Modified fasting, based on the concepts of the Fasting Mimicking Diet, is an incredibly effective method to benefit from a prolonged fast without having to starve yourself. In this post, I am going to show you all the guidelines you need to create your modified fast. I am also going to share my own meal plan to help you get started.
Modified Fasting Vs. Intermittent Fasting
You may decide to do a modified fast rather than intermittent fasting for a few reasons:
- It allows you to reap the benefits of prolonged fasting. Prolonged fasting offers more significant potential for cellular repair.
- Fasting mimicking is a type of nutritional phasing, which means your body’s metabolism is less likely to slow down and adjust to the new cycle of eating/not eating.
- A modified fast is ideal for women over 40, who want to enhance their metabolism while avoiding the possible negative impact that intermittent fasting can have.
- A modified fast is a way to “reset” your body and start burning belly fat, log after the diet is over. In the FMD study, we learn that subjects mostly lost weight in the abdominal region. You may know that abdominal fat is a precursor to many metabolic diseases.
Or you may decide to combine both! Just remember, you only need to do a modified fast a few times a year.
Oh, and if you would like some more guidance to lose weight, reset your hormones, and get fit, check out my 30-Day Intermittent Fasting Transformation, where you will find a Fasting Mimicking Diet Recipe Book, another meal plan, and a Macro/Calorie Tracking Spreadsheet.
Modified Fasting Macros
If you are planning a modified fast, you need to understand how to distribute your macros:
- Calories: 4.5 to 7.0 kcal/lb of body weight
- Macros: Protein: 10%, Carbs: 34%, Fat: 56%
- Calories: 3.0 to 5.0 kcal/lb of body weight
- Macros: Protein: 9%, Carbs: 47%, Fat: 44%
How Important Are the Macros?
Unless you purchase the packaged food from Prolon, you will find that getting the exact macro ratio to DIY the Prolon Diet can be challenging. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Try to get them as close as you can, but don’t let it become a stumbling block. You will see what I mean when you see my meal plan example.
Keto Modified Fasting
Some people modify the fasting mimicking diet macro ratio to make it keto. However, Dr. Valter Longo doesn’t support the keto diet. His longevity diet and his Prolon kit include a much higher proportion of carbs and a lower ratio of healthy fats. If you do choose a keto approach to the fasting mimicking diet, just keep your protein ratio to around 10%. Low protein fasts help reduce cognitive decline and increase your lifespan. The low protein count of the fasting mimicking macro ratio helps support autophagy (which means the process by which your body cleans out dead cells and repairs itself).
How To Calculate Your Modified Fasting Macros
When I started planning the foods I would eat, I was researching online and found an article that explained the food breakdown for my DIY Prolon Diet. The article said to make half your calories from complex carbohydrates (vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms, etc.) and half from healthy fats (nuts, olive oil). Refer to this breakdown as a guide as you enter your food choices in Fitness Pal. The FMD Reddit board also includes the guidelines as follows:
- Day 1: Total 1090 calories (calculate 54% of regular intake). Consume 500 calories from vegetables (broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, mushrooms) and 500 calories from high-fat foods: avocado, walnuts, olive oil, and almonds.
- Days 2-5: Total 800 calories (calculate 40% of regular intake). Consume 400 calories from vegetables, 400 calories from the same high-fat foods just mentioned.
Just be aware that you may not be able to achieve the exact macros when you plan your fasting mimicking diet. It’s ok! Close enough is good enough! You will benefit from the calorie restriction even if your macros are a bit off.
Your fasting mimicking diet foods don’t need to be complicated. Some people eat two avocados and a green shake for four days.
Here are some guidelines to help you come up with the foods that suit your lifestyle and your taste buds:
- No animal-derived products
- Low amount of protein (less than 10% of your macronutrients) from plant-based sources
- Carbohydrates from complex carbohydrate plant sources
- Fats from “healthy” oils (coconut oil, olive oil) and nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- Less than 30 g of sugars on day 1, and less than 20 g of sugars on days 2-5
- All foods are vegan, as well as gluten- and lactose-free
- Olives and/or avocado snacks to help bring the carb ratio down
As you will see below, the Prolon kit includes grains, but you don’t have to add them when you do it yourself. In fact, in my Fasting for Women Over 40 post, I recount Thomas DeLauer’s point of view on the topic. During fasting, he recommends you avoid grains as they may compound gut permeability. Quantified Bob also noticed rice made his blood sugar spike (granted, it was white rice), and he substituted it for cauliflower rice. In my opinion, vegetables are a lot more nutrient-dense and less inflammatory, so it makes sense to consume them rather than grains.
To give you some inspiration about the recipes you can make during your DIY Prolon Diet, let me show you what comes in a Prolon Kit:
If you are curious about the ingredients of the different items in the Prolon kit like I was, check out this post. It’s called Prolon Fast Mimicking Diet – Box Contents Calories, Macros & Ingredients. The post very fascinating and it fills an important gap since this info is not available on the Prolon Website (it really should be).
- Nut bars made from macadamia nut butter, honey, flax, almond meal, and coconut.
- Algal oil: serves as a vegan Omega-3 supplement.
