Simplified Fasting Mimicking Diet / Protein Cycling Diet

If you are new to the Fasting Mimicking Diet or the Protein Cycling Diet, check out these posts for background:

The Short Version

When you strip away all the complexities, the 5-day diet is a super-low protein diet that is also low in carbs. This is an anti-aging, anti-disease biological hack that tricks the body into a repair and rebuilding process.

How low on protein? Keep it under 15-20 grams a day is my short answer. You can research this number for your recommendation, but it won’t be much higher.

The Simple Version

Dr. Longo has all these menus in his book on how to eat tasty foods that achieve very low protein and carb numbers. I get that some people need to taste something great at every meal or they won’t do the diet. Even if the diet drastically improves their health and lifestyle.

For me, I want to think LESS about food during my FMD/PCD.

A few weeks ago, I completed my 4th FMD/PCD and it went great. Here is what I ate each day for 5 days:

  • 2 medium-sized avocados
  • steamed cabbage (red is more nutritious than green, but either works)
  • salt

During the 5-days, I went to the sauna to accelerate sweat detoxification, which is something I learned is important to do when in a calorie deficit. Read Detoxification Notes (Science Not Woo-Woo) for an explanation.


I dropped 9 pounds, which was more than I expected. When I resumed eating normally and supplementing with creatine, I still had a 2-pound loss and I was another 1/4 inch smaller around the waist.

When I drop calories, my body gets cold. This time I had sauna access. I even went twice on Day 2. One tip, increase salt and fluid intake during this period.

I was just a little hungry on Day 1 and got used to it rather quickly.

My simplified approach requires almost no thought to food and food prep other than steaming and weighing cabbage. 100 grams of cabbage is just 1.4 grams of protein. The fiber in the cabbage will assist with detox as well, which is something you don’t get on a pure 0 calorie fast.



Add yours

  1. How much cabbage did you eat each day? I tried a similar approach eating two salads daily with greens, avocado, onions, red pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I need the palatability to stick with it, but this was simple. I also had a small Granny Smith apple on most of the days. I didn’t measure things and I didn’t check the nutritional values so I don’t know what my macro ratios were. I would repeat it again, but might try your cabbage instead if it is better suited to the diet.

  2. @Rod – I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but basically, I weigh 2 medium avocados. Get their protein values. Subtract that from 15 or 20. That gives me the number of grams of protein I have left for the day during the 5-day FMD. Now I can fill that with cabbage.

  3. I see you get cold when your metabolism is impaired(starved).
    You’ll find you have a Molybdenium deficiency, so start quarter dosing for a few weeks and make sure you get 200mg of natural VC and some methylated B vitamins to. Don’t be afraid to eat more until you reach Zen, then you can think about fasting.
    I wouldn’t go more than 4 hours without food until my liver was ketogenically fit as nature intended. I can go from dawn til dusk if needed without stressing, but if I had long major efforts throughout the day then of course I would eat anything , that’s gluten free, sweetener free, etc.
    I hope this post helps.

  4. @Mark – If my body temps are still 98.6 then I doubt my metabolism is low. The likely answer is low iron + winter + a new lower body fat percentage.

    The fasting outlined in this article is not regular fasting, but something to be done a few times a year. The rest of the days of the year, full-menus are fine. So unlike chronic fasting, I doubt this method would impair metabolism for more than a few days.

  5. Mas,

    Can you explain why you think the potato diet version of the FMD doesn’t adhere as strictly to the original FMD? Is it because it adds too many starchy carbs? Too much insulin stimulation? Otherwise, seems to me a potato version can meet the macro and calorie requirements pretty well.

  6. @Max – My position on this is that I do not know if spiking insulin has a negative effect on the benefits one gets from the low-protein FMD.

    Does ketosis itself have its own repair signals independent from protein restriction? I don’t know. I did hear a podcast (probably FoundMyFitness) that planted a seed of doubt that my potato FMD might be flawed.

    That is why I swapped the potatoes for avocados in my FMD. Also, considering that I get enough potatoes already and my only ketosis time is when I do an FMD, going with the mono-unsaturated fats for calories is probably a safe bet.

  7. Well the official FMD allows around 85g of carbs. It does seem like most of the carbs are low glycemic, non-insulin-spiking carbs, but it does contain some starch and a little sugar. So you are probably right that an all-potato version doesn’t adhere to the principles, though I think there is probably room for a little more starch/sugar if you wanted to. But hard to know where that line is.

  8. @Max – True. And we also know that zero calories will get us there as well. Longo’s motivation is to maximize the number of people doing the diet and to do so, he needs to make it as easy as possible.

    Since I’m only doing an FMD 4-6 times a year, I’m OK with making it tougher if there is the possibility that I’m getting more benefit with even lower ratios.

    I’m also considering that I’d rather take a more aggressive approach now while I am still somewhat young and very healthy. Then as new research comes in, I can adjust accordingly.

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