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Before we get into the DIY Fasting Mimicking Diet, let's have a look at the original version as it was developed by the team at ProLon.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) is a 5-day diet that provides all the nutrients your body needs, but in a way that tricks it into thinking you are fasting. This diet has been shown to improve markers of health, including weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and inflammation.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is a great way to improve your health if you are struggling with any of these markers. It is also a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health. There is a lot of excitement around the idea of fasting and its potential health benefits.
However, fasting can be difficult for some people and isn’t an option for everyone. That’s why scientists have been working on a way to create the benefits of fasting without actually fasting.
The fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) was developed to provide all the benefits of fasting without any drawbacks. The FMD is a five-day diet that mimics the effects of fasting.
It’s based on a simple principle: by reducing your calorie intake for a short period, you can trigger a fasting response that provides many of the same health benefits as traditional fasting.
During the five days of the FMD, you eat about 800 to 1,100 calories per day. The diet consists of healthy foods that are low in sugar and processed foods.
The FMD has been found to improve biomarkers associated with a wide variety of health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In particular, FMD has been shown to reduce inflammation, promote autophagy (the body’s natural process for clearing out damaged cells), and improve cognitive function.
Disclaimer: I’m not a physician and this is not medical advice.
This post is a summary of my personal experience and my best understanding of the science behind it. Before committing to any diet please consult with your doctor.
According to the website, "The ProLon Diet is the first and only clinically tested, scientific breakthrough in Fasting Mimicking technology that goes well beyond weight loss* when it comes to beneficial health effects. The 5 days of The ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet puts the body into a fasting state that triggers the body’s own mechanism’s to recycle at the cellular level for rejuvenation from within.
(*In a clinical study, ProLon® is shown over three cycles to help individuals lose an average of 5.7 pounds and 1.6 inches off their waist circumference.)
What's more, ProLon Diet Benefits include:
Note: this represents EVERYTHING you'd eat during your 5-day fast. The cost is not cheap at a regular price of about $250. However, they do offer occasional discounts such as this one: ProLon® Discount
This protocol has been studied extensively and is widely accepted as a safe and effective way of gaining the benefits of a true fast without the taxing demands.
But yes, it's expensive. And there are ways that the same results can be achieved with ingredients found at the supermarket or healthcare store. Below are some suggestions for creating your own Fasting Mimicking Diet at home at a fraction of the cost.
Like many, the pandemic disrupted my life and made it difficult to maintain healthy routines. Eating, in particular, was guided by convenience rather than smart food choices. And after several months, I had gained some weight.
It took some time to mentally (and emotionally) make the decision to get back on track. Inertia can be difficult to overcome. Eventually, I found the inspiration in the work of Dr. Valter Longo.
I had known about the “miraculous” effects of fasting for quite some time, but I never tried it because, frankly, it seemed too burdensome… even uncomfortable, and certainly impractical.
That’s why the fasting MIMICKING diet sounded so appealing. All the health benefits of fasting without the discomfort of constant hunger. “Fasting with food,” is the phrase they coined.
This seemed doable. However, perhaps I wasn’t convinced enough to spend the money, at least not on the first round. I thought that if I could prove the concept to myself, then in subsequent rounds I would go for the full ProLon plan. (Which I did. Here you can read my review of the ProLon 5-Day Nutritional Program.)
So once I committed mentally to doing this, I decided to document my own version of a 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan, “Do-It-Yourself” style, for anyone else who likes the idea, but can’t yet commit to the ProLon regime.
Obviously, the goal was to recreate a plan from Dr. Longo's template. In doing so, it was important that I define the criteria for schedule, and the food itself, including the amounts. By "amounts" I mean mostly calories. I'm not at all a calorie counter normally, but for this exercise to be effective, counting the calories is a key component.
For reference, below are some general guidelines for a 5-day DIY fasting-mimicking diet plan. These aren't hard and fast rules, but if you stick to these suggestions, you'll be in good shape.
