Yes, You Can Fast With Food
3 weeks ago
Yes, You can Fast with Food.
Why the Fasting Mimicking Diet May Be Your Next Favorite Fast.
Most people regard ‘fasting’ and ‘eating’ as mutually exclusive concepts. To get the extraordinary benefits of fasting while simultaneously eating…well, that’s like having your cake and eating it too. And that’s impossible, right?
Yet thanks to breakthrough research in nutritional science, this idea of fasting while eating is not only possible, it’s becoming the standard for prolonged fasting.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet, or ‘FMD’, is a nutritional bio-hack used and loved by athletes, celebrities, CEOs, doctors, patients, and everyday people worldwide. Developed by Dr. Valter Longo at the University of Southern California, the Fasting Mimicking Diet has been tested in more than 20 animal trials and is currently going through 18 clinical trials on humans. It has also received seven patents, one of which is ‘Promoting Longevity and Healthspan.’
What is the Fasting Mimicking Diet?
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is a unique method of periodic fasting (five days per month) that was scientifically developed and clinically tested at the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California (USC).
Dr. Longo designed the FMD, and he is currently the director at both the Longevity Institute at USC and the Program on Longevity and Cancer at IFOM in Milan. His research has shown that specific nutrients and calorie ratios can mimic fasting, which enables the body to experience the rejuvenating effects of a prolonged fast without the usual hunger and discomfort.
The science for FMD is among the most robust in all of fasting literature. In particular, the impact of FMD on diabetes and cancer has been of keen interest to practitioners who directly serve patients.
Upon development, Longo and USC licensed the nutritional technology to L-Nutra, a leading global Nutri-tech company founded by Prof Longo. L-Nutra, which stands for ‘Longevity Through Nutrition’, was created on the premise that the food we eat today impacts our health and lifespan tomorrow. Its mission is to explore human potential through the transformational power of fasting.
Although Dr. Longo founded the company, he is not directly involved beyond ongoing research. Instead, he donates all his shares in L-Nutra, currently at 56% of the company, to the Create Cures Foundation – a charitable nonprofit that promotes the fundamental human right of health. In 2018, TIME Magazine nominated Dr. Longo among the top 50 most influential people in health. His best-selling book, The Longevity Diet, is highly recommended by researchers, doctors, health coaches, celebrities, and regular people alike.
Currently, there are two ways to ‘fast with food’ via The Fasting Mimicking Diet:
- Prolonged Fasting with Food: ProLon 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet:
ProLon is a fasting diet consumed over five days in a month. It consists of pre-made meal kits with scientifically formulated macronutrient ratios, and it can be done anywhere from three times a year for healthy individuals to ten times a year for people with health problems or weight loss needs. The ProLon FMD is the fastest way to lose weight while preserving muscle, all while promoting metabolic balance, cellular rejuvenation, and healthy aging.
- Intermittent Fasting with Food: Fast Bar
The Fast Bar is a premium nutritional bar – rich in healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber –that nourishes the body while keeping cells in a fasted state. By eating the Fast Bar for breakfast or lunch, you can maintain all the benefits of a 12-24 hour intermittent fast without the negative effects.
The Fast Bar makes intermittent fasting sustainable-yet-healthy because the brain and other vital organs are nourished, which leads to less of the fatigue and hunger that occurs in water-only fasting. Since the bar is made of real food and wholesome ingredients, it curbs hunger, tastes great, and it helps you achieve your time-restricted eating goals while reinforcing the body's circadian rhythms.
The Science Behind The Fasting Mimicking Diet
The physiology of fasting is a frequent research topic across the globe, and one of the most highly researched subjects is autophagy.
Autophagy is a regenerative process that was the subject of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the year 2016. It occurs mostly after day two of a prolonged fast, when old cells and cell components are dissolved and recycled for the maintenance of newer, healthier cells. The body does this to conserve cellular energy and enhance metabolic efficiency. This regenerative process is a unique attribute of prolonged fasting because it does not substantially occur in intermittent fasting.
