My Favorite Way to Detox
A Scientific, Research-Proven 5 Day Diet
Now, let me just say up front, I am NOT into crash dieting or anything that preaches restriction for weight loss. I also don’t feel like we have to take a bunch of herbs to cleanse our system, or hook tubes up to our behinds and wash out our insides (kudos to you colonic-lovers, I don’t know how you do it!).
So when I first heard about this 5-day diet about 1.5 years ago, I was skeptical. Ok, to be honest, I was argumentative with our clinic that was planning on implementing it. My first approach to anything new or flashy is to be skeptical at best and try to prove it unnecessary at worst. If after my best efforts to de-bunk it, it still stands, then I’m all-in at full force. It’s kind of one of those “my strength is also my weakness” things.
I read all the studies and tried it out on myself, and was utterly impressed by the results. This detox REVERSES AGING processes and DECREASES INFLAMMATION faster than anything else I know of (1). It’ll reset your relationship with food, help you lose some body fat, and actually make you healthier in the process.
In January 2018, I measured myself using a super-fancy Tanita body composition scale and got blood work the day I started. Then I re-measured everything 5 days later, on Day 6. What happened in less than a week? I lost 3.2lbs body fat, my metabolism sped up by 20 calories per day, and I could now comfortably fit into my pants that had gotten a little snug with the holidays. But wait, there’s more! (…cue infomercial music…)
- Total cholesterol dropped 30 points
- Fasting glucose dropped 16 points
- Insulin fell 50%
- HsCRP- a general marker of inflammation- fell 60%
- IGF-1 dropped from 0.4 to -0.2. IGF is insulin-like growth factor. It’s a measurement of how much in a state of growth your body is, where 0 is perfect and anything above starts on the spectrum of too much and anything below is slower. A simple explanation is the more growth, the more weight (and muscle) you put on, but also the more likely cancer is to form, which is uncontrolled growth. A negative number is a state of conservation, which research shows reduces cancer risk and extends lifespan (2).
3 WAYS IT DETOXES
- Detoxes your mind- a fast takes away food as a distraction, as something to soothe or pacify you, or as something to look forward to. Taking away choices and being ok with hunger leaves more space for reflection. It forces you to deal with stress, boredom, or anxiety in other (hopefully healthier) ways. I realized how much I looked forward to food, and started thinking about what other things I have to look forward to.
- Detoxes your diet- whether you habitually eat or crave chips, cookies, cheese, wine, Dr. Pepper, or fast food, this will certainly break you of those bad habits. It can reset your tastebuds, and help you be more intentional about what you want to go back to when you resume your normal diet.
- Detoxes your body- fasting and caloric restriction increase the enzymes in the liver that process out toxins (3, 4). There are 2 phases in the liver for detoxification. The only ways to upregulate Phase 1 is to increase exposure to the toxin (not recommended!) or fasting. Phase 2 can be upregulated by many foods and herbs, many of which are included in the 5 day diet or with supplements that can be used while completing it.
THE FINE PRINT
While fasting-mimicking is safer than actually fasting, it is not right for everyone. Those with insulin-dependent diabetes, organ dysfunction, hypoglycemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease and others who have to be attentive to fluid balance, should either avoid or have instructions from a doctor on how to safely complete. Anyone struggling with thyroid or adrenal issues should also seek guidance from a practitioner to determine when their body has enough resiliency to handle the stress of such a diet (fasting is a positive stressor like exercise). And those who have struggled with an eating disorder should usually avoid this altogether.
HOW TO COMPLETE
Ok, the part you’ve all been waiting for! My clients who have already done this (please comment below on your experience if that’s you!) will tell you that while it’s not exactly “fun”, it’s also not hard. However, if you’re not eating a super clean, low-carb diet beforehand with a few tweaks for preparation, you’ll definitely get unpleasant symptoms. Headaches, muscle aches, shakiness, dizziness, and even GI upset can all occur as part of withdrawal symptoms or if you’re really toxic. Therefore, it’s important to work with a practitioner (like me!) to ensure you’re ready. For most people, this can be just 1-2 visits!
The researchers who created the program termed it the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD). It’s designed to trick your body into thinking you’re fasting while steadily consuming calories to keep energy and blood sugar stable and hunger manageable. This way the average person can safely and easily get the benefits of fasting. The FMD has no animal products or caffeine, and is balanced with carbohydrates and fats while being very low in protein (20g or less per day). The first day is higher in calories (about 1,100) while Days 2-5 are 700-800 calories. You eat about 5 times per day, and drink a LOT of water/herbal tea.
In order to get the specific benefits of losing fat while holding onto (and in many cases even adding) muscle, and improving the health of your body, you need to follow the researchers’ exact instructions on how much to eat of what types of foods and when. There are 2 ways to do this.
- Buy the Prolon box, created by the team of scientists at University of Southern California, most notably Dr. Valter Longo. These can be purchased after a visit with me.
- The Do-It-Yourself version: after reading through their patent and completing the official Prolon diet myself, I created a 5-day meal plan using foods you can get from the grocery store. I’m a little partial to my version because it uses vegetables known for increasing detoxification and a smoothie powder with detoxifying herbs. My results were also the same as when I did the Prolon.
While this method is the most science-backed way to detox, there are other ways to help your body get a rest from constantly storing calories, digesting, and dealing with inflammatory foods. You can drink organic cold-pressed green juices for breakfast and lunch with a veggie-filled bean soup for dinner for a couple of days. You can take Epsom salt baths at night and sweat during the day, doing hot yoga or my favorite healing technology: infrared saunas. Then of course there’s the wonderfully effective but painfully tedious experience of a Whole30. Whatever method you choose, just be sure to discuss with your health care practitioner first and prepare your body. Just like spring cleaning of our house, doing some intentional cleaning of our bodies several times a year is a great way to keep things enjoyable and orderly inside!
- Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/9/377/eaai8700.short
- Insulin, IGF-1 and longevity. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295030/
- Gene expression of transporters and phase I/II metabolic enzymes in murine small intestine during fasting. https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2164-8-267
- Detoxification and Biotransformational Imbalances.