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Why is fat the most metabolically benign macronutrient?

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Updated about 20 hours ago
Created April 06, 2014 at 3:32 AM

Particularly for longevity... Please outline?

EDIT: I wish I could select two best answers... Thanks @raydawg and @TheGastronomer.. And a few others...

Dang that 50% protein chick sure came out of left field huh?

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10176 · April 10, 2014 at 8:50 PM

I found the Okinawan stature data: average height 57" for men.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071721/

There's a good deal more here. In 2 very different populations (basketball players and 19th century Frenchmen), each inch of height reduced longevity by about a year. This is a BIG effect.

This has nothing to do with preferred macronutrients, and as an adult you can't do much about it, but a child that was stunted in growth has a fair chance of being a centenarian.

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10176 · April 09, 2014 at 3:21 PM

gastronomer and robert circling back to where we started, is fat the most benign nutrient for longevity. I brought up the Okinawan sweet potato diet because it is low in fat. The longevity improvement is probably more a result of low calories and protein, and probably has little to do with fat or carbs. We need a population that eats low calories, low protein, high fat and has good longevity to compare with the Okinawans.

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455 · April 09, 2014 at 1:15 PM

That is essentially the underlying mechanism that explains longevity from a genetic point of view (genetically low IGF-1 levels or reduced IGF-1 receptor activity). We can emulate these traits by modifying our diets either by reducing protein intake, by fasting or by a combination of both.

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455 · April 09, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Yes, that's true, they do seem to be very fond of pork and from what I understand it is their primary source of meat (including the organs). Fish being their secondary meat source. When you think of it, it is actually quite a healthy diet with plenty of MUFAs and rather nutritious food. Great point!

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787 · April 09, 2014 at 11:02 AM

I remember a BBC documentary on fasting that touched on a group of people that have a genetic disease where they have very low IGF levels, they are all very short but can smoke, drink, eat what they want & don't get cancer etc...

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17103 · April 09, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Don't forget the lack of a modern stressful lifestyle filled with artificial daylight, and artificial heat. Remember, they're an island, so plenty of good quality fish as well. They also ate pork, so plenty of good MUFAs.

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455 · April 08, 2014 at 9:18 PM

Yeah, I was completely thrown off by that chart...I mean, I see how fat being 20-35% of the diet could work since that's probably what the average person (not paleo) eats from fat as a percent of calories. But the graph said 15%, and I have to admit, it made no sense. Personally, I think it would actually make more sense if the graph was exactly the opposite (50% fat, 35% carbs, 15% protein). Whoever made those macros must be a gym rat that spends 10hrs/day in a gym and takes pre-pre-pre-workout with his steroid shots.

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26182 · April 08, 2014 at 8:47 PM

Well at least it adds up to 100%. That's an improvement over what we typically see on this site. I like how she says fat should make up 35% of the diet, then shows a chart with 15%

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455 · April 08, 2014 at 4:42 PM

We agree on the topic that protein restriction and nutrition can indeed lead to a smaller stature. Typically animals which are fed restricted-protein diets don't grow nearly as much as animals whose protein is unrestricted This is likely due to diminished levels of IGF-1, which has a direct effect on the growth of every tissue in the human body including osteocytes (bone cells). If protein is too low, then the subjects may even experience a failure to thrive (stunted growth). Low IGF-1 levels do lead to diminished growth and simultaneously to a longer life in nearly all species.

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 1:56 PM

gastronomer nutrition determines body size as much or more than genetics. I mentioned elderly Japanese because they represent the last generation that grew up on the pre-western diet. Bogin has documented this for Mayan refugee children http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/35099/10092_ftp.pdf?sequence=1

Same population group is 4" taller on the western diet, and fatter. The preferred body size for longevity could very well be small, because you can thrive on less calories.

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455 · April 08, 2014 at 1:55 PM

I would probably die if I ate like this....either by diabetes, kidney failure or cancer. 50% protein? 35% carbs?? Only 15% fat??? Good grief.

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455 · April 08, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Well, low protein consumption does indeed encourage autophagy. Also low protein diets do lead to less insulin-like growth factor levels, which might explain their small stature. However if their small stature is genetic, rather than a result of a protein restriction, then it would imply that they might have a mutation(s) that would result in decreased growth factor receptor activity. Such mutations have been shown to extend lifespan in many species, which might also be a valid line of reasoning in explaining the longevity of the Okinawans.

