Food deprivation for 18 to 24 hours can happen to anyone. It can be imposed by your doctor before blood draws or surgery, or it can be self-imposed in case of extreme dieting, juice cleansing, religious fasts and, last but not least, of really busy working schedules.
In fact, whenever you’re skipping breakfast you’re actually fasting for a good 15 hours: imagining that you had dinner the night before at around 8pm and you’re having lunch on the following day at about 1pm.
When that happens you’re feeling so hungry that it borderlines starvation, and in this case which foods are you most likely going to reach for if you’re presented which different choices? How much of it are you actually going to eat?
A recent study suggests that you’re probably going to dive into starches first, maybe some proteins, and veggies, unfortunately, are going to be your last option.
On top of that, you’re likely to eat much more food than you would normally do.
It’s a known fact that people tend to overeat when they get overly hungry, but until today there was no scientific data on that. In fact, even if it was well-known that skipping meals was a recipe for disaster when trying to lose weight, there was no research on this topic yet.
However, a recent study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, has unveiled that “starving” people are going to choose the highest calories foods available and they’re going to overeat.
For the purposes of this study, subjects were split among two groups: one group was asked to fast for 18 hours, while the other one didn’t.
Afterwards they were brought before a buffet, where the subjects had several different choices of foods to pick from: starches, proteins and veggies.
The researchers looked at what food they served themselves with, which food they ate first, and, overall, how much they ate.
The findings suggested that:
1) those who fast for 18 hours help themselves more food than the others;
2) they chose more of the foods higher in calories;
3) they ate the highest calorie foods on their plate first; and
4) they ate more of the food they chose to eat first.
Which means that the subject who went too long without eating took in a lot more calories than the others not only because they served themselves with more food than the others but also because they started eating the food with the highest caloric content.
What we can draw from this study? First of all that starving yourself is not doing any good for your waistline. So you shouldn’t do it, unless specific circumstances require you to do so (e.g., blood test).
Even if you have the strongest will power in the world, your mind will always plays tricks on you when you deprive your body of food for a prolonged period of time. Best is to eat when you’re supposed to do it (breakfast, lunch and dinner), eat not too much and choose the healthiest option you have.
Don’t get confused: practices such as calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, juice cleansing or just dieting are a different thing from plain fasting. They all aim to reduce your food intake for short (or prolonged) periods of time but they never suggests a total lack of calorie intake.
The Iron You
The above story is written from materials via the Archives of Internal Medicine