Protein Quantity and Source, Fasting-Mimicking Diets, and Longevity

Adv Nutr. 2019 Nov 1;10(Suppl_4):S340-S350. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz079.


Dietary modifications, including caloric restriction, dietary restriction, various intervals of fasting, and even limiting the time when food is consumed can have a pronounced impact on longevity. In addition, dietary modifications are powerful interventions to delay, prevent, or treat many aging-related diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Restricting amino acid and protein intake generally decreases aging-related comorbidities and thereby increases health and longevity. However, chronic dietary interventions are likely not feasible for most people due to low adherence to dietary protocols or resistance to drastic changes to lifestyle, and might even cause detrimental effects, possibly by negatively affecting the immune system and wound healing. The periodic use of low-protein, low-calorie fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs) has the potential to promote health benefits, while minimizing the burden of chronic restriction. Protein restriction and FMDs together have the potential to play an important complementary role in medicine by promoting disease prevention and treatment, and by delaying the aging process at least in part by stimulating stem cell-based regeneration in periods of normal food intake after periodic FMD cycles. The aim of this narrative review is to summarize research on the impact of protein restriction on health and longevity in model organisms and to discuss the implementation of an FMD in mice and in human clinical trials and its effects on biomarkers of healthy aging. Taking into account the importance of sex on aging and diet, we include this information in all discussed studies. Whereas for some model organisms of aging, such as rodents, many studies are available, results are more limited for primates and/or humans.

Keywords: fasting-mimicking diet; healthspan; longevity; protein intake; protein source.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diet therapy
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fasting*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Healthy Aging
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy


  • Dietary Proteins