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1005 · April 08, 2014 at 12:17 PM

At least people actually eat 90% carbs in some circles. I've never seen a 50% protein circle. That's just crazy talk.

I think I'm eating close to 65/20/15. 10% protein gets a little too vegetable heavy for me. Although, some days I don't eat much protein, so it might round out closer to 70/15/15.

Jaminet suggests carbs + proteins to hit at least 600 calories (150 grams combined.) I try to do that while keeping the ketones in production. And that seems to work well for now, but it's a very narrow window.

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787 · April 08, 2014 at 12:03 PM

"Here is an overview that shows macronutrients ratio in Percentage"

For who exactly? not for me that's for damn sure! I could make a pie chart at 90% carbs, doesn't mean anyone should eat that much carbs!

I was 85/10/5 F/P/C, but am moving towards 75/10/15

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1005 · April 08, 2014 at 10:59 AM

50% protein? get out of here.

That would be 250-350 grams.

50-110g is much more realistic at 10%-15%. (upwards of 25%-30% of dietary calories if you're eating a CR diet and fat calories are supplemented from body fats.)

At 50% protein on a 2,000-3,000kcal diet, you would be an ammonia factory.

Edit: This guy runs on 300g+ protein up over 30%. Interesting. I suppose activity has a huge amount to do with the grams / ratio you can tolerate.

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1005 · April 08, 2014 at 10:22 AM

True, we can pick apart those guys. But there's still a bunch of data that seems to point to E4's having a harder time metabolizing triglycerides.

The trick is whether or not that means they should be eating all that fat, because they can't process it and still need it, or if there's something better they can be doing.

It looks like Jaminet's take on it is going "too" low carb or a nutrient deficiency throws off your lipids.

All things in moderation, I suppose.

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Same problem with the second guy. I'll add that neither of these posters is old enough to experience ageing. They're hardly beyond being adolescents and are already worried about being centenarians? Weird obsession. What about having a real girlfriend?

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 10:05 AM

The first guy sounds like Forrest Gump, except that life is like a box of supplements instead of chocolates. I find it hard to take that kind of obsessiveness seriously. One factor at a time please.

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 8:34 AM

gastronomer, I'm not Okinawan and was born after 1950 so it's hard to relate to what went on pre 1950. I can only assume that Okinawans were small (by western standards), based on seeing elderly Japanese. 1600-1800 calories per day was probably appropriate for healthy body weight. Even so, this consumption level would encourage autophagy, without regard to nutrient type. This could be the main promoter of longevity.

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690 · April 07, 2014 at 10:45 PM

My 2c.... a low calorie diet (calorie restiction is shown to extend lifespan) delivered via low GI means.

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455 · April 07, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Nevertheless, that is an epidimiological observation and can not be used as hard proof, since there are many factors that could influence the longevity of that population, including genetics. Too many factors to control for, carbs are just one variable.

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455 · April 07, 2014 at 9:21 PM

Probably the fact that their protein consumption was so low. The carb consumption is high but considering that is was almost all they ate, it only comes out to 1600 calories which is like being on a calorie restricted diet (which has been shown to extend lifespan). Furthermore, the majority were peasants and worked in the fields, so exercise might have also played a role. It also helps that they didn't have dairy, junk food, soda, refined sugar, etc.

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10176 · April 07, 2014 at 9:01 PM

I read over the wiki description of Okinawan pre 1950 diet, which is touted for longevity. The staple was sweet potatoes - on the order of 300-400 grams of carbs a day - with about 20 grams a day of fat. Very little meat, fish or rice. It was a relatively low calorie diet, much lower compared to current western (and Okinawan) diets. Sweet potatoes have only been grown in Okinawa for the last 300 or so years, so this is not an ancient diet. So I wonder, was the longevity due to the sweet potatoes or the low overall calories?

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17103 · April 07, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Long neurons such as those in brain cells, and red blood cells which cannot do beta oxidation require glucose, hence the 50-200g is ok, 600g is not.

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455 · April 07, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Great answer.

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787 · April 07, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Why is 50-200g carbs ok but not 600g? Because you'll use it up rather than have toxic levels in your bloodstream?

