This past January when Goop Lab premiered on Netflix, Gwyneth-devotees tuned in to to binge watch the wellness entrepreneur (along with her loyal employees) test out everything from extreme cold therapy, psychedelic mushrooms, and a diet designed to mimic fasting that was said to lower one’s molecular age (amongst its many benefits).
No one could have anticipated that the five-day program, known as Prolon, would soon become the go-to response to the “Covid-cushion” (the extra pounds acquired during months of hermetic indulgence during lockdown) for those who could afford $250 for five days of starvation rations.
The timing couldn’t have been more fruitful. In the wake of social distancing, the social set—whose calendars are normally filled to the brim with events, cocktail parties, and dinners out every night of the week—was now freed up to commit to five full days of a meal program that offers little-to-no wiggle room. In the absence of social obligations, and thus dietary obstacles, so came the fasting.
ProLon FMD, or “Fasting Mimicking Diet,” was developed by Dr. Valter Longo as a five day program low in proteins and sugars, but rich in healthy fats, that does exactly what the name suggests: It mimics the effects of fasting on the body, without actually forgoing food. Studies of the program have demonstrated that it helps promote autophagy, replacing damaged cells with functional new ones, and shifts the body into visceral or abdominal fat-burning mode, which is said to continue even after a return to one’s normal diet.
The program is designed to make the body think it’s in a fasting state, without actually requiring the participant to avoid food altogether. And while you do have three meals a day, and some days even have snacks, don’t be fooled—the rations are small. Much like Paltrow, who documented each day of her experience on the program, Harry Slatkin attests that it’s no walk in the park.
Participants receive a five-day supply of food, and are instructed to drink no other beverages than water and herbal tea (coffee is discouraged). Day one provides about 1,150 calories and the subsequent four days hover around approximately 400 days. All meals are plant-based, and each day includes soups, bars, teas and supplements to ensure the participant still ingests essential micronutrients.
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Slatkin, who lost 12 pounds and was still able to play tennis during the program (in the Palm Beach heat, no less), remarks that you don’t necessarily feel hunger, but the cravings were acute. “The craving part is probably the part that does you in. This happened for me around the third day. I was missing food but yet not hungry, which is an odd feeling. By the end it felt very restrictive,” he says.
Results are results, however. And ProLon FMD certainly boasts…