#23 – The man who didn’t eat for 382 days

Step forward, Angus Barbieri.

“for 382 days, ending 11 July 1966, the then-27-year-old Scotsman ate nothing.”

https://www.sciencealert.com/the-true-story-of-a-man-who-survived-without-any-food-for-382-days

The human body is a staggering piece of kit.

On the plus side, Angus showed how fasting is a viable option if you have significant weight to lose. However, he does little to dispel the stereotype of Scotsman having horrendous diets in the first place (battered Mars bar anyone?).

I reference this case study for a number of reasons:

1. Fasting is err…fast276lbs (125kg) lost in 382 days (54wks) to be precise – it’s hard to argue with those numbers. A rate of just over 5lbs a week is a phenomenal effort for that duration of time. It turns out that consuming 0 calories is the fastest way to lose lbs – who knew?!

2. Fasting isn’t inherently unhealthy – you’re not going to die if you miss a meal or heaven forbid, go 24hrs without eating. You might not have as much stored fuel as Angus but I guarantee if you stay hydrated you can cope with skipping breakfast. Simplicity is at the heart of this method’s success. You’re not weighing food, calculating calories or cutting carbs – you’re simply not eating for an extended period of time. This black-and-white thinking (although not for everyone) can be an incredibly powerful tool.

3. Crash diets CAN work – how often have you heard that if you lose weight too quickly you’ll put it all back on? Well here is an example of the most extreme crash diet on record and 5yrs later Angus only re-gained 16lbs (just over 5%) of the weight he’d lost. It’s true crash diets fail most of the time….just not all the time.

Do these results mean you should abstain from food for over a year?

No.

Could introducing a period of fasting e.g.16-24hrs be a viable way to help you lose weight?

Absolutely.

It’s not rocket science e.g.

If your day looks something like:

6:00 – Breakfast = 400kcal

10:30 – Mid-Morning snack = 200kcal 

13:00 – Lunch = 500kcal

19:00 – Dinner = 800kcal

21:00 – Pre-Bed snack = 300kcal

Total = 2200kcal

– – – – –

You decide to implement a 16:8 approach (16hrs fasting / 8hrs feeding window).

6:00 – Fast = 0kcal

10:30 – Fast = 200kcal 

13:00 – Lunch = 500kcal

16:00 – Mid-Afternoon snack = 200kcal

20:00 – Dinner = 800kcal

21:00 – Fast = 0kcal

Total = 1500kcal

You eat all your calories between 13:00-21:00. The meal size stays the same so you don’t have to change your favourite lunch and dinner options. The mid-morning snack is simply switched to mid-afternoon.

The result – you reduce your consumption 700 calories a day.

Implement this strategy for four weeks (saving 19,600kcal) and you can expect to lose 5-6lbs on the scales.

A simple approach for everyone.

An effective approach for many.

Next time you find yourself feeling like you need to eat, take a second to acknowledge it might just be that; a feeling.

If Angus can go 382 days without food, you can go 3-4hrs without a biscuit.