FASTING FOR LONGEVITY: MY VERSION OF THE FASTING MIMICKING DIET

This article is copyright © Nils Osmar 2019.

    • 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.     
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REMINDER: Fasting Mimicking Diets are temporary! They are not permanent “ways of eating.” No one should try living on one for more than a few days.


Every now and then I like to do a five day FASTING MIMICKING DIET.  After trying a number of versions, including the excellent one developed by Dr. Valter Longo, I came up with an adaptation of my own which works well for me.

I do FMDs partly for weight control (I’m 6′, 180 pounds, but now and then my weight starts creeping up a little; doing an FMD will reset it), but also for autophagy and apoptosis, described in more detail below. 

MACRONUTRIENTS

The FMD that I follow has the following macronutrients:

PROTEIN: LIMIT PROTEIN (DURING A FASTING MIMICKING DIET) TO 15 GRAMS/DAY. 

  • The point of a fasting mimicking diet is to experience both AUTOPHAGY and APOPTOSIS. Both require that you cut your protein to no more than 15 grams per day.
  • AUTOPHAGY is a kind of deep cleaning of your cells. Your body needs some fuel, so it scavenges your cells for amino acids it can turn into proteins to keep vital bodily functions going. This accumulated debris out of your cells. It’s similar in a way to taking trash out of your house to be disposed of. See related article
  • APOPTOSIS is programmed cell death — in this case the death of senescent cells. Around two or three days into a fast, your body runs out of cellular debris, so it starts eating its own cells… but this is good, because the ones it starts with are dying/decaying senescent cells.
  • Eating MORE than 15 grams per day shuts down both autophagy and apoptosis. So, count grams of protein and make sure they don’t exceed 15. Remember that plants have protein, too. See related article: “Why 15 Grams of Protein is the Magic Number”
  • I should be clear that I am only talking about how much protein I eat (or limit myself to) when fasting (or doing an F.M.D.)! Our bodies need protein, and it should not be limited that severely when you’re not fasting or doing a fasting mimicking diet.
  • Some authorities recommend eating as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (when not fasting and not doing an FMD). Others, who are concerned about the possible negative effects of MTOR, suggest limiting it to 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight or less.
  • The point is that Fasting Mimicking Diets are temporary, not permanent. If you try living on one permanently, you’d better have your will made out, because you will die.

CARBOHYDRATES: LIMIT NET CARBS (CARBS MINUS GRAMS OF FIBER) TO 50 GRAMS PER DAY.

  • It’s fine to go lower if you want to. 
  • I usually end up eating around 20 or 30 grams.
  • After doing several FMD diets, I’ve concluded that you do not have to rigidly keep it at 20 grams, which some folks recommend. You’ll get profound benefits even if you eat up to 50 grams of net carbs per day.

LIMIT FAT TO 80 GRAMS/DAY.

  • For example, you might eat an avocado or two, or put a tablespoon or two of heavy cream in your coffee, or do your cooking with butter, olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Avoid unhealthy and inflammatory fats like soy, safflower and corn oils. I’m with those who believe the evidence that SATURATED FAT is actually far healthier than polyunsaturated fats and vegetable oils. Looked at from this POV, organic grass-fed BUTTER is an ideal animal fat to cook with. 
  • Don’t deliberately overdose on fat, just eat a little fat when you’re hungry.
  • ADDENDUM: I’ve stopped counting grams of fat when doing an FMD. I doubt that I go over 80 grams a day. But I might. Saturated fats of the right kind are healthy, and I don’t have much extra body fat to lose. So I don’t worry about it anymore.

IF YOU COUNT CALORIES…

  • Some people doing FMD diets count calories. But many don’t. I’ve stopped doing so.
  • For those who want to count them, if you’d like to stay within the range of the Prolon diet, keep calories to around 1050 calories/day the first day.
  • Keep them to around 750 calories/day for the remaining days.

  • So what CAN you eat?
  • What should you base the diet on?
  • See the answer in PART 2