December 27, 2011

What if the best remedy for obesity is...

... stop eating entirely — just fast until you reach your goal weight — even if it takes 382 days?

ADDED: I'm just asking "what if"? Apparently, it's not a good experiment to try on your own.

34 comments:

Henry said...

On the 383rd day he climbed down from his stylos and ate a falafel.

Here he is!

Curious George said...

This is the last thing those fatties on "The Biggest Loser" need to hear.

Back on the treadmill Shamu!

Michael Haz said...

If I understand this correctly, and I am certain that I do - the fat protester at the Wisconsin Capitol who has gone on a hunger strike until Governor Walker is re-called will actually become leaner and healthier because Scott Walker was elected governor.

Another remarkably good accomplishment by Governor Walker! He can reduce taxes and BMI!!1!!

edutcher said...

From what I've read, that's the worst idea for most people.

YMMV, of course.

themightypuck said...

Hard to pull off in practice.

Pogo said...

The article is dated 1973.

It stated that there were 5 fatalities reported doing this same thing in others.

Ann Althouse said...

"If I understand this correctly, and I am certain that I do - the fat protester at the Wisconsin Capitol who has gone on a hunger strike until Governor Walker is re-called will actually become leaner and healthier because Scott Walker was elected governor."

I thought about that too.

I was going to have the post title: Bad news for hunger strikers.

Ann Althouse said...

"The article is dated 1973. It stated that there were 5 fatalities reported doing this same thing in others."

Uh oh! Good thing I put the post in the form of a question.

Pogo said...

"Diets with a strict limitation of energy intake leading to semistarvation should be strictly avoided because of serious health hazards that relate to deficiencies of several nutrients.

Exaggerated lipid mobilization accompanied by an increased level of free fatty acids, together with a lack of essential amino acids and potassium and magnesium deficiencies might promote life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.

Rapid weight loss results in an increased biliary excretion of cholesterol, which potentiates the formation of biliary stones.

An increased production of ketones and ketonuria, which are the results of semistarvation, prevents urinary urate excretion and leads to excessive hyperuricemia, which could result in a gout attack.

It should be kept in mind that diets providing <5 MJ/day might yield deficiencies of several micronutrients, which could exert untoward effects not only on nutritional status but also on the weight management outcome.

Meal replacement diets (substitution of one or two daily meal portions by VLCD) may be a useful strategy and have been shown to contribute to nutritionally well-balanced diet and weight loss maintenance.
"

Diabetes Care February 2008 vol. 31 no. Supplement 2 S269-S277

Pogo said...

"Starvation
Total starvation was a treatment modality during the last century up to the 1960s, before it was realized that weight-loss maintenance rather than weight loss only was the crucial issue.

With ketonaemia developing possibly curbing hunger, it was not very difficult for patients to lose weight in specialized units, being supplied only with fluids, electrolytes, minerals, vitamins and other essential trace elements. With time lean body mass was also broken down and in fact placed the patient undergoing starvation in a less favourable position, since with loss of lean body mass the basal metabolic rate would drop, making it more difficult to maintain weight at the lower level.

Very-low-calorie diets (VLCD) were introduced as an option to drastically reduce energy intake but maintain the essential elements. The early VLCD contained only about 330 kcal d−1 (Cambridge) but later it was realized that to increased safety and tolerability, the energy intake could be increased up to 900–1000 kcal d−1 (low-calorie diets) maintaining the same effects on weight loss.
"

Long-term weight loss and weight-loss maintenance strategies
S. Rössner, M. Hammarstr

Obesity Reviews
Volume 9, Issue 6, pages 624–630, November 2008

Pogo said...

Summary:
You can in fact lose a lot of weight via starvation (no shit, Pogo!), and that it becomes easier with time. There are some risks.

However, once they start eating again, it is usually all regained, so weight loss management is key.

Michael Haz said...

Here I am with another "What I'm Reading" post. This is serendipity, not a trend.

I've just finished reading Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes.

Taubes is a scientist and journalist. Why We Get Fat is the Cliff Notes version of his earlier book Good Calories Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, a book he wrote for physicians and scientists.

Why We Get Fat is not a diet book; there are no recipes. It is a hard look at the history of obesity research in Europe and America, and the science behind why humans get fat. It changes the assumption that 'we are fat because we eat too much' into 'we eat too much because we are fat.'

It's and interesting read, I recommend it. You can order it through the Althouse portal, of course. Here's a link to the book on Amazon. Read the reviews - some are quite interesting.

Pogo said...

Sorry for the blogorrhea.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Pogo.

Pogo said...

Prolonged Fasting as a Method of Mood Enhancement in Chronic Pain Syndromes

"Periods of deliberate fasting with restriction to intake of solid food are practiced worldwide, mostly based on a traditional, cultural, or religious background.

Recent evidence from clinical trials shows that medically supervised modified fasting (200–500 kcal nutritional intake/day) with periods from 7 to 21 days is efficacious in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and chronic pain syndromes. Here, fasting is frequently accompanied by increased alertness and mood enhancement.

The beneficial claims of fasting are supported by experimental research, which has found fasting to be associated with increased brain availability of serotonin, endogenous opioids, and endocannabinoids. Fasting-induced neuroendocrine activation and mild cellular stress response with increased production of neurotrophic factors may also contribute to the mood enhancement of fasting.

Fasting treatments may be useful as an adjunctive therapeutic approach in chronic pain patients. The mood-enhancing and pain-relieving effect of therapeutic fasting should be further evaluated in randomized clinical trials.
"

Michael Haz said...

Here is a link to a video of Gary Taubes's lecture at Ohio State University Medical College. It's a long video, but well worth watching.

dbp said...

It is nice to see the poor schlub who fasted for over a year finally getting some love--almost 40 years later.

