Taking on a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) can seem daunting, especially if you’re counting calories for the first time. Inspired by the longevity research of Dr. Valter Longo and Dr. Steven Gundry, I’ve created a 5-day Fasting Mimicking Diet Meal Plan, Do-It-Yourself style. It’s a vegan, low-lectin, and relatively low-histamine plan designed to be both accessible and affordable.
This meal plan was created for my mom and me but leaves room for flexibility. Adapt it to suit your location and the available seasonal produce.
What is a 5-day fasting-mimicking diet?
Developed by biogerontologist Dr. Valter Longo at the University of Southern California, the 5-day FMD is a nutritionally rich, low-calorie diet that simulates the benefits of a water fast. The potential health advantages of this diet, as highlighted by both Dr. Longo and Dr. Gundry, include:
- Autophagy (cell recycling)
- Deep healing
- Metabolic reset
While the FMD offers a myriad of benefits, it’s crucial to always prioritize safety. If you have medical conditions or a history of eating disorders, consulting your medical provider before embarking on this diet is essential.
Dr. Valter Longo is cautious regarding DIY fasting-mimicking diets. He advises medical supervision. Please do not make any drastic changes in your diet without consulting with your doctor, especially if:
- you take medication like insulin, statins, steroids, immunosuppressants, etc
- you have diabetes, low blood pressure, cancer, or other medical conditions
- you have a history of eating disorders
- you have a very low BMI or are underweight or frail
- you are over 65 years old
For more in-depth information on this topic, I recommend reading The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo, PhD or watching some of his more recent podcasts or interviews, like this one on The Dr. Gundry Podcast, published in May 2022. The Longevity Paradox, How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age, by Dr. Steven Gundry, was another source of inspiration for creating this meal plan.
If you prefer to start with the original Fasting Mimicking Diet, you can purchase the 5-Day Prolon Fasting Nutrition Kit (this link is not affiliated in any way).
Rules for the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan
- Calorie-Restricted: Limit your daily intake to 900 calories or fewer. According to Dr. Gundry, this mirrors the benefits of a full month of continuous calorie restriction.
- Vegan: The plan is entirely plant-based, excluding all animal proteins and dairy.
- Lectin-Light: Avoid plants with a high lectin content. Beans and legumes should be soaked and pressure-cooked to minimize lectin content, with a daily maximum of one cup (8oz).
- Whole Foods Only: No ultra-processed processed foods are allowed.
- Sugar-Free: Exclude sugars, including most fruits. A limited quantity of berries and a minimal amount of honey is acceptable.
- Nutrition-Dense: Adhere to a nutritarian approach, focusing on nutrient-rich foods that are low in calories. Don’t deprive yourself of essential nutrients. Consider incorporating microgreens and sprouts into the menu to enhance nutrition without added calories.
Transition after the 5-Day FMD
After the five days, transition with a day of plant-based, normal-calorie diet. Include complex carbs like sweet potatoes, beans, or lectin-free grains.
Note: While this plan is generally considered low in histamines, it’s essential to note that some lists may not categorize beans as such. However, many foods in this cleanse possess anti-histamine properties. If needed, ingredients like avocado and cacao can be substituted.
About sourcing and cooking methods
For optimal nutrition, prioritize sourcing local, organic, in-season produce, and try to eat a mix of both raw and cooked vegetables. The aim isn’t perfection but making the most of what’s readily available. For instance, while residing in Romania during autumn, I wouldn’t actively seek tropical ingredients.
For a concise shopping guide and a detailed overview of lectin-free foods, refer to my article The Plant Paradox Shopping List (A Lectin-Free Food List – PDF).
Accessibility of this 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan
Because I wanted to inspire my mom who joined me in this cleanse, I aimed to design a simple yet effective plan using ingredients commonly found in Romanian markets (where my mom lives).
Regardless of your location, you’ll find the list familiar and adaptable. So long as you adhere to the fundamental guidelines, feel free to incorporate locally available ingredients.
For those who have considered the original Prolon 5-day fasting-mimicking diet but found it too expensive or inaccessible, consider this your starting point. Once you’ve understood the basics, adapt this plan to suit your preferences.
