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Pros and Cons of The Fasting Mimicking Diet

Pros and Cons of The Fasting Mimicking Diet

By now, you are likely familiar with intermittent fasting since it has recently gained a large amount of popularity. Currently, the new diet on the block is the Fasting Mimicking Diet. While these two diets may be similar, there are some stark differences. 


The Fasting Mimicking diet boasts weight loss, longevity, healthy aging, and increased energy. However, it is a costly option that may not actually be better than other weight loss methods.1 


What is fasting or intermittent fasting:


So, why try to mimic fasting? If you’re not familiar with the potential benefits of fasting or intermittent fasting, there are a few findings that support the practice of fasting on some level. The term fasting generally refers to abstinence from food or drinks for a particular period of time. This would mean that when you go to sleep, you would technically be fasting during that time. The practice of fasting has been around for centuries and is an important part of many cultures and religions. 


Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. There are many different varieties, such as fasting for 12 hours each day, every alternate day, or even up to days at a time. Fasting has been shown to have some potential health benefits, from weight loss to decreasing inflammation markers.2


What is the Fasting Mimicking Diet:


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This new fasting trend of the Fasting Mimicking diet claims to trick the body into thinking it is fasting while actually being fed. According to the diet, the low-calorie, high-fat, low-carb content of the prepackaged meals causes the body to shift into gluconeogenesis, which produces energy from sources other than carbohydrates. The Fasting Mimicking diet is a low-calorie, high-fat diet that is also a type of intermittent fasting due to the varied low-calorie allotment.3 This diet requires the purchase of their five-day prepackaged meal kits that contain a variety of packaged soups, bars, snacks, and supplements. 


People following the diet are encouraged to stick to the purchased meals and avoid adding in additional food or beverages other than black coffee or lemon water. This meal kit contains all the food that the dieter will eat in those 5 days. The first day of the meal kit provides around 1,090 calories at about 10% protein, 56% fat, and 34% carbohydrate. Days two through five provides around 725 calories at about 9% protein, 44% fat, and 47% carbohydrates. According to one study, the diet is designed to provide the dieter only 34–54% of a traditional calorie intake. According to the plan, the dieter is told to repeat the 5-day “fast” every 1-6 months.3


Pros:


Before jumping headfirst into a new diet plan, it is important to acknowledge the pros and cons when determining if it is the right fit for you. When it comes to the Fasting Mimicking diet, there are a few reasons people tend to gravitate towards it. 


-Many people have a difficult time making decisions about what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat in order to lose weight and feel good. In this case, the decision is made for you by providing all the food necessary for those 5 days. 


-The limited research that was done on the Fasting Mimicking diet shows there was a greater weight loss when compared to traditional calorie restriction. 


-The study also observed that people who followed the diet saw a reduction in blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 


Cons:


While this dieting trend may sound promising, there are many other factors to consider when deciding if this is the right plan for you. 


-The cost alone of following the diet is likely a barrier for many people. The meal kit currently costs $249 per box, which only includes the food that the dieter would eat in the 5 days. 


-Because the dieter is told to keep to the foods provided in the box, the Fasting Mimicking diet creates a reliance on the company’s prepackaged food and supplements. There is no room for outside food or additional ingredients according to the plan. Additionally, the dieter is likely lost as to what to do after the 5-day plan, making it unsustainable. 


-There is no individualization when it comes to what food is in the boxes. They do not take into account personalized calories needed based on bodyweight, individual dietary preferences and/or restrictions, or other differences between dieters. 


-The high sodium content of prepackaged goods may be problematic for some people. The sodium content of the packaged soups is quite high given their low-calorie amount. For example, one soup has only 120 calories but contains 830 mg of sodium. According to the website, the sodium content varies slightly each day but ranges from 1.7-1.9 grams each day.1


While this new dieting trend may sound enticing, there is not enough evidence to support the idea that the Fasting Mimicking diet is any more effective than other weight-loss methods. When considering a weight loss method, it is important to find one that fits naturally into your lifestyle and can be sustained for a long period of time!


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Should I start the mimic diet? 


When in doubt about what diet is best for you, put your trust in your genes.


Our science says that it’s best to rely on your genes to determine if a high fat, low calorie diet is compatible with your body.


Instead of looking to the latest diet fad that may not be sustainable or result in a permanent lifestyle change, consider adopting a nutrition plan that is built from your DNA and for your body.


A balanced, unprocessed and nutrient rich approach to food will give your body the fuel it needs to thrive—and to protect itself.


Order your report now and unlock the power of personalized nutrition.


Resources:


  1. “Fasting Mimicking Diet.” ProLon® Fast, https://prolonfast.com/. 
  2. Faris MA, Kacimi S, Al-Kurd RA, Fararjeh MA, Bustanji YK, Mohammad MK, Salem ML. Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec;32(12):947-55. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021. Epub 2012 Oct 4. PMID: 23244540.
  3. Wei, M., Brandhorst, S., Shelehchi, M., Mirzaei, H., Cheng, C. W., Budniak, J., Groshen, S., Mack, W. J., Guen, E., Di Biase, S., Cohen, P., Morgan, T. E., Dorff, T., Hong, K., Michalsen, A., Laviano, A., & Longo, V. D. (2017). Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Science translational medicine, 9(377), eaai8700. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8700

Updated on
Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

Photo of Frankie O'Brien

Written by:

Frankie O'Brien, MS, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian

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