MIT Technology review recently dedicated an entire issue to aging. Bruce Peterson wrote a great article about the Prolon diet, which is a fasting mimicking diet. The basic idea is to get the body to enter a state called autophagy, where it starts to break down its cells and recycling their components. There is mounting scientific evidence this process is not random. Instead, the body targets misfolded or denatured cells. Which makes a great soundbite – mimic starvation to cause your body to clean out its cellular garbage, thereby allowing its healthy cells to operate more efficiently. I’ll let you decide for yourself the merits of the scientific evidence.
Not surprisingly, the Prolon diet has become popular in Silicon Valley. You can order a box (covers 5 days) for $250 or three boxes for $500.
Having miserably failed a true starvation diet (we lasted about a day and three quarters), we decided to give this a try. My thoughts from a week of Prolon:
- The first day was fine, you get about double the calories of other days
- Loved the nut bars, got sick of the soup and hibiscus tea, and who knew Kale crackers could be so good?
- Day 4 was the worst for me, I felt lethargic most of the day both physically and mentally
- I never got “unhungry” – I read other people do get to state where hunger goes away
- My goal wasn’t to lose weight, but I did lose 7.5lbs. That broke down by day as 3.1 pounds, 1.1lbs, 1.2lbs, 0.6lbs, 1.5lbs.
Once the diet was done I didn’t feel any different, at least not moment-to-moment. But I have seen a big difference when exercising. My runs have became much more energetic and fun. And my usually tender left achilles has felt great. Of course I have no idea if that’s due to cellular cleansing or just lugging around less weight. Either way, I like the end result!
The other thing I noticed, and have read in other people’s accounts, is that it does change the way you view food. Since the diet I’ve tended to eat less, and more healthy, food. I did break down the other day at a bar and had nachos, a delicious burger and fries. And as good as the burger was, afterwards I didn’t feel great physically – too much greasy food at once.
Bottom line – its worth doing for a week to see how it affects you physically and mentally while on the diet and how it changes your views of food afterwards.
Last, hear are a couple of other people’s experiences:
Kale crackers and hibiscus tea: My five days on a ‘fasting diet’
ProLon Review – My 5-Day Fasting Experience – Pros & Cons