis after a carbohydrate-rich meal. Longer-term ketosis may result from fasting or staying on a low-carbohydrate diet, and deliberately induced ketosis serves as a medical intervention for intractable epilepsy.[6] In glycolysis, higher levels of insulin promote storage of body fat and block release of fat from adipose tissues, while in ketosis, fat reserves are readily released and consumed.[5][7] For this reason, ketosis is sometimes referred to as the body's "fat burning" mode"


RadioLab did an interesting story on how fasting (or living through famines) impacts your children and grandchildren with significant health boosts.

http://www.radiolab.org/story/251885-you-are-what-your-grand...


Appropriate article for the first day of Ramadan.


There have been studies that prove that reducing meat consumption is the main benefit of fasting for slowing down ageing and that fasting has many negative psychological effects. If you eat foods with low amounts of the amino acids methionine and leucine, you could significantly reduce age-related diseases and the risk for certain cancers. http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/06/11/exploiting-autophagy-to...


The connection between longevity and caloric intake has been studied in mice:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3958810 [1986!]

"Mice from groups 3-6 [restricted intake] exhibited mean and maximal life spans 35-65% greater than for group 1 and 20-40% greater than for group 2. Mice from group 6 [most restricted intake] lived longest of all." Brackets mine.


There are studies showing benefits to isocaloric intermittent fasting in rodents - enough to make it reasonable to think that some mechanisms are due to timing of feeding rather than just plain old calorie restriction in a different guise. I'm having trouble digging one up in a short enough time frame at the moment, though. It is proving hard to find the specific paper I'm recalling in amongst all the non-isocaloric intermittent fasting studies.


Indeed, but this study controlled for caloric intake.

"The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction."


Oddly enough with people being slightly overweight seems to increase lifespan at least when looking at actuary tables.

There are a lot of possible factors that may be involved. From changing behaviors, lifestyle, lack of disease, larger buffer before weight loss becomes an issue etc.

Edit: It should be noted that this still a fairly low BMI compared to most middle aged Americans.


Interestingly, the same does not hold for overweight people who are diabetic: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1304501


It's important to take that study in context. From the abstract: The relation between body weight and mortality among persons with type 2 diabetes remains unresolved, with some studies suggesting decreased mortality among overweight or obese persons as compared with normal-weight persons (an “obesity paradox”). [edit: In point of fact all studies are best taken in context.]

Considering diet is so important for managing the disease being light weight is probably correlated with a greater focus on health.

That said, it seems likely that reducing weight would have a net positive impact on heath and it's other risk factors which are being improved.


What was the research plan here? We want to investigate a diets impact on aging? What are the negative results then?

These are two extraordinarily complex, intertwined topics that to come up with a hypothesis like this on the limited evidence ends up appearing to be just a random search for correlations, terminating once you find one that has the right p value.


This builds on some earlier work where the Authors investigated Intermittent water fasting on Chemotherapy recipients and found that their immune systems regenerated better. This paper appears to have found a way to mimic some of the effects on their previous protocol with something that is safer to do. The earlier paper is here: http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/abstract/S1934-5909(14)00...


There's pre-existing research on the effects of calorie restriction that have appeared to show effects indicating that they might be beneficial with respect to longevity, so it's very unlikely to have been a hypothesis they've just pulled out of thin air.


If you investigate enough diets: https://xkcd.com/882/


Before you take any diet science story seriously, read this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9714985 . It's sadly easy to generate 'significant' results and get them published if you want to.


Stuff like this way more obvious if you start to think about it. Is putting your body in a safe bubble to live optimal? Does nurture always beat nature? Of course not. Some amount of stress and physical challenge MUST be optimal (defined as reduce aging). What USC just did here is pick a solid guess in the range of fairly optimal.

For the fasting parameter, (of many to choose from that cause stress or physical challenge) again with heuristics, we can first drill down to a sub-parameter of "being fairly hungry". Given the previous logic, this variable must be a component of slowing aging.

Now if you had to guess from 1 day to 50 days or even 250 days, what would you guess is the optimal time of "being fairly hungry" to reduce aging? Mostly people would probably guess 2-10 days using the heuristics of "one day is just too little to have an effect" and "15+ days just cant be safe for you body."

I'm surprised I hadn't heard about a study like this before. What I am not surprised by is that the optimal range is right in the middle of the optimal range from simple heuristics.

The next heuristic you can tack on is timing between fasts. Using the same logic you will get very close to the timing between fasts USC is suggests.


I'm curious if the health benefits of IF or moderate IF overwhelm the health detriment of appetite suppressant medications (e.g. amphetamines), in moderate doses.


Each and every Eastern religion emphasised fasting - Hindu and Muslims and Buddhists know the benefits of it.

Basically it means less burden, less load to the system (we are a system) and, as a by-product, the exercise of self-control, which is the key to personal success (delayed gratification and related concepts).

Thinking about tribal eating habits, one could realize that there is no single "right" diet, but a pepper set of habits of moderate austerity in consumption and sticking to simple, unprocessed, traditional (evolved according with local food sources) dishes.

To put it simply - conditioned by media overconsumption of processed junk food is the cause of suffering and a major contribution to ageing.


Previously it has been found that eating a ketogenic diet (<20g carbs/day for most, adq. protien, most cals from fat) mimics long term caloric restriction- And, at least to me, that sounds much more appealing that eating a severe calorie deficient...

I lost 40 lbs on keto eating mostly (by volume) non-carby veggies and mostly (by calories) fat, along with 80-120g of protein per day. I'd really like to see their complex diet tested against a well formulated ketogenic diet.


Actually, research has demonstrated that the lifespan extension benefits of calorie restriction can be obtained by consuming a diet low in sulfur-containing amino acids, particularly methionine (not sure about the other benefits). Have a look at http://www.benbest.com/calories/Meth.html for more information.


ok, since this is posted here every freaking time there is an article about dieting in HN, let me stress this out:

A Ketogenic diet (per the actual medical definition and not from fitness gurus) is not low carb, adequate protein and high fat. it is high fat, little to no carbs and low protein. From medical recommendations, calories from fat should be in the 85-90% range. Most of the articles you read about the benefits of ketogenic diet is the MEDICAL definition and not the fitness definition.

Also, protein as a nutrient creates a similar insulin response as carbs.

(nothing against keto diets, but they just seem to be the hip diet of the moment and annoys me when this keeps being stated)


>Also, protein as a nutrient creates a similar insulin response as carbs.

If you look at graphs comparing them you will see protein is greatly blunted compared to carbs.

The body being in ketosis is primarily medicated by the availability of liver glycogen, temporarily insulin spikes will at worst only pause ketosis. Protein can be converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis, but (compared to felines) the human body can't do much of this and its usually only an issue if someone exceeds the standard recommendation of 0.8g of protein per lbs of lean body mass by x2 or more.

Any diet that keeps your ketones high, ie keeps you in ketosis (assuming you are healthy) is a ketogenic diet by the scientific definition.


Actually, it depends on the protein. In particular, proteins rich in the amino acid Leucine (such as whey) are actually more insulinogenic calorie for calorie than white bread.


I was referring the blood glucose, that is what matters. Insulin spikes are short term in regards to their effects on ketosis and can be useful for nutritional transport and promoting anabolism while on a ketogenic diet.


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