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I’ve written and recorded a lot of evidence-based content over the years on just about everything you can imagine related to building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthy.
I’ve also worked with thousands of men and women of all ages and circumstances and helped them get into the best shape of their lives.
That doesn’t mean you should blindly swallow everything I say, though, because let’s face it—nobody is always right about everything. And especially in fields like diet and exercise, which are constantly evolving thanks to the efforts of honest and hardworking researchers and thought leaders.
This is why I’m always happy to hear from people who disagree with me, especially when they have good arguments and evidence to back up their assertions.
Sometimes I can’t get on board with their positions, but sometimes I end up learning something, and either way, I always appreciate the discussion.
That gave me the idea for this series of podcast episodes: publicly addressing things people disagree with me on and sharing my perspective.
Think of it like a spicier version of a Q&A.
So, here’s what I’m doing:
Every couple of weeks, I’m asking my Instagram followers what they disagree with me on, and then picking the more common or interesting contentions to address here on the podcast.
And in this episode, I’ll be tackling the following . . .
- A low-protein diet is better for living longer than a high-protein diet.
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, and welcome to Muscle For Life. I’m your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. Now, I’ve written and recorded a lot of evidence-based stuff over the years on just about everything you can imagine relating to building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthy. I’ve also worked with thousands and thousands of men and women of all ages and circumstances and helped them get into the best shape of their life.
But that does not mean you should just blindly swallow everything I say, because let’s face it, nobody is always right about everything, and especially in fields like diet and exercise, which are always. Thanks to the efforts of honest and hardworking researchers and thought leaders, and that’s why I’m always happy to hear from people who disagree with me, especially when they have good arguments and evidence to back up their assertions.
Sometimes I can’t quite get on board with their positions, but sometimes I. Learning something. And either way, I always appreciate the discussion and that gave me the idea for this series of podcast episodes, which I call says You, where I publicly address things that people disagree with me on, and I share my perspective.
It’s like a spicier. Q and A. So what I do is every couple of weeks I ask people who follow me on Instagram at most for life fitness, please follow me what they disagree with me on, and then I pick a few of the more common or interesting contentions to address here on the podcast. So if there’s something that you disagree with me on, and it could be related, Diet, exercise, supplementation, business, lifestyle.
I don’t care anything. Go follow me on Instagram at Muscle for Life Fitness and look for my says you story that I put up every couple of weeks where I solicit content for these episodes. Or just shoot me an email, Mike at Muscle for Life dot. All right. In this episode I’ll be tackling the following. A low protein diet is better for living longer, or is better for having a longer lifespan than a high protein one.
Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world, and we’re on. Because every ingredient and dose in every product is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.
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So while you don’t need pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape, and frankly, most of them are virtually useless, there are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy faster. And you will find the best of them in legions products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and bars, pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more head.
To buy legion.com/mike, That’s b u y L E G I O n.com/mike. And just to show you how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code M F L checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order. Okay, so when people make this claim, they usually refer to one or two phenomena. One is the people who live in the blue zones and how they live considerably longer than most other people.
And they tend to eat a low protein diet that’s often used as supporting evidence. And people will often say that eating a high protein diet causes your body to produce a lot of hormones and a lot of chemicals that amplify tissue growth and increase oxidative stress and cellular damage. And that by restricting your protein intake, you can minimize those unwanted side effects.
Okay, so let’s talk about the blues owners first as they are referred to. So these are people who live in five different regions in the world, and on average, they live a lot longer than people who live in other regions, and particularly people who live in the United States. So the five Blue Zones, as explained by Dan Butner, and this idea goes all the way back to a 2005 national geo.
C cover story that he wrote, and then from there he went on to write books and create a whole brand around this. And, but the five regions are Okinawa, Sarnia, Nacoya, icar, and among the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. So the first problem when people say these people here in the Blue Zones, they live longer than average people here in the west, and they don’t eat very much protein.
