by Nils Osmar. December 31, 2022. Medical Disclaimer
I’ve made some changes in my protocol recently, to correlate with a decision I made a few weeks ago to work out more often, which meant changing my feasting and fasting schedules. Here’s a quick overview:
The basics – I’m still:
- Working out. Exercise is essential for brain health, heart health, and for maintaining strong muscles. It also removes senescent cells from the body, and promotes autophagy even more effectively than fasting. (See study: Exercise, Autophagy and Chronic Diseases.) I’m currently doing resistance training three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday); doing lighter workouts (Zone 2, aerobics or HIIT) three days (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). I don’t exercise on Sundays.
- Eating a high-nutrient, all-organic, mostly-unprocessed diet. Whatever the specifics of our diets –– whether we’re following vegan, vegetarian. carnivore, omnivore, paleo or pescatarian approaches –– we need a large number of nutrients to support health. I eat foods from both plant and animal sources. I describe my current diet in more detail below.
- Fasting. I used to fast all day three days a week. It worked great for fat loss, but I started being concerned about developing micronutrient deficiencies. So I’ve switched (for now) to doing…
- … three 20 hour fasts a week (on my “lighter exercise” days, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). On these three days, I either do water fasting or starting the day with a fasting mimicking smoothie (which has the same metabolic effects as fasting). But I’ll usually just have a coffee in the morning, then have breakfast around 2 or 3 pm and finish eating by 6 or 7 pm.
- .… and one 36 hour fast. I’m currently doing water fasting on Sundays. (I just drink water and avoid both food and supplements on that day.) (Note: If I’m fighting a bug, like a cold virus, I’ll skip this fast. Research has established that fasting is good when we’re fighting bacterial infections, but can be detrimental when we’re fighting viruses. See article: Listening to the body: Study examines the effects of fasting on infections.
- Taking anti-aging supplements. I think of this in terms of “restoring my renewables” — taking supplements which help restore key biological compounds.
- My supplements include AKG; NAD+ boosters (NMN, NR, and apigenin); SIRT6 activators (fucoidan from seaweed and algae, and cyanidin from black elderberries); glutathione and nitric oxide boosters (glycine, NAC, sulforaphane and milk thistle); human growth hormone boosters (arginine, L. citrulline, lysine and alpha keto glutarate); testosterone boosters (HMB; tongkat ali, boron, fadogia agrestis); supplements for brain health (fish oil, krill oil, creating and lecithin); supplements to activate AMPK, an enzymatic pathway that researchers call the longevity pathway. My goal is not hyper-inflated levels of these compounds, but restoring my NAD+, testosterone, glutathione, nitric oxide, AKG and hGH to the levels found in young adults.
- Optimizing sleep. I usually crash out around 10 pm, to catch the first spike in human growth hormone that occurs in the hour or two before midnight (but only if we’re asleep).
- Optimizing my blood health. I’m still donating blood regularly to remove old blood factors, and taking enzymes such as serrapeptase on an empty stomach to clean protein fragments from my blood.
- Activating my anti-aging genes. Sirtuin 1 activation has a number of health benefits. The sirtuin 6 is the one associated with lifespan. I’m currently taking both fucoidan (SIRT6 Activator) and cyanidin (black elderberry extract), two compounds that have been found to activate the SIRT6 gene.
- Keeping blood glucose low. High blood glucose is associated with a greater risk of diabetes and a shorter lifespan. I avoid eating sweets, though I do sometimes eat some berries or a small amount of fruit. I take supplements like berberine or benfotiamine (a form of thiamine) to keep my blood sugar low.
- Dealing as well as I can with stress. For stress, I find it helpful to get out in nature and talk a walk in the woods or by a lake or river. I learned years ago that it’s best not to bottle up emotions. Crying, laughing and other forms of emotional release have been found to have healing effects; when we try to suppress them is when we’re likely to run into problems. If I’m sad or happy or feeling other emotions, I try to build in some space in my life to express it.
- Finding a good balance between the activation of mTOR (the growth pathway) and AMPK (the longevity pathway). mTOR activation keeps us strong and healthy. AMPK activation is associated with a prolonged lifespan. Both are necessary, but they can get out of balance. More information about what I’m finding workable below.
