The Fasting Mimicking Diet – Everything You Need To Know!

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Medically reviewed by Neha Jamil, BDS

Key Information

Fasting Mimicking Diet is Short-Term

The fasting mimicking diet is a 5-day, ultra-low calorie protocol that mimics the physiological effects of traditional, prolonged fasting.

Fasting Mimicking Diet Aids Weight Loss

Despite the added calories, the fasting mimicking diet’s body fat-burning capabilities are comparable to traditional fasting.

Fasting Mimicking Diet Promotes Healthy Aging

Calorie restriction diets like the fasting mimicking diet promote a process called autophagy which removes dead cells and allows for the regeneration of new ones.

Fasting Mimicking Diet Helps Prevent Diseases

The fasting mimicking diet has shown potential in preventing and suppressing diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders

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There’s no doubt that fasting is a powerful tool.

While it’s highly effective and inexpensive, fasting can be challenging for many folks.

Going without food seems daunting, despite your body’s innate ability to cope.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to long, strict fasts.

One such alternative is the Fasting Mimicking Diet, which involves small amounts of food over several days.

Studies show that this ultra-low-calorie fasting style is as effective as strict no-calorie fasting and more doable for those unable to adhere to such a regimen.

The following article details everything you need to know about the Fasting Mimicking Diet, its science, and the best way to get started.

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  • Promotes cellular rejuvenation

  • Aids in weight management

  • Plant-based, nutrient-rich meals

  • Backed by scientific research


  • Convenient fasting program
  • Nutrient-dense meals
  • Supports overall health
  • Research-driven approach


  • Requires commitment
  • Limited food variety
  • Premium pricing
  • Specific dietary restrictions

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What Is The Fasting Mimicking Diet?

The fasting mimicking diet is a 5-day, ultra low calorie protocol whose physiological effects mimick that of traditional, prolonged fasting.

Fasting Mimicking Diet Health Benefits

The fasting mimicking diet is the perfect fasting medium to get all the fasting benefits without the added risk factors of traditional, prolonged fasting.

It’s adoption is backed by many studies showing it’s ability to achieve similar to those of prolonged fasting, especially in terms of weight loss.1Mehdi Sadeghian et al, Effect of Fasting-Mimicking Diet or Continuous Energy Restriction on Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Appetite-Regulating Hormones Among Metabolically Healthy Women with Obesity: a Randomized Controlled, Parallel TrialObes Surg 2021

In short, the fasting mimicking diet is easily doable and has better compliance compared to prolonged fasting protocols.

What I love about the FMD, is that it’s only 5 days.

It doesn’t require a long-term commitment to restricting calories and feeling miserable.

The short-term, intense calorie restriction saves you from the adverse effects of fasting (i.e. hunger pangs) by mediating the effects of starvation on the brain and metabolic function.2Yuko Nakamura, Brian R. Walker, Toshikazu Ikuta, Systematic review and meta-analysis reveals acutely elevated plasma cortisol following fasting but not less severe calorie restrictionThe International Journal on the Biology of Stress. 2016

The potential benefits of a fasting-mimicking diet include:

Weight Loss

Weight loss is undoubtedly the number one benefit of the fasting mimicking diet.

It follows the simple edict that the less you put in your body, the more will fall off.

Despite the added calories, its body fat-burning capabilities are comparable to traditional fasting.

The Fasting mimicking diet triggers weight loss while positively impacting conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.3SebastianBrandhorst In YoungChoi MinWei Chia WeiCheng SargisSedrakyan GerardoNavarrete LouisDubeau Li PengYap RyanPark ManlioVinciguerra StefanoDi Biase HamedMirzaei Mario G.Mirisola PatraChildress LingyunJi SusanGroshen FabioPenna PatrizioOdetti Valter D.Longo, A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and HealthspanCell Metabolism. 2015

The low-protein, low-calorie diet helps you lose body fat while keeping lean muscle mass.

