I Survived the Fast-Mimicking Diet

I just got done eating nothing but avocados and veggie powder for five days. Why? For better long and short term health. It’s been clear for a while that one of the main reasons for what are called Western Diseases is that people don’t starve enough any more. We evolved to go through short and longer term periods when sufficient food wasn’t available, and having food 24/7 all year round violates that pattern. I’ve been looking for a safer longer-term fast for years, and the Fast Mimicking Diet is the first I’ve found that has solid scientific support. For a more in depth look into the science behind why the diet is so helpful, check out this great Found My Fitness interview.

I decided to try this version of the diet from The Quantified Body. The guy who created it is super focused on biometric tracking and scientific rigor, so I’m choosing him to trust the translation of the commercial product into what’s basically 2-3 avocados and some veggie micro nutrient powder per day for five days.

I’ve done a few other fasts in the past, including the wildly unscientific and probably fairly harmful Master Cleanse, so I had some idea of what it felt like to go long periods of time without a lot of food. I’ve also done the Slow Carb and full ketogenic diets for months at a time. The only other thing I consumed was one cup of bulletproof coffee per morning. The Quantified Body guy has two cups of black coffee. Since I had only two smaller avocados on the first three days, I don’t think the extra fat in the bulletproof coffee is going to throw anything off too far.

I felt pretty hungry and somewhat weak on day 1, but the hunger mostly went away after that. I got little spurts on day 2, but by day 3 the hunger reaction was almost completely gone. I definitely felt weaker than usual, and restricted myself to activities that didn’t require a lot of concentration or exertion. I like avocados, and enjoyed eating them for the first three days. The veggie powder I got was largely wheatgrass based and had that nasty sweet grassy flavor, and was much harder to get down in a cup of water. In the future I will use a different powder. On the evening of day 4 I started feeling a bit nauseous and heart-burny. I had trouble eating my food, but I stayed on protocol and ate it. I felt the same way on day five, along with some increasing spaceyness. I ate both avocados, but decided to skip the last dose of veggie powder.

The hunger reflex is actually much more changeable than many people realize, and on longer fasts it almost completely shuts down. When I was actually eating the avocado, it would kick up fiercely and briefly, but there wasn’t any “getting hungry” part that crept up like usual. Besides not being hungry, I mainly just felt weak and slow. I cut myself a lot of slack and rested frequently. I was still able to learn some metalwork to repair my van.

Afterward the heartburn stayed with me for a day or two. I ran out of my good coffee and butter on day 2, so my bulletproof coffee was made with much more acidic coffee and only coconut oil afterward. However, I think the biggest contributor to the heartburn was the nasty wheatgrassy powder I was consuming. I probably didn’t need as much as I took (4 tbsp per day) and the flavor was pretty nauseating.

As it’s gained in popularity, a lot more recipes that are conformant for the diet have come out. I choose this version because it was very simple. Next time I will show a little more creativity in my cooking for some variety. I think more electrolyte supplementation can help with the weakness that comes from the huge amount of water loss going into ketosis. I would also like to figure out which bio-markers I can check before and after so I can see some N=1 details of what’s going on with my body. In particular, I’d like to look for the things that *don’t* change as much doing just a ketogenic diet and eating within a 10-12 hour feeing window, because I’m often getting those benefit already elsewhere. More research is required.

I intend to do this about 3-4 times per year.

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