#214: Valter Longo, PhD: Fasting Mimicking Diet, Stem Cell Activation & Fat Loss

by Deanna Mutzel, DC


About this Episode

Valter Longo, PhD, one of the world’s preeminent fasting and longevity experts, says constantly taking fuel on board accelerates aging and growth of neoplasms (aka cancers).

He provides an even more compelling prospective: periodic starvation helps the body clean house (i.e., eat weak and aberrant cells) in the same way sleep helps clean the brain at night.

He also discusses how too much dietary protein—the macronutrient that purportedly prevents our muscles from shriveling up—can accelerate growth and aging.

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The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight

The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

Related Video: Intermittent Fasting for Blood Sugar Balance and Weight Loss w/ Jason Fung, MD

Show Notes

03:46 Growth hormone gene mutations impact longevity and protection from chronic disease. There is a high prevalence of a mutation in a growth hormone receptor in people in South America. These individuals were of short stature, but they had few age-related diseases. Mice with a similar mutation have record longevity and protection from cancer, diabetes and cognitive decline.

06:18 Ageing and age-related chronic diseases can be regulated through genetic intervention or with nutritional interventions. When there is plenty of food, the system does not regenerate. In the presence of the sugar, protein and certain amino acids, two sets of genes are turned on. When they are very active, the cell and the organism ages more quickly, develops more mutations, and becomes dysfunctional. Nutrients control the genes, which control the protection and the rejuvenation of the cell. When the genes are activated, the stem cells are kept on standby and regeneration is blocked.

08:40 Starvation has a much greater and faster impact than temporary caloric restriction. If you are starved, or on a starving mimicking diet, your system reads this as complete starvation. Your body starts breaking down fat and tissues. The inside of a cell begins to break down, autophagy. The most damaged cells are chosen first. Once eating has resumed, you are fueled and begin rebuilding.

10:44 Weaker cells are consumed during a fasting mimicry diet.  Healthier cells remain. Cancer cells die and healthy cells are protected. Autoimmune cell dies and the immune cells eventually regenerate better than before. This has been shown in mice and is beginning to be shown in humans.

13:10 Most organisms starve most of the time. Ancient humans probably had frequent bouts of starvation. Starvation represented at time to repair and replace. By eating all the time in our obsessed way, we have eliminated this important tool.

15:46 Low protein helps people under the age of 65 and hurts people over the age of 65. Excess protein, as part of the North American diet, is damaging to those of us under the age of 65, increasing rates of cancer and overall mortality. After age 65, those of us who report a low protein have poor health. However, did the poor health lead to low protein intake? There is no significant segment of American society that eats a low protein diet to study. After a certain age, there is a reduction in IGF-1/insulin-like growth factor, which is increased by protein and is central in the ageing process.

19:29 Proteins control growth factor/growth hormone which controls IGF-1, which also controls mTOR. Carbohydrates control pKa. Together they accelerate ageing and inhibit regeneration.

20:51 Athletes need to have enough protein in the regeneration refeed. You need 30 grams of protein (35 if plant-based) and a certain amount of amino acids per workout. Otherwise, mTOR is not activated and your system does not build muscle mass. Having too much protein all the time impedes muscle formation and blocks stem cells. Pushing the same receptors constantly causes the system to stop and refuses as a means of protection.

24:59 Just adhering to the Fasting Mimicry Diet 5 days out of 30 is enough to have a significant drop in IGF-1, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and inflammation. Dr. Longo believes that the typical average needed will be 5 days every 3 to 4 months. You should only do the Fasting Mimicry Diet when you need to do it. Healthy athletes on healthy diets should only have to do it about twice a year.

28:06 If you fast over 12 hours every day, you have a two-fold increase in the risk of needing to have your gallbladder removed. Data indicates that skipping breakfast is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and increased overall mortality.

31:23 Fasting for 14 to 16 hours has benefits: increased ketone bodies, weight loss, and metabolic advantages.

32:08 Consuming ketone bodies and fatty acids on top of a normal diet is a mistake. It confuses your metabolism. Long term repercussions are unknown.

37:46 Fasting Mimicry Diet is the result of years of researching the connection of each component of food and the genes that regulate ageing and regeneration. Protein is low and chosen by the amino acid content. Carbohydrates are low and particularly low in sugar. Fats are high and particularly high in certain types of fats. This helps you to avoid malnourishment, hypotension and hypoglycemia. Satiety and taste are also factored.