Beans and legumes, preparation and storage
In this diet plan, beans and legumes will be a part of every meal. It’s essential to soak and pressure-cook them to reduce harmful lectin levels.
Lentils are rinsed thoroughly and pressure-cooked for 15 minutes, without soaking. But be careful, some lentils can go to much if overcooked, so is better to stick to green lentils, also called French lentils, as they hold their shape well.
Chickpeas, on the other hand, should be soaked overnight, rinsed multiple times, and pressure-cooked for approximately 24 minutes. To ensure optimal cooking, I don’t add salt to the cooking water.
Black beans require a solid 25-minute pressure cook.
Efficient bean preparation
For a hassle-free experience with the DIY fasting-mimicking diet, prepare beans beforehand and freeze them. This allows you to directly use them for stews or other dishes.
Bean stewing is straightforward. Begin with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil (or an oil of your choice), sauté onions until they’re aromatic, add garlic and beans, and pour a bit of water to prevent sticking. Should you opt for other greens, like kale, add them towards the end of the cooking process. Fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro enhance the flavor profile and the nutrition of the dish.
Dive deeper into the world of beans with my article: Reintroducing Beans. Three Easy and Delicious Recipes.
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Freeze beans in Souper Cubes
Meal planning doesn’t inherently resonate with me, given my impromptu cooking style. Yet, certain hacks have considerably simplified my cooking process. Pre-soaking, pressure-cooking, and freezing beans and lentils in separate portions are my top recommendation. I use Stasher bags and Souper Cubes.
Spices and salt for the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan
During my cleanse, I embraced simplicity, chiefly using Herbs de Provence, complemented by salt and pepper. Enhance flavors using fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil.
Although pesto is a great addition to everyday meals, it is problematic during this cleanse due to its high-caloric content from oils.
Speaking of seasonings, adjust salt to your palate. Remember, salt is vital, especially when cutting out processed foods laden with it. I opted for Himalayan pink salt. For those in the US, I’d recommend mineral-rich Redmond Real sea salt or a good quality iodized sea salt.
Alternatively, introduce seaweeds into your meals for a burst of umami and a natural source of iodine.
Counting calories for the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan
While I never typically count calories and would advise against it in normal circumstances, when adhering to a calorie-restricted meal plan, it’s unavoidable.
I realized during this process that it’s easy to underestimate our caloric intake. Thus, careful portion control was crucial to maintaining a daily intake of under 900 calories, especially when it came to oils, nuts, beans, and starchy vegetables.
Calories in beans and oils
While beans and legumes are part of this plan, it’s important to monitor your consumption due to their calorie content. This plan recommends a maximum daily intake of 8oz (1 cup) of beans or legumes.
To make the experience more palatable for my mother, I incorporated chickpeas and lentils in nearly every meal, but I kept it to a maximum of 1/2 cup per meal.
Oils are another high-caloric food that we need to monitor. My choice of oils for this plan are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the estimated calorie content for the ingredients that are calorie-rich:
- 1 cup of boiled lentils – 230 calories
- 1 cup of boiled chickpeas – 267 calories
- 1 cup of boiled black beans – 227 calories
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil – 119 calories
- 1 tablespoon of avocado oil – 124 calories
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil – 117 calories
- 1 tablespoon hemp seed oil – 126 calories
- 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed butter) – 89 calories
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds – 111 calories
- 1 Brazil nut (1 kernel) – 33 calories
- 10 olives – 59 calories
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (canned) – 552 calories
Preparing sweet potatoes
While most vegetables and greens have a low-calorie content, and you shouldn’t stress about how much you are eating, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes require monitored portions. 100 grams of cooked sweet potato, which is a little less than 1/2 cup, has 86 calories.
Sweet potatoes should be cooked, cooled, and then reheated for enhanced nutritional benefits. This process increases resistant starch and ensures slower sugar absorption.
I love to bake them whole, cool them overnight, or for a few hours, then reheat them before serving.
