Real Talk | How Long Can a Human Go

without eating

Real Talk | How Long Can a Human Go

Doc talks about how long a human body can go without eating.

People that gain a lot of weight, they are always hot. Okay, they always feel hot. You will see skinny people that are always cold. Okay, and people like to say, well, that’s because they got all this insulation on. It is not insulation, okay? That is not the determining factor. It’s surface area to weight ratio determines that. People that are real skinny are really cold all the time. They’ll be in a 70 degree room complaining about how cold it is. The same person that weighs 300 pounds would be like, Jesus, can you kick on the air conditioner? They’re comfortable at 65, 60 degrees, but it’s the surface area. Thin people are more like radiators. They have a lot of surface area and are able to give off heat very well. Larger people are more like balls, very inefficient radiators. Where this comes into a medical condition that a lot of us have seen is in children with febrile seizures. So the child gets sick with a flu, a cold, sore throat, could be strep throat, but just a simple virus even. And they’re running along at the house with a temperature of 100, 101. Mom’s getting a little bit nervous. All of a sudden, they spike a temperature to 103, 104 degrees and have a seizure. Mom freaks out, comes running to the emergency. Oh my God, oh my God, my baby’s having a seizure. Well, no, the temperature is 104 degrees, 105 degrees. We will all have a seizure at 104, 105 degrees. Every human out there will have a seizure at 105 degrees. Your body cannot take that kind of temperature. Well, what’s the difference between us and the child? The child is a ball, small arms, small legs, small limbs, very, very inefficient radiator. When they grow up, they grow out of it. And the reason why is now I have some areas to get rid of heat. This is my radiator, but that’s what that is. So when you talk about weighing 600 pounds, trust me, your thermal energy, in other words, your ability to get rid of heat is almost zero. And so that loss in a human on a daily basis, that can almost be 90% of your calories burning off in heat, or in their particular case, less than 1% as far as heat. And no, they cannot move. There is no physical activity. The only physical activity they’re getting is their hearts beating and their lungs are breathing. That is it. Their energy requirements to maintain their body at 600 pounds, probably 300 a day would do it. Almost nothing. And that brings up an interesting point. We mentioned this earlier, and it’s a really interesting study, and it was done in 1976. And it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records. How long can a human body go without eating? I’ve asked this question a lot to my patients over the years, and I always chuckle at their responses. They’ll say, oh, seven days. I’m like, no, no, no, no, that’s water. Human body can go for seven, 10 days, maybe two weeks without water. But how long can we actually go without food? But it is in the Guinness Book of World Records, 1976. It was an interesting study that was done, and these doctors wanted to take this relatively overweight man, weighed 420 pounds. They gave him non-caloric beverages, water, tea, no sugar, sweeteners. They gave him vitamins and minerals. And they followed this guy every week, sometimes a couple of times a week, drawing his blood, doing EKGs. Wanted to see how long he could actually go without food. He could actually go without eating. It’s 386 days. This man went for over a year without eating. His weight dropped from 420 pounds to 180 pounds. And that is astonishing enough. That wasn’t the interesting part of the study. The interesting part of the study was actually in the details, because I combat this all the time, is why didn’t he become protein deficient? He wasn’t taking any source of protein. He took in nothing, just water, vitamins, and minerals. No protein, no protein deficiency. How can this guy not have protein deficiency? We go to the gym, all these trainers are going to shove protein drinks and protein bars down my gullet telling me I need to do this. No, I don’t. I’m trying to lose weight. So what happened to this guy is his muscle mass, if you can imagine the muscle mass it takes to move 420 pounds around in a thigh, that’s a pretty good size thigh muscle to move 420 pounds around. Twice the size of mine, because I’m banging at about 200 pounds. So yeah, his thigh is going to be twice the size of mine. Well, I don’t have any really any fat on my thighs to speak of. So his muscle mass is twice my size. Well, he didn’t eat for 386 days. You want to take a guess what his muscle mass in this thigh became? Because the only weight 180 pounds was less than mine. Well, what happened to the muscle? It was used as a source of protein and he never became protein deficient. So I had this conversation with these gentlemen that come in all the time that think they need to drink all these protein shakes. I’m like, but you want to lose 70 pounds. Yeah, don’t worry about it. You’re not going to become protein deficient. You have more than enough protein stores hauling around 70 extra pounds. You have more protein stores in your body than you can possibly imagine. You have protein to lose. And they just they have a hard time understanding that. But once I explained this study to them that this guy had to develop protein deficiency. Why? Because he’s using the own protein he had stored up already. You can store protein in the form of muscle mass. And that’s where you get it from when you need it. At the end of the study that a couple other things that I don’t know if the audience will actually understand this, but he had an average blood sugar of 15 really low. And there’s a medicine we can give people when they have blood sugars really low called glucagon. Okay, so say I took a shot of insulin 15 units of my sugar bottomed out to zero. Why give myself a shot of glucagon? It’ll bounce my blood sugar back up to normal in 30 seconds. They were giving this man shots of glucagon and he produced nothing. His blood sugar stayed 15 the last three months of his journey. That was remarkable. I mean, that tells me this guy was in pure anaerobic metabolism his whole journey. It’s really remarkable. And there’s been a lot of studies that have somewhat reproduced those results that I’ve read over the years that they’ve taken two or three people and they’re studying them for heart disease and stuff like that, watching what their cholesterol’s doing, their fat content, and no adverse effects. I’m like, wow, this is interesting. So I’m sitting here saying, cut your calories. These people cut them out completely. Now, I don’t really agree with that kind of rapid weight loss, but it was interesting.

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