For example, participants of a trial doing FMD reported a 3.1% reduction in body weight and an increase in lean body mass.4Maura Fanti, Amrendra Mishra, Valter D. Longo & Sebastian Brandhorst, Time-Restricted Eating, Intermittent Fasting, and Fasting-Mimicking Diets in Weight LossCurrent Obesity Reports. 2021

These weight reduction benefits may be in part to the FMD’s ability to improve serum levels of the appetite-regulating hormone (ghrelin) while reducing insulin resistance and preserving muscle mass.5Mehdi Sadeghian, Seyed Ahmad Hosseini, Ahmad Zare Javid, Kambiz Ahmadi Angali & Ahmad Mashkournia , Effect of Fasting-Mimicking Diet or Continuous Energy Restriction on Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Appetite-Regulating Hormones Among Metabolically Healthy Women with Obesity: a Randomized Controlled, Parallel TrialObesity Surgery. 2021


Healthy, slower aging is one significant area where the fasting-mimicking diet truly shines.

Animal studies and human trials have revealed that calorie restriction diets promote a process called autophagy (killing own cells) which removes dead cells and allows for the regeneration of new ones.6Mehrdad Alirezaei, Christopher C. Kemball, Claudia T. Flynn,1 Malcolm R. Wood, J. Lindsay Whitton, and William B. Kiosses, Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagyAutophagy. 2010

Dr. Valter Longo created this very diet plan to help fight rapid aging.

In fact, it’s been shown that in as little as 3 months the FMD can achieve the main biomarkers of decreased aging.7MIN WEI et al, Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE. 2017

FMD cycles of 5 consecutive days, once per month, have been shown to keep different age-related diseases (diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease) at bay.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular abnormalities and pathologies are one of modern society’s most significant health issues.

Monthly FMD cycles improve the health of your heart in multiple ways.

The extremely potent diet plan reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, increases vascularity of the heart, and attenuates obesity.8Amrendra Mishra, Hamed Mirzaei, Novella Guidi, Manlio Vinciguerra, Alice Mouton, Marina Linardic, Francesca Rappa, Rosario Barone, Gerardo Navarrete, Min Wei, Sebastian Brandhorst, Stefano Di Biase, Todd E. Morgan, S. Ram Kumar, Peter S. Conti, Matteo Pellegrini, Michel Bernier, Rafael de Cabo & Valter D. Longo, Fasting-mimicking diet prevents high-fat diet effect on cardiometabolic risk and lifespanNature Metabolism. 2021

Human studies suggest that intermittent fasting and periodic diets such as FMD play a vital role in preventing cardiovascular pathologies and risk factors.9Annunziata Nancy Crupi, Jonathan Haase, Sebastian Brandhorst & Valter D Longo, Periodic and Intermittent Fasting in Diabetes and Cardiovascular DiseaseCurrent Diabetes Reports. 2020

It is also believed that a fasting-mimicking diet positively impacts blood pressure.

In groups of individuals willing to lose weight by fast mimicking diet, researchers found a drop of 4.5mmHg in the systolic blood pressure along with notable weight loss. Both of these markers contribute significantly to a healthy heart.

Researchers have also examined the fasting mimicking diet’s influence on levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a cardio-damaging metabolite when found in high levels in the blood.

Restrictive eating as in FMD evidently reduces the levels of TMAO, decreasing the risk of cardiometabolic diseases.10Melita Videja, Eduards Sevostjanovs, Sabine Upmale-Engela, Edgars Liepinsh, Ilze Konrade, and Maija Dambrova, Fasting-Mimicking Diet Reduces Trimethylamine N-Oxide Levels and Improves Serum Biochemical Parameters in Healthy Volunteers Nutrients. 2022


Of all the benefits of FMD, glycemic control/diabetes prevention is the most impressive as it promotes disease prevention by modulating blood glucose levels.

