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Six Cycles of the Fasting Mimicking Diet: A Heart Doctor’s Experience

Odds are you’ve heard about fasting. Defined as abstinence from eating, it technically is a prolonged period over 30 hours in duration without food.  Since a child, I have observed Yom Kippur where I do not eat for about 25 hours once a year. Beyond the spiritual aspects of fasting, the potential medical benefits have increasingly been substantiated in animal and medical research projects.

The interest in fasting has grown since The Fast Diet was published in England and gained quite a following. That program consists of decreasing calories to 500 or 600 calories a day for two days a week and has helped many people lose weight and reverse lifestyle diseases like adult diabetes. The new kid on the block, which actually was under development before The Fast Diet, is the fasting mimicking diet (FMD). This is the evolution of decades of pioneering work on longevity by Dr. Valter Longo and his team at the University of South California. Dr. Longo is recognized as a leading expert on longevity and has done great work in describing the basic biochemical pathways by which cells age. I recently completed my 6th month of the FMD and have started many patients on it, and here’s why:

The basics of a fasting mimicking diet.

The FMD program was patented by Dr. Longo after years of basic and preliminary research in yeast and animal models. The diet in humans decreases calories to 1,100 on the first day and then to around 800 the next four days, for an overall duration of five days. The nutrients are key and include plant-based whole foods like nuts, olives, teas, and soup mixes that are 80% fat, 10% protein, and 10% carbohydrate. During the five days of restricted calories, exercise and alcohol are out and coffee is limited to zero or one cup a day. The program is also rich in nuts — so it’s not appropriate for those with a nut allergy — and it also requires eating whole olives so a few more of you are out if you hate olives.

I experienced weight loss and increased energy.

My experience with the FMD over the past 8 months, where I completed 6 cycles of the program, has been remarkable (I took a break for 2 months and just ate healthy). I found it simple, tasty, and filling. I was a bit hungry on day one — the day with the most calories — but felt absolutely energized and clear of mind on days two through five. I didn’t even feel that I needed to eat all the food provided. There was a sense of freedom from not wasting time considering whether or not that slice of pizza, that beer, or even that chia smoothie was on the menu. They were simply not allowed and it was liberating and energizing.

I slept well, worked efficiently, and was satiated. It was remarkable that I lost 5 pounds each time I did the plan in the five days allotted without being “hangry” or tired. The weight loss has largely been maintained as I prepare to do my 7th cycle, which is the genius of the FMD versus actual fasting. Overall, I am maintaining in excess of a 20-pound weight loss and a systolic blood pressure 20 mmHg lower than before starting FMD with Prolon. My plantar fasciitis has also resolved in my right foot after months of it nagging at me. Coincidence is always possible but I wonder about those bursts of stem cells.

The science behind my success.

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