The Great Starvation Experiment- Why Low Calorie Diets Are BAD

the great starvation diet

The Great Starvation Experiment- The Study That Changed The World

The Great Starvation Experiment was conducted just after the Second World War. A group of male participants were gathered and were fed a regular diet consisting of around 3,200 calories daily.

Following this, the men entered a starvation phase. It lasted 6 months and they were restricted to 1600 calories.

The Great Starvation Experiment

During the period the men endured a large number of both physical and psychological stresses:

  • Significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis. In fact, in one case the depression and emotional distress was so extreme, they self-mutilated, cut three fingers off to be exact. Hmmm, perhaps it’s no wonder calorie restricters and dieters are a NIGHTMARE to be around. Have you ever tried? They can sometimes act completely insane.
  • Signs of social withdrawal, isolation and sexual disinterest. (HINT- to be great in bed, carb the fuck up!)
  • A reported decline in concentration, judgement and comprehension.
  • Some participants began to experience edema in the extremities of their bodies. This was most likely due to the lack of plasma in their bodies red blood cells. After all, the ability to construct key proteins such as albumin hinges upon the energy intake.
  • The participants basal metabolic rate also saw a harsh decline. Notably, resting heart rate dropped by an average of 2o beats per minute along with a reduction in body temperature and a change in respiratory rates. This was the body attempting to slow the mens’ metabolisms down, in a last plight to save as many calories as possible.
  • Participants reported feeling cold all the time.
  • Perhaps one of the worst reported side effects was that the hearts of all participants reduced in size along with a blood volume reduction of 10%.
    As we know our blood carries oxygen to our muscles which allows us to perform exercises, both complex and simple. How does anyone think our bodies will be able to transport oxygen and produce energy on only 1600 calories while exercising and functioning in life?

The Great Starvation Experiment

Why does this matter?

The main takeaway here is that this is the diet many ‘celebrity fitness’ or ‘get fit quick’ guides advise. A low calorie, low energy diet that achieves slimming results, fast. So fast in fact, that soon enough you’ll be trying to crawl out of an anorexic hole.


That or binging out on food and piling the weight back on. In fact, the men studied, binged until the point of sickness with some even having to be admitted to hospital in order for their stomachs to be pumped.

And people think young boys and girls should be under the same advice? That’s insane! Any advice that suggest a low calorie diet should be ignored immediately.

the great starvation diet

What Livestrong says on weight gain post starvation
“The long-term effects are counterproductive. Your body responds to starvation by slowing down metabolism. The body thinks you are entering a state of famine, where food is unavailable. It slows your body’s processes in an effort to conserve what energy it has stored — in other words, it holds onto fat.”

All the mens bodies were in panic and were engaged in a desperate fight to survive. Thousands should not have to endure the same.

Head over here to read more on The Great Starvation Experiment.


  1. Nat Wallis must win the prize for stupidest article writer in existence.

    In a previous comment thread (she has since band comments from being added to it as she obviously couldnt take the criticism) she actually demonised a whole food group FATS. Most sane level headed people know you need healthy fats to survive and all food groups should be included in a healthy diet. Nat actually.. (this is unbelievable) used ASIANS and AFRICANS as examples to promote her low fat, high carb ideas. This is no joke. It is SERIOUSLY wrong and no one should take this willy seriously.

    I haven’t been to Africa but i have actually lived in Asia and let me tell you…in the 7 asian countries I have visited, FATS are an essential part of people’s diets. They love- pork, beef, lamb, seafood, nuts, oils, avocados and eggs and trust me they use plenty of it! Goodness me its actually laughable that you would consider Asian diets to be low fat!

    So boo on you for being an absolutely ignorant, spreader of misinformation.

    Nat YOU may want to be a professional athlete and for people who aspire to the same goals you may have some helpful tips, but putting down people who just want to look and feel good about themselves and using false facts and sciences to push your mental points is just downright shameful.

    PS all the meat and dairy I consume here in europe I make sure is cruelty free. I’ve eaten 2-3 eggs a day for years and I get my bloods done regularly. Guess what? perfect cholesterol every single time 🙂

    • AND I eat 1200-1600 cal a day! I feel amazing and satisfied after each meal. I am NEVER hungry. Maybe if you’re vegan you need to eat more? Don’t know and I don’t care! Im all about people doing whats right for them. Anyone reading this- don’t let this zealot shape your thinking in any way! Just do you!

    • I’ve lived in Singapore for 8 years and travelled round most of Asia, they all eat loads of rice and noodles. You clearly haven’t seen Asia if you’ve only travelled to the westernized areas.

      I didn’t demonize fat, it’s essential but not necessary in abundance, unlike carbs.

      Cruelty free meat and dairy? HA. Would you like to be ‘treated well’ before someone slowly slit your throat? There’s something wrong with you.

      Enjoy the high cholesterol, chance of cancer, heart disease and diabetes later in life. Something I’m highly unlikely to have to endure!

      People like you are the reason change never happens, ignorant beyond belief.

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