As a global expert in cellular nutrition and aging, Dr. Longo identified that longer fasting periods are associated with more protective and regenerative measures. He discovered that fasts of 1-2 days can be sustained by the breakdown of body fat and glycogen from the liver alone. When the body crosses day 2, however, he saw that cells are forced to seek intracellular sources of calories and to perform what is called autophagy, or self-eating, for energy. This means that the cell starts to eat dysfunctional organelles and debris, resulting in a greater proportion of healthy cells. Autophagy is seen as a primary component of health and longevity for this reason.
The difficulty with fasting, though, is that many people find it impossible to complete several days of water fasting. (Water fasting is actually contraindicated for many people with health problems.) So traditional fasting isn’t viable for everyone. With this in mind, the National Institute for Health-funded Dr. Longo's labs at the Longevity Institute to develop a plant-based diet that nourishes the body while ‘fooling’ the food recognition sensors that signal the fasting process.
Through this funding, Dr. Longo discovered a proprietary formula of over 75 macro and micronutrients, that, at specific doses and times, mimic the incredible benefits of fasting. Fasting stresses cells in a healthy way, pushing them to rejuvenate and regenerate; and the FMD accomplishes this without the unpleasant side effects normally associated with fasting.
Studies conducted on 71 patients show that Fasting Mimicking Diets reduced body fat, lowered blood pressure, and decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) after just three cycles. In old mice, FMD even increased the growth of new brain cells and improved cognitive performance – a commonly reported benefit in humans, too.
What are the Benefits of the Fasting Mimicking Diet
There are many benefits of the Fasting Mimicking Diet, with four that are frequently celebrated:
- Healthy aging
- Sustainable weight loss
- Metabolic balance
- Better relationship with food
Aging is a catalyst for chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. FMD has been shown to reduce the risk factors for aging-related diseases. It does this by creating a low-calorie, low-protein environment that enables the ‘deep clean’ mode of autophagy, which is known to reverse cellular aging. This biological reset is one of the most unique features of the FMD compared to calorie restriction since standard low-calorie diets do not reach the level of cellular stress needed to reach autophagy.
Sustainable Weight Loss
Fasting is the simplest way to create a negative calorie balance – no calories in, all calories out. It’s just hard to be an ‘air-itarian’ for much longer than a day, so most people don’t stick with the habit for long. But those who try the ProLon fast, a 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet, lose on average 5.1 pounds – very similar to a standard fast; and up to 9 pounds for those who are overweight. These losses are sustained with minimal effort, and are easily repeated thanks to the comfortable amount of food consumed in the FMD.
Calorie restriction is proven to reduce daily energy expenditure, resulting in ‘rebound’ weight gain once normal eating patterns are resumed. Fasting, on the other hand, actually increases the metabolism – and it does this while sparing lean muscle mass. It’s thought that enhanced human growth hormone (HGH) via fasting is what causes this effect.
Studies show that FMD fat loss is mainly visceral (or belly) fat. Visceral fat loss is especially desirable because it’s associated with improved cardiovascular and metabolic health. There is even evidence that, if you consume plant-based protein after the fasting-mimicking diet while exercising for thirty minutes daily, you could gain up to 1.8 pounds of lean muscle per cycle. Elite and everyday athletes often use the Fasting Mimicking Diet for improved performance.
Better Relationship with Food
Many people report that each cycle of ProLon resets their relationship with food. They experience less addiction/binge eating and report fewer cravings for late-night snacks. This is because consuming 500-600 calories per day forces you to assess your feelings of hunger – is this emotional eating? am I actually hungry? am I thirsty? – and to act on those feelings in adaptive ways that don’t involve mindless eating.
Far from causing or aggravating food disorders, studies show that fasting has no negative effect on eating behavior in adults.
