My Experiment with the Do-it-Yourself Version of the Fasting Mimicking Diet
In my most recent experiment, I tried the 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet. Check out my videos for background on the diet, the research behind it, the benefits you can expect, and how I adapted the science to make it a do-it-yourself version with fresh, home-cooked meals*. I give daily updates on what I ate, how I prepared the food, and how I felt. You might call this the Holy Grail of fasting: all the amazing anti-aging benefits of a fast, but you get to eat, too!
* Note: In his book The Longevity Diet, Dr. Longo expressly states that he does not recommend doing a “home-made” version of the FMD because it may be ineffective and potentially harmful. I am not medically trained, and nothing I say on this site or in my videos should be construed as medical advice. If you plan on doing a fast, do your own research and check with your healthcare provider.
This series of videos is a report on my experiment with the do-it-yourself version of Dr. Valter Longo’s 5-day fasting mimicking diet (FMD). The clinically tested FMD combines the benefits of a water fast with the psychological safety net of being able to eat a limited number of calories every day. Aside from weight loss, and improved bio-markers (improvements in blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and others), people on the FMD burn body fat when they get into ketosis, and experience autophagy (cells “eating themselves,” eliminating damaged parts of older cells) as well as spikes in the creation of stem cells, which are used to repair damage to organs and tissues in your body.
I have chosen not to use the commercially available version of the FMD (Prolon®), but rather to follow the specifications for macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements) that Dr. Longo has established in his published papers and patents. While this is not recommended by Dr. Longo, I do a DIY version of the 5-day FMD, because I want to get the benefit of eating fresh, unprocessed food to support my body during this cleansing and rejuvenation process. A nutrition tracker I developed based on the published macronutrient ratios allows me to develop delicious recipes for fresh salads, hearty soups and tasty smoothies and I showcase those every day. Check the gallery on this site for pictures of some of the yummy foods I ate. 🙂
Prep Day Report:
I introduce the fasting mimicking diet and discuss my reasons for trying the 5-day FMD. I am particularly fascinated by the thought of being able to create stem cells that my body can use to repair potential, as-yet-invisible, damage to organs and tissues. And I show my food preparations for Day 1 of the Fasting Mimicking Diet: what I will be eating, and how I will combine it into delicious meals.
Day 1 report:
My experiences with the first day of the FMD, how I felt, whether I was hungry, and what I’m cooking for dinner: a hearty vegetable soup and a side dish of sautéed kale and carrots. I discuss the number of calories taken in and how my diet differs from the Prolon® diet. I compare micronutrients in my diet with those called for in the FMD – all nutrients provided by the fresh food I’m consuming. And I show you what I will be eating on day 2 of the Fasting Mimicking Diet, the do-it-yourself version.
Day 2 report:
I go over my experiences with the second day of the fasting mimicking diet (FMD), how I felt, what I ate, and whether I entered ketosis. I discuss my thoughts on how the high ratio of carbs in the diet might affect entering ketosis. I review the ingredients for the meals for the next day (Day 3 of the FMD), including napa cabbage used as a salad, and the protein content of collard greens vs kale for dinner.
Day 2 dinner: butternut squash soup with cumin, turmeric and spicy serano pepper, sautéed shaved Brussel sprouts, and a cucumber dill salad.
Day 3 report:
My toughest day, with hunger all morning and a headache at noon. I explain what works for me to appease hunger pangs and why a “hunger headache” is a good sign (the brain signaling to the body that there is not enough fuel and to start breaking down body fat and make ketone bodies). I show what I use to test for ketones and how to interpret the results. Then I compare Prolon’s daily calorie breakdown into meals with my breakdown and decide to make a change in how I divvy up my calories (no more hoarding calories for dinnertime!).
Day 3 dinner: harvest vegetable soup
Day 4 lunch prep: savory kale smoothie gazpacho-style, with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, lemon and walnuts
Day 4 report:
My best day yet! No headache, no hunger, and ketones in the “small” range all day. I explain why you see me eating butternut squash every day. Hint: it has to do with its high carb, low protein content, and the fact that the FMD is super low in protein, allowing only 9% of daily calories to come from (plant) protein.
I look at the connection between protein and the rise of IGF-1, and the research on longevity and the Blue Zones around the world, as well as the carb and protein intake of those healthy centenarians. And I report on the findings of a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) that suggests that higher protein intake may correlate with significantly higher mortality from cancer and metabolic diseases.
Day 4 dinner: hearty butternut squash and potato hash with kale and a cucumber dill salad.
