It’s scientific, it’s nutrient-dense, and it may have huge advantages for your long-term health. The fasting mimicking diet is an alternative to full-on fasting and it might be worth giving it a try.
This article will cover what a fast-mimicking diet is, how to do it, how it’s different from normal fasting, and why you may want to do it.
What Is a Fasting Mimicking Diet?
Fast mimicking is a type of modified fasting. Instead of abstaining from food completely like a traditional fast, you consume small amounts of food — but you do it in a way that gives you the benefits of fasting.
A fast-mimicking diet typically lasts about five days — you’ll keep your carb, protein, and calorie intake low and your fat intake high. Calories are kept at around 40% of normal intake. This keeps you nourished with nutrients and electrolytes. It also puts less stress on your body than normal fasting while still giving you the same benefits.
Long-term calorie restriction and long-term fasting can harmful, but fast mimicking is safer and more effective. First, look at how much it differs from traditional fasting.
Fast Mimicking vs. Traditional Fasting
Just like with intermittent fasting, there are many myths about these modified fasts: Your muscles will waste away, you’ll kill your metabolism, and it’s downright unhealthy.
The above might be true for someone who is actually starving, restricting calories for weeks, months, or years at a time, or doing no-food water fasting.
These can lead to metabolic damage and are especially bad for people with underlying health conditions. But as mentioned, fast mimicking gives you all the benefits without these side effects.
Health Benefits of a Fasting Mimicking Diet
A fast mimicking diet can give you similar benefits to regular fasting. Some people call it the longevity diet because it helps increase your overall well-being.
Some of the many benefits include:
- Supports the immune system[*]
- Promotes stem cell regeneration[*]
- Promotes healthy gut microbiota[*]
- Increases stress resistance[*]
- Promotes longevity[*]
- Intervenes in the progression of diabetes[*]
- Enhances cognitive performance[*]
How to Mimic Fasting
Fast mimicking essentially “tricks” your body into thinking you’re fasting — as such, you can potentially reap these benefits while still eating. Below are the basics of fast mimicking.
How Long to Do It
Most research on fast mimicking shows you’ll get the best results after about five days or when your glucose ketone index falls below 1.0, but anywhere between 3-7 days will work. You’ll get the most benefits if you repeat the FMD cycles twice per year, or as often as once a month.
How to Prepare
You might want to measure certain biomarkers if you’re interested in tracking your fasting outcomes. This could be doing lab tests before and after your fast as well as measuring blood glucose, ketones, and weight changes each day.
Also, you might want to set up your environment for the fast:
- Tell friends and family you plan on seeing during this time what you’re doing and why it’s important you have support.
- Get rid of any snack foods at home or work that might tempt you.
- Plan to give yourself more time for sleep, since you’ll likely be more tired than usual.
- Plan for some physical activity each day, but only light stuff. Avoid intense exercise during this time.
- Create a meal plan so you know exactly what you’re going to eat.
Fasting Mimicking Diet Basics
Some people ease into the fast by eating slightly higher calories the first day, around 50% of total intake.
You can then reduce it to around 35-40% of total caloric intake for the remaining days. You also want to eat easily digestible foods in very small amounts.
One popular pre-packaged fast mimicking diet, called ProLon FMD, contains all five days’ worth of food for the fast. The food is all plant-based and one day looks as such:
- Breakfast: Tea and a nut bar
- Lunch: small serving of vegetable soup and a few kale crackers
- Snack: A few olives in the afternoon
- Dinner: Small portion of soup
You don’t need a pre-packaged box to do a fasting mimicking diet, though — especially if you want to keep your diet ketogenic. Just stick to the calorie percentages and consider how you’ll space them out each day. Make sure you plan out all the food for the entire fast so there’s nothing else to worry about.
Traditional Fast Mimicking Macros
Macros for traditional fast mimicking are:
- 34% carbs
- 10% protein
- 56% fat
- 47% carbs
- 9% protein
- 44% fat
This is obviously different if you’re following a ketogenic diet. Black coffee and tea (a cup per day) are typically allowed, although not necessary. Make sure they don’t contain any added creams or sugars (coconut oil is OK if you factor it into macros).
If you have any health issues, be sure to consult your medical practitioner before doing a fasting mimicking diet at home. This is especially important for anyone with blood pressure issues, blood sugar struggles (like diabetes), cardiovascular disease, or multiple sclerosis.
It’s also important to supplement during your fast to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients and electrolytes.
Taking supportive supplements might help you ease into the fast, as well as provide enough nutrition throughout. Supplements might include:
- Electrolytes like magnesium and salt to replenish from water loss
- Grass-fed liver tablets to provide micronutrient support
- Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) to help prevent any loss of lean tissue
- Greens powder to provide micronutrients
- Algal oil or cod liver oil for omega-3 fatty acids
Fast Mimicking and Ketosis
Fast mimicking is a great preface to a ketogenic diet. That’s because it can help you get into ketosis faster. Plus, eating keto foods helps you stay in ketosis the whole time.
With ketogenic fast mimicking, you’ll want to keep your macros within the proper range of 5-10% carbs, 20-25% protein, and 70-80% fat. If in doubt, always choose something with more fat.
When you’re fast mimicking on keto, you’ll want to eat extra low carb and high fat. Avoid choosing foods that are low-protein since that protein will give you energy and help sustain your muscles.
What to Consume
See this four-day ketogenic fast mimicking done by Dr. Anthony Gustin. Each day, he consumed different amounts of bone broth, coconut milk, coconut oil, BCAAs, and exogenous ketones. Avocados and grass-fed butter are other ideas. This is a viable method to combine keto with fast mimicking, and it will help you get into ketosis faster than without any fasting.
Do It Safely
Fast mimicking is a powerful hack to get the benefits of fasting while not completely giving up food. Still, this should only be a periodic diet. Even though some people like doing it once a month, you should pair it with a healthy, low-carb diet in between.
Make sure you keep your calories low and properly supplement to stay in ketosis without health issues. Of course, it’s always best to eat whole foods on this diet to give your body the nutrients it needs.
Combine a keto diet with fast mimicking to get into ketosis faster and get the most benefit out of both.