Peter Attia Diet: The Science of Intermittent Fasting
The Peter Attia Diet was created by (of course) Dr. Peter Attia, a Canadian-American physician who studies the applied science of longevity. Attia is interested in the cutting-edge of techniques like nutritional interventions, exercise and sleep physiology, mental health, and pharmacology. He uses these various disciplines to understand the best ways to improve the health and lifespan of his clients.
He trained for five years at Johns Hopkins Hospital in general surgery. Peter received several awards during his time there, including resident of the year. Peter authored a comprehensive review of general surgery.
Before spending two years at NIH as a surgical oncology fellow at the national care institute. There his research focused on immune-based therapies for melanoma. Since then Peter has been mentored by innovative doctors and scientists from a wide array of different fields in the United States and Canada.
Dr. Attia trained at John Hopkins Hospital as a general surgeon. During his tenure there, Peter received a number of awards and authored a comprehensive review of general surgery. After his time at John Hopkins, Peter worked as a surgical oncology fellow at the National Care Institute, where he researched immune-based therapy for melanoma. Since then, Dr. Attia has collaborated with innovative doctors & scientists across a wide array of different fields.
So What is the Dr. Peter Attia Diet?
Before we talk about what his diet is, let’s first talk about what it isn’t.
Peter’s diet is not:
- Ketogenic - while he might occasionally do keto, the regular diet is far from the Keto protocols.
- It’s not vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or paleo.
- It is also not dairy or free.
Dr. Peter Attia’s diet can be divided into three golden rules.
- Time Restricted Feeding
- Avoid Sugars, High Fructose Corn Syrup & Junk Food
- No Restriction on Healthy Starches and Vegetables
What Does Dr. Peter Attia Say About Restricted Feeding?
Let’s start with the first and foremost rule: time-restricted feeding. This is a type of intermittent fasting. Peter doesn’t eat anywhere from 14-22 hours a day, depending on the day. The calories he needs are consumed in a small period of time in the afternoon or early evening. Basically, he eats one big meal a day.
Time-restricted feeding or intermittent fasting has many benefits that go far beyond maintaining or losing weight. Studies show it might improve longevity and overall wellness. Just understand that before you start intermittent fasting, you should take some time to speak to your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you.
A few benefits of fasting include:
- Changes to your hormones and cellular function
- This may sound a little strange, but not eating changes your body. Not the “starve yourself” not eating, but “controlled fasting” not-eating. When you fast, your body’s hormone levels change to make your stored body fat more accessible. It also initiates an important cellular repair process called autophagy, which removes waste products from your cells.
- The level of insulin in your blood drops significantly, encouraging your body to burn fat.
- Human growth hormone levels increase dramatically, facilitating fat burning as well as muscle gain.
- Possible Benefits for Heart Health
- Studies show that intermittent fasting has improved several different risk factors for heart disease. These include:
- Blood sugar levels
- Blood Pressure
- Bad cholesterol
- Inflammatory markers
- Good for the Brain as Well
- Intermittent fasting improves metabolic functions that are important for cognition. It helps reduce:
- oxidative stress
- blood sugar levels
- insulin resistance
- Some studies even show that intermittent fasting may induce the growth of new brain cells.
- May Lessen Risk of Cancer
- Intermittent fasting has been studied for its effect on reducing and limiting the growth of tumors. Research found that fasting cycles not only reduce tumor growth, but also aid fighting tumors, in a similar way chemotherapy can. Evidence does not yet verify which cancers intermittent fasting can prevent or reduce the risk of. However, these are results which signal fasting can have great significance for cancer treatment.
- Improves Gut Health
- Intermittent fasting decreases blood pressure, reduces inflammation, and encourages fat burning. All of these are all indicators of improved gut health. Low blood pressure and reducing inflammation are key to maintaining a healthy gut. The right foods pair with the microbes in the gut to enhance immune intolerances and tissue repair. Intermittent fasting rids the body of unwanted cells and old proteins, which flushes away the bad stuff and makes room for the good stuff. Drinking lots of water during fasting enhances the benefits of the fast. Hydration helps flush away dysfunctional cells and clears the gut of bad bacteria. Studies suggest that water fasts are the most effective for improving gut health and increasing gut microbiome resistance.
- Increases Energy Levels
- Some studies note the effect that fasting has on energy endurance levels. One study with 32 healthy males, discovered the effect fasting has on their energy levels. 31 males completed the study and all saw significant improvements in their total mood. All found themselves more motivated with improved vigor.
The Next Rule is to Avoid Sugars, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Junk Food
Dr. Attia chooses to avoid sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, but often these ingredients are hidden in plain sight. They are easily spotted in junk foods like chips, cookies, pastries, and soda - but they also show up in surprising places, like ketchup or crackers. You do need to be careful to read the labels of even the simplest items.
Both Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup were linked to increased health risks. They increase liver fat and decrease insulin sensitivity. The prevalence of fatty liver and type 2 diabetes continues to increase globally. These lead to continued and worsening health problems if not addressed. Avoiding these two ingredients is probably one of the best things you can do for your body.
The Final Rule: Don’t Restrict Healthy Starches and Vegetables
Peter chooses not to put restrictions on perfectly healthy starches like rice and potatoes. He also chooses not to restrict the number of vegetables he consumes in a day. The microbiome growing in your gut actually needs healthy starches.
Things like potatoes and rice are prebiotics. Prebiotics are essential because they feed the probiotics, or good bacteria, in your gut. About 70% of your immune system is based on your gut. So, it is essential to keep a happy healthy balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Too much bad bacteria can lead to gas, cramping, bloating, and even autoimmune diseases.
What Does Dr. Peter Attia Eat?
When Dr. Attia is in a longer fasting period and eating only once a day, he will consume nearly 3,000 calories in a single meal alone.
This meal usually consists of:
- A huge salad
- He plies his lettuce with vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. Peter tops it all off with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, freshly squeezed lemon, salt, and pepper.
- The protein is a rotation of several different types. The choices include salmon, pork, steak, or game meat.
- On the side, he has a serving of rice, potatoes, or sweet potato.
While Peter doesn’t always eat just one meal a day, he does aim to delay his first meal until after lunchtime.
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