Day 5 report:
The FMD is officially over this evening! It’s been a good week and I have felt good on the diet, except for some hunger and light headache on day 3. Could I do the diet a few extra days? Absolutely! But I am fantasizing about eating a very, very large avocado for lunch tomorrow. It occurs to me that eating so little makes you more conscious, more aware and more appreciative: of smells and flavors. And you savor every bite. Will this carry over into next week?
Day 5 dinner: pureed carrot and butternut squash soup with roasted cauliflower and a side dish of sautéed zucchini and onion.
Also some thoughts about what to eat on day 6, Refeeding Day: what Prolon recommends and what I think I will do to support stem cell creation past the end of the fast.
Results – One Week Later
I lost 5 lbs on my DIY version of the 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) while eating tasty home cooked meals every day! I lost abdominal fat and “love handle” padding while preserving muscle mass. Watch the video for more results (% body fat lost; change in BMI) and other benefits of the diet and get my thoughts on what made it easy and what I will change the next time I do it.
Results of Round TWO!
This time I measure metrics beyond just weight to see whether any of the amazing results Dr. Longo achieves in his clinical studies with the packaged Prolon diet will show for me in in my fresh food version as well.
I look at blood glucose, ketones (and compare measurement results from the ketostix with blood ketones from a Keto Mojo), and I talk about my amazing drop in cholesterol numbers. Also, this time I exercised during the FMD and I share my thoughts on fasting and exercise, as well showing off the recipes for the exact meals I ate during every meal on the FMD.
FAQs: Your Questions Answered!
I take the most frequently asked questions from my subscribers and attempt to answer them in three videos.
Can you save yourself the trouble of weighing, chopping and cooking every day? Can you just have two avocados instead? I compare macros between the keto version and the Dr. Longo version of the FMD.
In the second video, I describe in detail how to download my free recipes; I give some suggestions on how to handle breakfast for people who prefer to have a third meal, and I discuss whether you can substitute foods (you CAN, but watch out for the macros!). I also give you my thoughts on the best way to prep, and what to drink, including whether you can have coffee!
Here, I talk about why I recommend steaming and cooling your potatoes before you eat them (it has to do with resistant starch and lower glucose spikes), give you a suggestion on what to do if you cannot get the Cindy’s balsamic salad dressing I use, and what to eat on refeeding day (day 6, the transition day before you eat normally again).
Curious About What I Ate?
I continued to intermittent fast (16:8) during the FMD, so I did not have breakfast. Lunch was typically a salad with olive oil and lemon dressing; I had a snack in the afternoon (tiny potatoes, flax seeds, nuts) and then a home-cooked dinner: usually a soup, sometimes with a small salad, some days with a side dish of sauteed vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts or zucchini). On most days I was very close (within a few tenths of a percent) to Dr. Longo’s proscribed macro nutrient percentages. I also hit or exceeded the specified amounts on many of the micro nutrients. Recipes are now available for all my meals on the 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet!
Subscribe at the bottom of this page to get all my recipes in a PDF.
There are a number of published papers detailing the results of the studies Dr. Longo and other researchers have conducted on the fasting mimicking diet. The diet has been trialed for different conditions (diabetes, cancer, anti-aging, etc). I find the 2015 paper in Cell Metabolism, which looks at studies in mice as well as in humans, a good resource to start with (full text and PDF download available at link below).
Brandhorst et al., 2015, Cell Metabolism 22, 86-99, July 7, 2015
Multiple patents are associated with the FMD, for different conditions (diabetes, gastrointestinal autoimmune conditions, protection from chemotoxicity, etc). The application of most interest to me is the generic “anti-aging” version, patented as a “method of improving longevity and/or alleviating a symptom of aging or preventing age related diseases” — right up my alley! :). To develop my FMD nutrition tracker, I used the macro and micronutrient numbers recommended in the patent titled:
“Methods and Diets for Lowering Glucose and/or IGF-1 Levels” .
I used an online nutrition database with detailed breakdowns of fatty acids, vitamins and trace minerals for the foods Longo recommends in the patent and which are also used on Prolon. I cross-checked a few of the nutrient breakdowns against other online databases and several European books of nutrition values and while there was some variation, the percentage of variation amount did not seem significant to me and so I used Nutritionvalue.org for all foods.
Interested in getting the Nutrition Tracker?
It tracks macronutrients (total fat, saturated fat, MUFA and PUFA; total carbs, net carbs, fiber and sugar, as well as protein) and micronutrients (Vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, K, trace minerals and DHA) for 50+ plant-based foods allowed on the FMD. As you plan your meals, it automatically calculates the macronutrient percentages, so you can stay within the numbers provided by Dr. Longo.
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