Minnesota Starvation ExperimentPublished 14/08/2014
Minnesota Starvation Experiment - the impact of dieting
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment, run by Ancel Keys in 1944, placed 36 male conscientious objectors volunteers on what was called a “starvation experiment.”
It was found that:
- During the initial phase (12 weeks) the men maintained their weight on approximately 3,210 calories a day whilst walking 22 miles each week – an average of just three miles a day (45-60 minutes walking).
- The “starvation” period of 24 weeks had the men on 1600 calories per day and the aim was to lose 25% of their body weight.
- During the restricted rehabilitation period (12 weeks) the men were given different calories, proteins and vitamins to see what would best return them to full health.
- The final period, unrestricted rehabilitation (8 weeks), allowed the men to eat whatever they wanted.The researchers found:All participants became “physical and emotional wrecks “during the 1600 calorie per day period.
- The men reported incessant hunger, weakness, exhaustion, dizziness, muscle wasting, hair loss, reduced coordination, loss of energy/motivation. They lost 21% of their strength in the first 12 weeks alone.
- Psychologically, the men became obsessed with food, meal times and everything to do with eating, losing interest in everything other than food. They reported extreme depression, irritability, and a sense of deprivation.
- Many of the volunteers came to believe that military service would have been an easier option than their chosen path.
- During the “starvation period” a plateau was reached at around week 20 and further weight loss could not be induced and at least one diary recorded weight gain in the final month of the ‘starvation’ period.
At the end, when given free access to food, the men were overeating and binging to correct the calorie deficit they had suffered. One man managed to eat 11,500 calories in one day and men still felt hungry consuming twice the number of calories that maintained their weight in the initial phase. They all regained all their weight and approximately 10% more than they weighed before the experiment. Men who had previously shown no awareness of body size and image reported ‘feeling fat’.I’m sure you’re thinking this experiment was shamefully cruel and it could never be repeated now because of the ethical issues it would throw up. However, consider the number of people who volunteer” to go on diets and the industrial infrastructure that supports this phenomenon. The 1600 calories is higher than most dieters attempt to live off now!
This experiment appears to offer a mirror image of the obesity epidemic that we are currently experiencing. As we have become more obsessed with diets, our vision of the solution has narrowed and our motivation to transform our whole life through a range of activities including exercise, nutrition, psychological wellbeing etc has reduced and our weight has exploded.
Do you lack willpower?
If this really was the case, surely if you have the odd glass of wine, you would soon become an alcoholic and every “guilty secret” would become an obsession. Since this is not the case there must be an underlying psychological or emotional issue that if addressed would allow you to regain control of your life.
Hypnotherapy and hypnosis help you explore the psychological reasons for over eating and give you back your freedom to chose.