Low in Total Calories
If we want to stay faithful to Dr. Longo’s template, the target should be 1,100 calories the first day, then about 800 calories a day for the next four days. In doing so, this will mimic the benefits of a whole month of full-time calorie restriction.
Try to Stay Vegan
No animal protein or dairy is allowed during these five days. This is supposed to be a totally plant-based meal plan. (I "semi-cheated" with some Parmesan Crisps, but they were All-Natural, No Sugars, No Additives.)
Only “Real” Food
Your DIY fasting-mimicking diet meal plan should be free of heavily processed foods. This can be difficult, but only whole foods are allowed. That’s not to say that you can’t use some pre-made products. But they must be made from whole ingredients.
No Sugar, Not Even Fruit
The goal is “no sugar,” but it seems likely that some negligible amount of natural sugar could sneak in. Some say that a tiny portion of berries could be permissible. Still, this should be such a small amount as to not interfere with a shift towards ketosis. Researchers say that it takes between 18 and 24 hours to deplete glycogen stores and then two more days for the body to shift into ketosis.
Keep It Nutritious
During fasting, you’re trying to minimize the macronutrients, but you still need a healthy supply of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). You’re trying to restrict calories, not deprive yourself of healthy nutrients. That means a diverse diet rich in nutrient-dense whole foods, aided by supplements, if/when necessary.
OK, so can you create your own Fasting Mimicking Diet at home? Yes, I think you can.
Obviously some of the items, like the olives and the herbal (caffeine-free!) herbal teas can be easily found at your local supermarket. Just make sure to NOT skimp on quality and freshness.
Some of the other items are not so easily found at your corner store. Or if you find something that sort of "resembles" the ProLon product, make sure to read the ingredients VERY carefully. Too many products add lots of unnecessary and counterproductive ingredients that don't go well with the ProLon philosophy.
The most challenging items to substitute are the L-Bar, the soups, the L-Drink, and the crackers.
I’ve done the research myself, comparing the items in the ProLon kit with products that are found on Amazon. Here they are side by side, with a few extra suggestions at the end.
This Keto Snack Bar has simple ingredients, low-carb, and zero added sugars. Rich in ketogenic fats for a low glycemic index. A delicious blend of wholesome ingredients, rich in flavor, that's both satisfying and delicious. Each bar is conveniently wrapped and perfectly sized for your backpack or crowded purse. They do not melt, and they taste amazing cold.
Every dried soup packet contains 12-15g of protein and just 70 calories, for a satisfying light lunch or dinner while fasting. Each box contains seven individual instant soup mix packets, so you would need to boxes to give you enough for ten meals. Mix up a cup of delicious soup as a snack! No artificial flavors, partially hydrogenated oil or MSG included. Less than 1 gram of added sugars.
The ProLon L-Drink was formulated to provide vegetable-based nutritional support during the 5-day diet. It provides glycerol, which in the fasting mode, helps to protect amino acids (to preserve lean body mass) and promote hydration. To recreate the same formula, a powdered version can be mixed with water, or cold-steeped herbal tea. It contains no fillers, additives and artificial flavors. Not only that, this product is also free of dairy, soy, gluten and added sugars.
The ProLon crackers are welcomed snacks on Days 3 and Day 5 when the total calories are at their lowest. But finding crackers that have no rice or wheat flour are difficult to locate in a grocery store. These kale crackers by RW Garcia fit the bill. They are tasty and have nice crunchy texture!
VitaPrime has formulated the perfect balance between a convenient daily maintenance formula and superior nutrient forms and amounts. This moderate potency multiple vitamin/mineral/trace element supplement is provided in just 2 tablets or capsules daily, yet provides significant amounts of essential nutrients in well-utilized forms.
These fatty acids help to reduce inflammation swelling, improve levels of some fats in the blood, and help with brain function. It also provides immune support and extra antioxidants.
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