This article is copyright © Nils Osmar 2020. It’s intended solely for informational purposes. It is not meant to be taken as, and should not be construed, as medical advice. Any changes to your lifestyle or diet should be done in consultation with your doctor or health care professional. Interested in anti-aging? Check out the Facebook Group –– ANTI-AGING THERAPIES.
IMPORTANT NOTE: FASTING MIMICKING DIETS such as those discussed in this article are designed to be TEMPORARY diets, not permanent ways of eating. They are followed for a few days at most, after which you resume normal eating. You would starve to death if you tried eating an FMD full time.
- Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMDs) have been around for decades. The original ketogenic diet, developed to control epilepsy, was designed to mimic the effects of fasting.
- Today’s modern FMDs were popularized by Dr. Valter Longo, who did a lot of original research related to their benefits. Unlike the ketogenic diet, today’s FMDs are LOW IN PROTEIN (under 15 grams a day). They are also usually HIGH IN FAT and LOW TO MODERATE IN CARBOHYDRATES.
- TO KEEP PROTEIN LOW, don’t eat any meat, milk, eggs or cheese during your “fasting” days. In a nutshell: avoid animal foods (though it’s fine to have a little cream and butter). I’m a big fan of animal foods and protein normally, but you need to eat under 15 grams during an FMD because protein stops autophagy and apoptosis, two of the processes FMDs are designed to promote.
- VERSION 1: Eat two avocados a day and drink some green juice made from parsley, green onions and celery.
- VERSION 2: MUNCH ON LOW CARB VEGETABLES SUCH AS CARROTS, CUCUMBERS AND CELERY. Just keep some available to munch on during the day whenever you’re hungry. Eat TWO AVOCADOS for healthy fat. Drink lots of water. Salt your food normally. That’s it!
- VERSION 3: EAT A BIG GREEN SALAD ONCE A DAY. Make it from low carb, low protein veggies such as iceberg lettuce, celery, carrots and cherry tomatoes. Use avocado dressing or eat an avocado or two on the side. Add other ingredients if you want but make sure it stays under 15 grams of protein per day. Remember that even salad greens have protein.
- VERSION 4: EAT A BIG PLATE OF STEAMED VEGGIES WITH MELTED BUTTER, once a day. Add some mushrooms, onions and garlic if you like. I sometimes just buy a big bag of frozen broccoli or cauliflower, which has about 10 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein, well under the 15 gram limit. If you need more fat, eat an avocado on the side.
- VERSION 5: Eat two avocados per day and two glasses of water with greens powder. (This is similar to version 1, but uses greens powder instead of green juice) (I don’t like it as much because many greens powders are high in protein, and some have been found to be high in cadmium and other toxic metals.)
WHAT TO DRINK:
- Drink water, coffee and any kind of tea. Earl Grey tea is a good choice because it promotes autophagy. But any unsweetened tea is fine.
- You can take an electrolyte supplement or drink pickle juice or celery juice or sauerkraut juice, all of which have zero carbs, zero protein, and are rich in electrolytes.
- It’s fine to salt your food normally. In fact, doing so will replenish your electrolytes. Redmond Real Salt, a sea salt not contaminated with plastic, is one good choice.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
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 your body to start autophagy, cleaning debris out of your cells, breaking it down into amino acids, then using them to make its own proteins. It then moves 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. Many of the foods in it were highly processed. 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.
See also: “My Version of the Fasting Mimicking Diet”
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