40:45 Dr. Longo’s Morning Routine: He drinks a mix of black tea and green tea with a whole lemon and preserved fruit. He rides stationary bike and breaks his fast after exercise.

44:04 Dr. Longo’s Desert Island Nutrient: He would bring garbanzo beans for their nutrition and taste. For him, it is nearly a perfect food. Around the world, locations with record longevity have one commonality is the high consumption of beans. It is important not to demonize a food from the results of a few experiments or a few people with sensitivities.

47:52 Dr. Longo’s Elevator Pitch: Implement The Fasting Mimicry Diet through the population.


  1. Hi, Mike

    Thanks for doing this interview. It’s interesting to to note that if you look at the macronutrient profile of Longo’s diet, you basically have kichari (2:1 grain:legume) with leafy greens. Traditionally, basmati rice, or maybe millet, with mung dal, spices and ghee; that’ll do it for days 2-5 with a little extra fat and protein the first day.

    Yet another example of science coming with reasons why a traditional practice, in this case a therapeutic diet, is sound.

    You could easily tweak the recipe to account for your own constitution/dosha type as well.

  2. So, I’m confused. Dr Fung suggest the intermittent fasting. 16 hrs no eating (fluids) and approx 8 hours eating hflc. I started this but life interrupted. Now I’m afraid of losing my gallbladder if I continue. I would eat 10am to 6pm. So, is this now bad, mute? If you do 5 day mimicking diet, what are the other 30 to 85 days like of eating? Eat every 3 hrs,, 5 hrs, )ow/high fat, no sugar, lo protein? Etc? I guess i have to buy the book. . Confusing as you have Dr Fungs books listed on same page as this broadcast. Vongo seems to be turning everything upside down.

  3. I thought this interview with Valter Longo was interesting because he raised some valid

    concerns that typically are overlooked by zealousness and highlighted that parts of the

    fasting/ketosis health-sphere is still cutting edge and experimental. Generically, I can

    see the analogue between BioSphere2 and today where people take a good concept and assume

    that pushing it to an extreme means it is more good. In BioSphere2 time period, the

    thinking was that calorie restriction was the holy grail and though it did prevent the

    targeted diseases, Valter’s valid point was that there is legitimate concern that extreme calorie restriction might create other disease states that may have caused regression toward the goal of healthy longevity. Today, the thinking is ketones have all these benefits, but (as Valter speculated about unnaturally mixing glucose and keonte metabolism) no one knows for sure what happens when this is pushed to an extreme for long periods of time.

    It makes this a sticky area for decision making because if people want to make an impact on

    health longevity you need to get started. And if you are looking to make a profound

    impact, then you likely need to do something profoundly different (e.g. copying a centarian

    is likely not going to get you the same results). But until we know more information, how

    folks proceed is kind of a gamble with their life that has a range of possible outcomes

    including backfiring many years down the road.

    The most burning questions I have from the interview is probably related to the water

    fasting question. Is there really a downside to periodic fasting more than 13 hours? If

    there is, does intermittent, periodic fasting address that downside (only do 13-20 hour

    water fasts 2-5x per week)? Other than minimizing risk for general/at-risk populations, is

    there a benefits difference between 5-day FMD and 5-day water fast? (all things being equal

    during a fast, it’s simpler/cheaper not to eat than to micro-manage eating during)


  4. I have been trialing 48 to 72 hour fasts and I do feel well during.
    This podcast was very interesting.
    With someone like myself that has high copper low zinc Pyroluria the high plant diet doesn’t make sense. It would probably drive the copper zinc imbalance even more.
    It would be great to find something that benefits someone in my situation.
    There are quite a lot.

  5. Well … I’m also confused. And I also bought Mr. Longo’s book in order to be sure if I understood everything correctly.
    So. If I stick to his advises it will mean the following for me:
    1) I like keto but now I have to eat an almost vegetarian diet with only 30-60 grams of protein per day. This is sad.
    2) I like IF but now my eating window should be not less than 12 hours or I might have gallstones. This is sad.
    3) I like to skip breakfast but without breakfast, there is a probability of cardiovascular disease. This is sad.

    In summary, all my eating habits were ruined 🙂

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