Preparing non-starchy vegetables
Consuming vegetables in various forms, from raw, to steamed, to roasted, is beneficial to maximize nutrient intake. While I like raw cauliflower, I usually cook broccoli. Similarly, I enjoy both raw cabbage salad and roasted cabbage.
If you have trouble digesting raw vegetables, swap the raw vegetables in this plan with the cooked version.
Here’s a calorie breakdown for some of the vegetables used in this plan:
- 1 head large cauliflower (840g) – 209 calories
- 1 bunch broccoli (608g) – 205 calories
- 1 medium onion – 44 calories
- 1 cup chopped cabbage – 22 calories
- 1 bulb fennel – 73 calories
- 1 raw carrot – 30 calories
- 100g raw beets – 43 calories
- 200g asparagus – 40 calories
- 100g sweet potato (approx. 1/2 cup) – 86 calories
The 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan
There are different ways to split the allowed food/calories throughout the day, but we chose two meals a day: lunch and early dinner, which is our regular schedule anyway.
Our first meal was around noon, and dinner was no later than 6 pm. Sometimes we had snacks in between and coffee in the morning.
Don’t bother counting calories for non-starchy vegetables, as they are very low in calories. Monitor only the high-calorie ingredients: oil, beans, nuts and seeds, and starchy vegetables.
Ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), hemp seed oil, red onion, leeks, cauliflower, asparagus, fennel, garlic, ginger, hemp seeds, sweet potato, cooked lentils, broccoli, arugula, olives, herbs de Provence.
Meal 1: Veggie Hash with Leeks, Cauliflower, and Asparagus (246 calories)
- Sauté leeks, onions, and ginger in a small amount of oil until translucent. About 1 tablespoon of oil for 2 servings should suffice.
- Add garlic, followed by cauliflower (either riced or finely chopped).
- After a few minutes, add the chopped asparagus.
- Season with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence.
- Garnish with hemp seeds and a light drizzle of olive or hemp seed oil. For caloric values, refer to the ingredient list above.
Meal 2: Buddha Bowl with Lentils, Sweet Potato, and Broccoli (317 calories)
- Sauté red onion, then mix in lentils and fresh garlic, cooking until creamy.
- Season and possibly add parsley or cilantro for garnish.
- Pair with steamed broccoli florets, pan-seared slices of pre-baked sweet potato seasoned with Herbs de Provence, and a side of green salad or arugula, topped with olives.
Ingredients: EVOO, hemp oil, kohlrabi, avocado, carrot, asparagus, olives, figs, arugula, chickpeas, tahini, nigella sativa seeds, red cabbage, leeks, fennel, ginger, cloves, mache salad, sweet potato.
Meal 1: Veggie Platter & Hummus (456 calories)
- To make the hummus, mix in a blender: 1/2 cup chickpeas per serving, 1/2 teaspoon tahini per serving, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil per serving, lemon juice, salt. Optionally you can add cumin and garlic. Sprinkle with some toasted nigella sativa seeds.
- Serve with steamed asparagus, and fresh slices of kohlrabi, carrot, and optionally radishes.
- Accompany with a green salad, olives, a quarter of an avocado, and an optional fig. (Note: Figs are botanically flowers, not fruits.)
Meal 2: Roasted Cabbage with Sweet Potato and Green Salad (350 calories)
- Combine cabbage, leeks, fennel, and seasonings in an oven dish and bake at 375F for about 30 minutes.
- Optionally, add chickpeas for protein or sprinkle with hemp seeds.
- Serve with a green salad and half a reheated, pre-baked sweet potato (approximately 1/2 cup).
Ingredients: EVOO, hemp oil, lentils, red onion, garlic, beetroot, horseradish, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, coconut milk, chickpeas, asparagus, arugula, mache, olives.
Meal 1: Lentil Stew with Brussel Sprouts and Beetroot Salad (350 calories)
- Sauté onion, then add lentils and seasonings.
- Pair with boiled Brussels sprouts and a beetroot salad mixed with horseradish, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Note: Be cautious with horseradish potency.
Meal 2: Cauliflower Mash Bowl with Chickpeas, Asparagus, and Green Salad (470 calories)
- Blend steamed cauliflower with 1/8 cup coconut milk and seasoning.
