Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Disaster Preparedness: When Food Runs Low, Plan to Nibble

The heavy storms of the winter of 2008 and the Katrina disaster of 2005 exposed millions of Americans (including this American) to a situation they had never encountered in their entire lives: temporary food shortages. A basic understanding of the physiology of starvation can help you weather any temporary lack of food.

While "diets" slow down your metabolism, at least for the first seven days, complete starvation speeds it up. When you eat absolutely nothing at all, your body burns calories faster and faster.

That is, it's better to nibble, if you possibly can, than simply to skip meals.

Here's the reason why.

Our bodies are programmed to deal with the food supplies we have. If we just consume fewer calories, they'll readjust their metabolic rates to deal with the lessened food supply.

If we consume no calories at all, however, the adrenal glands pump out stress hormones to tell the liver to convert glycogen into glucose so we can have the energy to find food. The irony is, if there's no food at all, our bodies burn through their glucose and fat supplies even faster--so we'll have the added ability to deal with stress. When glycogen and fat are gone, the body continues to consume its own tissues to provide glucose to power the brain.

And for those of you concerned about cholesterol, be aware: Cholesterol levels go up, not down, during starvation. Your brain needs cholesterol to maintain heightened awareness in times of disaster.

Would a total starvation diet help you lose weight fast? Sure! The problem is, you'll probably end up losing more muscle than fat, and suffer vitamin, mineral, and essential fatty acid deficiencies and all their attendant ills in the meantime. So if it's at all possible, when food is short, eat just a little as often as you can.

1 comment:

  1. Love what you are doing.