Fasting With Food
The Big Idea
You can nourish your body during a fast with the fasting mimicking diet. Though ‘fasting’ and ‘food’ appear to be mutually exclusive, research shows that you can get nearly the same benefit of fasting by substantially lowering your calories and specific macronutrients for just under a week. This concept is also known as the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD).
Fasting with food is ideal for people who have struggled with normal fasting.. But where the Fasting Mimicking Diet truly shines is its ability to reproduce the same benefits of prolonged fasts – enhanced autophagy, ketosis, and cellular rejuvenation – without a person having to endure the hunger pangs and potential medical risks.
What it is
Invented by Valter Longo out of the University of Southern California, one type of Fasting Mimicking Diet is five consecutive days of significant calorie and macronutrient reduction each month. You can expect to eat around less than 50% of your normal daily food intake when comparted to 2000kcal diet. But don’t worry: this diet was scientifically formulated with the perfect ratio of fats, proteins, and carbs to keep hunger cravings at bay.
The FMD is different than every other fasting method in that your calories are purposefully restricted, and even your food is selected for you. You can expect to nosh on kale crackers, soups, olives, nutrition bars, teas, micronutrient supplements, and even dessert bars.
Once the five days of FMD are over, a person reverts to normal, healthy eating.
Scientific studies and clinical trials have found that fasting with food is beneficial for both animals and humans in many ways.
In animal models, the Fasting Mimicking Diet, along with doses of vitamin C, is proven to sensitize specific types of cancer cells to chemotherapy while increasing the stress tolerance of healthy cells.
In one form or another, stress is what kills healthy brain cells. The FMD’s ability to increase a cell’s resistance to stress is one way that it can potentially prevent neurodegenerative diseases. But studies in mice show that short-term fasting increases autophagy in brain cells, too, which could indicate a powerful brain-protective effect in humans. (More research is needed to confirm this.)
Other studies showed neurogenesis – actual growth of new brain cells – in older mice.
Regeneration and longevity
A study on mice showed that the FMD increased longevity, rejuvenated the immune system, and increased stem cell counts – the lack of which is thought to be related to the aging process. The researchers also saw a decrease in belly fat and bone mineral loss in the FMD group.
In a large clinical trial, three cycles of the Fasting Mimicking Diet were enough lower the indicators of diseases including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Here were some of the improved markers:
» lower blood pressure
» lower fasting blood glucose levels
» improved triglycerides
» decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) – an indication of inflammation
In the same trial referenced above, the FMD reduced body weight and total body fat. This has been a common benefit reported in several studies (both human and animal), and also in anecdotal reports.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Fasting Mimicking Diet is that you won’t experience gnawing hunger, as would be typical for other prolonged fasts.
Scientists who have studied fasting with food have declared it a low-risk diet. The only symptoms reported were mild or moderate – none severe. The key risks were weakness, headaches, and fatigue.
How to Do it
Since the diet is scientifically formulated for specific purposes – fat burning, satiety, inflammation reduction, etc. – it’s important to follow the guidelines of the meal kit to a T. Each day has a breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner; each day is specific and should be followed as it is designed . And tempting as it may be to save something for the next day, it’s not recommended!
• Day 1 consists of 1,090 total calories – 10% protein, 56% fat, 34% carbs.
• Day 2 through Day 5’s meal kits all include 725 total calories – 9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbs.
If you decide to try the Fasting Mimicking Diet, you’re encouraged to drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated/non-sweetened teas. Remember: food contains 20-30% water. So even if you’re eating small meals throughout the day, you’re still going to need to consume water or other hydrating beverages more frequently than you normally would.
List of Top Science or Studies:
Fasting Mimicking Diet for cancer, aging, and diabetes
FMD rejuvenates the immune system and improves cognitive performance
Fasting Mimicking Diet may reverse diabetes
Fasting with food reduces autoimmunity and MS symptoms
FMD reduces disease biomarkers
Multi-system regeneration from a diet that mimics fasting
FMD and vitamin c improves effective in fighting cancer
Fasting-Mimicking Diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease
Valter Longo, PhD
Valter Longo, the creator of the Fasting Mimicking Diet, says that fasting with food is capable of reducing abdominal and liver fat – key factors for diseases like diabetes. “FMD pushes the body into a high fat-burning mode,” he said, “mainly using abdominal/visceral fat but also liver fat, which are central to the promotion of diabetes and other diseases.”
Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. Health Researcher
PhD health and nutrition researcher Rhonda Patrick says that the Fasting Mimicking Diet can affect health and disease risk in a very positive way. “The fasting-mimicking diet holds great promise as a complementary therapy for cancer,” she said on her blog, “because when coupled with chemotherapy, the diet induces differential stress resistance – a phenomenon in which normal cells are protected from stress, but damaged cells are not.”
Described as America’s #1 trainer, Ben Greenfield recommends fasting with food over plain water fasts. “I do what’s basically a version of the Fasting Mimicking Diet four times a year, where I go for five days eating about 40% of the number of calories that I would normally take in,” he said on a fasting podcast.