Recently, a colleague and I were discussing how to help a patient struggling with weight loss as well as immune challenges and inflammation, and the topic of fasting came up. There’s a lot of research that suggests periodic fasting may help people with metabolic and immune issues. But full-on fasting is hard to do, and even dangerous for some.
We were curious about an approach called fasting mimicking developed by Dr. Valter Longo of the University of Southern California (you can see the results of his NIH-funded research here). The protocol entails eating a vegan diet that is low-calorie, low-protein, and high fat for five days, with the best results seen when repeating this cycle monthly for a minimum of three months.
Fasting mimicking was designed to deliver similar health benefits as fasting, without fasting. Preliminary studies suggest fasting mimicking can help people lose weight — belly fat in particular, which is the most inflammatory tissue in the body. It also shows promise for boosting energy levels and improving focus, as well as reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Because it’s not extreme, it’s considered safe for most people to do. As we dug into the research, we wondered if it could be helpful for our patient.
Now, if you’ve ever worked with me, you know I’ll never ask anyone to try a nutrition protocol I haven’t dug into and even experienced for myself. There’s a prepared “kit” called ProLon that you can buy, but as a functional nutritionist, I am all about whole foods! So I tried a DIY fasting mimicking diet for myself that met the protocol standards, and did it for five days.
I didn’t have any expectations, but I did have a lot of questions: How would I feel during the five days? How would I feel afterward? What results could I expect in terms of weight loss and inflammation?
I’ll just say: Wow. In five days, I dropped 3.5 pounds. But the interesting part is I lost 2 inches off my waist — again, the midsection is the most inflammatory tissue in the body. I didn’t feel hungry or deprived because I wasn’t starving myself. I had great energy through the whole process, and though the protocol advises against exercise, I felt energetic enough to get out and walk each day. My energy remained high after the five days were up.
As for our patient, she lost six pounds during the five days of the protocol (she used the kit). Of course, that’s not the end of the story. Anyone looking to make lasting change will need to adopt new lifestyle and dietary habits. But fasting mimicking is something most people can do safely once a month, and I’m excited about incorporating this into my personal practice.
I’d love for you to join me in my new Fasting Reset program. I’ve designed it to guide and support you through your own exploration into fasting-mimicking, so you can see if this is a tool you can use to reduce inflammation, weight, belly fat and just feel better overall! Get more information in the link above and drop me a note if you have any questions!