Dr. Peter Attia is one of the foremost anti-aging scientists, so when he speaks people tend to listen.
I recently read “Outlive” by Dr. Peter Attia, which uses the metaphor of a voyage on the Arctic Ocean to explain the challenges of aging and the importance of avoiding the four diseases associated with it: cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and metabolic disease. The book emphasizes the need to steer clear of these “icebergs” in order to enjoy a long and fulfilling life.
Dr. Attia aims to help readers identify and navigate these icebergs by taking control of their health. Rather than being passive passengers like those on the ill-fated Titanic, he encourages us to become captains of our own ships, equipped with radar to detect and avoid the diseases of aging. The key radar system he highlights is insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body has difficulty processing glucose and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that insulin resistance is strongly linked to an increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular death. When the body is in an insulin-resistant state, cancer cells thrive, brain cells suffer from fuel deprivation leading to Alzheimer’s, and inflammation accelerates heart disease.
By preventing or reversing insulin resistance and the metabolic diseases associated with it, we can effectively steer clear of most of the icebergs on our journey to healthy and vibrant old age. Insulin resistance occurs when excess glucose in the blood cannot be effectively absorbed by muscle cells and subcutaneous fat. Instead, it gets converted into fat and stored in undesirable places such as the liver, between muscle fibers, and around organs. This visceral fat is highly inflammatory and contributes to worsening insulin resistance.
To determine if we are in an insulin-resistant state, we can measure our blood glucose levels after consuming a sugary drink. If glucose levels continue to rise after an hour, it indicates insulin resistance and a potential collision course with an iceberg in the future, unless we change our course and lifestyle.
While many people assume that diet is the primary tool for avoiding insulin resistance, Dr. Attia emphasizes that physical exercise is the most effective longevity strategy, calling it the most powerful longevity drug.
The ultimate exercise program for longevity involves three types of training: zone two training, VO2 max training, and strength training. Zone two training refers to aerobic exercise that can be sustained while still being able to hold a conversation. This type of workout trains the mitochondria in muscle cells to use fat as fuel.
VO2 max training, on the other hand, involves high-intensity aerobic exercises that push your body to its maximum capacity, much like our Xardio classes at X Gym. It has shown significant benefits for longevity and overall health.
Lastly, strength training, especially the high-intensity style we do at X Gym, builds lean muscle, which helps regulate glucose levels and protect against injury.
Additionally, consuming adequate protein, spaced throughout the day to avoid excess glucose production, is crucial for maintaining and building muscle mass. Dr. Attia recommends 1 gram per pound of body weight for those who are exercising frequently.
In terms of eating habits, Dr. Attia suggests not eating within three hours of bedtime to improve sleep quality. He also advises following an eating plan that keeps average blood glucose levels within a safe range (i.e. low carb). Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels after meals can help identify foods that may cause spikes in glucose and lead to insulin spikes.
Bottom line: Exercise is the #1 best thing you can do for a longer, healthier, active, and enjoyable life.
More from Attia: