Fasting Life Extension

Fasting and Life Extension

What if you could not only be more productive but also have more time to do your work? What if you can experience the positive benefits of living a longer life, without the trouble? That is what I wanted to explore in today’s research about radical life-extension. Today I will ask the questions if we can live longer than 100 years, and how you can do did without any actual technology but with changes in your diet.

Ageing and Caloric Restriction

Caloric restriction is the practice of strategically eating less, to get a positive health benefit. In experiments with lab mice, caloric restriction has shown to increase lifespan by 20-30 percent. This happened when they fed the mice 30-40 percent less than they would normally eat. The mice also didn’t develop cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. They also have low blood sugar levels, low insulin levels, good insulin sensitivity, low blood pressure, and better general health. Physiologically, they were doing great.

But not psychologically. The lab mice showed signs of depression and irritability. The lack of energy made them lethargic and without the proper energy, their extended life was not one of great pleasure. Eating less than your body needs/wants has a negative impact on your mood. In human trials with restricted amounts calories per day, the test subjects also didn’t have fun. So what to do when you want the benefits but not the downside.

Intermittent Fasting (IF), reducing calories for only a small portion of the time, has the benefits of the fasting group without the downsides. Notable doctors have tried it themselves and report the benefits.

How to apply IF

Eat less on some days.

Well, that’s the very short explanation. The benefits of IF should show up at a 24-hour mark. This means that you will only have to skip food from lunch the first day to lunch the next. In other words, you don’t even have to go a waking day without any food. You can eat breakfast and lunch the one day, and eat dinner the next night.

According to Dr Longo and his team of nutritionists. A slightly modified version (of eating less for a few days), called the Fasting Mimicking Diet, you will only have to do this ‘diet’ for 3 to 4 times per year to reap the benefits.

Does IF work in real-life?

The great benefit of IF lies in combatting ageing (and related diseases). A side-benefit could be weight loss if not all ‘lost’ calories are accounted for in the days after. But at the same time, it’s been shown to lower thermogenesis (your resting metabolic rate), thus negating the loss of calories by making your body use energy more effectively.

A study with young overweight women showed no benefit of IF over continuous energy restriction. Both methods had a positive effect on the body weight of the women (both groups lost about 6kg over 6 months). The insulin sensitivity and other health markers also didn’t differ significantly. The psychological effect of IF versus caloric restriction wasn’t measured.

Another study with an alternating-calorie diet produced the same results. Here they studied if eating high and low-calorie days had any positive effect. The changes were, however, the same as the test subjects who ate less every day. What they did find was that exercise was beneficial in both groups (versus no exercise).


Reading more and more about the topic (see sources below) makes me realise that there isn’t a definitive answer to give here. Fasting can have a positive effect on our furry friends, but on humans, the effect may be smaller. And IF is one of those things that might be difficult to do in a social setting. But it shows clear signs of helping you age well, and who doesn’t want to live far beyond 100 years?


Floris Wolswijk

MSc in Industrial & Organisational Psychology. Floris has started two companies before. In his student life, he was President of his Study Association and Director of a Student Strategy Consultancy. He participates in obstacle runs and has energy for two. Getting the right things done is what he gets up for in the morning.

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