The Psmf Diet or Protein Sparing Modified Fast is a ketosis-based way of eating designed to invoke rapid and significant weight loss in just weeks with minimal exercise.
It is not a permanent way of eating, but instead, the PSMF diet is used to help people lose a significant amount of weight and then transition to a sustainable diet that helps keeps weight off.
In a study conduce by Bakhach et al (2016), they claim that PSMF diet provides adults and adolescents with moderate or more severe obesity a safe opportunity to lose a large amount of their excess weight and maintain the long-term reduction.
How Does the PSMF Diet Work?
As the name suggests, the PSMF Diet is a modified form of fasting. Fasting means abstaining from or restricting food and drinks for a set period of time. In this case, you are restricting food and drinks but in a very specific way.
Your only food source will be calculated amounts of protein based on your lean body mass. It’s very individualized. Eating lots of healthy and low carb vegetables are also a key in this diet and helping you to stay full. A doctor or nutritionist would be helpful in guiding you through this program, and it’s highly recommended that you consult one.
Basically, you are removing all carbohydrates and fats from your diet and consuming only lean forms of protein. Bakhach et al. (2016) says, “This diet provides around eight hundred calories per day utilizing 1.2-1.5 grams of protein a day, making the diet nutritionally incomplete. To make up for these deficiencies, patients take supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and salt.”
This modified fast is set up so that your body reaches ketosis or a state in which your body is forced to use your own fat for fuel. That is why those who partake in this form of fasting lose weight so quickly. Their bodies eat away their own fat for energy, and the protein they consume helps spare their lean muscle mass.
Setting up a proper meal plan is very important in this diet and will be key to your long-term success.
If you are looking for more detailed information about the Psmf Diet, we have a PSMF Diet Guide to assist you in getting you on your way to success.
Do I Have To Exercise While Completing a PSMF Diet?
Many people who begin this fast do not exercise at all. In fact, exercise is restricted or limited or else calories need to be adjusted upward to make sure that the individual retains their lean muscle mass.
How much exercise do you have to do?
Once you move to the sustainable diet, it would be best to complete mild to moderate exercise for your overall health.
There are many frequently asked questions before starting this plan and this is understandable. We wouldn’t advise you to start any diet until you have a clear understanding of it.
The History of the PSMF: Protein Sparing Modified Fast is not a new concept.
In fact, it originated in the 1970s. According to Wikipedia, researchers of that time did not provide patients with the correct types of lean protein, thus those who participated lost too much of their lean muscle mass. This wasn’t a favorable outcome. This occurred because when your body is starving or fasting, it will begin to eat the muscle to sustain itself.
Researchers took a second look at the program and made adjustments.
After further studies, researchers found that incorporating high-quality lean protein sources, increasing fluid consumption, and by including vitamin and mineral supplementation that they could make the modified fast work.
Those adjustments are what made PSMF successful, and that’s the upgraded program any person today would use.
PSMF Results: What Research Studies Say About The PSMF Diet
Study # 1
Multidisciplinary Treatment of Obesity with a Protein-Sparing Modified Fast: Results in 668 Outpatients
The above study used a PSMF Diet to accomplish rapid weight loss with 668 obese, adult patients, 564 women and 104 men. The program included a 12-17 week PSMF period followed by a 9-17 week period of transition to a sustainable diet that would keep the weight from returning.
The program also included professionally supervised nutrition, education, and behavior modification.
Palgietal. (1985) stated, “Weekly clinic visits were scheduled during which weight, blood pressure, and urine and breath ketone levels were monitored by a nurse. Patients then met with a counselor to review their progress, gain support, and set realistic goals for coping with specific food-related problems.”
Patients who were the heaviest and stayed with the follow-up diet program the longest had the greatest weight loss totals. Some participants lost up to 40 pounds, which was incredible.
Other health improvements were made as a direct effect of the weight loss. These milestones included lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, lower triglycerides, and lowered (bad) cholesterol. Due to these medical improvements, many patients were able to get off of numerous prescription medications that they were on before losing weight to treat chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes. Others were eligible for elective surgeries that the excess weight prevented in the past.
Study # 2
The Protein-Sparing Modified Fast Diet: An Effective and Safe Approach to Induce Rapid Weight Loss in Severely Obese Adolescents
Adolescent obesity was not near as big of an issue in the 1970s as it is now. The Centers for Disease Control (2015) states, “The percentage of children six to eleven years old in the United States who were obese increased from seven percent in 1980 to nearly eighteen percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged twelve to nineteen years who were obese increased from five percent to nearly twenty-one percent over the same time period.”