- Sautee chickpeas with red onion, garlic, and seasonings, in one tablespoon of EVOO (for 2 servings).
- Serve the mashed cauliflower with sautéed chickpeas, steamed asparagus, a green salad, olives, and drizzle with EVOO and apple cider vinegar.
Ingredients: EVOO, hemp oil, lentils, red onion, garlic, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, olives, arugula, sweet potato, hummus, cabbage, carrots.
Meal 1: Buddha Bowl with Lentils, Kale, Asparagus, Cauliflower, and Green Salad (350 calories)
- Prepare lentils as in the previous days, but mix in some kale or other leafy greens.
- Accompany with steamed asparagus, cauliflower (raw or steamed), a green salad, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of oil.
Meal 2: Hummus & Sweet Potato Platter with Cabbage Salad (420 calories)
- Serve warmed, pre-cooked sweet potato with a cabbage salad, hummus, raw vegetables, and a green salad. Adjust hummus and sweet potato quantities as desired to meet the required calories.
Ingredients: EVOO, hemp oil, cabbage, ginger, red onion, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, nutmeg, herbs de Provence, sweet potato, lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, and arugula.
Meal 1: Roasted Cabbage & Sweet Potato (350 calories)
- Prepare cabbage as in Day 2 (varieties like napa or savoy are acceptable) and sauté pre-cooked sweet potato slices in EVOO, with spices (not more than 1/2 medium potato).
- Serve with olives and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.
Meal 2: Buddha Bowl with Lentils, Broccoli, and Crunchy Cauliflower (300 calories)
- This was the Meal Finale, so I didn’t have much inspiration for cooking.
- Combine plain pressure-cooked lentils, raw cauliflower, steamed broccoli, and olives on a bed of arugula. Dress with EVOO and seasonings. You can cook the cauliflower if you prefer.
Fasting-Mimicking Diet, Soup Recipes
While creating this plan, I wasn’t initially drawn to soups, but they can be an invaluable addition, especially if you do this fast in the cold season.
Plant-based soups are nutrient-rich, low in calories, easy to prepare, and can replace any of the meals above. They are also great for people struggling to digest raw or minimally cooked vegetables.
General Soup Preparation Method:
- Sauté a mix of finely chopped vegetables, such as onions, leeks, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, celery, and fennel, in EVOO until softened. If needed, add a bit of water.
- Incorporate red bell pepper for flavor if you can eat peppers. I do sometimes, but only after I peel and deseed them, to remove lectins. They add a nice flavor and color to soups.
- Add herbs and seasonings like rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, followed by cooked beans of your choice, and water to cover them.
- Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, then add chopped leafy greens, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh herbs like dill, parsley, or cilantro, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Here are a few more soup recipe ideas for the fasting-mimicking diet DIY:
- Creamy Nettle and Cauliflower Soup (You can replace nettles with spinach or kale)
- Cream of Celeriac, Parsnip and Cauliflower
- Low Histamine Cabbage Soup (Skip the chicken)
- Easy, Warming Soup with Cauliflower and Mustard Greens
- Italian Style Mustard Green and Sweet Potato Soup (Skip the prosciutto)
- Healing Vegetable Soup with Kale and Broccoli Sprouts
- Healthy Asparagus Soup (Vegan, Low-Lectin, Low-Histamine)
If you don’t feel like making a soup, but still want something warming and soothing next to the above meals, I recommend GundryMD Lectin-Free Vegetable Broth. One 8oz cup has 30 calories.
Lectin-Free Vegetable Broth
Gundry MD Lectin-Free Vegetable Broth is more than just a filling and delicious snack you can enjoy at any time of day; with only 30 calories per serving, this tasty, savory boneless broth is a quick and easy way to help support a healthy immune system right from home.
Snacks for the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan: mini brownie
On Day 4, I felt the urge to switch things up a bit in terms of routine, texture, and taste. So, I whipped up these mini brownies, each tallying up to just 50 calories. You can also make these on Day 1, to have a low-calorie, satisfying snack on hand during the five days.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl: 31g of flax meal, 21g of hemp seeds, 10g of cacao powder, 20g of plantain flour, 10g of psyllium husk, 60g of tigernut flour, 30g of chopped walnuts, a pinch of salt.
