There has been a fair amount of research these days on alternative eating patterns for weight reduction as well as enhancing longevity. We all know there is a plethora of weight loss programs out there such as the Paleo, Mediterranean, South Beach, Atkins, and good old Weight Watchers. What all these diets have in common is they are centered only on weight loss through either calorie restriction or food restriction. However, intermittent fasting is truly different from standard diet approaches and focuses more on WHEN someone consumes calories.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
There are three types of restricting feeding, which can either be time restricted feeding (TRF), alternative day fasting, or prolonged fasting. The Regulatory Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been at the forefront of the TRF phenomenon, working to understand the impacts of fasting for health and how the body reacts when it’s forced to fast for the majority of the day.
TRF is easy to apply to your life because all you do is set an 8 to 9 hour window during the day for when you consume your food. While eating a healthy amount of fruits and veggies is always important, you can choose the foods that you enjoy. The main criteria is for you to let the body rest for 15 to 16 hours (no less than 12 hours) in order for your body to move into fat-burning mode rather than a fat storage mode.
ALTERNATE DAY FASTING
Alternate day fasting (ADF) is another way to get the fat-burning and weight reduction benefits of fasting. The most popular form of ADF is called the 5:2, where you eat normal 5 days a week and limit yourself to a 500-calorie meal plan two days a week. Many people do a Tuesday/Thursday fast and then eat healthy the other days of the week.
I have found that most people prefer this type of short-term fasting because it takes a lot of the guesswork around dieting out of the picture with really simple guidelines: eat minimal calories on fasting days, whatever you want (keeping it healthy) within your caloric range on non-fasting days.
These two types of alternative feeding have been popular over the last few years, but researchers are weighing in, and the verdict isn’t too impressive. The small, year-long study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that alternate day fasting wasn’t any more effective at helping people lose weight than simply restricting calories.
Here’s the good news: there IS one form of fasting mimicking diet (FMD) that has been scientifically proven to not only help you lose weight, but more importantly, cause important biological changes in the body which promotes longevity.
PROLON FASTING MIMICKING DIET (FMD)
Our marketing strategist at Thrive After Corporate discovered a company called ProLon that produces the only commercially-available FMD. Knowing the scientist in me would thoroughly research this product, she sent me some information on the company and asked me to give it a try. I first went to their website and reviewed the many years of data Prolon has generated while developing their FMD product.
Since I have never tried to fast, I wanted to know the difference between a 5-day fast and the other types of limited fasting programs. What I found is FMD is the only type of fasting that stresses the body enough to stimulate a protectionist and rejuvenation mode that the body employs to survive and thrive. When the body is in the fasting mode, it optimizes metabolic health and decreases age-related health factors.
During a 5-day FMD, the body shifts into different metabolic processes that are not limited to just fat burning. According to the ProLon website, here are the other major results of using a FMD:
Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
WHAT DOES A PROLON FMD CONTAIN?
Well, that all sounded pretty great to me and I decided to try their recommended program, which is a 3-month program doing their 5-day FMD once a month. There is a form on the ProLon website that you are required to fill out before you can order the product. Here is the link to that form and I suggest you take a look at it to make sure you qualify for the ProLon FMD. Also, once you have been qualified to buy their FMD, a company health representative will have a short call with you to go through the FMD and make sure you understand how to use their product.
The ProLon FMD comes in a large box which contains 5 smaller boxes, each one with a specific mix of nut bars, soups, micronutrient and algae oil capsules, coco crisp bars, olives, algae crackers, energy drink and teas. The first day of the FMD gives you 1,100 calories and the subsequent 4 days are about 700 each. This FMD is strictly plant-based as is low-fat, low-sugar and cannot be used by people who have nut allergies since the energy bars and snacks are nut-based.
The box comes with a brochure containing description of the ProLon FMD. There is an information Meal Program card which shows the best way to consume the contents of each of the 5 meal boxes as to what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is important to not mix up the content of the boxes because the FMD has a specific design of what you can eat each day.
MY JOURNAL DURING THE PROLON 5-DAY FMD
The Prolon box came on Thursday afternoon and I decided to start the fast on Friday. I thought that would be better than a Monday through Friday so I had the weekend to relax and let my body adjust to sugar withdrawal and limited calories. My activities for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were arranged so that I could keep busy and not be hanging around on the couch thinking about pizza and cookies.
The Kick-Off: Days 1 and 2:
DAY 1: On Friday, I started with a 14-hour fast and did not start the ProLon FMD until 10:15 that morning. I did take the lemon tea bag in Box 1 and added it to my water bottle to give it a little flavor. By mid-morning, I opened the nut bar and the two algae oil capsules. The mixture of almond, macadamia, pecan nuts with coconut oil was enjoyable and there is a little honey for sweetness and flaxseed for good essential oils.
Around 1:30 pm I had the tomato soup with their algae crackers. A friend of mine doing the FMD with me told me to add the crackers to the soup to give it texture and a found the combination quite filling. I finished my last meal of soup, energy bar, and choco crisp treat at 8:00p.m. and decided the best way to take my mind off of wanting a midnight snack was to walk the dog. Here is a picture of all the food and drink contained in the Day 1 box.
DAY 2: This was a Saturday, which is my time to work on my house. I decided to tackle hauling out some dirt from a fence repair project and removed a few small trees. I noticed I had a good level of energy, although I could feel the drain from removing refined sugar from my diet.
In the evening, I went to a movie with a friend and managed to survive her snack menu of beer, popcorn, and a meat and cheese platter. I took a bottle of water and the choco crisp bar from my Day 2 pack. Below is a picture of the contents of Box 2, which includes a nice water bottle for mixing the Prolon energy drink.
The FMD Continues: Days 3-5:
DAY3: I still had a good level of energy and went to the gym to lift weights. One thing I noticed is that my left shoulder joint was not as sore as usual. I had a bone spur in the shoulder joint a few years ago and the effect was a general stiffness in the shoulder on a routine basis. Also, I did not seem to be as sore in my muscles the next day and my workout was the same intensity as usual. Eliminating sugar from my diet may have contributed to feeling better after my workout.
DAY 4: This was the hardest day for me and it was only on Day 4 that I actually felt a little hungry. I logged onto my computer to work on writing blogs and just stayed focused on my work, rather than a juicy burger and milk shake. I suggest that you plan your schedule carefully for Day 4 so that you are not tempted to cheat or think that the family rabbit is looking rather tasty.
Day 5: I think by the time I got to the 5th day of the Prolon FMD, I was so glad to be almost finished that I really was not craving sugar or unhealthy food. I decided to sneak a peak at my body weight, and was pleased to see that I had lost the 3 pounds I had gained recently due to too much birthday celebration. I also felt very clear-headed, my stiff shoulder continued to feel better, and felt less bloated.
Two Week Post-ProLon:
After completing the ProLon FMD, I did not have the urge to go eat a heavy or starchy meal, and returned to my normal diet. I did keep off the 3 pounds that I lost during the fast and felt like I had more energy. One aspect of participating in the ProLon FMD that was a surprise for me, is that I did not crave sweets or sugary drinks, which have always been a downfall for me in regards to healthy eating. Doing the FMD gave me confidence that I could have better control over my cravings for sweets! I also really loved that some of my “skinny pants” were fitting quite nicely after 5 days of Prolon.
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