Updated: May 18
When people are trying to lose weight it is common to hear them say that they are feeling hungry or maybe they were so hungry that they just had to eat anything at the time. From an early age we are demanding food when we feel hungry. Especially as children or infants who either demand to be fed, having tantrums or crying as is the means of communication at these stages of development. Most of us get used to the idea that we eat in a general pattern throughout our lives. The pattern basically being breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as some snacks in between. It becomes extremely ingrained into our thinking and behaviour well before we are adults. As we hit our teens and adulthood the choices around our eating habits become ours to make and we take control, becoming independent eaters. During my time as a Personal Trainer I often heard people say that they tried a diet but when hunger hit, they caved in immediately and often chose to satisfy their cravings with rubbish food rather than something healthy. No matter what your nutrition goals, when it comes to hunger or the feeling of starvation, there appears to be some confusion.
The following is the true story of a man who didn't eat solid food for over a year. Yes, that's right, a year! A total of 382 days. So how is this possible. Firstly this man was obese and weighed in at around 207 kilograms, meaning he had significant fat reserves which his body could use for energy. He was also monitored closely by medical staff, being tested throughout the year to ensure his health and normal functions remained stable. Although he didn't ingest any food he was required to take multivitamins every day and also given yeast to provide the necessary protein for survival and maintenance. By the end of the 382 days he weighed a total of 82 kilograms, a significant weight loss.
Another less dramatic story of survival thanks to fat reserves is that of Robert Bogucki. Bogucki set out on a sort of spiritual journey through the Australian outback, to reset the balance in his life. He ended up lost, wandering the plains for 40 days before we was eventually found by a television network helicopter after spotting signs in the area. Mr Bogucki had lost 20 kilos over he 40 days and looked quite different to when he first started out. A much thinner and rougher looking man emerged, in contrast to the shape and condition he maintained prior to his journey. Bogucki survived on very little water and a few random plants here and there to survive his ordeal. Again, this is another example of the bodies ability to survive with very little food over long periods of time.
This article is not to encourage starvation and definitely not anorexia. Both of these men had adequate fat reserves, which allowed them to endure such conditions far longer than a person of a healthy weight range. The point is to understand that when you are trying to lose weight by cutting back on your usual portion sizes, as well as the frequency of your meals, the feeling you get telling you that you are hungry or starving, as many will suggest, is misleading. Consider the above examples before you tell yourself that you are starving and need to eat more. It takes time for our bodies to adjust to diets, smaller portions and different patterns of eating, meaning it also takes time for our brain to rewire the connections, establishing a new baseline. Of course it is important to manage such changes carefully and to get advice from a professional first, but don't allow your brain to destroy your progress based on misleading thoughts and impulses because you are not starving.