Intermittent application of a fasting-mimicking diet abates fasting blood glucose and, to everyone’s surprise, even reverses diabetes.

This is done by restoring pancreatic cells (beta-cells) and reconstructing microflora in the gut.11Siying Wei, Ruomei Han, Jingyu Zhao, Shuo Wang, Meiqin Huang, Yining Wang & Yan Chen, Intermittent administration of a fasting-mimicking diet intervenes in diabetes progression, restores β cells and reconstructs gut microbiota in miceNutrition & Metabolism. 2018

As it brings the pancreatic cells back to life, you can expect to see improvement in insulin levels too.

It is undoubtedly a very effective intervention in halting diabetes progression.

As seen in one controlled trial, a fasting-mimicking diet improves symptoms of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, inducing weight loss, and a reduction in waist circumference in the human body.12Fang Tang, Effects of Fasting-Mimicking Diet and Specific Meal Replacement Foods on Blood Glucose Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled TrialMolecular Mechanisms of Dietary Bioactive Compounds in Redox Balance and Metabolic Disorders. 2020

Fasting in diabetes (FIT) clinical trials also revealed that type 2 diabetes patients following the fasting-mimicking diet need lesser anti-diabetic medications.13Elske L. van den Burg, Marjolein P. Schoonakker, Petra G. van Peet, M. Elske. van den Akker-van Marle, Ko Willems van Dijk, Valter D. Longo, Hildo J. Lamb, Mattijs E. Numans & Hanno Pijl , Fasting in diabetes treatment (FIT) trial: study protocol for a randomised, controlled, assessor-blinded intervention trial on the effects of intermittent use of a fasting-mimicking diet in patients with type 2 diabetesBMC Endocrine Disorders. 2020


Like traditional fasting, the fasting mimicking diet also seems to confer some anti-cancer benefits.

A handful of studies support the superb performance of a fasting-mimicking diet in preventing and suppressing cancer.

Cyclic FMD eating pattern induces strong antitumor immunity in cancer patients and is well tolerated.14Claudio Vernieri, Fasting-Mimicking Diet Is Safe and Reshapes Metabolism and Antitumor Immunity in Patients with Cancer Cancer Discov. 2022

When introduced as an adjunct to chemotherapy for breast cancer, FMD is associated with tumor cell loss.

These results encourage more research to explore the benefits of FMD in cancer treatment.15Stefanie de Groot, Rieneke T. Lugtenberg, Danielle Cohen, Marij J. P. Welters, Ilina Ehsan, Maaike P. G. Vreeswijk, Vincent T. H. B. M. Smit, Hiltje de Graaf, Joan B. Heijns, Johanneke E. A. Portielje, Agnes J. van de Wouw, Alex L. T. Imholz, Lonneke W. Kessels, Suzan Vrijaldenhoven, Arnold Baars, Elma Meershoek-Klein, Fasting mimicking diet as an adjunct to neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer in the multicentre randomized phase 2 DIRECT trialNature Communications. 2020

Unfortunate individuals suffering from mutated tumors in colorectal cancer have seen benefits from a combination of vitamin C consumption and a fasting-mimicking diet.16Maira Di Tano, Franca Raucci, Claudio Vernieri, Irene Caffa, Roberta Buono, Maura Fanti, Sebastian Brandhorst, Giuseppe Curigliano, Alessio Nencioni, Filippo de Braud & Valter D. Longo, Synergistic effect of fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C against KRAS mutated cancersNature Communications. 2020

Restricting normal caloric intake (as in intermittent fasting and fasting-mimicking diets) reduces tumor progression, therefore, should be used in conjunction with chemotherapeutic drugs.17Sebastian Brandhorst, Fasting and fasting-mimicking diets for chemotherapy augmentationGeroScience. 2021

Auto-Immune Disease

Studies on the fasting mimicking diet show a positive impact on overall immunity, especially pertaining to auto-immune disease.

