Spring believe it or not is right around the corner even though perhaps winter is still making it’s mark where you live. This means there will be all sorts of pressure from the media to lose weight and to fit into those shorts or skinny jeans again. But more than that there’s all sorts of good reasons to lose weight. One of them being that you just feel so much better! Come on, we all know it. My new thing is Intermittent fasting. I find it extremely effective for dropping weight quickly and effectively without having to do a whole lot of thinking about it. After all, who has the time. Then there’s The Fasting Mimicking Diet? (FMD) The FMD is a 5 day diet plan designed by longevity researchers and tested on yeast, mice and humans with very encouraging results. The secret behind this is that you actually get to eat food while tricking your body into believing that you’re fasting so you lose weight, yet you’re receiving all sorts of nutrient dense calories. Positive impacts of the diet include multi-body system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance and even increased life span. It is expected that the biomarkers that the FMD impacts upon can lead to reduced risk for diabetes, coronary heart disease and even some cancers.
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Full fasting or long term calorie restriction could also produce similar benefits but both are highly challenging and intolerable for most people and come with their own significant risks and downsides. By contrast the unique feature of the Fasting Mimicking Diet is the mimicking part. It is designed to deliver benefits similar to those achieved by fasting but also be far more tolerable and avoid the risks, discomforts and issues presented by fasting.
The 5 day Fasting Mimicking Diet itself is a nutrient dense, calorie restricted protocol with very low protein and low carbohydrate content. The 5 day diet is intended for repetition between 2-12 times per year to fully enjoy the healthspan benefits. This means on the most frequent regimen the FMD would be followed for 5 days followed by 25 days of normal eating. Less frequent repetitions, such as 3-4 times per year, may be sufficient to enjoy many of the benefits.
For 10% off the FMD kit from March 10-April 10th use my special code HEALTHY2019
Since it involves a caloric deficit the FMD does produce weight loss and this appears to be accompanied by decreases in abdominal fat (my nemesis) and even increases in lean body mass. However this is only one of the outcomes of the diet, and it is not designed or intended to be used for weight loss alone.
Fasting Mimicking Diet Research
As of April 2017 outcomes from the first human intervention trial have been published and a larger trial is underway which will attempt to compare the FMD against other protocols which also produce weight loss to determine whether the FMD offers incremental benefits compared to weight loss achieved via any means.
The outcomes of the first small scale human trials of FMD are reported as including –
- Reduction in blood glucose and large increase in ketones
- 25%+ reduction in circulating Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)
- Reduction in C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
- Positive changes in cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduction in body weight
Fasting Mimicking Diet also appears to offer some potential for the reversal of Diabetes (repairs to the pancreas) and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, with further research intended. – Resource Science alert
Fasting Mimicking Diet Guide
The FMD company that I set out to try is called ProLon. It provides you with a free consultation call with one of their Health coaches that you can set up and book online when you sign up for their program.
It’s available already in US, UK, Australia and an expanding list of other Countries. ProLon is a package of soups, snack bars, crackers and drinks that can be consumed over 5 days in order to follow the FMD as designed by the researchers.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet was created by Dr. Valter Longo, who is an Italian biologist and researcher.
He sought to replicate the benefits of fasting while still providing the body with nutrition. His modifications avoid the calorie deprivation associated with other types of fasting.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet — or “fast mimicking” — is a type of intermittent fasting.
However, it differs from more traditional types, such as the 16/8 method.
The Fasting Mimicking protocol is based on decades of research, including several clinical studies.
Some folks follow the principles of fast mimicking on their own, however Dr. Longo sells this five-day weight loss program called the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet through L-Nutra, a nutrition technology company that he started. If you do it on your own you may not achieve all the nutrients your body needs on a cellular level to sustain your self, lose weight and maintain your muscle mass.
For 10% off the subscription from March 10-April 10 use my special code HEALTHY2019Sub
Why follow the Fasting Mimicking Diet?
Here are my very personal reasons. I love life and wish to live as healthily as possible for my kids and myself as long as possible. Don’t we all? I mean, our bodies are the only vessels we have right?
I am aware of the correlation between age and disease risk. I cannot control everything but I can take some certain actions to mitigate these the risks where possible. I am therefore very interested in anything I can do to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease (such as Alzheimer’s, dementia) metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes, and coronary heart disease, and cancers.
My starting points are –
- I don’t smoke or take a lot of medications
- I drink moderately/socially
- I exercise generally but not as frequently as I should – gotta get on that!
