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What Happened After the Most Dangerous Study of All Time



In 1944, 36 men participated in an experiment in starvation, in order to study the challenges confronting the many people who were starving due to World War II. We learned a lot about how the body reacts to a dangerously restricted diet, including the aftereffects when the subjects' eating returned to normal. A followup article looks at what happened when the experiment was over.

Recall that during the starvation period the men became obsessed with food. Food haunted their thoughts and dreams and took over their conversations.

But many of them remained preoccupied with food even after they gained back the weight. Some said that their perspectives and perceptions of food were forever changed. They faced more intense hunger more frequently than they did before the study. One described himself as, “being hungry and eating almost continuously for years after.”

What we learned: Our brain remembers “famine,” whether from a diet or a real famine. Once we’ve lost weight — and even if we’ve regained it — the brain puts more focus on food so we’re more likely to eat and be better prepared for the next famine.

That's just one of the effects that severe weight loss can have, some of which last years after the deprivation diet. Read about others at Medium. -via Digg


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When I was in grad school and needed money I participated in a study comparing two different liquid diets that were formulated to be given via NG tube to unconscious trauma patients. Since they needed informed consent, they needed healthy volunteers. For two weeks (one week each for each regimen) I was confined to a hospital bed and fed only NG compatible liquid nutrition (which was nasty) - no real food at all, just this liquid.
After about 3 days I started having dreams about food and hunting (which I didn't do), and by the time it was over I would have eaten fresh roadkill raw.
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This is one of the reasons deprivation diets do not provide lasting weight loss. My (completely untested) theory for the success of Atkins and other low carbohydrate diets is that they do not feel like deprivation, just switching types of comfort food.
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That isn't always true. I gypsied for 15 years as a wild youth. When money was short, I made ends meet by fasting. It's not a big deal if you control stuffing yourself (just follow the rules of fasting). The result has been that no food is always a temporary condition because you already been there way lots. Pro tip: don't break a fast w/ junk food :)
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