Dr. Longo founded the company L-Nutra based on these results and now sells the five-day FMD diet, called Prolon (for pro-longevity), which has become popular in Silicon Valley, where fasting diets have been trending.
Phil Libin, CEO of start-up Evernote, lost 80 pounds by fasting. Geoff Woo, CEO and co-founder of Nootrobox, told Business Insider his whole company fasts together 36 hours a week.
The benefits of the broader fasting concept known as “episodic” or “intermittent” fasting, has found fans in Hollywood, including Jimmy Kimmel and Benedict Cumberbatch.
“It was just bearable enough for me to get through,” said Erin Van der Meer, a 29-year-old from Sydney who now lives in New York City, tried FMD in late May 2017 after reading about the longevity benefits.
Van der Meer said the diet was challenging on day two. She felt hazy and “didn’t have anywhere near the brain power [she] needed to do [her] work.” She said she didn’t think she could have made it through a movie without falling asleep, and she had to cut out five days without any socializing. Van der Meer lost about eight and a half pounds in the five days she did the diet, and she is looking to do it again this winter. “Right at the end I had this incredible feeling. … I felt that I had a clarity in my mind I hadn’t had in a really long time,” Van der Meer said.
It’s not cheap: at a cost of $300 a week. Once on the FMD diet, people receive individual boxes containing food for a fasting period of five days once a month. They can combine the contents of the box in any way they choose. The boxes are low in calories, sugars and protein but high in unsaturated fats. Included are plant-based energy bars, soups, a variety of snacks (e.g. olives), drinks (e.g. hibiscus tea) and supplements (e.g. plant-based omega-3 fatty-acid oils and vitamin powders), with a total daily caloric intake of 770 and 1100 calories.
There’s still a long way to go until data on humans and fasting provides stronger scientific evidence, and there are hurdles in the way, namely, the ethical boundaries on designing studies that limit the food humans can eat. But two broader studies on nonhuman primates performed at the National Institute of Aging and at the University of Wisconsin Primate Center in Madison include an intruiging clue as to the role fasting-like conditions could play in longevity.