The idea of intermittent fasting to aid in weight loss has become more and more popular over the years. And the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet, developed by Valter Longo, PhD., a researcher and biologist at the University of Southern California-Davis, is one of the most trendy diets out there that incorporate it. If you've been thinking about trying the Prolon Diet, as it's more commonly known, here's everything you need to know.
First, how does the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet work?
People buy the five-day ProLon Diet Fasting Mimicking meal-plan kit either from the company (L-Nutra) itself, or from a healthcare provider, and follow the instructions about what to eat when. According to the company’s website, any licensed health care provider “such as [a] medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, podiatrist, dentist, chiropractor, clinical psychologist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or a clinical social worker can register with ProLon and then approve their patients or consumers to purchase ProLon.” (Yes, a little strange, but true: An eye doctor, foot doctor, or dentist can hook you up).
Longo’s goal in developing the ProLon Diet was to give people the health benefits of fasting while letting them still eat at least some food — and that way, he theorized, they can restrict calories for a longer period of time (meaning that five-day period). The ProLon Diet is low in calories, protein, and carbs, and high in healthy fats. It’s supposed to trick your body into thinking it’s fasting while actually providing some nutrients.
How much does the ProLon Diet cost?
The ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet Plan is expensive: The five-day, boxed meal kit costs $249 from the website ($225 each if you order 3 boxes at once. The cost may be different when ordered directly from a doctor — there’s no way for us to gauge that). Considering what you actually get to eat each day (more on that below), that’s not a lot of food for what you’re paying, as much as $50/day.
Under the plan, people do the five-day ProLon Diet once a month; the company’s suggestion is that the users consult with their doctor after the first month to see if they should do it again the next month (up to three months, the company suggests).
What foods do you eat on the ProLon Diet?
With some variation, depending on the day, a typical day's food would include a nutty bar for breakfast, a dried-veggie soup packet for lunch, kale crackers or five olives as a snack, a somewhat heartier soup packet (say, with quinoa) for dinner, and a bar for dessert. Plus, a cup of herbal tea, some supplements, and depending on the day, an energy drink (water + vegetable glycerin). On Day 1 you get the most calories, about 1100. On Days 2-5, it’s about 700-800 cals.
What are the health benefits of fasting, in general?
Preliminary research has shown that intermittent fasting (such as the 16/8 method, where eating is restricted to an eight hour period during the day, with 16 hours of fasting) may help those with type 2 diabetes improve their glucose levels and lose weight. And other research has found that intermittent fasting may also reduce certain markers of inflammation.
Various studies of different types of fasting (some of the studies were small; one was of a specific population and possibly doesn't apply to everyone; one was on very obese individuals) showed improvements in heart disease risks, including weight loss, better cholesterol numbers, and a smaller waist circumference.
What are the health and weight loss benefits of the ProLon Diet?
There’s no current evidence that a fasting mimicking diet is better for weight loss or gives more health benefits than other types of fasting/intermittent fasting diets. Valter Longo has led one small study of people who did three rounds of the fasting mimicking and found that they dropped an average of six pounds and decreased their belly fat. Their blood sugar and cholesterol levels improved as well. More independent studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Who shouldn't go on the ProLon Diet?
The company’s website says that the ProLon Diet shouldn’t be used by people taking insulin or other glucose-lowering drug (e.g., those with diabetes) or who have significant cardiac disease. It’s also not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing, anyone allergic to nuts or soy, and “individuals diagnosed with serious medical condition or disease” unless it’s okayed by a physician who is trained to treat that condition.
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