Anti-ageing eating - calorie restriction, the 5/2 diet and the like

why they don’t actually apply once you are ‘older’. 

The thing about most anti-ageing eating plans that claim to help you live longer and avoid the sorts of health problems common in older people is that you have to start them when you are young. 

If you are now in your late 60s or beyond and haven’t already been a keen participant for years, it’s really too late to start. 

That’s because our bodies just don’t work the same way once you reach those years: it’s too easy to lose precious muscle taking such diets up later in life and that’s potentially disastrous. Calorie restriction (where you regularly eat fewer calories/kJ than your body needs) and intermittent fasting (where you eat little or no food one or two days a week) in younger people make some sense really since humans evolved eating only when food was available and that was certainly not all the time.

Our body systems are well set up to store every little bit away and make the most of every meal. These diets tap into that – seeking benefits in eating to mimic the way our physiology developed in the face of irregular food supply, instead of the way modern life allows us, when there is rarely more than a few hours between food top ups. And it’s true; many health issues common today stem from our body systems having had to cope with us eating more than we really needed for years.


The benefits are not there if you start when you are already into later adulthood. Then, your body has accumulated decades of wear and tear and it needs assistance not only to keep you active and involved in the life around you, but also to repair any damage that’s built up over the years. Combine that with immune system changes, illness, reduced resilience of body organs, more frequent minor cuts, bruises and skin tears as skin becomes more fragile all demand extra of some nutrients, especially protein and any restriction of calories or fasting makes it extremely difficult to get what’s needed. There's a lot more on ways to support muscle in chapter 1 of "Eat To Cheat Ageing"

Long term followers of calorie restriction who have an excellent understanding of the nutritional values of foods and do targeted activities and exercise to maintain muscle will likely continue to get benefit from these diets, but for the vast majority they are instead bad news.

Want to learn more about how you can cheat ageing?