You’re thinking about doing LifeBox, and I salute you. For those of you that don’t know, LifeBox is a fasting mimicking diet. When you first encounter the fasting mimicking diet concept (FMD) it can seem a bit daunting. Fear not oh brave one! It was designed with doability in mind - and besides, it’s only 5 days.
Still, Our Team has been getting questions about what to expect going into a week with LifeBox, and we agree that it is usually helpful to understand things before diving in. So in this post I am going to describe to you with complete transparency what you will experience during a week with LifeBox.
This description is taken from my own experiences (going on my 6th cycle now, not bad considering the FMD concept has only existed for 11 months) as well as feedback received from many others who are using LifeBox, and I throw in a little science just for fun.
Keep an eye out for the recommendations, they are things we have picked up along the way that help maximize the experience.
A Week with LifeBox
Hanger - It’s Real
I said I would be honest, so here goes - you’ll be hungry. Not like I’m dying hungry, more like hmm I should eat something hungry. FMD is short term calorie restriction, designed to provide between 34% and 54% of your normal caloric intake. You are hungry because you are eating less than normal by design.
The anger part is actually just moodiness. LifeBox restricts food intake so that blood sugar levels are lowered enough for your body to begin depleting glycogen stores in the liver. I’ll explain why we want this in a later post. All you need to know for now is that when your blood sugar levels drop your “feelings” go slightly awry.
Maybe you have put it together by now, hanger = hunger + anger. In my opinion, this is the only drawback. LifeBox plus satiety would be the perfect health management tool, but to be less hungry you have to eat more and then the whole thing wouldn’t work so hey, sacrifices. Besides, perfection doesn’t exist. Just look at this as an opportunity to improve your willpower.
- Drink Water. This will help you stay full and protect from dehydration.
- Keep Busy. Move around and stay active. Give your mind something to focus on and you will find that the days pass more quickly and you spend less time thinking about food!
- Stay Positive. Positivity is your best weapon against hunger and moodiness. Stay sharp with positive self talk. You are going to be better for having done this!
Day 1 - Child’s Play
Day one never phases me, probably because my body isn’t aware that anything is going on yet. You get 1,100 calories on day one (compared to 750 on the other days). I’m always satisfied with the amount of food, I actually don’t even eat all the food for day 1 anymore.
Day 3 or 4 - The Hardest, Here’s Why
I hit my low point on day 3, most people report the same or day 4. You will feel low on energy or sluggish because: Your body normally creates energy through the metabolic process called Glycolysis - i.e. food is broken down into glucose that is used for energy.
On a fasting mimicking diet, your body is doesn’t get enough energy from glucose and is forced to switch into an alternate metabolic state known as ketosis (as opposed to glycolysis). While in ketosis your body breaks down fat and converts it into a form of energy called ketone bodies - which is how we know the weight loss is from fat, woohoo!
It is usually around day 3 (or 4) that your body swaps into ketosis. It takes a little while for ketone production to ramp up enough for your energy levels return to normal. So when you feel a bit sluggish, know that this is a natural physiological process and is a necessary transition phase to achieve glorious fat loss - and prevention and longevity and all the other wonderful benefits we are in this for.
Exercise - You Won’t Be Setting Any PRs
The caveat is that my performance is, well, less than stellar. Also, did I mention that I don’t recommend crossfit while fasting, it’s miserable. I stick to weight lifting and intense sprint cardio. Sometimes I get a little light headed, but that’s to be expected. All in all I enjoy testing my limits and find working out rewarding.
- Workout! At LifeBox our whole existence revolves around encouraging healthy lifestyles. LifeBox is just one tool, albeit a powerful one, to aid you on your way to exceptional health. But you should still hit that gym!
- Be Mindful. If you are an exercise nut then I encourage you to be okay with turning down the intensity a little. If you feel good you can always bump it up a notch, and if you feel bad then bump it down. Listen to what your body is telling you.
- Supplement with BCAAs. I recommend this for lifters worried about muscle mass loss, which isn’t going to happen if you are working out and considering that this is only for 5 days. But hey, add some extra BCAAs for good measure, they also give you an energy boost when working out fasted. Just be sure you use pure BCAAs with no added calories!