- I maintain a weight at the lower end of the normal BMI range and a bodyfat around 13-14%
- I have excellent sleep hygiene and practice meditation for relaxation
- I practice positive affirmations and visualization techniques
- I follow a whole foods and mediterranean type diet with minimal processed foods and added sugars
- I miss my friends and family from CT but keep in touch with them regularly
With all these in place, the basics are mostly covered but could be improved. For me to further improve my current and long-term health requires some discipline. I already also practice intermittent fasting / time restricted eating.
I am aware of the potential benefits of calorie restriction and am willing to pursue it for a while to drop some poundage as well as feel the enjoyable side effects that losing weight brings me. Having extra pounds on my already small frame makes me feel sluggish, tired and lethargic.
I find when I do an intermittent fast my energy levels are much higher, my brain is much sharper and I am much more motivated to take on extra tasks and accomplish more in general.
Enter the Fasting Mimicking Diet. This is the first intervention I have discovered that appears to offer genuine promise. It’s key and differentiating characteristics are –
- It is designed to provide benefits to people that are already generally healthy
- There is intervention study evidence for those benefits
- The benefits can be obtained by short 5 day periods of dietary intervention
- It is possible to verify positive outcomes via (mostly) consumer available tests and tools
How Does It Work?
The ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet plan includes five-day, prepackaged meal kits.
All meals and snacks are whole-food derived and plant based. The meal kits are low in carbs and protein yet high in healthy fats like olives and flax.
During the five-day period, dieters only consume what’s contained within the meal kit.
Day one of the diet provides approximately 1,090 kcal (10% protein, 56% fat, 34% carbs), while days two through five provide only 725 kcal (9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbs).
The low-calorie, high-fat, low-carb content of the meals causes your body to generate energy from non carbohydrate sources after glycogen stores are depleted.
This process is called gluconeogenesis.
According to one study, the diet is designed to provide 34–54% of normal calorie intake.
This calorie restriction mimics the body’s physiological response to traditional fasting methods, such as cell regeneration, decreased inflammation, and fat loss.
ProLon recommends that all dieters consult a medical professional — such as a doctor or registered dietitian — before starting the five-day fast.
The ProLon five-day plan is not a one-time cleanse and must be followed every one to six months to obtain optimal results.
Foods to Eat and to Avoid
The ProLon meal kit is broken down into five individual boxes — one box per day — and includes a chart with recommendations on what foods to eat and the order in which to eat them.
A specific combination of food is provided for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, depending on the day.
For 10% off your meal kit from March 10-April 10 enter code HEALTHY2019
The unique combination of nutrients and reduction in calories is meant to trick your body into thinking it’s fasting, even though it’s being given energy.
Because calories vary between days, it’s important that dieters do not mix foods or carry foods over into the next day.
All foods are vegetarian, as well as gluten- and lactose-free. The purchased kit comes with nutritional facts.
A five-day ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet kit includes:
Nut bars. Meal bars made from macadamia nut butter, honey, flax, almond meal, and coconut.
My Impressions of the ProLon Fasting Diet Food
Algal oil. A vegetarian-based supplement that provide dieters with 200 mg of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
L-Bar Nut bars. These honey nut bars are seriously yummy and it’s hard to believe that you’re on a fasting diet plan with them. If they were sold individually I would definitely buy them! They are absolutely delicious and somewhat decadent tasting. They sure beat any protein bar I’ve ever tasted in a drug store, GNC etc. And I have sampled them all. They don’t have that yucky after taste that I’ve always found those energy/protein bars to have. They simply taste really, really good!! They have a great consistency and are quite filling. I don’t feel like eating anything else after I’ve had just one and some tea to go with it.
Soup blends. A mix of flavored soups including minestrone, minestrone quinoa, mushroom, and tomato soup. Pretty tasty and flavorful soups for just a simple powdered soup mix. And quite filling too. Goes nicely with the crackers.
Herbal tea. Spearmint, hibiscus, and lemon-spearmint tea. Natural, delightful, refreshing teas.
Dark chocolate crisp bar. A dessert bar made with cocoa powder, almonds, chocolate chips, and flax. Very tasty and filling. You feel like you’re eating a yummy chewy brownie.
Kale crackers. A mix of ingredients including flax seeds, nutritional yeast, kale, herbs, and pumpkin seeds. These crackers I must say are truly delicious! I was actually surprised. I would buy/eat these even if I wasn’t on this plan.
Olives. Olives are included as a high-fat snack. One pack is provided on day one, while two packs are provided on days two through five. I love all types of olives no matter what. If you don’t like olives, well what can I say?
NR-1. A powdered vegetable supplement that delivers a dose of vitamins and minerals that you wouldn’t normally consume during a traditional fast.
