14 April 2011

Survivor: starvation diets

A fascinating aspect of the Survivor series is how much weight the contestants lose during the series – all this without consciously going on a diet. DietDoc comments.

A Health24 reader once asked me, "Why don't I lose as much weight as the Survivors? Some contestants shed up to 30kg, while I can't lose more than 1kg, if that!"

  • