That’s right ladies and gentleman, it’s time for the first Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) of the year! First things first though, a little background on fasting.
Fasting (restricting food) puts the body under hormetic stress. I wrote something about hormetic stress here — it’s the type of stress that makes the body stronger through the activation of protective pathways in the body. Other types of hormetic stress include sauna, ice baths and exercise.
As the graph below shows there’s a point of diminishing returns within the hormesis response after which there’s no further benefit. This is followed by the ‘harmful dose’ (not good) which is followed by death (very not good) — this is the reason I’ll don’t stay in the sauna all evening, the sweet spot is 20 mins.
The particular fast I’m doing is called the FMD and it was developed by Dr Valter Longo as a medical intervention for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Unlike normal water fasts, the FMD allows a little food (very little!) but still delivers the same benefits as a water-only fast.
It’s a 5-day program.
Day 1 allows around 1000 calories at a ratio of 10% protein, 56% fats and 34% carbs.
Days 2 to 5 get worse, allowing only 700 calories at a ratio of 9% protein, 44% fats and 47% carbs.
You can actually buy prepare foods through Longo’s company if you live in the states (prolonfmd.com) but once you know the proportions you can pretty much organise the food yourself.
The FMD is uncomfortable but nothing like the brutality of a water-only fast which I did a few years back. I did an FMD last January and I definitely felt better afterwards and I felt the effects for about half the year, I’d say.
There’s 22 published articles on Pubmed here if you want dig into the literature but here’s a summary of the main benefits:
The fasting-like diet reduced body weight and body fat, lowered blood pressure, and decreased the hormone IGF-1, which has been implicated in aging and disease. A post hoc analysis replicated these results and also showed that fasting decreased BMI, glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation)Science Translational Medicine, 15 Feb 2017:, Vol. 9, Issue DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8700
Before the agricultural revolution, intermittent fasting would have been normal for everyone. As hunter/gatherers our food supply would have been unpredictable. Over tens of thousands of years we adapted to deal with these shortages and science now tells us that the bodies used these times to repair and strengthen. So giving your digestion a rest for a few days might be something worth considering.
So that’s my week organised — fun! Updates to follow….
PS: Always check with your doctor before going on any type of fast