L-Drink. This glycerol-based energy drink is given on days two through five when your body has started gluconeogenesis (begins to create energy from non carbohydrate sources, such as fats).
Dieters are encouraged to only consume what is contained within the meal kit and to avoid consuming any other foods or beverages with two exceptions:
Soups can be flavored with fresh herbs and lemon juice.
Dieters are encouraged to stay hydrated with plain water and decaffeinated teas during the five-day fast.
Promotes Weight Loss
A small study led by Dr. Longo compared people who completed three cycles of the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet over three months to a control group.
Participants in the fasting group lost an average of 6 pounds (2.7 kg) and experienced greater reductions in belly fat than the control group (4).
Though this study was small and led by the developer of the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet, other studies have shown that fasting methods are effective in promoting weight loss.
For example, one 16-week study in obese men found that those who practiced intermittent fasting lost 47% more weight than those who continuously restricted calories.
What’s more, very-low-calorie diets have been proven to encourage weight loss.
Still, evidence that the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet is more effective than other low-calorie diets or fasting methods is currently lacking.
May Reduce Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels
The same small study led by Dr. Longo that linked fast mimicking to fat loss also observed that the Fasting Mimicking Diet group experienced a significant drop in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol was reduced by 20 mg/dl in those with high cholesterol levels, while blood sugar levels dropped into the normal range in participants who had high blood sugar at the beginning of the study.
These results were also demonstrated in animal studies.
Four days of the diet every week for 60 days prompted regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, promoted healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance, and led to more stable levels of blood glucose in mice with diabetes.
Although these results are promising, more human studies are needed to determine the diet’s impact on blood sugar.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting reduces markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interferon gamma (ifnγ), leptin, interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), and interleukin 6 (IL-6).
In a study in people practicing alternate-day fasting for the religious holiday of Ramadan, proinflammatory cytokines were significantly lower during the alternate-day fasting period, compared to the weeks before or after.
One animal study found that the Fasting Mimicking Diet may be effective at reducing certain inflammatory markers.
Mice with multiple sclerosis were placed on either the Fasting Mimicking Diet or a ketogenic diet for 30 days.
May Slow Aging and Mental Decline
One of the main reasons Dr. Longo developed the Fasting Mimicking Diet was to slow the aging process and risk of certain diseases by promoting the body’s ability to self-repair through cellular regeneration.
Autophagy is a process in which old, damaged cells are recycled to produce new, healthier ones.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to optimize autophagy, which may protect against mental decline and slow cellular aging.
A study in mice found that short-term food restriction led to a dramatic increase of autophagy in nerve cells.
Another study in rats with dementia showed that alternate-day food deprivation for 12 weeks led to greater reductions in oxidative damage to brain tissue and reduced mental deficits compared to a control diet.
Other animal studies have demonstrated that fasting increases the generation of nerve cells and enhances brain function.
What’s more, intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) — a hormone that, at high levels, can increase the risk of certain cancer, such as breast cancer.
However, more human studies need to be carried out to fully understand how fasting may impact aging and disease risk.
Who Should Avoid the Fasting Mimicking Diet?
ProLon does not recommend its diet to certain populations, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women and those who are underweight or malnourished.
People who are allergic to nuts, soy, oats, sesame, or celery/celeriac should also avoid the ProLon meal kit as it contains these ingredients.
Additionally, ProLon warns anyone with medical conditions — such as diabetes or kidney disease — to only use the plan under a doctor’s supervision.
Intermittent fasting may also not be appropriate for those with a history of disordered eating.
Is The FMD for YOU?
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is most likely safe for healthy individuals and may provide several health benefits.
However, it’s unclear whether it’s more effective than other, more researched methods of intermittent fasting, such as the 16/8 method.
The 16/8 method is a type of intermittent fasting that limits eating to eight hours per day, with no food for the remaining 16 hours. This cycle can be repeated once or twice per week or every day, depending on personal preference.
If you have the funds and the self-discipline to follow the five-day, low-calorie fasting plan from ProLon, it may be a good choice.
Just remember that — like other fasting methods — this diet needs to be continued long term to reap the potential benefits. But that’s ok because it teaches you to discipline so when you’re not on it you actually don’t eat as much regularly and make healthier, smarter choices!
Some fast mimicking meal plans are available online but they don’t deliver the same nutrition as the ProLon meal kit — which may be the key to the diet’s effectiveness.
To get 10% OFF the ProLon meal kit from March 10-April 10th enter code Healthy2019.
And for 10% OFF the subscription box enter code HEALTHY2019Sub.
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