If you feel like you could use a bit of a nutrition reset, or have a few pounds you think you could lose, or just know that you’ve been slacking on the eating front, you’ve probably thought of doing some kind of clean eating regimen, fast, or cleanse. Last week I tried the Prolon Fast Mimicking Diet and I lived to tell about it. Since many of you have asked what it was like while I was on it, I decided to dedicate a podcast episode to the experience in case you’re looking to try something new or even Prolon itself.
So why did I decide to do Prolon or even something like this?
About 10 years ago, I went on a 7 week trip to Europe. It was amazing, but several weeks into the trip – after immersing myself in the food and beverages of the region – I ate a bag of chips and woke up the next morning with swollen lips. I looked like a duck and it was just the beginning of months of daily hives. I thought maybe it was just one food group or another so I’d eliminate one thing, then another thing. It didn’t work. Then I came upon The Clean Program by Dr. Alejandro Junger and I embarked on the 21 day elimination diet. My hives were gone and I began seriously comprehending the importance of cleaning up my diet as a way to combat these symptoms.
I’ve always thought of myself as allergy-free, but there was this one thing that I reacted to that I couldn’t find an answer to until recently. Growing up, my family would avoid eating fried foods because my dad was allergic to them. In Chinese culture, fried foods were described as “heaty” or “hot”. I would also react when eating something like potato chips, and get a tiny sore on my tongue that would hurt for a few days and then go away. I went to an allergist and tried to describe it but he couldn’t understand what I meant and even after taking a bunch of allergy tests with the skin prick, nothing came back positive.
When I started seeing a functional medicine doctor a few years ago, I asked them about this same thing and I remember she looked at me quizzically and answered matter of factly, “Well, fried foods are highly inflammatory. The potato chips have sharp edges that likely cut your tongue slightly and that’s why you have a small sore.” Inflammation was the key link here. I started realizing that my hives were an inflammatory response. Just to make sure, I took a food test and saw that my so many things were coming back as if I was allergic to them. Foods that I commonly ate. This was likely leaky gut, which is common and comes as a result of stress, antibiotics, lack of sleep and many other things which I checked off that list several years ago. I was just coming back from burnout and had gotten pretty sick for several months.
I embarked on a 2 week clean eating regimen and elimination diet and slowly began adding the foods back in one at a time that I showed I was allergic to in the test. No issues with any of the foods. What I realized then and what the doctors confirmed was that I wasn’t allergic to one specific thing. What did happen was that over the course of years or several months, my body would start veer a little bit off the healthy path through either not eating super clean or stress and then I would start to have hives. Since then, I’ve tried to do a clean eating regimen or elimination diet every 6 months to keep hives at bay and to reset my body.
It’s been over a year since I completed any type of super clean eating regimen and a month or so ago I started getting hives again. I knew I was due for some kind of diet clean up so when I heard about Prolon, I was willing to give it a go. I saw it at my functional medicine doctor’s office and even talked to my doctor about it as I was going through the process. He raved about the fasting protocols and had also been completing monthly cycles of Prolon. Here’s what I learned about Prolon and what it felt like to go through the 5 day fast mimicking diet.
Prolon was created by Valtar Long, PhD. He’s the Director of the Longevity Institute at USC and based this plan off of 20 years of research and development with partners including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Longevity Institute, and the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute of the University of Southern California (USC). The idea is that you are experiencing the benefits of fasting, without completely depriving yourself of food. It includes food over the course of 5 days, mostly soups, olives and bars as well as supplements and herbal teas. There’s a plan for each day of what to eat and you can shift within the day, but not between the days.
Calories go down from 1100 on Day 1 to 800 on days 2-5 so you begin to feel that drop on day 2. What was my experience like? I’ll say that it wasn’t easy.
I was on a running training plan during the 5 days so I eased up on the running a bit. The program recommends that you do not participate in any strenuous activity so I was definitely operating outside of their protocols. I ran about 30 minutes on day 1, six miles on day 2, rested on day 3, and then ran for 30 minutes each on days 4 and 5. I would not recommend this plan. I believe this not only made the fast more difficult but could lead to you pushing yourself and your body farther than necessary.
Days 1 and 2 were easier because I was just starting out and I had the excitement of the new foods and hadn’t yet felt as much of the drop in food intake. On Day 3, I was feeling much lower in energy and really missing food. I was cooking for my family and looking at their meals with envy. I stuck to the plan but it wasn’t easy. I was feeling my stomach growl in the evening of Day 3 and started reading results of those that have gone through the program before me to keep me motivated. What are some of the benefits of Prolon? Here are a few:
- Promotes cellular renewal: triggers autophagy (the clean up of old and worn out cellular components) and promotes rejuvenation
- Supports metabolic health: maintain health levels of metabolic balance by transforming your eating habits and lifestyle
- Enhance clarity and performance: higher levels of focus, clarity, and energy during and after the fast
- Fat-focused weight loss: Fast way to lose fat (especially belly fat) while protecting lean body mass on average 5 lbs.
As you can see, there are many reasons why someone would want to do Prolon. I kept reading the results and as I read more and more, I recommitted to it and went to bed on Day 3, hungry but realizing that this nothing compared to what many people who are without food feel like and that there was a purpose to this. I was committed to the results.
I woke up on Day 4 feeling so much less hungry and more clear-headed. The clarity and energy that was described by people who had gone through the program was here. I wasn’t sure on Day 3 whether or not I could run on days 4 and 5 but I woke up feeling much better and decided to go for a short 30 min run both those days. Even though I still mentally wanted more food, I didn’t physically feel the need. This is an important piece of changing our eating habits that we often overlook. Anyone who has tried to change what they eat and how they eat realize that this is mostly a mental and psychological change. Very infrequently is true hunger the reason that we eat. We eat because we’re bored, because we’re stressed, because we want to connect and because it helps us to FEEL some kind of emotion.
This is also why people who go through a cleanse, detox or diet can easily rebound and gain the weight back. It’s because the true mental and psychological change has not taken hold. If you’re looking to change your patterns of behavior, you have to desire the change more than you desire the food. You have to focus on the root cause of why you eat the way you do, the triggers and the history behind how you’ve developed your eating habits.
What a program like Prolon or any other type of clean eating regimen does, is remind you that it’s possible. That you can eat less and not reach for food when you’re feeling a specific emotion. It also shows you what happens when you do. My results were my hives went away (a major celebration because they were getting pretty bad) and I lost 5.7 lbs. Most of that 5.7 lb weight loss was fat and about 0.6 lbs were muscle mass.
Would I do it again? Yes. Am I going to do it again in a month? Likely not. The reason for that is because I’m still committed to my running program and I don’t want to lose too much momentum there.
There you go, my review of Prolon. The benefits were pretty extraordinary from what I was hoping to get out of it, which was reduced inflammation and weight loss in the abdominal region. It was not easy to do, but many people also do water fasts and find this easier so it’s all in your perspective. If you want to try ProLon, I have a link that will give you a discount. Let me know it goes for you. Either way, I knew that some type of clean-eating protocol will always be in the cards for me every 3-6 months because I’ve experienced the benefits of how each reset changes my diet, my lifestyle as well as my body. Physical health and wellness is a top priority for me and even though a program like this can feel extreme, I also want to feel extremely good.
One of the quotes that I loved during the 5 days I was on the fast mimicking diet is this, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” Let that be a reminder when you’re looking to up your nutrition game and know that it will be challenging to do so. It’s just a confirmation that change is on the other side.
Best of luck and wishing you a healthy week.
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