That’s not the same as saying those people in the blue zones have long life expectancies because, They don’t eat much protein. We’re talking about correlation versus causation, right? And just in case you are not familiar with that phrase, what it means is just because two things appear to be causally linked, they appear to fluctuate together, up and down, or they appear to be in influencing each other, or maybe one appears to be influencing the other.
That doesn’t mean that they are meaningfully related to each other. For example, if we were to create a graph of the movies that Nicholas Cage has appeared in from 1999 to 2009, and on the vertical access, we put the number of movies. So this year was one, and this was two, and this was four. And then on the horizontal access, we put time.
And if we were then to also put on that graph the number of swimming pool drownings. So the vertical would be the number of drownings from. 80 to one 40 to make sure that it’s scaled properly. And then the horizontal, of course is still the time. 1999 to 2009, you would see two graph lines that look very similar.
When Nick Cage was appearing in just two movies, there were about a hundred drownings per year, and then he goes down to. One movie and drownings drop to about 80 to 90, and then a couple years later, he goes to four movies and the drownings jump up to 120. Now I know most of Nick Cage’s movies are pretty bad, but kill yourself in your pool.
Bad. Yeah, probably not. Correlation not causation. And you can find other silly examples of this online. For example, an apparent correlation between the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets. Yep. That’s a thing, That’s a statistic that is tracked by the CDC and the amount of cheese consum.
That’s a mystery for a serial podcast to try to figure out. And another one, per capita consumption of margarine and divorce rate in Maine, those graphs look almost identical. Murders by steam, hot vapors and hot objects, and the age of Miss America. Also almost identical graphs. And so on and so forth.
You can find a lot of entertaining examples of this on the internet, but I think I’ve made my point. So coming back to the blues owners, the question is a low protein diet contributing to their lifespan or is it detracting from their lifespan, or is it having no effect? You can’t just assume that one part of their lifestyle is a major factor or even a minor factor.
If you want to establish causation, you have to be more rigorous. It’s okay to say, maybe to say, I wonder if the low protein diet is helping them live longer, but without looking into it in more detail you don’t want to jump to that. Now, fortunately, scientists have already done a lot of this work for us.
For example, studies show that compared to the average American people living in blue zones are more active, they report less stress. They feel they have a greater purpose in life. They eat less food in general, and they eat a lot less processed meat and processed carbs. They eat more fruits and vegetables.
They. Alcohol more moderately, so on average have a lower alcohol intake. They have a stronger sense of community and they place more emphasis on strong family relationships. And of course those are all things that can account for the disparity in longevity. Those are all things that in other research have been shown to improve health and overall wellbeing, and in some cases too, contribute to lifespan.
Now as far. Protein intake goes, I would argue that they could probably, the blues owners could probably benefit from a bit more protein than they’re eating on average. I would argue that their low protein eating, again, this is on average, not all of them eat a low protein diet, but when you look at them at a population level, you’ll notice that they don’t eat that much protein.
I would say. On average, the blues owners were to increase their protein intake. They may live even longer because we know that a high protein diet is better for preserving muscle, and that is crucial for continuing to function as you get older and to prevent falls that can then lead to broken hips and other broken bones.
Can put you in the hospital into surgery and then kill you. Even if you survive the surgery, there can be infection afterward as you get older. That’s one of the primary injuries. You do not want to suffer, fall and break something. And again, research shows that the more muscle you lose as you age, and that is directly linked to protein intake.
Eat enough protein and train your muscles regularly as you get older. You don’t have to be deadlift at 80 years old. You can if you want, but you don’t have to. You just have to be active, training your muscles, working your muscles against some sort of resistance. So if you don’t do that, and if you don’t eat enough protein, you are going to lose.
Muscle. And it can really accelerate as you get older. Now, if you do eat enough protein and if you train your muscles properly, you can more or less completely stave off muscle loss. You may not be able to remain as jacked at 80 as you were at 20, but of course you probably have gotten over it by then, right?