- Soup blends: include quinoa, tomatoes, mushrooms.
- Herbal teas: include spearmint, hibiscus, and lemon-spearmint tea.
- Dark chocolate bars made with nuts and seeds.
- Kale crackers: include nutritional yeast and flax seeds.
- Olives: olives provide an easy high-in-fat snack every day.
- A powdered vegetable supplement: this helps you make sure you are giving your body a high dose of vitamins and minerals each day.
- A glycerol-based energy drink: allows you to retain water more efficiently.
I suggest you browse the FMD Reddit board. It will help to create your DIY version of the fasting mimicking diet. Moreover, I have meal plans and recipes in my posts My DIY Fasting Mimicking Diet Plan and Fasting Mimicking Diet Plan and Recipes.
How to Prepare for a Modified Fast
Your modified fast will require some advance work. First, you will need to figure out precisely what you will be eating and when. Shop for your food a day or two in advance, prepare whatever you can prepare. If you are planning to eat soups, make them in advance. The Prolon kit comes with soups, but I mostly just ate cooked veggies. Super fast and easy! The next pieces of advice are logical and helpful but not always feasible. I want you to know I didn’t follow all of these steps and still successfully finished my 5-Day modified fast.
- Pick days that are not too busy. You might need some extra sleep.
- Seek some support, tell friends and family for some accountability.
- Plan some light activity, but no intense workouts.
- Get rid of anything that could tempt you during your fast.
The Meal Plan
Dr. Valter Longo doesn’t recommend the DIY approach to his fasting mimicking diet, bear that in mind. I am not a medically trained professional, and all the information in this post is for information purposes only. Moreover, avocado is your friend if you are having a hard time getting the right macros. Whenever I have some calories to spare in my modified fast, I add more olives or avocadoes to my meal plan.
Here’s what I ate:
Breakfast: My morning coffee (Dr. Valter Longo doesn’t recommend coffee, but most people say that it’s ok to drink one or two cups). My morning coffee includes honey and coconut milk and amounts to 115 calories.
Lunch: My lunch is a combination of various superfoods to support the healing process and my metabolic needs. Here’s what these superfoods are:
- Organic raw green powders to boost nutrient intake.
- Aloe vera juice to promote nutrient absorption and healing of the gut lining.
- Fiber blend to feel full and satisfied.
My superfoods add up to a total of 150 calories. You can contact me to learn what they are exactly.
Dinner: 1 cup of sliced cucumber (with salt and pepper), 3 cups of chopped broccoli with fresh garlic and ginger, 1 tablespoon of tamari sauce, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and 1 tablespoon of gomasio.
I also ate a snack 16 big garlic stuffed olives for a snack (the Pilaros brand from Costco). The snack is what will help you increase the proportion of fat in your fasting mimicking meal plan.
Macros and Calories
I consumed 1081 calories (34% carbohydrates, 54% fat, 12 % protein). These ratios don’t quite follow the FMD, but as you create your DIY plan, you will quickly discover that getting the exact ratios is pretty challenging!
To make this simple, I have my coffee for breakfast and my superfoods for lunch every day. From now on, I will explain only dinner and a snack. Remember, your snack is what helps you balance out your macros. You need to pick a fatty snack like olives or avocado. Your meal will consist of a veggie and a healthy fat. As you make sure that half your calories come from vegetables, you will notice that it increases your carb ratio. The snack will help you bring it down.
Dinner: 3 cups of diced butternut squash cooked in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with garlic. My snack is an avocado.
793 calories (45% carbohydrates, 46% fat, and 9% protein)
Dinner: 1 Yukon gold potato, 2 cups of chopped carrots, and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Snack: 4 Pilaros olives and 3 pecans in my superfood shake.
789 calories (41% carbohydrates, 50% fat, and 9% protein)
Dinner: I enjoyed my sauteed broccoli with garlic and ginger on day 1. Let’s use that idea again today! 5 cups of chopped broccoli, ginger, garlic, 2 tablespoons of tamari sauce, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and only 1.5 tablespoons of gomasio now. I realized that sesame seeds have lots of protein. That’s why my ratio is higher on days when I eat this dish (see day 1). It’s ok; I don’t fear this will ruin all the benefits. It looks like I don’t need a snack today to adjust my macros.
763 calories (42% carbohydrates, 45% fat, 13% protein)
Last day! You can do this!
3 cups of diced butternut squash again roasted in garlic with a tablespoon of coconut oil. My snack is 8 olives and 5 pecans.
824 calories (40% carbohydrates, 52% fat and 8% protein).
The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is a great option for those who want to benefit from prolonged fasting, but cannot sustain a prolonged water fast. You can either purchase a Prolon kit or do your own DIY fasting mimicking diet. So far, I have done DIY versions of the fasting mimicking diet and I have been experimenting with that. Most likely, you will find that you can’t get the exact macronutrient ratios when you create your own FMD meal plan, but close enough is good enough. Use fatty foods like olives and avocadoes to help adjust your fasting mimicking diet macros. If you would like more meal plan options, read My DIY Fasting Mimicking Diet Plan and Fasting Mimicking Diet Plan and Recipes.