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- FASTING MIMICKING DIETS have been around for decades. They were recently popularized by Dr. Valter Longo, who did a lot of original research.
- FMDs need to be LOW IN PROTEIN (under 15 grams a day).
- They are also usually HIGH IN FAT and LOW TO MODERATE IN CARBOHYDRATES.
- They are TEMPORARY diets, not permanent ways of eating. They are usually followed for a few days.
- TO KEEP PROTEIN LOW, don’t eat any meat, milk, eggs or cheese during your “fasting” days. I’m a big fan of protein normally, but you need to eat under 15 grams during an FMD, because protein stops autophagy and apoptosis, two things FMDs are designed to increase.
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During your five days of “fasting”:
- Be sure to keep your protein under 15 grams for the entire day. The body needs protein to perform basic body functions. But just for the five days of the diet, you don’t want to give it as much as it needs. Creating a protein deficit will force it to start autophagy, cleaning crud out of your cells to use to make its own proteins then to move on to cannibalizing your senescent cells, again as a source of vital amino acids. (This is how the body survives water fasts, in which no protein is coming in.)
- Avoid meat and animal products (except for things like cream, ghee and butter). I’m a big fan of animal-based foods, and normally eat a lot of meat, fish, and poultry. Our bodies and brains appear to need them for optimal health. But I take a break from all of them during the FMD.
- Keep net carbs (grams of carbs minus grams of fiber) under 60 grams per day. Lowering protein promotes autophagy and apoptosis; lowering carbs promotes ketosis. If you’re keto-adapted, keeping them around 20-30 grams per day should be ideal. But if you’re not already eating a ketogenic diet, 50 grams would be fine, and still give you profound benefits. It would just take you a little longer to get into ketosis.)
- Eat as much fat as you want. Just make sure it’s healthy fat. Organic butter, ghee and cream from grass-fed cows, organic coconut oil, olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil are ideal. Don’t deliberately overdose on fat, just eat fatty foods like the ones above when you’re hungry for something. Avoid vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn and canola oil.
- You don’t need to count calories on this type of FMD.
What to eat when you’re not fasting
The FMD described above is a rejuvenating diet aimed at cleaning debris out of your cells and clearing senescent cells out of your body and brain.
But you can’t eat any kind of FMD full time; it would be a starvation diet if you tried.
After the five days are over, when you start eating adequate protein again, your body will spend about a week creating brand new stem cells — and also creating new mitochondria to replace the ones the body destroyed in the fast.
So when you go back to eating normally, eat a diet that has adequate protein (and other macronutrients). Eating salmon, sardines, and dark meat turkey, which are rich in taurine, is essential after any Fasting Mimicking Diet. (Taurine is one of the building blocks your body needs to make new stem cells.)
WHY I DON’T USE THE PROLON DIET
I’ve tried the Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet, developed by Dr. Valter Longo.
It’s a remarkable diet, well thought out, tested on both animals and human subjects, and I think it would work well for most people.
But when I tried it, I found that it was too high in carbohydrates for me, and contained several foods I was allergic to. So I experimented with altering some of the elements, to find an FMD that would be a better fit for my needs.
To be clear, the alternatives described above are not the one created by Dr. Longo. He would not endorse any version other than his.
But like his FMD, the ones above are intended to mimic and provide many of the benefits of fasting. They combine key elements of FASTING MIMICKING DIETS, such as spending a few days eating a diet very low in protein, and low in carbohydrates, with a practice called FAT FASTING, which has also shown remarkable results.
When doing a real (water) fast your body will go through autophagy and apoptosis (eating its own senescent cells). Well-designed fasting-mimicking diets should have similar benefits.