Mouse Studies On The Fasting Mimicking Diet
Dr. Walter Longo and his associates studying the effects of the FMD on mice and humans have gotten some interesting results.
First, lets look at the mouse studies. They fed mice a high-fat and high-calorie diet , then put one group through several cycles of the FMD. In the group that was put through several cycles of FMD, they found:
- Improved diabetes risk factors, such as reducing hyperglycemia and HbA1C .
- A return to normal body weight range as compared to the mice on the HFHC diet only. The reduction in body fat was not accompanied by a loss in muscle mass.
- Improved histological and physiological markers of aging and cardiac health. For example, they saw a widening of the internal diameter of the left ventricle, an increase in the number of cardiomyocytes , and a shorter recovery time after a cardiac stress test.
- Restoration of the mitochondrial metabolism, which is the process by which your cells mitochondria convert glucose into energy. This is another process negatively affected by aging, lifestyle, and chronic conditions, including AFS and NEM dysregulation. It is something we aim to help our clients restore as well, but usually through different methods than fasting.
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 bodys 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 .
Whats more, intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease insulin-like growth factor 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.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet may promote weight loss, enhance autophagy, and reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, and inflammation.
What Is A Fasting Mimicking Diet Learn The Basics
As the name suggests, FMD mimics the physiological state of fasting. Simply put, it tricks your body into believing that you are fasting but you are actually eating selected foods. The brainchild of Professor Valter Longo, the FMD program comprises low-protein, low-carb, and high-fat meals. According to Longo, a fasting mimicking diet promotes health in a way similar to fasting but with meals that contain certain nutrients.
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How Often Should You Do The Fasting Mimicking Diet
These are the general guidelines for including the FMD in your lifestyle based on Valter Longo and the Prolon team and how they teach this. I go over my own recommendations which are slightly different at the bottom of this section.
If you have at least two risk factors for diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, or neurodegenerative disease, you should do the FMD once a month if you are obese or overweight people or once every two months if you are average-weight. People who are average weight with one risk factor for diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, or neurodegenerative disease, should do the FMD once every three months.
Healthy people with a normal diet who are not physically active should do the FMD once every four months. Healthy people with an ideal diet and who perform regular physical activity should do the FMD once every six months.
My general guidelines for fasting, which would include all the different forms of extended fasts including green juice fasting, water fasting, bone broth fasting or the FMD are included in the image below.
What Is The Fasting Mimicking Diet
Fasting is the ancient practice of restrictive eating that can be used to lose weight through the process of ketosis, during which the body metabolises its fat reserves for energy. It has become the most popular diet method in the US, according to the International Food Information Councils 2020 annual Food and Health survey . In fact, everyone fasts to some extent every night when they sleep, during which the bodys insulin levels drop and signal to the body to burn fat instead of store it.
Popular types of fasting for weight loss are intermittent and prolonged . Prolonged fasting is an effective way to lose weight and reset your bodys metabolism, however it can be accompanied by negative side effects including headaches and hunger that can deter those new to the fasting lifestyle.
The fasting mimicking diet differs from conventional prolonged fasting in that it allows you to continue to eat small, calorie-restricted meals with mostly plant-based ingredients including olives, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and herbal teas, with less than half of the average daily food intake of a 2000kcal diet. So called food fasts are considered to be just as effective as normal fasting and are an easier, more realistic way of fasting that people can actually sustain.
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Is The Fasting Mimicking Diet Safe
There are a few safety concerns. Obviously, don’t use these products if you’re allergic to or intolerant of the ingredients. This plan is also not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, since there’s currently a lack of evidence on its safety in pregnant and lactating women, and it’s also vital to focus on nourishment during those stages, when a mother’s nutrient needs are higher.
The ProLon website also warns not to attempt to treat type 1 or type 2 diabetes with a fasting mimicking diet, even with the help of a doctor, as studies show that FMD combined with insulin can cause serious complications.
From a mental health standpoint, if you have an active or past eating disorder, fasting is not recommended, as it may be triggering. “If you have tendencies or a history of disordered eating, I never recommend restrictive eating, even if only for a few days,” says Harris-Pincus.
Why Do A Modified Fast Rather Than A Regular Water Fast
We touched on that question a little bit already. Going without food for a few days may seem like an impossible task for many. I know its the case for me. For some, however, you may wonder if you should do a water fast instead. You may even feel that doing a water fast may be a bit easier . I want to caution you that I know of a few wellness experts who have done water fasting, and they do not recommend it. Most of us dont have the mental stamina to undergo the process. Moreover, our bodies have become so toxic that the side effects will impede our ability to go about our daily lives. Lastly, the nutrients provided by the FMD seem to accelerate the healing process.
