You read that correctly. In 1965, a man named Angus Barbieri from Scotland decided it was time to change his life for the better by fasting for over a year. All he drank was coffee, tea, and sparkling water.
Why did he do it?
At the time, Barbieri was a 27 year old man weighing 456 pounds. It is easy to say that he was incredibly overweight and considered obese by his doctors. According to this report from his doctors at the University Department of Medicine of Dundee, Angus walked himself in for treatment because he was determined and ready to lose the weight.
His doctors initially planned to put him on a fast that would last only a few days. This was and still is a common method people use for weight loss. These days, people tend to practice intermittent fasting.
After going a few days without eating anything, he decided that he could keep going even longer. Eventually, his days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. Angus had intentions to continue fasting until he reached his goal weight of 180 pounds.
This fast ended up lasting a record total of 382 days!
As impressive as this is, Barbieri certainly isn’t the first person to try long-term fasting according to this report. There have been similar cases of individuals who have almost reached a year on this fast, the closest one being about 350 days. One other person has beat Barbieri’s record by only three days (385) when they went on a hunger strike.
There are a handful of cases in which these people did not survive during this particular fast due to their bodies (understandably) growing weaker over time, which makes Angus’ success even more remarkable. But what makes Angus’ case so unique is not only how long he went without eating, but also the rate at which he was losing weight. While the others had lost between 0.41 and 0.67lbs/day, Angus was losing 0.71lbs/day.
How did he do it?
First off, the only things Angus consumed during the entire 382 days were coffee, tea, and sparkling water. These three beverages, when consumed plain and without any additional sweeteners, are all either low in calories or calorie free.
Barbieri’s doctors also had him take various supplements such as vitamin-C, sodium, yeast, and potassium in order to keep his body functioning. They took urine samples every 24 hours and, as you can probably imagine, Angus rarely defecated that year (once every 37-48 days, in fact).
Additionally, despite not eating, Angus was still physically capable of going home during this entire process, and had regular check-ups on his vitals. He was considered an “out-patient” and still went about his days as normal, just without any food.
Honestly, all of this seems too extreme to be true. But even during his doctors’ check ups they could see that he really wasn’t consuming any solid foods.
At the end of those long 382 days, Angus successfully reached his goal weight of 180 pounds. He lost over 276 pounds from this entire fasting period, and even a few years later he still maintained an impressive weight of 196lbs.
The first thing Barbieri ate after his fast ended was a boiled egg, bread with butter, and a cup of black coffee.
As you can imagine, taking on a prolonged and intense fast like this has incredible health risks, and Barbieri might truly be one of the very rare and specific circumstances in which it actually worked. It’s hard to decide whether his success was a mystery or a miracle. Either way, it goes without saying that this method should by no means be something to try or follow (especially not alone). Barbieri’s story does show how incredible the human body is and what it is capable of.
How do I lose weight?
Losing and maintaining your weight doesn’t need to be as extreme as what Angus Barbieri did. Each body is different, and your approach to how you want to lose weight depends on various factors such as your goals, metabolism, diet, and habits.
Here are a few tips and tricks you can try that might help you during your journey:Eat Slower
In general, eating your meals shouldn’t be rushed. When we take the time to chew our food, appreciate the meal, and taste all of its flavors, we’re able to feel ourselves getting full.Pay Attention When You’re Eating
Similar to eating slower, this can prevent us from overloading on food. It’s easy to snack on finger foods while watching a movie, reading a book, or doing work. Before we know it we’ve finished the entire bag. Pay attention to how much you’re taking in and try not to eat while distracted.Hara Hachi Bunme
In Japan, there is an expression called hara hachi bunme. The goal of this practice is to only eat until we are 80% full, rather than 100%. Practicing this method has been heavily correlated to living a longer and healthier life.Smaller Portions and Smaller Plates
This is also similar to hara hachi bunme. Trick your mind into eating a full plate by eating from a smaller bowl or plate. This helps with portion control and you might even realize you’ve been putting more on your plate than you thought you needed.Eat Smarter!
Unhealthy snacks may taste great, but they often aren’t very filling and add little to no nutritional value to your body. Swap your desserts for fruit, or add in nutritional value to your meals if they’re lacking (eg. adding vegetables to your instant ramen).
Again, every person is different. Weight loss can be a difficult journey that requires time, patience, and determination. You should always prioritize your physical and mental well being and know your body’s limits. Whatever your journey is, make sure you’re doing what is best for you!