by Nils Osmar. Feb. 7, 2022
In this video Siim Land responds to one of David Sinclair’s recent podcasts in which Sinclair mentions the possible benefits of eating less, eating less leucine, and restricting protein.
Land’s key point is that cycling between high protein meals and periods of fasting may be a better approach than restricting protein indefinitely – at least for those interested in extreme longevity.
Why It Matters
Eating excess protein = particularly protein that’s high in the amino acid leucine – activates mTOR.
Animal studies have found that the activation of mTOR is associated with better health (up to a point) and a stronger immune system. The animals are very strong and healthy and have great immunity. But the animals whose mTOR is constantly activated tend to live shorter lives.
We Need mTOR and AMPK
Land reiterates something I’ve been focusing on myself for the past couple of years: that we need both mTOR and AMPK. We need some mTOR activation to build muscle and prevent sarcopenia. But we need AMPK also, to activate the longevity pathway.
Eating protein that’s rich in leucine is a way of activating mTOR. Eating low protein meals or doing intermittent fasting are ways of activating AMPK.
Land believes (as I do) that the best strategy may be to cycle between activation of mTOR and AMPK rather than keeping mTOR perpetually off and AMPK perpetually on.
One way to do this would be to cycle between feasting and fasting. If you do enough fasting, it will spike your AMPK and counteract the drawbacks of mTOR activation. This is why two meals a day (with no snacking between meals) may be better than three, and one meal a day may be even better for longevity – especially for those who include animal-based foods in their diets.
The Methionine Problem – and Solution
For those who do eat meat, one problem Land looks at is that it’s high in methionine, an amino acid which has been found to have detrimental effects in the body.
If people do eat red meat or other foods high in methionine, they can prevent or minimize methionine damage by adding glycine, which counteracts the damage done by methionine.
(Our early ancestors got glycine by doing nose-to-tail eating. But most people today only eat muscle meats, so are prone to methionine toxicity. Again, the solution would be adding glycine.)
It was interesting listening to Land because he’s advocating many of the same things that I’ve been doing, and writing about, for the past couple of years.
Like him, I eat an omnivorous diet that has foods from all three food kingdoms (plant, animal and fungal). And like him, I’m an advocate of cycling between eating meals relatively high in protein and fasting, and of either taking glycine or eating gelatin or collagen (both of which are high in glycine) when eating high methionine foods.
Protein and Muscle Building
One thing I’m doing that’s a little different than what he mentions is eating very high protein meals on my workout days (shortly after my workout) and lower protein meals on other days. (Protein is essential for muscle building; the dietary proteins are the building blocks for muscle.)
I also try to balance full days in which I’m feasting with days in which I’m fasting.
There was a stretch of time for about six months last year in which I was fasting three full days every week (the days before my workouts). During this time, I built muscle more rapidly than I ever had in my life.
So my own approach is:
- Eat a balanced omnivorous diet which includes foods from plant, animal and fungal sources.
- Go ahead and activate mTOR. (I try to activate mTOR it most strongly with high protein meals right after working out.)
- But balance the mTOR activation with periods in which AMPK is activated, either by eating totally plant-based foods or by fasting.
- For an AMPK “blast” once in a while, do either a 3-5 day fast or fasting mimicking diet (low protein/totally vegan) once every two or three months.
- The Rekindle Protocol page describes my full regimen.