And the more muscle you lose, the more likely you are to die of all different kinds of things related to injury and. It’s not just falling. And again, that’s been shown in quite a few studies. The weight of the evidence is very clear there. Also, we know that elderly people, they can’t use protein as efficiently as younger people and that they need quite a bit more protein to prevent.
Muscle loss and to maintain muscle and strength than younger people. We also know that a high protein diet is more filling than a low protein diet, and that of course, helps you regulate your food intake, and that helps you regulate your body composition and make sure that you are not overweight or.
Obese. A high protein diet is also associated with better bone health That’s been shown in research as well as improved bone mass as we get older, and that of course lowers your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. And lastly, studies show that eating plenty of protein can lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol.
Again, my recommendation to Blue Zoners who are not eating a high protein diet. If anyone out there is in a blue zone and is older and is listening, if you’re not eating, let’s say at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, try to do that and I would. Urge you to go a bit higher than that.
0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day, even as high as one or even a little bit higher if you are very active. If you are regularly stressing your muscles, whether it’s in a gym or whether you do body weight stuff or whether you are engaging in some other. Physical activity that is physically demanding and particularly on your muscles, then you probably can benefit from something around one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Okay, so that’s it for the blues owners and their protein intake. Let’s talk about the claims that eating protein or eating a high protein diet forces your body to produce more hormones and chemicals that make tissues grow faster. And that, of course can be linked to cancer and that increase oxidative stress and cellular damage, which of course just breaks the body down faster.
Now, this is something that I go into in more detail in my next book, which is called Muscle for Life. My first traditionally published book, actually I’m doing that one with Simon and Schuster, and it’s coming out January of next year. But the quick and dirty is the story goes like this. If you restrict your protein intake, you will reduce these unwanted side effects.
You will reduce wear and tear in your body. You’ll lower your risk of disease and disorder, and it sounds nice, and depending on who is pitching you on it, they may offer some pseudoscientific explanations that sound plausible. But research shows that the theory is probably wrong. So for one thing, all the studies that I’ve seen to support these claims that suggest that low protein dieting can increase lifespan are studies done in animals and mostly in mice.
And while humans in mice share many of the same biological me. There are very key differences. We are not just big mice. For example, mice burn about seven times more calories per pound of body weight than humans. And that matters because the faster the metabolism, the more cellular damage that accumulates from metabolic activities.
Therefore, it would make sense that mice would stand to benefit from protein restriction, which lowers metabolic activity a lot. Than humans would. What’s more, there’s no long term research on how restricting protein intake affects lifespan in humans. But statistical models that were developed by scientists at Texas a and m University have predicted that if you reduced your protein intake to the absolute minimum, That’s required to maintain your health.
So that would be about 12% of your daily calories. So forget about your strength training, for example. 12% of daily calories, very low protein dieting. So if you were to start that at age 18, and if you were to do that for the rest of your life, you could maybe increase your lifespan by, take a guess.
How long do you think? Three years. Yeah. Three years. Then again, maybe not because the researchers in that study, they didn’t take into account the negative side effects of low protein dieting. Stuff that we know is associated with a higher mortality rate like muscle loss and weaker bones and less function and mobility, which increases the risk of falls and brakes and fractures and those.
Considerable threats to longevity. So if someone is restricting their protein intake, and certainly if they’re heavily restricting it to try to minimize their metabolism so they can stick around longer, I would argue that they’re probably stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. I would say that the current weight of these scientific evidence is that while it’s true that there is more metabolic activity with a higher protein diet, when you weigh that.
The known benefits of high protein dieting to lifespan, it’s probably not just a wash. You’re probably coming out ahead with a high protein diet. And almost certainly if you combine that with regular strength training. And of course if you are going to do regular strength training, you are going to get much better results with a high protein diet.
And that doesn’t just mean you’re gonna look better in the mirror. It means your body is going to get fitter faster with a high protein diet. And a strong fit body is simply harder to kill than a weak, unfit. All right. That’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful.
And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility and thus it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger.
Healthier and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com. Just muscle f o r life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this.
I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.
That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at most for life.com. And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.