At a Scotland university in 1973, a young man named Angus Barbieri, fasted for 382 days straight under medical supervision.
Yup! For 382 days, he didn’t eat!
Now I’ll get back to this man in a second but I want to talk about something that I think gets glossed over a lot in fitness. I often forget about it myself.
I was chatting with some of our dear members during a session last week and I mentioned that if you’re trying to lose fat, you’re going to be hungry.
It’s dirt simple but often the fitness industry doesn’t talk about that. Instead, we talk about new funky exercises, diets, foods to eat, foods not to eat, and all other kinds of minutiae…
We’ve got loads and loads of research and studies in the nutrition field and we still don’t know that much. We don’t know all the variables that make some people never get fat while others pack it on just by looking at food… So we like to complicate things.
But the fact of the matter is that weight loss is still very simple:
If you’re burning more energy than you consume, you’ll lose weight
If you’re doing the opposite, you’ll gain weight
So if your goal is to lose weight, you’ll have to eat less than you burn. And if you do that, sometimes you’re going to be hungry.
We say things all the time like “I’m starving,” and “I need to eat right now!”
But nine times out of ten, we could wait at least another hour or three and we’d be alright. We just get so anxious thinking about being hungry that we eat anyway to ease our anxiety.
Now there’s no need to starve yourself but feeling hungry is part of the process. It’s not an emergency.
In fact, hunger is your body telling you what to do if you want to stay the same weight as you are right now.
Our bodies are wonderful at maintaining homeostasis. They don’t want to change. When you start losing weight, your body thinks you’re starving. It revs up your hunger as a survival cue so that you go and eat right away.
But again, hunger is not an emergency.
Extened starvation like that is NOT safe and has long since been abandoned as a medical practice
Angus in the study weighed 456lbs at the start. Not everyone is looking to lose that much weight
Regardless, by the end of the study, he was a healthy 180lbs and 5 years later, his weight was maintained at 196lbs and all his health markers were good and stable.
You might not have nearly that much to lose but if a man can fast for over a year to lose 276lbs, surely we can sit with our hunger for an hour or so, distract ourselves with something, and try to appease our anxiety about it.
I always say that weight loss is simple. But simple isn’t easy. In fact, some days it’s the hardest thing. But as long as you’re consistent and you don’t ever quit, you’ll get there, I promise.