Slowing Aging With the Fasting Mimicking Diet
As I write this, I am on day 4 of a 5 day round of the fasting mimicking diet. Amongst the researchers of antiaging, there is no controversy that caloric restriction works to extend the human lifespan. The problem is that few people want to do fasting or extreme caloric restriction very long.
Valter Longo, a longevity researcher, recognized this and has worked on this for 25 years. He discovered that against a generally healthy whole foods diet the addition of a 5-day cycle of lower calorie, but high fat vegan eating produced very dramatic results. He found that doing less than 5 days did not have enough power but doing much more could lead to undesirable effects (and people would not do it!).
He describes his work including animal and human research in his great book, “The Longevity Diet.”
I found it fascinating that the use of this plan was found to help with biomarkers of aging itself, lowering CRP, a maker of inflammation, helping cholesterol, increasing testosterone and even increasing stem cells.
In his book, he presents the evidence that in addition to helping aging itself, it could prevent and help diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity and even cancer.
While he focuses on thriving into old age and preventing illness first, it does help with weight loss also, specifically addressing visceral fat, the most dangerous kind without sacrificing muscle mass. I have a doctor friend that puts nearly all of his overweight women on Prolon, a prepacked form of Longo’s Fasting Mimicking Diet and he tells me that it works for weight loss on just about everyone who does it, even women in their 60’s who have “tried everything.”
Prolon is essentially packing of the formula Longo used so that all of his research could be standardized. Having already made it, he allowed it to be sold to people who are interested, but he gets no money from it other than what goes back toward his research.
I may invite people to use Prolon but it seems that a trial of doing it on your own is reasonable as Prolon is $200 and doing on you own is a lot less.
The goal again is to stay high fat vegan for those 5 days. I shoot for 50% fat or more. You eat 1100 calories on Day 1 and 800 calories days 2-4.
He recommends that if you have something specific that you are working on like cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, that you do it as often as you want up to every month until you get the results you want then you can back off but you could still continue it every 3 to 6 months for general health.
Personally, I plan to do this this rest of my life.
Do you get hungry?
You might. Clearly, the high fat component of it will help with that. I am not hungry on day
4. The last time I did it I was a little hungry on day 5 but it was trivial.
What do I eat?
Using the Prolon Kit is an option. If you do it on your own, he has suggested recipes in the book. Of course, you would tailor it to yourself, picking foods you liked.
This week I chose to do two meals a day because I also believe in and practice intermittent fasting and I see no reason to stop. I also like easy, with little food prep. Therefore, I picked food I liked that involved no cooking. While I did not time it, food prep for all day probably took about 5 minutes. I chose to eat pretty much the same thing every day because, hey, I like easy. I can sacrifice variety for five days.
Below is what I have been doing this week.
As Hippocrates said “Let medicine be your food and food be your medicine.” This might not cure all things that ail us, but it can go a long way toward pulling us in the direction of health, and I for one want to go in that direction.
Bruce Thomas, MD