I wonder if he is still alive and whether he is fat or thin?

Julie C said...

I know 6 people who did a liquid diet through a local hospital. Calories were around 800 a day. All lost massive amounts of weight (one person I could not even recognize she looked so different). As soon as they stopped the liquid diet, all except one gained all the weight back and then some.

I read the Gary Taubes book and lost 20 pounds, and I'm back to where I was when I got married. I don't call it a diet - it is a new way of eating. I don't feel hungry, I don't have cravings, and best of all I'm able to wear skinny jeans!

wv: wides - what I used to be

GrandpaMark said...

The demonization of cigarettes and second hand smoke, along with the acceptance of medical marijuana, coincides with the increase of obesity in America.

As plain as the nose on my fat face.

EDH said...

Pogo said...
Sorry for the blogorrhea.

Actually, in my experience a good stomach flu or food poisoning is a quick way to start losing weight.

Chip Ahoy said...

That would leave behind a lot of flabby skin.

There would be justice in the world, if, after dieting you would be able to do something useful with the extra skin flaps on your new lithesome limber skinny self, like have the ability to leap naked off great heights to a smooth adept landing.

HT said...

I won't consider the pros and cons of this idea right at this moment, but I will say that every year I fast. The most I've gone is 2 days without eating. By far the hardest (harder) day is day 1, and the reason is the psychological torment. Usually it's a Saturday and I stay inside.

And watch TV programs.

Which are cooking shows. I have no idea why I do this, but I do. It would bother me less now that I have a diagnosis that prevents me from eating wheat, but it still is torment.

But even if I don't stupidly watch cooking shows, the mind cannot stop itself from thinking of every delicious thing on the planet.

The most interesting part of a fast, it seems to me, is overcoming this annoying first part and moving into when it gets physical. I wish I had the time to do this. For some reason, people go to the desert (not dessert) to do this. With a pool nearby. I could, I think, go a week under such conditions.

HT said...

GrandpaMark said...

The demonization of cigarettes and second hand smoke, along with the acceptance of medical marijuana, coincides with the increase of obesity in America.

As plain as the nose on my fat face.

12/27/11 5:30 PM


I might (MIGHT) grant you point one about tobacco use, but mary jane? Come on. I don't believe it. Most people I know/knew who smoked pot were skinny anyway.

What about anti depressants? I'll go with that.

HT said...

Julie C, preacher. HT choir.

Good for you. I'm still trying to go back and comprehend the whole lipids process Taubes lays out in his tome.

Julie C said...

HT - since I'm not a science person, I found the best part of Taubes book to be the few paragraphs near the end where he says, essentially, stop eating this and eat that instead. Cutting out the bread, potatoes, rice, and fruit really did it for me. Sounds bad, but when you know that stuff is replaced by bacon and eggs for breakfast every day somehow it is all right!
Bacon ... what can't it do?

HT said...

I know, I love bacon so much. Seriously, is there anything better?

One of the criticisms of Taubes that came from the American Heart Assn, of course, was over red meat. I have never felt that he rebutted them sufficiently, and I have (lazily) been on the lookout for those properly laid-out rebuttals about red meat not being the big red flag danger the heart assn was saying it was. At any rate, I do eat bacon every 4 or so weeks. I can't help it.

I'm like you a little bit (liking eat this, not that) but now I want to know WHY.

Freeman Hunt said...

My husband started eating a diet high in saturated fat, heavy on the red meat, cheese, coconut oil, etc.

His triglycerides went down, and his good cholesterol went up.

We like Taubes.

Freeman Hunt said...

My father and I used to eat red meat every day. It was just the two of us at the house when I was in high school, and he grilled pretty much every night.

His good cholesterol was 147 on the test I remember. Other tests at other times also came out around there. He had, and passed on to me, Longevity Syndrome.

Of course, then he got melanoma and died at 59, so who knows what will happen to a person.

Eat red meat.

rcocean said...

IMO, we're made to walk a couple hours every day and eat fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean meats.

Too bad God made croissants, alcohol, and salami.

deborah said...

There's a vid available for free from Amazon Prime, 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.'

It shows an Australian man, overweight and experiencing a skin condition. He is making his way across the US encouraging people to try juice fasting.

http://www.amazon.com/
Fat-Sick-Nearly-Dead/dp
/B004V4ASB2/ref=sr
_1_31?s=instant-video&ie
=UTF8&qid=1325040603&sr=1-31

Also, I'm interested in looking into the book, 'Wheat Belly.'

Milwaukee said...

GrandpaMark said...
The demonization of cigarettes and second hand smoke, along with the acceptance of medical marijuana, coincides with the increase of obesity in America.

As plain as the nose on my fat face.


We can find lots of reasons for why Americans are fat, and obesity is on the rise in other countries. Don't forget high fructose corn syrup, and elementary school lunches. My son usually took the trouble to make his own lunch, whilst in grade school. Otherwise the cafeteria ladies wouldn't let him out to play unless he ate everything on his tray. When I first started teaching at this one high school in Wisconsin, the lunches were huge.

My thoughts on losing weight coincide with spending less money. I'm wondering what will happen to my weight when I restrict what I'm willing to spend on food? In the 1991-1992 school year I taught in England, and people there were skinny. But then, restaurant meal prices were for the entreat, salad, roll, vegetable, butter for the roll, were all extra.

gerry said...

When a senior in college in 1973, I fasted for thirty days and lost thirty pounds.

It all came back in the following three months.

frankz said...

freeman, no disrepect but i think the lesson is to grill red meat in the shade. particularly if you're fair skinned.

MikeR said...

Heck, I've been doing this with my kids for a while, whenever I thought they were gaining weight. 'Course, you have to tie them up as well. My cat too.

It works.