I'm warming up to the idea of increasing my carbs from about 20g net up to about 100g net as I seem to look more well rested when i eat some carbs, i'm only going off the mirror though, as far as science i gotta agree with guys like Rosedale, whether it translates to our diets is another thing though

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41452 · April 06, 2014 at 3:40 AM

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0 · April 08, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Fats should make up about 20-35% of our diet. Unfortunately, they’ve been getting a bad reputation for decades. But no matters fats are essentials for diet. Fats are required for maintaining cell membrane, promoting growth, for developing and absorbing essential vitamin. Ideally one gram of fat consist of 9 calorie. Choose foods that contain unsaturated fats over saturated fats, such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado and canola oil instead of full cream milk. Following a balanced diet that contains carbs, protein and fat in the right proportions should give you all the nutrients you need.

Here is an overview that shows macronutrients ratio in Percentage.

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1005 · April 08, 2014 at 10:59 AM

50% protein? get out of here.

That would be 250-350 grams.

50-110g is much more realistic at 10%-15%. (upwards of 25%-30% of dietary calories if you're eating a CR diet and fat calories are supplemented from body fats.)

At 50% protein on a 2,000-3,000kcal diet, you would be an ammonia factory.

Edit: This guy runs on 300g+ protein up over 30%. Interesting. I suppose activity has a huge amount to do with the grams / ratio you can tolerate.

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787 · April 08, 2014 at 12:03 PM

"Here is an overview that shows macronutrients ratio in Percentage"

For who exactly? not for me that's for damn sure! I could make a pie chart at 90% carbs, doesn't mean anyone should eat that much carbs!

I was 85/10/5 F/P/C, but am moving towards 75/10/15

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455 · April 08, 2014 at 1:55 PM

I would probably die if I ate like this....either by diabetes, kidney failure or cancer. 50% protein? 35% carbs?? Only 15% fat??? Good grief.

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1005 · April 08, 2014 at 9:34 AM

I'm still not quite sure what to make of dietary fats (more specifically, saturated fats and cholesterol) for apoE4 carriers. (Up to 20% of the population has 1 copy, a smaller percentage have the full double genes.)

http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/56235-just-discovered-im-apoe4-now-what/ (Interesting that guy does weight training / HIIT on a low carb high fat diet, yet his total cholesterol gradually continued to rise.)

http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/53493-my-blood-test-results-20-years-old-apoe-4-recommendations/ (Interesting that guy was 6ft tall and only 132lbs on a low carb high fat diet, yet tested for high LDL and low HDL.)

Longecity has a few E4 carriers who were eating high fat for longevity and noticed a huge spike in LDL / cholesterol (beyond what might be viewed as beneficial.)

Perhaps fat is the most metabolically benign macronutrient for those which have the genes that make it metabolically benign (e3/e3 carriers.) MUFA is looking a little better to me than SFA.

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 10:05 AM

The first guy sounds like Forrest Gump, except that life is like a box of supplements instead of chocolates. I find it hard to take that kind of obsessiveness seriously. One factor at a time please.

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Same problem with the second guy. I'll add that neither of these posters is old enough to experience ageing. They're hardly beyond being adolescents and are already worried about being centenarians? Weird obsession. What about having a real girlfriend?

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1005 · April 08, 2014 at 9:13 AM

I'm still not quite sure what to make of dietary saturated fats + cholesterol for apoE4 carriers. 20% of the population might carrier 1 copy, while some others are expressing the full double genes.

From the looks of it, if you have a copy of E4 and eat a low carb diet, you might see a rise in cholesterol and LDL particle size. MUFA's seem to bring these down when that's the case.

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/10/2517.full

Perhaps MUFAs are the more metabolically benign of the fat macros. (Or an E4 requires more MUFA to balance against SFA.)

I haven't been able to quite sift through the data as to whether the rise in cholesterol / LDL for E4's means they should be eating more fat, or not. The common suggestion seems to be to cut back on carbs, while not upping fats or protein, which doesn't really add up.

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455 · April 07, 2014 at 2:02 PM

The answer to that question is actually very large, if you want a detailed outline. Hard to do it in two or three paragraphs to be honest, since there are so many components involved.

