I Tried The 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet And Here’s What Happened
I’m no stranger to fasting. I use intermittent fasting to build cognitive function, to focus, when I know I need to crank out a lot of work that requires a lot of focus or creativity. I use it to feel my best, to recharge my metabolism, to balance my hormones, increase metabolic flexibility, to change my mindless eating and snacking habits to a more mindful approach and ultimately so my body can function at optimal capacity.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, fasting has a number of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, reduced cancer risk, gene repair, and increased longevity. He argues that it helps reset your body to burn fat for fuel. He also points to mounting evidence that when your body becomes adapted to burning fat instead of sugar as your primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease. For more information on the benefits of intermittent fasting, check out our article here.
When I learned about the ProLon 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet and read the book by Dr. Valter Longo, the creator and head of the longevity institute at USC, I was intrigued enough to try it.
When the kit arrived, it was beautiful. Lovely, intuitive white packaging which clearly laid out exactly what I was going to eat for the next five days. It was clear, easy to follow, and abundantly obvious just how little I’d be eating the next five days. And while I love a good fast, I usually don’t fast longer than 16-18 hours with an occasional 24-hour fast peppered in. The idea of fasting, even with food, for five days definitely seemed daunting.
Inside the kit you’ll find: five small boxes, one for each day, packed with everything you’ll eat. Every day, you’ll have an almond butter bar for breakfast, a plant-based soup for lunch (tomato or mushroom), and another veggie soup for dinner (minestrone or quinoa mix). There are snacks throughout (olives and kale crackers). And some nights, there’s a Choco Crisp bar after dinner which isn’t all that sweet, but it’s a nice treat. There are also herbal tea bags, supplements, and an energy drink that you add to water. I was not a big fan of the energy drink so did not drink it after the first day and found my own herbal teas, like this one from Trader Joe’s, more palatable than the hibiscus tea provided in the kit.
The meal kit is designed to mimic the effects of fasting—so you’re eating (although fewer calories than usual) and you’re still getting some macro- and micronutrients, but you’re also getting some of the benefits you could get from fasting.
Here’s how the five days went down…
Day one: Day one starts the detox with the greatest number of daily calories you’ll have all week. It’s fewer than many people usually eat, but it wasn’t too hard to handle. It’s day one and you can pretty much handle anything for one day, right? The soups tasted good enough and the kale crackers were actually delicious. And if you love olives, you’re in luck. Day one, done.
Day two: The detox diet doesn’t recommend having coffee and I usually drink two cups a day, so if you’re at all caffeine-inclined, maybe lay off the sauce for a few days before so you don’t end up with major withdrawals by 2pm on day two like I did. Aside from missing the caffeine, and being pretty tired, day two was fairly manageable.
Day three: I’m not a great sleeper, so waking up on Day 3 and noticing I was well-rested and alert was a BIG deal. I was delighted to feel energized after feeling really sluggish the day before. But I was HUNGRY and missing the five-olive snack from Day 2. Day 3 I was hungry and sick of being on a fast.
Day four: While I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and was actually not feeling too hungry or tired anymore, on day four I cave, and I treat myself to a shot of espresso with stevia figuring it wouldn’t break my fast even if it did add some caffeine to the detox (I follow Dave Asprey’s thinking on this!). It was heaven on earth I tell you. This day was especially hard when I had to cook dinner for my two little girls. I’d resisted for three whole days and the fish and broccolini just looked too good not to have. I filled up my side plate with broccolini sautéed in olive oil and garlic and I’ll tell you right here and right now, it was the best darn broccolini you’ve ever tasted (and I’m a terrible cook). I went to bed feeling a bit guilty having broken the detox but justified it with a, “Hey at least it was just broccolini!”
Day five: I decided to weigh in and found I hadn’t lost a single pound. I wanted to do this detox to reset my snacking habit and relationship to food after the holidays, so weight loss really wasn’t a big deal, but I can’t help but notice I’m a bit shocked I haven’t lost anything. Maybe it was the broccolini? (said no one ever). It’s Friday and I decide to enjoy a regular meal with my family Friday night so only continue the detox until about 5 pm and slid back into my usual diet.
Overall, the Prolon detox is a great way to reset, and I was particularly pleased with the ease, the energy, the debloating and the way it helped me be more conscious of the snacking and overeating I’d been doing over the holiday. With that said, I was tired of the soups, needed some caffeine and found it incredibly difficult to stay strong in the midst of cooking dinner for my family. It’s an expensive detox which you could probably do on your own, but it does make it super easy and helps with those times when you really want to stop, but you know you spent some money on it, so you better stay strong!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have a history of disordered eating, consult your doctor and eating disorder specialist and get their approval before you experiment with fasting.