Fasting-Mimicking Diet Shows Promise for Weight Stalls?
For those of us committed to the ketogenic life, fat loss is only part of the equation. It’s also about improving our biometrics, blood pressure, lipid profile and avoiding chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. At some point while improving our biometrics, we stop losing fat and weight. Stalls are inevitable on any program, but is there a way around it? New research by Professor Min Wei  and others found that a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) helps us experience greater benefits than from a water fast alone, including body weight reduction and an increase in lean muscle mass. It is advised that everyone have a discussion with their practitioner before undertaking FMD as there are certain groups of at risk people who should not fast. For example, people who have unresolved health issues, type 1 diabetes, are taking insulin for type 2 diabetes, are under the age of 18, or are pregnant or breast feeding are just a few at risk groups that require practitioner approval and oversight before attempting any fast.
Generally, after about 10-20 lbs. of weight loss, our body temperature drops, we sleep more, and our metabolism slows in an effort to retain its natural weight. This is know as the set point and it can sabotage our diet efforts from 4-8 weeks.
Fasting-Mimicking Diet Research
FMD is a form of intermittent fasting that differs from other types of fasting which require 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feeding. In the mouse study, a four-day fasting mimicking diet (FMD) demonstrated the generation of insulin-producing β-cells, the restoration of insulin secretion and the return of balance and stability in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
A human study showed that after 3 monthly cycles the FMD participants experienced reduced body mass index; lower blood pressure; lower fasting glucose; decreased insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1 hormone); decreased triglycerides, total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; and decreased C-reactive protein (inflammatory marker). Low IGF-1 is beneficial. “Severe growth hormone receptor and IGF-1 deficiencies are associated with a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and overall mortality in humans.” Participants fasted 5 consecutive days a month for 3 months. This inaugural study concluded that “…FMD was safe, feasible, and effective in reducing markers/risk factors for aging and age-related diseases.“ None of the 71 program participants reported adverse effects. Most common were reports of weakness, fatigue and headache. More large scale human studies are needed.
The Fasting-Mimicking Diet
FMD is a low calorie, nutrient dense, very low protein, low carbohydrate and high fat approach to reducing biometric risks and markers such as BMI, blood pressure and blood glucose. The diet was developed to provide health benefits to people who are generally healthy. Nutrient dense whole foods contain a balance of macro and micronutrients. Intake is limited to 700-1000 cal/day for 5 consecutive days once a month for 3 months. The effects of longer FMD fasts has not been established.
After talking with your practitioner, the next step would be to create a menu for the next 5 days. There are some general tips that apply when making a behavior change:
- Stock the pantry with everything needed for the 5-day FDM and remove unhealthy snacks.
- Share your intentions with those who are close to you. Ask for their support and let them know what role they will play.
- Incorporate some very light activity if you can such a walking. Take care of yourself. If you just can’t, it would be wise to skip it.
- Get plenty of sleep. Study participants reported needing more sleep.
- While FMD fasting, avoid heavy exercise, periods of emotional stress, and times of higher than usual demands from work, home or elsewhere.
FDM shows promise for reducing biometric risk markers including fat loss and in meeting health goals. Because more research is needed to establish indications for use and safety for use in people with unresolved health and wellness risks, discuss FMD with your practitioner before starting. For more information, read Dr. Valter. Longo’s book, The Longevity Diet.
- Wei, M., Brandhorst, M.,Shelehchi, M., Mirzaei, H., Wei Cheng, C., Budniak, J., Groshen, S., Mack, W.J., Guen, E., Di Biase, S., Cohen, P., Morgan, T.E., Dorff, T., Hong, K., Michalsen, A., Laviano, A., and Longo, V.D. ( 2017) Fasting mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Sci Transitional Medicine. Downloaded on 11/12/2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6245873/ ↑
- Bornstein, A. (December 7, 2017) Set-Point Theory: The Fat-Loss Secret No One Talks About. Huffpost.
- Cheng, C., Villani, V., Buono, R., Wei, M., Kumar, S., Yilmaz, O.H., Cohen, P., Sneddon, J.B., Perin, L., and Longo, V.D. (February 23, 2017). Fasting-mimicking diet promotes Ngn3-driven β-cell regeneration to reverse diabetes. Cell. Downloaded on 11/12/2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357144/pdf/nihms849263.pdf ↑
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