A brief answer would be that fat is the macronutrient that least promotes insulin and insulin like growth factors. At the cellular level, insulin activates mechanisms by which to increase glucose uptake and glucose oxidation and increase fatty acid synthesis, thereby making cells bigger. Growth factors signal cells synthesize proteins required for structural components as well as to to divide and replicate themselves, thereby making them more numerous and bigger. The net effects of both of these hormones are to signal the cells into an anabolic state, either by encouraging them to grow or to replicate, while discouraging them to die (apoptosis inhibition).

This might sound like a good thing on the surface, and it can be if you're looking to grow muscle tissue and become "bigger", or if you are a child who is growing. For purposes of longevity however, these anabolic processes have the net effect of aging, as aging is ultimately defined as the accumulation of mutations over the lifetime of an organism, due to cellular growth and replication. This is why cancer is more common in older populations, because mutations and errors are acquired over many years due to continuous cellular division. Therefore, speeding up the cellular proliferation processes can lead to early aging and in some cases cancer.

Protein has a very big say in the speed at which our cells engage in proliferation and therefore while it is indeed essential to keep us alive, a slight (not a large) restriction in protein, can actually lead to a longer lifespan (via slower aging) and a decreased likelihood of acquiring cancer. Carbohydrate restriction on the other hand also decreases glucose availability and consequently reduces insulin levels which on its own signals the body that it is in a fasted state.

Fat is the one nutrient that can be eaten that will not substantially raise insulin and insulin like growth factors and therefore will not increase cellular proliferation or fatty acid synthesis. In every experiment where animals have had their insulin and insulin like growth factor receptors decreased by genetic alterations, the animals have all lived longer than the control groups of animals, this implies that animals whose cells that don't react as strongly to insulin and insulin like growth factors, can eat similar amounts of carbohydrate and protein than the control animals and live longer because their cells are less influenced by insulin and insulin like growth factors.

So since we can't genetically modify ourselves, we can achieve very similar results simply by reducing our insulin and insulin like growth factor levels, which are directly proportional to our intake of carbohydrates and protein, respectively.

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17103 · April 07, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Both protein and carbs signal insulin, fat does not. CR/IF work by restricting insulin. Insulin is a very old hormone, even yeasts make it.

You can eat all the fat you want to the limit of satiation (make sure it's good quality fat), and you won't raise insulin, nor will you stop autophagy. If you do go over your satiation level, you'll find that your body will convert the glycerol backbones of fat molecules into glucose. (So at some point, you'll start to fall out of ketosis if you eat tons of fat, but usually this is a very small amount of glucose, and you're likely to experience not so fun trips to the bathroom every 3 minutes to get rid of all the excess because you won't have enough bile to process it all.)

Burning carbs produces more ROS than beta oxidation. The reason we have insulin is to prevent the toxic effects of high blood sugar which can destroy nerve tissues and harm kidneys when they start to filter the sugar out of the bloodstream. Additionally, most types of, but not all, cancer cells have broken mitochondria which can only process glucose. By limiting the intake of carbs, you limit their growth. By doing occasional fasts, you can causes them to go into apoptosis and prevent tons of problems later on.

We don't directly burn protein, we first have to convert it to carbs, this is an inefficient process that releases more toxins, such as ammonia, these have to be detoxed. In addition, after this process, you'll have to burn the newly generated carbs, or store them as fat/triglycerides. (This only applies to excess protein.)

The real issue isn't what macros you eat, in a species appropriate diet, humans will eat appropriate amounts. In the SAD, the game has been rigged to eat tons of carbs, mostly from grains, with meals that are devoid of micronutrients and full of toxins. Eating 50-200g of carbs/day is fine. Eating 600g of carbs per day is not (unless you're running marathons, and you shouldn't be doing that unless you want to deplete your heart of its stem cells, and cause it damage.)

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787 · April 07, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Why is 50-200g carbs ok but not 600g? Because you'll use it up rather than have toxic levels in your bloodstream?

I'm warming up to the idea of increasing my carbs from about 20g net up to about 100g net as I seem to look more well rested when i eat some carbs, i'm only going off the mirror though, as far as science i gotta agree with guys like Rosedale, whether it translates to our diets is another thing though

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 8:34 AM

gastronomer, I'm not Okinawan and was born after 1950 so it's hard to relate to what went on pre 1950. I can only assume that Okinawans were small (by western standards), based on seeing elderly Japanese. 1600-1800 calories per day was probably appropriate for healthy body weight. Even so, this consumption level would encourage autophagy, without regard to nutrient type. This could be the main promoter of longevity.

