The Concentration or "Auschwicz" plan may seem far fetched and unlikely, but you probably know people who engage in exercise, even extreme amounts of exercise, marathon, boot camps, training every day, training more than an hour etc. They probably also under eat, either knowingly or unknowingly.
So, imagine my glee this morning when I received an advert to join a boot camp. The diet that people were advised to consume was;
Go for a protein-rich breakfast of eggs, as the body uses more calories to digest protein
• Portion control. It's easy to overeat, especially with high protein meals. Aim to reduce your intake at every meal by up to 45 per cent.
• Aim to consume 1,000 calories a day - enough to encourage weight loss without affecting basal metabolic rates.
• Limit fruit to two portions a day.
Next up the recommendation to reduce your intake by 45% at each meal. Seriously, this is insane. Firstly you should eat enough to satisfy your appetite (appetite is a wonderful indicator of what your body needs). Secondly this fails to take into account what the current breakfast is. We may have a serial dieter that already only eats an apple for breakfast, yet now she is condemned to 45% less of the apple.
Then its recommended to consume only 1000 calorie a day so that it won't effect the metabolic rate. Now anyone whose ever spoke with me or read my blog should know that this is farcical. Again this fails to take into account the metabolic needs of the individual. Expect a host of symptoms;
• Decreased heart volume
• Slowed pulse rate (and almost certainly low body temperature and raised cortisol)
• Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) reduced by 40%. Just what you need if your concerned about weight!!
• Voluntary movements become slower. Your thyroid is regulating (slowing) your energy expenditure.
• Subjects feel and act older
• Increase in apathy and depression.
• Sensitivity to noise. The body is overloaded and doesn't have enough energy to cope.
• General feeling of ineffectiveness.
• Loss of ambition and narrowing of interests. We no doubt conserve ourselves for important actions.
• Increased neuroticism and hysteria.
• Almost 20% of the subjects suffer severe “character neuroses” and some suffer both violent and hysteria psychoses.
• Increased interest and preoccupation with food (talking, preparing, making meals last longer using a variety of methods such as sucking food).
• Heightened craving for food. Is it any wonder when we starve ourselves, its self preservation.
• Became possessive about food.
• Increased gum chewing (eurgh), smoking, drinking of coffee and tea, and nail biting which also links in well with increased cortisol secretion.
• Purchased useless items and/or hoarded money. Clothes, foods, shoes, handbags, I see it all.
• Some escaped and binged with feelings of guilt (some followed by vomiting)
• Responsiveness, tolerance, happiness, and good humor gradually disappeared, very irritable and with only sarcastic humor remaining.
• Reluctance to participate in group activities. Not wanting to go to work etc and when they do resorting to the above.
• Self-centered and egocentric
• Food becomes a central topic of conversation, such as the need to cut back, avoid fats, craving cake or chocolate and discussing it with ones friends.
• Not able to control emotions, tears, tantrums, anger are all hard to control on a LCD.
Next up we are told to limit fruit to two portions a day. Poor old fruit, full of vitamins and minerals, a great way to get natural sugars is out of the window and condemned. Stuff that, enjoy the fruit and eat it as often as you like!!!
- 450 grams of bread is anywhere between 1,166 calories for whole wheat bread and 1,197 calories for white bread
- 30 grams of margarine is anywhere between 127 calories and 212 calories (remember margarine used to be more nutritious than it is now.
- 125 grams of cheese (call it cheddar just for the sake of argument) has around 504 calories.
So calorie intake in December 1942 was possibly somewhere between 1,797 and 1,913 calories. The American College of Sports Medicine currently advocates less for those looking to lose weight, oh and when you begin starving yourself you should also make sure you exercise at least 3 days per week but preferably 5 times for 30 mins.
The ACSM recommends the following guidelines for weight loss programs
- A cardiovascular exercise program of a minimum of 3 days per week, 20 - 30 minutes per session. Ideally, a 5 day per week 30 minute per session (or 150 minutes of cumulative exercise per week) should be performed. Additionally, there may be additional benefits in progressively increasing exercise to 200 - 300 (3.3 – 5 hrs) per week. The program should be at a minimum of 60% HRmax in otherwise healthy individuals.
- A diet that provides a minimum of 1200 calories per day for normal adults to meet nutritional requirements
- The diet should include food that is acceptable to the individual in terms of nutritional needs, sociocultural background, taste, cost, and ease of acquisition and preparation.
People generally join for 2 to 12 weeks. Some even stay up to 6 months!
How does my training schedule look like?
Early Morning starts with a Yoga class for an hour before the 'real' work begins.
The boot camp training consists of 5 days a week cardio in the morning, using highly advanced techniques which last for an 1 1/2 hours.
Next is group weight lifting and body sculpture sessions from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m and 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Their average daily calories during the semistarvation period was about 1600 calories a day again (still more than lighter life and various other dietary regimes, including this boot camp one). Prior to the study they ate approximately 3200 calories daily (an amount that I find normal and aim to get most of my clients to).
What did they get for their trouble?
- lethargy (obvious when your not eating enough energy)
- cold intolerance (requesting heavy blankets even in the middle of summer)
- muscle soreness
- hair loss
- reduced coordination
- ringing in the ears
- inability to concentrate
- no sex drive
- obsessed with food
- eating with elaborate rituals
- added water to their plates to make the food last longer
- collected cookbooks, recipes and began cooking
- one self mutilated and cut of 3 fingers
- one became severely suicidal
Does any of this sound familiar?
Key's study is scarily close to the standard recommendations for weight loss, which is typically a 500-1000 calorie deficit daily for goal of 1-2 pounds a week, combined with moderate exercise. Remember the effects it had (6% of the participants ended up at the psychiatric hospital) and it really makes you wonder why people are encouraged to start diets which actively promote semi-starvation and malnourishment. Sadly people do begin such low calorie regimes, I know I certainly consult with my fair share of people whose psychological state is reflecting the effects of starvation.
Diet clubs, boot camps, gyms, old people starved in hospitals and "care"-homes. Find anyone who is restricting food (either calories or food groups), or engaging in excessive exercise that is inappropriate for their needs, and you will find a whole host of the symptoms listed. If someone invites you to boot camp, run for the hills, they may have a gas chamber...