Sit back, grab a cold one because it’s story time.
This week we’re winding back the clocks to feature the successful therapeutic fast of 382 days’ duration (Stewart and Fleming, 1973).
That’s right; Mr Angus Barbieri didn’t eat for over a year. For extra kudos, this was entered into the Guinness Book of records in 1971.
The grossly obese young man of 27 years weighed in at 207kg upon admission and embarked on the journey entailing 382 days of fasting. This period was coined as ‘Therapeutic Starvation Therapy’ where he was only given;
– Vitamin C and yeast for the first 10 months.
– Potassium supplements from days 93-162.
– Sodium supplements from days 345-355.
That’s all Mr A.B. had apart from non-calorie fluids of course. I know what you’re thinking…did he even poop? Yes, every 37-48 days.
So, what exactly happened by the end?
– He dropped from 207kg to 82kg in 382 days. That’s 125kg in total!
– 5 years after, he only regained 7kg which most likely would have been muscle mass, glycogen stores, food bulk, fluid retention and perhaps a bit of body fat.
Did he experience any negatives?
Apart from the occasional case of hypoglycaemia towards the end of the fast, he was (and I quote) ‘symptom free, felt well and walked normally’.
Had anyone else who’d tried prolonged fasting experience any negatives?
Yeah, kinda. At the time of this study, 5 people had died from long term fasting; 1 from lactic acidosis during the refeeding process after a 3 weeks of fasting, 2 from heart failure, 1 from small bowel obstruction and 1 from the refeeding process after a 210 day fast.
Therefore, the authors do suggest that starvation therapy can be successful for weight loss in this instance. They ALSO go on to suggest that there’s likely to be a small risk in some individuals attributed to failures in different aspects of the adaptive response to fasting.
In other words, you’re likely to die if you don’t eat.
By all means, I’m very pro fasting as I think it’s an excellent tool to drop body fat. This is however intermittent, i.e. 16-24 hours, not 1 year. So, I’m probably not going to advocate this just yet, or ever in that matter.
What is very interesting about this study is the total amount of weight regained 5 years later. The rebound was virtually non-existent and his metabolic rate didn’t even break. This refutes the concept of ‘starvation mode’ – this dude actually starved and was fine (in this instance). You skipping a meal did not slow down your metabolism and destroy your fat loss progress – Just a friendly FYI.
Until next time, have an awesome Christmas my friend.