Researchers wanted to know if the PSMF diet would be as safe of an approach to use in adolescents as it was is in adults. A small study with 12 adolescents was set up. There were treated and monitored at the Cleveland Clinic through the Obesity Management Program.
Similar to the above study, the patients went through a PSMF diet phase followed by a refeed phase, or a transition to a sustainable diet to help maintain their weight loss.
Bakhach concluded that the results show that the Protein Sparing Modified fast diet can be used as an effective and safe method in the outpatient setting for rapid weight loss. The results show that adolescents with severe obesity would benefit from the diet.
Because the sample size of adolescents used for this study was so small, the study should be repeated on a larger scale to see if there are any statistically significant results.
Who is Protein Sparing Modified Fast or Psmf Diet For?
A PSMF should only be used by overweight people who have failed to lose weight using more conventional low-calorie diets.
Are you an individual that meets at least one of the following criteria?
- Have a BMI of 30 or greater
- Have a BMI of at least 27 with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, or Hepatic Steatosis
- Are preparing to undergo weight loss (bariatric) surgery
- Have regained weight after bariatric surgery
If you can check at least one of the above boxes, then you may benefit from the PSMF.
However, it is important to note that the PSMF is not suitable for everyone. Anyone with a BMI less than 27, or who is over the age of 65 is not advised to try the PSMF. In addition, anyone who has recently had one of the following conditions should avoid following this type of diet:
- Heart attack
- Chest pains
- Irregular heartbeat
- Congestive heart failure
- End-stage kidney disease
- Liver failure
- Major mental health illness
- Pregnancy or lactation
Individuals who have had gallstones should also advise their doctors before starting the PSMF. Rapid weight loss may result in gallstones.
PSMF was originally created with the intention of helping adults whose body mass index is 30 or higher which qualifies those individuals as obese. The 2016 study by Bakhach et al. determined that it was also effective for obese adolescents, but more research should be done in that area due to the small study group that was tested.
PSMF can also help those who have type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, or who have fatty liver disease.
Anyone looking to lose weight in a short amount of time can cycle through a PSMF diet. It just takes an individual with will-power and ambition who really wants to lose the weight. We have a support Forum for added support to someone who may have more questions about their candidacy for this diet.
Potential PSMF Diet Side Effects
Fasting is a form of starvation, and beginning the PSMF Diet will be very mentally and physically challenging.
Difficulties That Accompany An Extreme Diet Change
Chang & Kashyap (2014) state that patients should be mentally committed to this type of program and should be motivated to make the intensive dietary and behavioral changes the program calls for.
When you remove full food groups from your diet, your body is going to react dramatically. There are a few side effects. However, the side effects aren’t permanent. Your body will either adjust, or you can adjust your supplementation and fluid intake. Otherwise, the conditions will subside when you are weaned off of the fasting cycle and begin the sustainable diet portion of the program.
According to Chang & Kashyap, these are some of the side effects that you may encounter:
• orthostatic hypotension – blood pressure drops when you stand rapidly
• muscle cramps
• cold intolerance
• menstrual changes
• hair thinning
Other studies suggest that a few instances of emotional disturbances such as depression and anxiety occurred. These conditions were a result of the struggle to keep the weight from coming back.
Protein Sparing Modified Fasting Benefits
The primary benefit of the PSMF is rapid weight loss in a short period of time. The PSMF gives you a kick start to long-term success in losing weight and keeping it off. Research has shown that people are more motivated to continue to lose weight and stick to an eating plan once they see results. And, with the PSMF, you will see results even within just one week! Further, several preliminary studies have shown that following the PSMF may result in lower blood glucose levels and less insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes increase healthier cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.
- Rapid Weight Loss
- Immediate Results
- Lower Blood Glucose Levels
- Less Insulin Resistance
- Healthier Cholesterol Levels
- Lower Blood Pressure
How Much Will I lose?
Obese patients typically lose weight quite quickly average weight loss is about 40 pounds in 12 weeks, which is 200-300% more than the typical ‘healthy weight loss’ suggestion of 1-2 pounds a week. Because of the high protein intake and ketosis muscle mass is mostly (if not completely) retained, while weight lost is from fat tissue. Keep in mind, however – especially in the beginning – that weight and fat are not one in the same. There is a difference between the weight of water, fat, and muscle.