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Benefits of a Fasting Mimicking Diet

An image of a plate with healthy food on just one forth of itA fasting mimicking diet is a weight-loss and health-improvement program that many people use to lose weight or adhere to a stricter eating regimen. The diet focuses on feeding your body with the nutrients it needs for cells to undergo a detox process and burn stored fat. It is a low-calorie diet that mimics fasting. The body is not allowed to have anything except water and some vitamins and minerals. It is an effective way of losing weight and getting in shape.

Some people have followed this diet for years and have successfully lost weight and shape. However, this is not an easy diet to follow. It requires you to eat a lot of protein and low-fat food. You need to make sure that you eat enough to keep your cells functioning. If you are looking for a way to lose weight and get into shape without surgery, a fasting diet may be suitable. Here is everything you need to know about this fasting diet and whether it’s a good fit for you or not.

What is the Fasting Mimicking Diet?

Fasting has become a hot topic in the world of science and nutrition. Studies conducted over the past decade suggest that abstaining from food for specific periods might pay significant health dividends. But studies have shown there could be real benefits if you're interested in weight management, diabetes risk reduction, or even cancer prevention.

Our ancestors’ hunter-gatherer lifestyle, which approximated to some degree a paleo diet, produced periods of bounty interspersed with periods when caloric intake was limited. The human body evolved to cope with an uncertain food supply and could thrive during times of food scarcity.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle of sitting around and having access to high-calorie foods throughout the day has derailed the natural processes that evolved over millennia to keep us alive. Studies have shown that constant access to these types of food might be responsible for obesity rates going up in recent years. With an improved balance of calories consumed each day, this problem may be able to solve itself and improve people's health.

How Does It Work?

The fasting mimicking diet is an intermittent diet that involves eating very little for five days. Dr. Valter Longo, a gerontology and biological sciences professor at the University of Southern California, designed this diet to help people live longer and healthier lives.

The FMD works by tricking the body into thinking it is fasting, with several benefits. When the body thinks it is fasting, it goes into repair mode and starts to clean out damaged cells. This process is called autophagy, and it helps keep the body functioning properly. In addition, fasting also helps to boost the immune system, improve brain function, and lower inflammation. All of these benefits can help to improve overall health and longevity.

If you are interested in trying the FMD, there are a few things you need to know:

  • First, you will need to prepare your body for the fast by eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise in the weeks leading up to it and after it.
  • Second, you will need to eat a minimum of around 50-100 calories per day during the fast.
  • Third, you will need to drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods.

How does Fasting Mimicking Diet Affect Cell Clean-Up?

An image of cellsThe FMD works by triggering autophagy, the body's natural way of cleaning up and repairing. During autophagy, the body breaks down and recycles old, damaged, or unnecessary cells and components. Many experts believe that this process has many benefits, including improved health and longevity.

All the cells in our body are constantly moving and produce waste. To keep them clean, it's up to autophagy, the "clean-up crew" of these processes. It is a process that goes on every minute of the day. Autophagy means cleaning away unwanted byproducts from all cell activity. The other things cells do include breathing and making energy for us.

Our bodies go through autophagy, where cells in our bodies clean themselves up. The more efficient this process is, the better you feel, and you less risk there is of health problems occurring in the future. Autophagy helps eliminate “bad” cells that cause disease and promotes aging caused by fasting mimicking diet.

Nutrient-sensing pathways are also involved in the epigenetic expression. Which is how your genes can be affected by the environment; a diet will increase cell clean-up.

How does Fasting Mimicking Diet Affect Weight Loss?

A large randomized trial has shown that FMD is just as effective for weight loss as typical calorie restrictions. Both approaches successfully reduced weight and improved risk factors like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The International Journal of Obesity found that intermittent continuous energy (IER) and continuous energy restriction (CER) are equally effective for weight loss. Both groups experienced comparable reductions in leptin, free androgen index, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

The study compared people who completed three cycles of the FMD over three months to those in the control group. Participants in the fasting group lost an average of 6 pounds (2.7 kg) and experienced more significant reductions in belly fat than those in the control group. Studies have shown that other types of fasting effectively promote weight loss.

A 16-week study in obese men found that intermittent fasting resulted in 47% more weight loss than continuous calorie restriction. What’s more, very low-calorie diets have encouraged weight loss. But the evidence that FMD is more effective than other diet or fast methods is currently lacking.

FMD can provide the same benefits as prolonged fasting. When you are on this diet, your body will switch to using fat reserves as its primary energy source, and ketosis will occur, helping with weight loss and preserving muscle mass. The body does not need to use protein in muscles for energy during a five-day fast. By the end, users may see a reduction in their waist circumference and improvements in metabolic health.

When used for three consecutive months, FMD helped people lose five pounds and an inch of waist circumference. Fasting helps reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

How Does Fasting Mimicking Diet Affect Adjunct to Cancer Treatments?

Aging is the primary factor in cancer development, requiring environmental changes and cellular damage. Thus, a decreased risk of that damage is more likely to decrease the incidence of many cancers. Controlled release reduces tumor incidence and progression in animal models and causes tumors to shrink significantly.

An image of a cancer patient eatingThe FMD is a safe and effective adjunct to cancer treatments. It increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces the side effects of radiation therapy. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not the FMD is suitable for you.

In the study conducted by Lugtenberg, patients had distinctly different views on their experience. Specifically, participants who received the fasting mimicking diet felt less concerned about possible adverse effects and showed a better understanding of these risks when compared to those who ate a regular diet. When studied again during a 6-month follow-up period after surgery, per-protocol analyses found that adherents to the FMD had higher emotional well-being scores and lower fatigue, nausea, and insomnia symptom scores than non-adherent subjects or participants on their regular diets.