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Fasting Mimicking: Days 1
The food and drink: Its prepackaged food, but for prepackaged food, its pretty good. For breakfast you eat a nut/granola-type bar, which is small but good.
Lunch and dinners are always soups and sometimes olives and/or flax crackers. At the end of a couple days you get some kind of weird chocolate thing with inulin in it, which I called the fart bar. The inulin is a prebiotic , which keeps the digestive tract moving along, but bloated me something fierce.
On days 2-5, you start drinking the proprietary glycerol concentrate with water. I put mine in the bottle they provided and added the bags of hibiscus tea to steep throughout the day. I found an interview with Dr. Longo where he says that the glycerol is elevated in people who are fasting and may be the reason that muscle is spared during periodic fasting.
Supplements: They give you an omega 3 algae supplement and a multivitamin, which were fine, although I wouldnt have put folic acid in the multi, but thats a blog post for another day
Energy/hunger: The first time I did this last November , I felt fine, at least on days 1-4. I couldnt believe how well I transitioned into the fast. I didnt notice any blood sugar crashes or hangry moments.
This second round, I had more headaches because I stopped caffeine , after day 1 because caffeine can kick you out of fasting. By days 4 and 5, I was clear headed and felt really good.
Health Benefits Of A Fasting Mimicking Diet
Fasting Mimicking can influence genes in a powerful way by providing the fuel and conditions the body needs to implement some protective changes. Its so impactful that it has an influence on gene expression long after the Fasting Mimicking Diet has ended. After just five days of FMD, protective benefits can be shown for months afterward.
These are the demonstrated benefits of following an FMD, according to research.
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Baseline Risk Factors And Metabolic Markers: Comparison Of Randomized Control And Fmd Subjects Who Completed The Trial
At baseline, there were no significant differences in metabolic markers or risk factors for age-related diseases and conditions between the subjects who successfully completed the randomized trial in arm 1 and arm 2 , including body weight , body mass index , total body fat , trunk fat , lean body mass , waist circumference , fasting glucose , IGF-1 , systolic and diastolic blood pressure , triglycerides , and C-reactive protein . The notable exception was that total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein , but not HDL , were significantly lower at baseline for subjects who were enrolled and completed arm 2 . In summary, the values for disease markers and risk factors at baseline were comparable between the control diet and FMD groups, with the exception of total and LDL cholesterol.
Our Modern Lifestyle: A Sickness Of Excess
Theres no denying that modern technology, including medical and sanitation technology, has benefited us greatly. Our lifespans have increased dramatically over the last 100 years and certain infectious diseases have been practically wiped out.
But there has been a cost. As we live longer and our lifestyles become dependent on certain conveniences, chronic diseases are on the rise. For most people, the added years and decades dont come with health and vitality. They come with disease, disability, and a huge decrease in the quality of life.
Unlike our ancestors, our biggest risk doesnt come from a harsh environment or lack of resources, but actually from excess. This is at least the situation in rich countries. More specifically, the excess in comforts such as fast food, processed foods, overconsumption of sugar, overconsumption of animal products, alcohol, recreational drugs, over-reliance on pharmaceutical interventions, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Our top killers are termed “diseases of affluence” by some researchers, and they include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimers disease, and cancer. These are non-communicable diseases. They are not passed from person to person, but rather depend on a combination of genetics, risk factors, and lifestyle.
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The Fasting Mimicking Diet: Whats The Bottom Line
The fasting mimicking diet has pros and cons.
Anti-aging Perspective: Safe, Effective, Easy To Do
The diet is clinically shown to mimic two of the most powerful most studied longevity promoting dietary regimens: fasting and calorie restrictions.
Practicing long term fasting and calorie restrictions is extremely difficult. As a result, most people will never do any of these.
The proLon fasting mimicking diet was invented to solve this exact challenge.
The ProLon diet is very practical and easy to do, allowing you to get the same anti-aging and longevity benefits shown in the clinical studies, without having to actually fast or worry about nutritional deficiencies.
The proLon Kit comes with five small boxes, one for each day, with everything you need to eat and drink. Meals, drinks, snacks, bars, supplements, everything was already made for you. Its really that simple.
So if your goal is to promote healthy longevity and anti-aging, the fasting mimicking diet may be a really great fit.
Healthy Weight Loss & Metabolic Health
Another area I believe the fasting mimicking diet may help, is to promote healthy weight loss and metabolic health.
In the clinical studies, FMD was shown to help individuals with normal BMI to lose an average of 5.7 lbs of fat and 1.2 inches off waist circumference. Effects persisted after returning to normal diet.
I actually noticed it myself . In only 3 days, I lost 5 lbs, which amazingly didnt come back after resuming my normal diet.
