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My five days on a ‘fasting diet’

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OS ANGELES — The box is beautiful, modern and white. However it’s so small.

I’ve determined to attempt the ProLon weight-reduction plan — five days of “mimicking fasting” that is supposed to help me shed extra pounds, trim stomach fats, drop my cholesterol and glucose ranges into healthier zones, and even sluggish getting old. I’ve been researching the science behind fasting — take a look at my full story on that topic here — so I’m excited to attempt it myself.

But the field is so small. Not a lot bigger than a shoebox, it incorporates all the food and drink, aside from water, that I’ll get for 5 days. I sift via the futuristic-looking — and tiny — packets of olives and freeze-dried soups, kale chips, and nut bars. I really like food a lot. I’m slightly bit apprehensive.


The food regimen consists of an ultra-low-calorie blend of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nutrients that’s meant to trick the physique into considering it is fasting, however with much less discomfort or danger than a real water-only fast. That’s in accordance with its inventor, biochemist Valter Longo, the director of the Longevity Institute on the College of Southern California.

He’s launched an organization, L-Nutra, to market the food plan; it’s bought for $300 per box or $750 for 3 bins, in the event you’re inclined to repeat the five-day fast every few months. (L-Nutra offered one field to STAT at no value.)

Fasting, Longo says, pushes the body to burn fat, rejuvenates cells, and lowers danger elements for a number of illnesses. I’ve read the scientific studies and there’s ample proof that fasting can have nice profit for research animals, such because the mice in Longo’s lab.

The evidence for human benefits, though, is more speculative. Brief-term studies have proven that fasting can enhance certain knowledge factors in human subjects (corresponding to decreasing cholesterol levels), but there’s no proof but that such enhancements are sustained in the long run — or that they’ll lead to medical advantages akin to fewer coronary heart attacks or longer lives.

There’s also no proof that Longo’s specific mix of foods works any higher than another low-calorie weight-reduction plan or intermittent fasting regime.

So I’m going into this armed with skepticism … but in addition, a substantial amount of curiosity. A 40-something mom of two, I’m not technically obese but an excellent 15 or 20 pounds over my perfect weight. I need to know what effect the food regimen could have on my health.

Additionally, whether I’ll have the willpower to keep it up.


Most people can select any five-day interval for the eating regimen, so they can avoid massive social events or strenuous athletic activities. However I have to weight loss plan on five particular days because I’m taking blood checks immediately before and after to gauge how the food regimen affects my physique. (I get the checks finished at USC, so Longo can pull the outcomes, but STAT pays for the lab work.) Because of poor planning on my half, the primary day of my quick falls on Mother’s Day.

I really like meals a lot. And the field containing my weight-reduction plan for the subsequent week is so small. I’m a bit bit fearful.

So the at some point of the yr I normally get breakfast in bed, I get nothing. Which makes me grumpy. I make myself a cup of spearmint tea. My breakfast shall be an “L-Bar” — a 280-calorie nut-based bar. Since we’re happening a hike, I determine to attend to eat the bar in case I get hungry while we’re out. It’s not an awesome start.

I open the bar mid-morning, while mountaineering. It is delicious. A mix of macadamia nut butter, almond meal, and coconut, it tastes like a dessert. I eat half, slowly, and save the remaining for later.

I get grumpier. I am additionally starting to get a nasty headache. I feel it’s as a result of I haven’t had any caffeine, but USC research nutritionist Mahshid Shelehchi, who’s supervising my fast, tells me that it’s regular to get a headache whereas fasting. Even non-coffee drinkers get them.

Diet plan
Welcome to my lunch: freeze-dried soup, a vitamin, and a handful of olives. Usha Lee McFarling/STAT

Lunch is tomato soup that I microwave, olives, and kale-and-seed crackers with a kick of pepper. All of it tastes fairly nice. My afternoon snack is another nut bar — I might get used to those, I feel — and spearmint lemon tea. Dinner is another freeze-dried soup, minestrone. I deeply resent the 120-calorie soup as I prepare dinner it. This is not the Mother’s Day dinner of my goals. At the least I get dessert — a “Choco Crisp Bar” that’s delicious. All 4 bites of it.

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