I did the ProLon fasting-mimicking diet for 5 days back in April. Yes, I know, that’s a lot of words for what sounds like a detox and not a lot of food (or fun). But actually, it’s not quite what you think. ProLon was pioneered by Dr Valter Lungo as a method to reap the benefits of fasting, without having to do the fasting. Most fasts of that nature need to be medically supervised, and can be thus, expensive. Can you think of anything worse than spending thousands to check in somewhere for a week to have people feed you nothing? No, me neither.

However, fasting may be the holy grail to staying youthful and healthy.

Fasting

Fasting, time restricted eating and intermittent fasting have gotten an awful lot more press in the last few years.  These can be methods of dieting to lose weight, but there is so much more too it than that. When we fast, we switch on something called “autophagy”. This is our bodies’ way of cleaning house, or getting rid of old, malfunctioning cells.  It’s a repair mechanism and switching it on is a great idea if you want to your body to function at it’s best. This can help:

  • reduce inflammation
  • improve energy levels and mental acuity
  • extend your healthy life span
  • build your resistance to diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer
  • maintain your ideal weight and reduce abdominal fat

It takes about 2-3 days of fasting to switch from sugar-burning mode, to fat-burning mode, according toDr Lungo.

But, fasting?

ProLon is a little different in that it is a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD). This basically means you can get similar benefits to a multi-day fast, without actually having to fast. You kind of trick your body into thinking it is fasting, and it responds accordingly. So, aside from actually being able to eat, ProLon also helps you maintain your muscle mass during the programme. This is very important for health and also for weight loss/control, if that is one of your goals.

Because it’s not really weight that most of us are looking to lose, is it? It’s fat cells. Muscle cells have a higher metabolic rate than fat cells. This means the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. Muscle can weigh more than fat of the same volume, which is where this can mess with you mind if you focus on simple numbers, not how you feel and how your clothes fit. So although the scales may not tip massively at the end of a ProLon programme, this is partly because your muscle mass stays pretty much the same. (This cannot be said for the standard 5 day crash diet).

It’s really important to remember this is not a crash diet or crazy weight loss trick. You can stick with maple syrup and cayenne pepper water or that “skinny tea” that basically just empties your bowels in a rather aggressive manner if that is what you are looking for.

My experience

I honestly though I was going to struggle with ProLon. Previously I had tried a 3 day juice fast a number of times and failed miserably on day two every time (and I love juice). I just felt cold, tired and miserable and simply could not persevere. But this was different. I’m not going to say it was super easy. And by day 4 I got irrationally cranky looking at people queueing outside a coffee shop because I just wanted a coffee and a croissant. But was it harder than cutting out sugar and coffee or eating a very healthy diet with not eating out for 5 days? Not really.

I was a little tired the first day, and I had a headache. I would put this down to caffeine withdrawal more than anything else, which I am particularly sensitive to. You can have up to 8g of caffeine on ProLon if you need to, and I did have a cup of green tea on the days I was in clinic which took all headaches away.

I slept so well for the whole week (probably due to minimal caffeine), which is an unusual one for me. The most unexpected benefit was the energy I had after day two which kept going for weeks after I finished. Plantar fasciitis  (inflammation in my foot) was something I had been suffering from for nearly two years prior to ProLon, and no amount of massage, ice or breaks from running had made much of a difference. I haven’t had an issue with it since ProLon. So I can tick the anti-inflammatory box too.

Would you try it?

If you are looking for something to kickstart a healthier lifestyle (now that we are all eating out and socialising so much more!), you feel you need a bit of a reset, or are just feeling fairly sluggish, this is a great option for you. Medical conditions like diabetes may require supervision from your doctor. If you are on any medications you should definitely consult your GP before starting something like ProLon. Obviously, if you are underweight, recovering from an illness or otherwise unwell, this is not the time to put your body into “clean house” mode. This “clean house” mode is not the best mode for your body to be in all the time. You just want to dip in and out of it. Just like everything in life, it’s about balance.

The verdict

I loved it. Okay, I didn’t love doing it, but I loved the energy and mental sharpness that came with ProLon. So much so, that I’m doing it again this month. You can follow my journey on Instagram here, if you are interested and I can prove to you that I actually do function while on the programme. I’ve cut back on the caffeine in preparation, so hopefully it will be easier this time! If you’re interested in trying ProLon, you can email us and organise a chat to learn more.