The Science & Art of Longevity
We've had the great who-luck to get to know and love Dr. Peter Attia over the past few years. He has continued to be an incredible friend as well as a touchstone in shaping how we think about nutrition and long-term health.
A culmination of years of work, Peterʻs brand new book/manifesto for living better longer–Outlive–hit the bookshelves last week and we havenʻt been able to put our copies down.
For Maui Nui, we are already starting to implementOutliveas a practical guide to continue to build safety for our teams through better sleep protocols (see Chapter 16). What we are even more excited to sink our teeth into–for our own health and for that of our 'Ohana of customers–are Peterʻs recommendations for PROTEIN intake and the critical role this building block (of muscles, enzymes, and hormones) plays in longevity.
We want to extend a humongous ho'omaika'i, congratulations and thanks, to Dr. Peter Attia on the launch of such an informative and important book and we excitedly share our following Q&A with the doc, himself:
What is your goal in writing OUTLIVE?
Despite how much effort I have put into podcasting and writing (blogs, newsletters) over the past 12 years, it’s very difficult to give someone a comprehensive view of how I think about this topic in either format. Podcasts are wonderful in many ways, but they lack the structure and deliberate purpose of a book. In this book, I wanted to create a comprehensive lattice upon which a reader can develop both a deep and wide understanding of longevity and, more importantly, understand how to insert future information into the same frameworks uncovered in this book, as that information becomes available. I want readers to free themselves from the never ending cycle of quick fixes and rudderless tactics. I want readers to gain ownership over their own longevity curve by clearly understanding the difference between their objectives, their strategies, and of course, the tactics used to achieve them.
Why did you title your debut book OUTLIVE?
This might sound silly, but I like that “OUTLIVE” is a verb. All of this “longevity stuff” is about action. Every step is rooted in action. Hence, the title should reflect that. The subtitle is “The Science & Art of Longevity” and that reflects, in the order we try to practice it, that applying the science of longevity to humans is part science, but also part art.
What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception that people have regarding longevity?
I think there are two broad categories, which are essentially polar opposites. On the one hand you have the camp who believe death can be “conquered” and we are within years of undoing death. Immortality is just around the corner as soon as we can crack one specific technology or ‘hallmark of aging’ pathway. At the other end of the spectrum, and I think this is a more prevalent camp, is the belief that your longevity is more or less set in stone and there is not a lot you can do to alter it. There is a grain of truth to this belief, which is likely why it’s so pervasive. Genes do play a role in longevity at the extreme end (north of about 90-years-old), but people fail to realize how much control they have over their healthspan. This is where the work comes in. We have staggering agency over this aspect of our longevity.
The Outlive Book Giveaway
This Giveaway Has Ended.
The latest science on how much protein we should be eating per day seems to have increased significantly. What’s your general rule on how many grams per day to consume and does it matter when and how much per meal?
I aim for one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day for my patients. This is about twice the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) set by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, but it’s important to understand that the RDA represents only a minimum quantity necessary to avoid malnutrition – not the optimal quantity for promoting health. Most studies indicate that intake of around twice the RDA is more appropriate for building and maintaining lean mass, one of the strongest correlates of lifespan.
However, how we distribute protein intake throughout the day determines how much benefit we can reap from it. The body can only use a limited amount of protein for muscle protein synthesis at any given time, so if we cram all of our daily protein requirements into one meal, most of it will instead be burned as fuel (instead of burning carbohydrates or fats). On the other hand, each serving must contain enough protein to reach the minimum threshold for stimulating protein synthesis, so spreading intake over several very small servings also fails to optimize muscle protein synthesis. Ideally, protein intake should be divided over 3-4 servings per day, with a sweet spot of around 30-50 grams of protein per serving, to maximize benefits.
All proteins are not created equal. Could you help our Maui Nui ʻOhana understand what makes for an ideal or high-quality protein?
Protein quality is determined by two main factors: bioavailability and amino acid composition. Bioavailability refers to the percentage of ingested protein that can be digested and absorbed. For instance, plant-based protein is typically around 60-70% bioavailable, largely because fiber present in plants can interfere with protein absorption. In contrast, bioavailability for animal protein sources is generally very high (~95%), meaning that the body can absorb and utilize nearly all of the protein consumed.
Proteins are primarily composed of 20 different types of amino acids, of which nine (known as “essential amino acids”) cannot be synthesized by the body and must instead be obtained from diet. Although every protein source contains all 20 amino acids, their relative proportions vary between sources, and the greater the proportion of essential amino acids, the greater the protein quality. In particular, the essential amino acid leucine plays a critical role in stimulating protein synthesis, while other essential amino acids – especially lysine and methionine – tend to be underconsumed by many individuals and merit special attention.
While plant-based proteins tend to contain high proportions of non-essential amino acids and are generally low in leucine, lysine, and especially methionine, all animal proteins have adequate amounts of these three amino acids and others classified as essential.
Our latest nutrient density report shows significantly lower oxidative stress markers, like 4-HNE and zero detectable Pyraline, versus beef. We’ve always known that our stress-free harvesting resulted in better-tasting meat, but this new data seems to indicate that it might also be better for you. Any thoughts on this?
We know that both 4-HNE and pyrraline can be absorbed from food, and on a mechanistic level, evidence indicates that both can contribute to oxidative stress, which is associated with various negative health effects. So although we don’t have any data directly linking dietary intake of these compounds to health consequences, a connection is certainly plausible, and empirically, it makes sense – if you have the choice to eat an animal that was healthier and less stressed at the time of harvest, it seems logical that this would translate to better health on the part of the person consuming it.
Our nutrition reports have also shown that our axis deer bone broth contains about 33% more protein than even the best beef bone broths. Can you tell us a bit about the protein in bone broth and how it might impact health?
The overwhelming majority of protein present in bone (and therefore bone broth) is collagen. Collagen is critical for bone strength, so it makes sense that the strong bones needed by active, wild deer would have more collagen than relatively inactive animals like cows.
The extra protein is beneficial simply for helping to meet daily protein goals, but collagen specifically may have other benefits for health. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is a vital component not only of bone and cartilage, but also of connective tissue. Ingestion of collagen in the diet appears to boost the body’s own collagen synthesis, improve skin health, and relieve joint pain.