How Long Do You Need To Fast To Induce Autophagy
There is no black and white answer to this question, it will vary depending on the individual. A good way to check if you are in autophagy mode is to measure your ketones. As I mentioned fasting works by depleting your glycogen stores and then your body produces ketones using fat cells. With experience, you will feel the difference when you experience ketosis. However, you may find a ketone monitor helpful at first.
I use the Keto Mojo. You can use my affiliate link to get a 15 percent discount on it.
Personally, I know from experience that I am officially in ketosis at around the 18-hour fast when I fast. Thats one of the reasons I like to recommend at least a few 20-hour fasts each week. I also read the following:
Animal studies have shown evidence of autophagy after 24 hours of fasting, which starts peaking at around 48 hours of fasting.
Plus, I created this autophagy timeline when I researched the topic a while back and wrote my post How Long Should You Fast For Maximum Benefits?
The Fasting Mimicking Diet Benefits And Recipes
Fasting is one of the oldest and most potent health interventions. Studies have shown that fasting regulates the immune system, lowers blood sugar, promotes autophagy, improves lipid profiles, and can even stimulate the growth of stem cells. Water-only fasts are challenging and require careful supervision because of potentially dangerous side effects like refeeding syndrome. Refeeding syndrome involves hazardous shifts in electrolytes, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Intermittent fasting is a more accessible alternative to water-only fasting, but the effects may not be as robust. Recently I have learnt about the fasting mimicking diet, a new approach, that has many of thebenefits of fasting but without the stress of complete food restriction.
In this article, you are going to learn more about the fasting mimicking diet, who can benefit from it, and how to put it into practice including recipes and meal plans.
Modified Fasting Vs Fasting
As I mentioned already, the fasting mimicking diet is more doable for most people than water fasting but is it truly as effective? The answer is a resounding yes! In some cases, it appears to even be more effective than traditional water fasting. For example, a study conducted on mice with IBS obtained more significant results. The study analyzed the evolution of intestinal inflammation after two cycles of the FMD. The results underline the importance of the nutrients in the FMD plan and their role in minimizing inflammation.
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What Foods Can I Eat On A Modified Fast
When you are fasting mimicking, you may have coffee and tea. Limit yourself to two cups per day before lunch. I recommend only herbal teas after lunch, but black coffee before lunch has been shown to enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting. I have been having my usual coffee with coconut milk and honey, but I am planning on experimenting in the future.
Eat nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. I dont eat whole grains during the fast, but you can if you want.
- Nut bars made from macadamia nut butter, honey, flax, almond meal, and coconut.
- Algal oil: serves as a vegan Omega-3 supplement.
- Soup blends: include quinoa, tomatoes, mushrooms.
- Herbal teas: include spearmint, hibiscus, and lemon-spearmint tea.
- Dark chocolate bars made with nuts and seeds.
- Kale crackers: include nutritional yeast and flax seeds.
- Olives: olives provide an easy high-in-fat snack every day.
- A powdered vegetable supplement: this helps you make sure you are giving your body a high dose of vitamins and minerals each day.
- A glycerol-based energy drink: allows you to retain water more efficiently.
Who Is The Fmd Suitable For
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is designed for:
- Obese and overweight individuals looking to lose body fat.
- People looking to stay on top of their health and potentially enhance healthspan.
- Those with certain chronic health conditions
The FMD is not suitable for:
- Pregnant or lactating women.
- Anyone with a history of eating disorders.
- Those with certain health conditions – particularly blood pressure issues, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer.
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What Are The Origins Of The Fmd
This approach to eating was pioneered by Dr. Valter Longo, PhD, a highly intelligent and funny Italian biogerontologist, cell biologist and director at the University of Southern Californias Longevity Institute in Los Angeles. Longo is one of the leading researchers on fasting and how it may influence health and longevity.
Based on the impressive findings of his years of extensive research in both animals and humans, Longo founded the L-Nutra technology company and developed the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet, a patented meal program you can buy. This helps consumers get on the fasting mimicking program easily and with convenience. The ProLon prepackaged meal kit consists of plant-based, whole foods and does not include the use of any meat or dairy foods, gluten, GMOs or processed foods.
I can see why ProLon is hugely popular among busy New Yorkers and has developed an almost cult like following among celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow. The packaging is sleek and modern, and the instructions are straightforward. The meal program includes all the foods you need in measured quantities to stick with the plan for five days.
You get five boxes with all the food you should consume for each day. The boxes include healthy nut bars, kale crackers, olives, soup packets, herbal teas, supplements and the glycerol-spiked hibiscus tea you continuously sip all day. You dont really have to think about it at all.