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How long until I starve to death?

mantori.suzukimantori.suzuki Registered User Posts: 3,347 Senior Member
edited June 2011 in Parent Cafe
I didn't want to hijack the weight loss thread, so I'm asking this separately.

I was recently appalled to discover that I weight 270 lbs. That got me thinking about crash diets. (Just thinking, not doing!)

I've always heard that a person can live about 30 days without eating. I've also heard that one must burn 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound of fat. Fine. If a guy like me needs about 2,400 calories a day in order to maintain his weight, and I eat nothing at all, then—assuming that my metabolism remains constant, which I know it wouldn't—in 30 days I should lose 72,000 calories' worth of weight, or about 20.5 pounds.

THE MATH: 2,400 cal/day X 30 days / 3,500 cal/lb

Really!? If I ate nothing at all for a whole month, I would lose only 20.5 lbs.??? By the same figuring, and supposing my starved-to-death weight is about 150 lbs., then it would take me nearly five months to starve to death!

That can not be right. Can someone please tell me what I'm missing?
Post edited by mantori.suzuki on

Replies to: How long until I starve to death?

  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    Your algebra is okay with the exception of some probable missing variables and your variables contain a lot of assumptions that likely aren't accurate.

    The numbers relating to the calories it takes to sustain the weight and the calories equivalent of a pound of fat are gross approximations with variables themselves (including individual metabolism, chemical balance in the body, makeup of the body on fat, muscle, ambient temperature/humidity, etc.).

    I'm sure you'd lose a lot more than 20 pounds if you ate nothing at all given your current weight but if you try it as an experiment there's a good chance you'd end up in the hospital and eventually heavier than you currently are once the rebound takes place. It's good you're only looking at this academically.

    Maybe you should send this one into Dr. Oz.
  • Rain202Rain202 Registered User Posts: 889 Member
    Your weight lost from crash dieting is pretty hard to maintain, plus, your metabolism will suffer. Why don't you take the slow and steady approach? Eat 1200-1500 calories a day and your weight should come off, but slowly.

    Try to exercise more as well. At least 30 min a day.
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Registered User Posts: 19,053 Senior Member
    Unless you will lie totally still, you'll be burning calories as well as not taking any in, so I'm sure you'd lose more.

    Um, good luck!
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    1200 to 1500 calories a day is too low for most guys. That would be well below the baseline energy needs just to stay alive while doing nothing. That is the recipe for an unsustainable diet.

    Most guys will want to aim for 1750 to 2000 calories a day for sustained weight loss.


    I've been there. I started at 250 pounds (maybe a little more). My advice would be to not let the enormity of the journey become a psychological barrier -- as your pondering crash diets suggest it may be. Forget all that. Just focus on losing five pounds. Even if you want to lose a hundred, you'll never get there until you lose five. So worry about that goal. It's easily achievable and it will give you the first victory. Then, lose five more.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Registered User Posts: 16,870 Senior Member
    idad knows of what he speaks. He's lost five pounds 18 times.
  • interesteddadinteresteddad Registered User Posts: 24,177 Senior Member
    Just 17 times. But, I'm going to get to 18. I know I can lose five pounds!
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,612 Senior Member
    I find that if I want to lose weight rather easily and quickly....


    Breakfast...eggs and some kind of meat.

    BIG Salads made Atkins Style (romaine lettuce, cut up chicken, chopped eggs, parma cheese, Caesar dressing, ...or with cut up steak, cheddar cheese, red onion, ranch dressing....this sort of thing...

    And...lots of unsweet iced tea (herbal is fine)....and water.

    AND....I ride my recumbent bike everyday for at least 60 minutes. I'm actually typing this while riding my bike.

    You can drop weight rather quickly with this method.
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom Registered User Posts: 8,394 Senior Member
    LOL - I thought this was a thread from a broke, starving student.

    Good luck OP!
  • morrismmmorrismm Registered User Posts: 3,499 Senior Member
    Really!? If I ate nothing at all for a whole month, I would lose only 20.5 lbs.???

    You did not say eating nothing. You said your calculations included 2400 calories consumption.

    You can eat really well on 2400 calories and not be starving. You can be healthier, lose weight gradually (which is healthier), and attain your desired weight. This should become your lifestyle.

    But if this is only a diet and not a life style change, YOU WILL GAIN IT ALL BACK. GUARANTEED!
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    I starved my self for 3 days. Got a migraine and a cold. Lost a half a pound. I am drinking lots of green tea and water. I started ATkins, ugh.

    The good thing is that I don't crave food now. I don't feel like eating much--get nauseted if I do. One of the issues I have is that I will over eat anything I really enjoy. Can't stop at one piece. I'm better off not touching something like that rather than trying to limit it.
  • DolorousEddDolorousEdd - Posts: 1,274 Senior Member
    I've always heard that a person can live about 30 days without eating.
    John Crowley, Peter Crowley, Thomas Donovan, Michael Burke, Michael O'Reilly, Christopher Upton, John Power, Joseph Kenny, and Se
  • musicmom1215musicmom1215 Registered User Posts: 2,002 Senior Member
    I did Atkins for a solid year in 2004-05, only cheating on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I exercised at Curves for 30 minutes 3 times a week (not overly strenuous) and I lost 55 pounds. I lost it quickly at first and then, of course, the weight loss slowed down. I FELT FANTASTIC. I found that the more lettuce I ate, the more I lost, and I ate mostly lean meats and lots of green veggies. I don't like eggs, so for breakfast I ate one of the Atkins Advantage bars. It wasn't that hard to do, once I got going. It was much better than starving!
  • LasMaLasMa Registered User Posts: 10,847 Senior Member
    Forget starving yourself, forget fad diets. Just eat like a cardiologist would tell you to eat. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins. Ditch the cookies, potato chips, processed foods, and trips to McDonald's. Your heart will be better, and the weight will come off naturally, and sustainably.

    Just as it took a while to get to 270, it will take a while to come back. You may be able to get some short-term results by crash dieting, but I promise you the weight will come back. To be successful, you can't "diet"; you must change the way you eat, permanently.
  • DolorousEddDolorousEdd - Posts: 1,274 Senior Member
    By the same figuring, and supposing my starved-to-death weight is about 150 lbs., then it would take me nearly five months to starve to death!

    That can not be right. Can someone please tell me what I'm missing?
    Also, just wanted to point out, your death would quickly be sped along by your lack of nutrients, and the body function failing that come with that. A very fit person with an efficient metabolism and little activity might last two months (as previously stated, the most is three), but no way would you last five, even if your weight-loss rate was accurate (which others have doubted). Your organs would fail well before that.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Registered User Posts: 16,870 Senior Member
    This is hypothetical, correct? Mantori is not seriously considering this, correct??
This discussion has been closed.