My Average Day
- I get up around 5 or 6 a.m. most mornings, have a glass of water, make some coffee, and take two Alphaketoglutarate supplements together: Ca-AKG (a salt of calcium and AKG) along with plain AKG. AKG is an AMPK activator; the calcium buffers it and prevents stomach upset. The combination gives me a nice energy boost.
- An hour or two later, I take my NAD boosters and sirtuin gene activators. I usually just take them with water, but sometimes I’ll drink a fasting mimicking smoothie, a drink that’s designed to keep AMPK activated and mTOR off.
- If it’s a resistance training day, I take a hot shower to warm up my muscles, then work out for an hour or so in my home gym. (I usually work out fasted, though occasionally I’ll have a small meal such as whey mixed in yogurt before working out.)
- If it’s a non-resistance training day, I’ll do some HIIT or aerobics on my stationary bike.
- After exercising, usually around 1 or 2 pm, I eat a high protein, animal-based meal such as scrambled eggs with sardines, oysters, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and broccoli. This is my real “breakfast.” I try to get a lot of protein in within two to four hours of my workout.
- I take my testosterone boosters and hGH boosters with this first meal.
- My last meal is usually around 7 or 8 p.m. I sometimes take AMPK activating supplements after this meal.
- I’m in bed most nights around 10 or 10:30 p.m., but sometimes earlier. (Earlier is better if the goal is to optimize growth hormone.) I take glycine and NAC (N. Acetyl Cysteine) together shortly before bedtime because they raise glutathione levels and when taken together, for me, they promote deep and restful sleep.
- As mentioned above, I usually work out in the mornings fasted (though I will sometimes drink a fasting-mimicking smoothie) (Because it is designed to mimic fasting, I don’t consider this smoothie as having broken my fast.)
- Until recently, I was working out only three days a week. But I’d often neglect my core and lower body because I was tired from the upper body workout, or vise versa. So I switched to doing six workouts a week.
- I work my upper body (arms, chest and shoulders) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- I work my lower body (legs, glutes and core) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I may sometimes also do HIIT on these days. (I could use more HIIT exercise than I’m currently getting; I’m just working on figuring out the best way to fit it in.)
- Staggering them this way gives me two full days of recovery time between working out the same body part(s) again.
- I do outdoor yard work or go hiking or stair-running on Sundays.
- When I look at myself these days, I feel like I’m making progress. If I’d taken TRT instead of raising my testosterone through supplements, I’m sure I would have larger muscles. But at this point, I’m still finding that the natural approach, raising my T levels by taking T-boosting supplements, is working well enough that I plan to continue it for the foreseeable future.
My Current Diet
- I’ve been vegan and carnivore in the past, and was eating a strictly Mediterranean diet at one point. These days, I’m eating diet that’s similar but richer in protein and animal-based foods.
- I eat a rich variety of (grass fed/organic) animal-based foods, plant foods and fungi (mushrooms). I eat all organic meals, and buy food from small family farms (I avoid food from factory farms for both health reasons and ethical reasons, and avoid crops sprayed with herbicides and pesticides)
- My diet is similar in some respects to the diet used in this study, which was found to reverse epigenetic aging.
How Much Protein?
- One recent change is that, these days, I’m trying to eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight, which for me means eating 145 grams of high quality protein per day (except, of course, on fasting days, when I don’t eat any food). (Bear in mind that this includes protein from both plant and animal sources.) By another commonly cited standard — 1 gram of protein per centimeter of height — I should be eating 180 grams of protein per day.
- I raised it to the current level partly because of some recent studies suggesting that 1 gram per pound is ideal; partly because I’m working out a lot and need both protein and leucine to build muscle, support my immune system and prevent a relapse into sarcopenia; and because every time I’ve tried following a lower protein, more plant-based diet, I’ve lost muscle, looked and felt older, and gotten more prone to getting sick.
- For more details about what I eat and why, see this page.
Protein, mTOR and AMPK
- Some anti-aging doctors or researchers, such as Dr. Valter Longo and Dr. David Sinclair, would say I’m eating too much protein or too many animal-based foods.
- They could turn out to be right. Or, they could be completely wrong. Others in the field, such as Dr. Peter Attia, Dr. Ted Naiman and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, would view my diet as about right, or might even suggest that due to my age (69) I should increase the protein even more.