Reducing your food intake as in the FMD can promote anti-inflammatory effects throughout your body, translating to alleviation and reversal of autoimmune disorders. 18In YoungChoi et al, Nutrition and fasting mimicking diets in the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases and immunosenescenceMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 2017

FMD has proven to be a magic wand in treating multiple sclerosis (an auto-immune disease characterized by nerve damage).

FMD is a safe and feasible treatment option for MS. It promotes regeneration of the affected nerve cells i.e. oligodendrocytes19In YoungChoi et al, A Diet Mimicking Fasting Promotes Regeneration and Reduces Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis SymptomsCell Reports. 2016

Inflammatory bowel disease, IBD, is another autoimmune disease that is positively improved with calorie restriction like that seen in the fasting mimicking diet.20ShuoSong, Intermittent administration of a fasting-mimicking diet reduces intestinal inflammation and promotes repair to ameliorate inflammatory bowel disease in miceThe Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2021

Science Behind The Fasting Mimicking Diet

The fasting mimicking diet alters the nutrient-sensing pathway in the body.

This modulation of the breakdown of essential nutrients is also linked to autophagy.21Alejo Efeyan et al, Nutrient Sensing Mechanisms and PathwaysNature. 2015

By amping up the process of autophagy, the body begins to get rid of dead cells, metabolites, and toxic items, thereby ensuring healthy aging and distance from chronic ailments.

Fasting Mimicking Diet vs Normal Fasting

In short, the fasting-mimicking diet renders the same benefits as regular fasting.

The biggest difference is that a fasting mimicking diet includes small amounts of daily calorie intake while normal fasting is typically free of any calories.

While some fasting purists may not be sold on this approach, the fasting mimicking diet is as effective as a traditional fast in terms of weight loss, metabolism, and longevity benefits.

For those unsure of how to get started the Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet service offers all the food you need in the necessary proportions for the 5-day protocol. Learn more…

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is the practice of regular, long intermittent bouts of fasting with shorter windows of eating.

Typical intermittent fasting periods include 16 hours fasting, with 8 hour feeding windows, or 1-3, 24-hour fasts per week.

This eating plan is effective in fat burning and weight loss.22GuolinLi, Intermittent Fasting Promotes White Adipose Browning and Decreases Obesity by Shaping the Gut MicrobiotaCell Metabolism. 2017

Just like the ketogenic diet (keto diet) and FMD, intermittent fasting has potential benefits on insulin resistance, weight loss, and cardiometabolic health.23Michelle Harvie, Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects—A Narrative Review of Human and Animal EvidenceBehav. Sci. 2017

Best Way To Get Started: Prolon Fasting Mimicking Diet

The one drawback of a DIY fasting-mimicking diet is the required effort in tracking calories.

Because the allowable caloric intake is so precise, you end up spending a lot of time weighing food and tracking calories.

For those lacking the time and/or patience to adhere to this regimen, the Prolon fasting-mimicking diet is a great option.

It’s a ready-made FMD box kit of ready-made food that includes certain foods which comply to the necessary caloric intake for a successful fasting-mimicking week

The meal-kit includes 5 days’ worth of delicious food items that are FMD compliant such as plant-based energy bars, almond and kale crackers snacks, drinks (herbal teas), soups, and supplements.

Prolon’s subscribers regularly report back with amazing results including:

  • Waist circumference reduction
  • Full body rejuvenation
  • Stable metabolism
  • Improved cardiometabolic health
  • Boosted immunity

You even have the option of working with a trained health coach alongside other dieters for added support.

Learn more about Prolon here:


The fasting mimicking diet is a great option for those who want the benefits of fasting but aren’t so keen on total calorie aversion.

The best part is that it’s only 5 days and doesn’t require any major life inconveniences.

There are even services like Prolon which simplifies the diet by providing everything you need to get started.

I highly recommend the fasting-mimicking diet for almost anyone looking to jumpstart their health journey!


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Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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