Studies have shown that FMD has helped patients with breast cancer by improving quality of life and illness-related perceptions.

How does Fasting Mimicking Diet Affect Longevity?

A new study published in the journal cell metabolism found that following a calorie-restricted diet for five days each month over three months can help promote longevity and may reduce cancer risk factors, among other benefits.

Dr. Valter D. Longo and his colleagues studied how to promote anti-aging with a healthspan-promoting intervention that doctors could feasibly recommend to patients. His research demonstrated an anti-aging promoting regimen to work on humans for the first time. Dr. Longo's previous study found that prolonged fasting, is defined as consuming only water for 2-4 days. It can "reboot" your immune system when applied periodically over months or years, clearing out damaged cells and regenerating new ones.

It also found that fasting may protect against diabetes among individuals at high risk for the condition. However, Longo and colleagues note that humans find it psychologically challenging to engage in extreme dieting, which can have adverse health effects, particularly on older individuals. These concerns highlight the need for dietary interventions that induce a prolonged fasting-like impact while minimizing the risk of negative side effects and food restriction.

The Downsides of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Some people might not enjoy this eating program due to the health risks. This include:

  • People are allergic to nuts, soy, oats, sesame seeds, or celery. People who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Anyone with any dietary restrictions (for example low-fat diet) - especially if they have a fever or diarrhea.
  • People are underweight either because of an eating disorder such as anemia from having inadequate protein intake in the past. So you should consult your physician about whether this is appropriate for you.
  • People at risk of recurrent infection due to a recent injury or illness have lost their immune defenses and left them vulnerable. Medical professionals may not advise people who have a history of recurring infections to take large doses for long periods.
  • The fasting mimicking diet is more accessible to follow than pure water fasting, but it requires some planning and willpower. Some people may have trouble with the 5 days of eating less or feeling tired, but others can go about their everyday lives without problems.

Before starting any restrictive diet, it's always best to consult your doctor.

It's Not Just About Calories, But About the Nutrients

An image of a man holding his stomach and a saladFasting mimicking a diet is not just about calories but about the nutrients. It makes you feel full for a long time and has numerous health benefits. The diet is low in calories and rich in nutrients, which can help you lose weight without losing muscle mass or feeling hungry all the time.

It's not just about calories, but also nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, D, and E. FMD helps with faster healing while reducing inflammation associated with chronic diseases like cancer or heart disease.

According to a study conducted at the University of Southern California, FMD can help you lose weight without changing your lifestyle. Another study reported that FMD allows people with type 2 diabetes to manage their condition better by reducing symptoms and improving insulin sensitivity.

Fasting Mimicking Diet Benefits

In addition to weight loss and diabetes management, FMD has also had other benefits:

  • It helps people with Alzheimer's disease improve their memory by increasing brain activity and preventing further damage to nerve cells caused by oxidative stress
  • Prevents anemia by increasing red blood cell production
  • Improves gut health by promoting good bacteria growth
  • Reduces inflammation levels
  • Protects against cancer growth
  • Improves heart health by lowering cholesterol levels
  • Protects against Alzheimer's disease (due to increased cognitive function)
  • Boosts energy levels through enhanced mitochondrial function

Fasting Mimicking Diet and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is a condition that arises when your body’s stress response can no longer keep up with life's chronic stressors. This syndrome leads to severe symptoms, which can seriously affect the quality of your life.

The NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response is a natural self-regulatory system within the body that protects us from excessive stress. The adrenal glands release anti-stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline during stress, essential for maintaining health. FMD can raise cortisol levels, causing an imbalance that worsens potential symptoms of AFS. It is something to keep in mind if you're considering trying FMD.

Adequate cortisol levels are necessary for maintaining many physiological processes, including glucose homeostasis, the maintenance of blood pressure, and the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Most critically, cortisol plays a vital role in regulating energy metabolism.

The Bioenergetics Circuit is responsible for the production of body energy. When it becomes unbalanced, which affects all other circuits, your health can suffer tremendously. Prolonged exposure to stress can put the body under chronic stress. The adrenal glands' production of cortisol becomes suppressed and eventually exhausted. Over time, the adrenal glands lose the ability to produce sufficient levels of cortisol and other hormones necessary for the body to respond to stress.

It is still essential to consult guidance from a medical practitioner before practicing any diet.


The fasting mimicking diet had some impressive health benefits. It's essential to keep in mind that while FMD can be an effective way of losing weight or improving your health, there are some drawbacks. You may not see immediate results, and you should take care when using ketones in your diet so that you don't risk your overall health. Fasting can be an excellent way to lose weight, but nutrition advice is essential. If you have any health conditions or are on medication, you should talk to your doctor before trying this diet.

Please do your best to take a course of action with the guidance of your healthcare practitioner, who will assess the supplements' benefits for you and recommend an appropriate dosage.

The team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help if you are looking for more information on adrenal fatigue syndrome and the NeuroEndoMetabolic stress response and bioenergetic circuit. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation which will discuss your symptoms privately over the phone at +1 (626) 571-1234 or through our Ask The Doctor system.

© Copyright 2023 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Pregnants should avoid any fasting diet, especially the fasting mimicking diet. During pregnancy, you need to consume more calories (around 300–500 calories more than your maintenance calories) and the proper nutrients, such as folic acid, iron, and calcium, which your body needs to grow and develop your baby.

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