- I’m aware that animal foods are more likely to activate mTOR, but I’m not worried about it. For one thing, I don’t view mTOR as “bad”. Cutting mTOR activation to the bone and pushing AMPK activation full is one path to longevity, at least in animals, but it’s not the only path. Nor is it safe to go too far in that direction. We need some mTOR activation or we’ll die.
- On the other hand, I’m not “all about mTOR” either. I also see the value of activating AMPK, so I activate it daily through fasting till noon, and do the 36 hour water fasts every Sunday (from Saturday night till Monday morning).
- Interestingly, some of the most promising anti-aging interventions, such as taking GlyNAC (a combination of NAC and glycine) to raise glutathione, or taking AKG as either CaAKG or AAKG, show clear effectiveness at increasing lifespan regardless of their effect on AMPK. Some anti-aging nostrums work by activating AMPK, but some do not fit neatly into that box.
Finding A Balance
AMPK and mTOR are two metabolic pathways at the heart of our metabolism, and in my opinion are important to any anti-aging protocol. This doesn’t mean we all need to approach them in the same way.
- AMPK is the longevity pathway. We can activate it by fasting, making changes in our diets (such as eating more plants and less animal protein), or taking supplements or medications.
- mTOR is the growth pathway. Research suggests it should be activated periodically just enough to support muscle growth and immune health. Muscle growth is good, but we don’t want all of our life energy to go into growth at the expense of longevity. We can activate it by eating high-protein animal-based meals.
- We need some mTOR activation to maintain and build muscle mass as we age, prevent sarcopenia, and support our immune systems. But hundreds of animal studies have shown that animals of all species live longer if AMPK is activated most of the time.
- We can move between AMPK and mTOR activation by the use of exercise, fasting, and the foods we eat. Some people try to only activate AMPK by eating low protein, or low leucine, most of the time. Others try to only activate mTOR by eating huge amounts of protein or leucine, and not doing any fasting. What I’m trying to do in my protocol is to find a balance.
- More About balancing AMPK and mTOR
Activating My Sirtuin Genes
- Anti-aging genes are also called sirtuins.
- Going on low-protein or low-leucine diets is one way of activating the sirtuins. (They sense that protein is low, conclude that food is scarce and it’s a survival situation, and switch on).
- But it’s not the only way to activate them. We can also activate them with hormetic stressors like heat and cold exposure. Keeping the house cool (65 degrees or less) or taking cold showers can activate cold shock proteins, Taking saunas or hot baths can switch on heat shock proteins. Both heat and cold exposure appear to have benefits for longevity.
- I take contrast showers (alternating between hot and cold, ending on several minutes of cold) to alternate my sirtuin genes three days a week. I also take NMN, resveratrol and SIRT6 Activator along with my NAD boosters to activate the SIRT1 and SIRT6 genes, which are associated with an increase in health and longevity
How It’s Going
- Things are going well all in all. I’m happy with the results of my current protocol.
- Physically I’m in good health. I have good energy, and feel younger than I did twenty years ago.
- I don’t have huge muscles, but I’ve reversed my slide into sarcopenia and am actively building muscle. My muscles are growing very fast at the moment, partly because I’ve increase my intake of the testosterone-boosting supplements.
- I don’t have joint aches or pains. My eyesight’s fine. My mind is sharp and clear. I had short term memory problems at a couple of decades ago, but they’re all fixed; my memory is fine these days.
- Physically, I feel pretty much like I did when I was in my 30s and 40s, except that I have more energy than I did in those days.
- I see these changes as a reflection on how the body can change in a short time if we’re eating a healthy diet, fasting, exercising, and taking some key anti-aging supplements.
- While I’m in good health in most regards, I have made one concession to being 69 years old, which is to minimize driving on the freeway. I have found that my reaction time has slowed a bit over the past couple of years. I just don’t feel as comfortable roaring around at 70-75 mph on rainy nights in heavy traffic as I used to. I’m hoping to improve my reaction time, but till I’m sure it’s better, I’m spending less time on freeway driving.
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How About You?
- I’d love to hear about your protocol and your results. Feel free to describe it in the comments section below.