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10176 · April 09, 2014 at 3:21 PM

gastronomer and robert circling back to where we started, is fat the most benign nutrient for longevity. I brought up the Okinawan sweet potato diet because it is low in fat. The longevity improvement is probably more a result of low calories and protein, and probably has little to do with fat or carbs. We need a population that eats low calories, low protein, high fat and has good longevity to compare with the Okinawans.

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10176 · April 07, 2014 at 9:01 PM

I read over the wiki description of Okinawan pre 1950 diet, which is touted for longevity. The staple was sweet potatoes - on the order of 300-400 grams of carbs a day - with about 20 grams a day of fat. Very little meat, fish or rice. It was a relatively low calorie diet, much lower compared to current western (and Okinawan) diets. Sweet potatoes have only been grown in Okinawa for the last 300 or so years, so this is not an ancient diet. So I wonder, was the longevity due to the sweet potatoes or the low overall calories?

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455 · April 07, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Great answer.

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10176 · April 08, 2014 at 1:56 PM

gastronomer nutrition determines body size as much or more than genetics. I mentioned elderly Japanese because they represent the last generation that grew up on the pre-western diet. Bogin has documented this for Mayan refugee children http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/35099/10092_ftp.pdf?sequence=1

Same population group is 4" taller on the western diet, and fatter. The preferred body size for longevity could very well be small, because you can thrive on less calories.

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245 · April 07, 2014 at 3:53 AM

From the standpoint of random guessing and shots in the dark::

Possibly that protein puts more wear and tear on the system by being harder to break down and motabolize and when it is promotes extra growth which again can provide more wear and tear to the system in the sense of burning its potential regeneration numbers. Carbs on the other hand are more likely to fuck with your hormones and confuse and break your bodys ability to regulate, site insulin. Fat on the other hand is arguably your bodies prefered method of energy as it is the way body actually chooses to store exess energy.

So I guess that's one negative each for carbs/protein and 1 positive for fat. That being said, that's probably a pretty ignorant and simplistic way of looking at the issue.

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1005 · April 06, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Looking at the macro options - protein, carbs, fats. With protein, you can't eat beyond say 1.8g/kg without issues. At 145lb, that limits you to around 120g protein for 480 calories in a day. So there goes protein. (Necessary for gluconeogenesis / repair, but it's no major energy source.) What's left are fats and carbs.

Looking at the high carb-adapted athletes, it looks like 90g of sugar per hour can provide 360 kcal of energy on top of say 60g of fat per hour for 900 kcal total energy. For the high fat-adapted athletes, it looks like 108g of fat can be burned per hour for 972 kcal of energy before you throw the carbs on top like a performance enhancing drug. (130 ATP from fatty acid molecules vs 36 ATP from glucose.)

When fats are high, you seem to see reduced oxidative stress. When carbs are high you don't seem to see the same benefits. When carbs/fats/protein or total calories drop too low, you run into issues. What looks healthiest to me is adequate protein + adequate to moderate carbs + fats are all that remain for the bulk of energy requirements. Even at 65g of protein (1g/kg) and 200g of carbs, fats are still the dominant / more benign source of energy for a 2200kcal diet.

Calorie restriction / fasting could be viewed as increasing your fat macro and spending more time in a ketogenic state, which seem to show benefits in terms of longevity (if you're able to keep the micronutrient levels up and in balance.)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19887594

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1590373

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17999389 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757152/)

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/71/13/4484.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24500611

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10176 · April 06, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Please show us your references methodician. A big population study on dietary macros vs human longevity would kick us in to action. I think that eating certain macro ratios is a minor factor on longevity, compared to many other things you do in your life.

I'll propose a benefit for fat in general though. Underweight is more of a concern than overweight in otherwise healthy (not obese, not starving) people. Fat reserves are a hedge, your body hoards them, and they are the preferred metabolic fuel for low levels of activity. Generally women have a higher level of body fat than men, and higher longevity. [But is it due to fat, or just another correlation without causation....]

Rosedale's study may be of interest for the improvements seen on a high fat diet eaten ad libitum, but it's a 90 day study on a small population that lost weight. http://jrnlappliedresearch.com/articles/Vol9Iss4/Kohnilias.pdf The weight loss confounds the results, though the reduction in leptin is very interesting.

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