What To Expect from the Fasting Mimicking Diet
Expect A Fast You Can Finish
One of the biggest challenges in the history of nutrition is compliance. Indeed, most modern diets call for long-term calorie restriction only to yield minimal results. This is a prescription for failure, as most people who’ve attempted dieting know.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet, however, is completed by 91% of participants. This is due to the scientifically calculated level of macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) that satisfy your appetite while ramping up fat burning and ketosis.
It’s among the shortest diets available (5 days out of the month), yet the results are substantial. When someone does quit, though, they tend to stop early in the first round, before the body has had a chance to adapt. Thankfully, for most, this adaptation process is nothing compared to the results.
Expect A Metabolic Lift
Studies conducted across four cycles of ProLon over four months (once per month) showed that FMD yields similar results compared to 120 consecutive days on a Mediterranean diet: weight loss, cholesterol levels, triglyceride, blood sugar, and other metabolic factors were all improved similarly.
Expect More Energy
When completing the Fasting Mimicking Diet, many people report the feeling of high energy (as opposed to the crashes felt with many other diets), improved mental clarity and focus, improved performance, and a sense of achievement. With the Fasting Mimicking Diet, your brain, maybe for the first time, is detoxing from excess carbs, sugars, and toxins that cross the blood-brain barrier; and it lives on ketones that are proven to enhance cognitive function.
Expect a Shift to Health
Finally, most people who complete the Fasting Mimicking Diet report positive changes in their lifestyles. The FMD is short enough as a diet, only five days, but it’s long enough to create a new routine and to reset the body's cravings, to overcome harmful addictions, and reduce the dependence on unhealthy food. ProLon customers feel they do not need ‘supersized’ portions of food after a five-day FMD, and that they’re not as susceptible to nighttime cravings. These are just a few of the smaller shifts to a healthier lifestyle that are commonly experienced with ProLon.
Not an Everyday Fast
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is not intended for everyday use. Though ProLon is energizing and easy to follow, it’s a regimen designed to restore health on the cellular level and only for very specific times.
Most clinical trials on the Fasting Mimicking Diet suggest a 3-4 month protocol, meaning one will use the Fasting Mimicking Diet five days per month for three consecutive months. These trials show that the Fasting Mimicking Diet’s effects last for three months after the last cycle is ended: thereafter, the recommended FMD schedule changes based on an individual’s needs.
- For healthy and fit people under age 40, the Fasting Mimicking Diet should be used 3-4 times per year. More than that would produce minimal benefits.
- For anyone with additional health objectives including weight loss and metabolic health, or for those who are feeling the effects of aging, research suggests a protocol of three fasting cycles over three months, and then once every three or four months to maintain the effects.
In between FMD cycles, Dr. Longo recommends practicing Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) and consuming foods that align with The Longevity Diet. For sustainable health and longevity, the ideal TRE window is 12:12—12 hours of fasting, then eating all meals within a 12-hour window. (6:00am – 6:00pm, 7:00am – 7:00pm, etc.)
When there is an added goal of weight loss, research suggests that the fasting/feeding window may extend to 16:8 – which would involve an eating window from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm, or something similar. For those new to Intermittent Fasting, the Fast Bar will support the fasting window while nourishing the body, especially when consumed toward the end of a fast. Many health practitioners use this protocol not only with their clients but for their own selves.
FMD and the Future of Health Care
The Fasting Mimicking Diet shows promise for alleviating many of the chronic health conditions that cause so many preventable deaths and illness in our country. New versions of the Fasting Mimicking Diet are currently being tested in 18 different clinical trials for health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Food is medicine. And the reality is that the human body was not designed to consume food 24/7: we have adapted to periods of fasting and feasting. The FMD is a protocol that helps guide the body into fasted states that promotes longevity and wellness while simultaneously restoring a healthy relationship with food. This approach and others like it are the future of health care.
Take some time to learn more about the transformational power of the Fasting Mimicking Diet. If you’re convinced by the research and success stories, this five-day reset will unlock your body’s healing and weight loss potential while positively impacting your lifestyle.
Fast Forward Editors
Your go-to-crew for all things fasting and lifestyle.