- Blend the wet ingredients: 60g sweet potato, 20ml coconut milk, 20ml water (add more if necessary).
- Gently combine the wet and dry mixtures until they form a cohesive, slightly sticky dough. Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness, or slightly thinner. Then, divide it into approximately 16 equal parts.
- Bake at 140C (285F) for about 25 minutes.
- Note: These bites are not inherently sweet. If you prefer a touch of sweetness, consider adding some inulin powder.
- Calories: Each serving yields roughly 50 calories.
Most days, we had two Brazil nuts for their content of selenium. They have 33 calories each.
Sometimes, when we had more room to play with, we had a few fresh walnuts (we have walnut trees all around here). I did have a few pistachios one day and a couple of freshly boiled chestnuts.
Drinks and supplements for the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan
Hydration is always vital, but it becomes even more critical during a regimen like the FMD. Aim to consume at least 2 liters of filtered or mineral water daily.
While we chose to include coffee in our plan, this period can serve as an excellent opportunity for those considering a caffeine break.
Matcha and green tea are acceptable, but if you’re thinking of abstaining from caffeine entirely, herbal teas are a fantastic alternative. I particularly love tulsi, lemon balm, dandelion, and fresh ginger tea.
As for supplements, feel free to stick to your regular regimen. However, if you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor for advice.
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Adding electrolytes to water is also very important so the water goes to the cells, where it needs to go. Adding electrolytes to water may support healthy hydration and fluid balance, mitochondrial health, and healthy energy levels, among others.
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You could also add hydrogen water to your diet. While more research is needed, small studies show that hydrogen water may reduce oxidative stress, boost performance and improve blood markers in those with metabolic syndrome.
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Conclusion: Reflecting on the 5-Day Fasting-Mimicking Diet Meal Plan
Embarking on the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet meal plan was an enlightening experience. For me, the hurdle was calorie counting, which felt quite foreign and time-consuming.
Although the type of food included in this plan mirrors my regular diet, I typically incorporate more fats, more complex carbs, and animal protein into my daily meals. And I love making and eating healthy, gluten-free, and sugar-free desserts.
Weight loss insights
I managed to shed approximately 1.5kg, an expected outcome given the severe calorie restriction. In contrast, my mother lost a remarkable 3.6kg. I believe her more significant weight loss is attributed to the stark difference this diet posed to her regular eating habits.
While weight loss was a noticeable result, it’s essential to underscore that the primary objective of the 5-day fasting-mimicking diet should not be solely weight loss.
Yet, for those seeking a rapid method to shed body fat, particularly around the abdomen, while preserving lean muscle, the FMD diet offers an effective solution.
Enhanced energy and focus
Although it’s challenging to quantify some benefits, both my mother and I felt a surge in our energy levels and mental clarity.
Hunger was never an issue during the plan. However, by its culmination, I felt a strong urge to reintroduce carbs.
Interestingly, my mother showcased evident signs of entering ketosis but managed to sidestep the infamous ‘keto flu’. Her only complaints were a day-long headache in the beginning and increased thirst.
Her resilience, coupled with a lack of hunger and cravings, even surprised her. When I queried about her success, she cheekily credited her indomitable spirit. In her eyes, once she’s set on a path, there’s no deviating from it.
Share your personal journey
It’s important to remember that each individual’s experience will vary. Always consider seeking advice from a healthcare professional before drastically altering your diet, especially if you’re on medication.
For those who decide to embark on this journey, we would love to hear your personal experiences and insights. It’s truly intriguing to witness the myriad ways in which our bodies respond to dietary shifts.
Other cleanse meal plans
- 3-Day Gut Cleanse. An Easy Plant Paradox Meal Plan
- Low-Lectin Kitchari Recipe for a 3-Day Ayurvedic Cleanse
- 3-Day Cleanse to Lose Belly Fat (Easy Meal Plan)
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