New study pits Fasting Mimicking Diet against Mediterranean diet

Both decreased cardiometabolic risk, but one had added benefits

Dr. Valter Longo of USC, the inventor of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

What's the news: Fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is better than the Mediterranean diet (MD) in a head-to-head comparison in overweight subjects.

Why should we believe it: This news is based on a new study published earlier this month by scientists at USC and UCLA. The scientists looked at a group of 88 overweight and obese subjects. The subjects followed either a 5-day FMD protocol once a month for four months, or a continuous Mediterranean diet for four months. Results:

  • Both FMD and MD lowered a number of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors, including weight, fat percentage, and total cholesterol

  • FMD improved the reactive hyperemia index, a measure of microvascular function, while MD did not

  • MD caused a loss in lean body mass, while FMD did not

Why this is a big deal: Valter Longo, one of the scientists behind this study, is the inventor and chief proponent of FMD. He claims FMD is "equally as effective as fasting, if not more so." What's not clear is whether you really need fasting, and whether FMD does anything for you that continuous healthy eating won't do.

This study gives us a concrete trial of FMD versus continuous healthy eating. It says that yes, there really does seem to be something particularly effective about fasting, or tricking your body into thinking it's fasting via FMD.

So what specifically can you do now: Consider the Fasting Mimicking Diet. It's not for everyone. But as this study shows, if you are young and healthy enough to do FMD, it can have real benefits.

Valter Longo has set up a company, L-Nutra, that sells a 5-day meal box called Prolon to completely take care of food during the FMD cycle. To see if you can do FMD or to get the Prolon meal box, take a look at this L-Nutra page.