There has been an explosion of research on the fasting mimicking diet (FMD) showing reduced markers of aging, as well as better disease outcomes in diabetes, heart disease and cancer. (1) The Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet was designed by Dr. Longo, and his company, Prolon, sells a kit with the exact food that was used in his studies.
Before I ask my patients to try something, I feel it’s only fair for me to try it first, so I did! Everything you need is in the box — it contains vitamins and alga oil as well as plant based soups, nut based bars, a coco crisp bar, kale crackers, olives and herbal teas as well as a glycerol drink for Days 2-5. Generally, I don’t eat processed and packaged foods, so this was a big deviation from my normal eating. I’ve done intermittent fasting in the past, so I opted to skip breakfast, and eat only between 11 AM to 7 PM. This isn’t a requirement of their plan, I just thought that it would be easier for me to eat less if I only had to spread my eating across two meals instead of three.
I planned my FMD for a week when my husband was in town for support. I didn’t want to be “hangry” with the kids without another parent to step in and help. Also, we didn’t have any social obligations or plans to dine out. It was terrific to have my kids and husband encouraging me. If your partner thinks you are crazy to do this, try and educate them. There are several online videos with Dr. Longo describing the research behind this diet, which ONLY LASTS 5 DAYS.
Overall, the fast mimicking diet was easier than I thought it would be. I expected to be grouchier than I was. If I felt hungry, I had the glycerol drink and herbal tea. Here are the challenges I experienced:
- I cook the meals at my house and it was a drag to make food for everyone and then not be able to eat it.
- I don’t tolerate nuts in large quantities, so the nut bars gave me some gas.
- I started to feel a little dizzy on the afternoon of the last day, and realized that I had forgotten to have the glycerol drink. Once I drank it, I felt better.
I personally like to cook. Some of my patients don’t, or feel that their lives are too busy. The PROLON FMD is great for folks who need things to be uber-structured and don’t want the hassle of preparing special food and monitoring their fats, carbs and protein. There are online “hacks” for this program using fresh foods that don’t have the backing of Dr. Longo. However, many of them do a good job duplicating the macronutrient distribution in his work. As I like to cook, and feel better eating a few less nuts, I’ll try this next and let you know how it goes.
The FMD protocol was designed for monthly use for three months, then once a quarter. For the next two months I’ll try the program in it’s unofficial fresh foods rendering, and let you know what I ate and how it went.
Oh! Did I lose any weight? Yes. I don’t weigh myself at home, but ended up at my gynecologist on day 4 of the program and had lost 2 lbs since my last visit.
(1) Wei M, Brandhorst S, Shelehchi M, et al. Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Sci Transl Med 2017;9