Mind Games - Prepare for Metaphysical Moments
After having completed 5 cycles I realize that this is all mental. Your body and mind lie to you. They will tell you that you are tired and can go no further when you can, that you are hungry and need food when you don’t. These are all chemical signals from poor programming of the past. Hunger is nothing more than a sensation: deny it and it will go away. Same with moodiness, it’s unacceptable. So be tough and get your happy on knowing that you are boldly becoming a better you.
Secondly, LifeBox will change the way you think about things. I was surprised at how little food I really need, and at how drastically I had been overeating. Food is marketed at every turn - every other commercial on TV is about food! And not the healthy kind. The indication to eat is inescapable, and my awareness of this was heightened while fasting. Denying this pressure to an extreme degree makes it easier to say no on a regular basis. Be prepared for your understanding of and your relationship to food to change.
- Get Your Mind Right Going In. Let nothing keep you from the amazing benefits your body and mind deserve! Commit to finish before you begin.
- Separate Urges from Actions. Detach yourself from the feeling of hunger and control it, because it is exactly that, a feeling - you are fine.
Day 5 - Ketone Nirvana
I’m usually feeling great on day 5, my energy levels have returned to normal. Any of you that have ever fasted or stuck to a ketogenic diet will know how amazing ketones are for energy. I’m mentally clear, emotionally stable, and pumped that it’s the last day! Also I’m planning what I am going to eat for breakfast on Day 6.
Day 6 - Food Friday
YOU HAVE ARRIVED. Day 6 is now affectionately known to the LifeBox Team as food Friday. We prefer to begin our fast on Sunday, that way when the weekend rolls around we can fully participate in social gatherings - no one likes sitting around not eating on the weekends anyway.
I’m usually in the drive through line at 6am waiting for Chik-fil-a to open. That’ll be a spicy chicken biscuit (450 calories), side of hash browns (240 calories), a simply orange juice (160 calories), and you know I top it off with chik-fil-a sauce (140 calorie, each - I use two). If you are counting that is a total of 1,130 calories - more food than you get even on day one. There are two things I would like you to know about this.
First, before you rush off and crush a huge breakfast consider that I have an unwavering stomach. I never get sick or feel funny after eating, ever. Don’t ask me why, it just is (and I’m cool with it). But for you mortals I advise taking it easy. Overeating will upset your stomach, like really upset it. Some people prescribe a three day refeeding process after fasting - my recommendation is to just take it slow. Have a light breakfast on day 6 and give it a few hours to see how you feel, then go from there. You will learn quickly what your body can and cannot handle.
Second, as tempting as it may be this is not what we want. I do not encourage binge eating when you come off LifeBox. LifeBox is not a crash diet. It is a health and longevity tool to be used over time in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. If you go out and overeat for 3 weeks before your next box then you will gain the weight back. Food Friday is meant to be a reward after a hard week of self improvement! So enjoy your reward and treat yourself. Just make it a one day thing and not a three week thing.
- Journal. LifeBox is meant to be periodic, so it’s best to have benchmarks for next time!
- Record things like: your weight before and after (use the same scale). How you feel physically. How was your workout? How you feel mentally. How was work? Did you stay focused? What about your energy levels? How’d you sleep? What about your emotions?
- Watch Less TV. Television is Inundated with food advertisements. Food priming is a real thing. It’s just healthier to do other things with your time too! So mix it up.
- Have Fun. You’ll also have extra time because you aren’t cooking or dining, this is an opportunity to develop the habit of rewarding yourself with pleasures other than food. You could read a book, go on a walk, or melt into a bubble bath. Treat yourself!
- LifeBox with a Buddy. We recommend doing this with a friend. You can talk together about how you feel, what you are experiencing. And especially ENCOURAGE one another? And encourage yourself. Mental positivity goes a long way.
- Precautions. If you are concerned about the danger, don’t be. This is a scientifically researched method. But if it would ease your mind, please feel free to have a look at these few precautions.
I’d like to share one of our LifeBox Life Philosophies: Do hard things, so that you can do hard things.
You are greatly improving yourself through bold self-experimentation, and for that we applaud you. Many people who experience LifeBox emerge with a new perspective on food and our relationship to it, with a deeper appreciation for the natural vitality of their bodies, and a renewed understanding of the power of their minds. I hope you find this experience as meaningful and impactful as I and others before you have.