Here at Nature Cures Clinic, the office decided to partake in a cleanse. Upon researching what would be both the best for us as a group and the most doable, we decided upon the ProLon Diet.
ProLon is a fasting-mimicking diet which focuses on 5 days of limited caloric intake, and greater nutrient uptake to help the body heal itself. The diet was created by Dr. Valter Longo and a reasonably sizable research staff. The benefits of this diet are numerous. The most notable benefits from the research are the following:
- Decreases body fat
- Decreases body weight
- Preserves lean body mass
- 60% weight loss maintained for up to 3 months after resuming a normal diet
- Maintains health levels of fasting blood glucose, c-reactive proteins, stem cells, and more
- Improvement in energy levels
- Healthier looking skin
- Improved immune function
Most all of us were excited to participate, with minor trepidation as we were restricting calories significantly during a normal work week. Below are the experiences I had when following the diet.
Day 1. This felt like a fairly normal day as I was eating 3 meals plus two snacks and teas! At 1150 calories, it wasn’t depriving at all. I was most impressed at the taste and quality of the ingredients. No hidden ingredients, and each meal, whether it was the tomato soup or quinoa bowl or kale crackers, was pretty tasty.
Day 2. This was my toughest day. Going from 1150 to 800 calories on a normal workday was difficult for me, but I heard that days 2 or 3 could be the toughest depending on how many calories you usually consume, so I went into the day with this mentality and pushed through. A few times stomach grumbles almost got the best of me, but I just drank more water and herbal tea (they give you a BUNCH of teas which I loved!) and that seemed to do the trick. I took it easy on this day and went to bed early to make it more tolerable and that helped a lot.
Day 3. I was over the hump and was feeling amazing on day 3! I hardly felt hungry for breakfast that morning, so I chose to slowly munch on my breakfast bar (which, by the way, I was obsessed with and can’t wait to make a version of at home soon!). I wasn’t hungry for lunch until about 2:30pm and had dinner around 8pm. Oh, and my energy was higher than it usually was on a normal day, and this was all without caffeine (you can have up to 1 cup of black coffee or black tea if needed, but I chose most days not to do this).
Day 4. Dare I say I felt even better on day 4! My hunger was even more subsided, so I chose to delay some of my meals until later than usual and chewed/sipped on them slowly.
Day 5. I was honestly sad to know this was the last full day of the fast. Energy was still up, sleep was great, stomach was feeling wonderful, and I almost forgot what cravings were like!
Day 6. This was a transition day. Although this day was not a part of the ProLon program itself, they recommend not going back to your normal eating right away but to take a day to ease into “real” food by drinking juices and smoothies and later transitioning to soft foods like gluten-free pasta or rice. I did just that and it helped a lot.
Day 7. This is the first real day back on “normal” food. I was a little apprehensive to eat as I wasn’t sure how I’d feel as I was feeling so great on the program. So I stuck to smaller portion sizes and ate slower, which helped. I will say the first truly solid food I had, I could actually feel it traveling down my digestive tract which was a strange feeling.
Since completing the fast, I’ve noticed far less hunger cravings, have been eating much smaller portion sizes, eat a lot slower, and am better able to appreciate the taste of my food. These were just a few of the many things I learned during the fast and am excited to incorporate those learnings into my daily life.
One of the reasons I like to try new health advances like this are so I can talk from first-hand experience about them to my clients. Having gone through the ups and downs of the program, there were a few tips I learned along the way that, if you plan to do this fast, you should be mindful of as well:
- Eat slow. You are eating reduced calories, so rather than speed through meals only to feel hungry quicker, I recommend each time you take a bite, you put down the soup spoon or the bar or cracker to enjoy the taste and chew fully. This can extend the meal time by quite a lot, leaving you less hungry in between meals.
- Add more water to the soups. Each day you’ll have 1-2 soups as your meals: Tomato soup, minestrone soup, or vegetable soup. There is also a quinoa blend for a few of the meals. For each of these, you can add another cup or so of water to make the meal size larger and help to extend the amount you consume to keep you feeling fuller longer. ProLon is a step above a water fast, so the more water you have, the better!
- Drink lots of water and tea during the day. You’d be surprised how often our body mistakes hunger for dehydration. This program teaches you that water is your friend and can help sustain you in between meals. And I mentioned earlier, they provide you with many herbal teas: spearmint, spearmint and lemon, and hibiscus.
- Follow the program exactly. ProLon makes it easy to follow exactly what to do each day, so do just that. You should not eat any food outside of what’s in each box as it may take you out of fasting mode. Remember that researchers took two decades to discover the exact nutrients and quantities of food to have to sustain the body for these 5 days, so don’t mess with science!
- Do NOT exercise or over-exert yourself. Extreme calorie restriction means you need to reserve your energy for just the basics of your day. Don’t plan to go to your normal spin class or 5-mile run during these 5 days. You’ll likely lose some weight during the program as it is, while still maintaining lean muscle mass, so put exercise on hold and focus on self care this week by doing things like taking epsom salt baths, meditation, light yoga, reading a good book, or sleeping more.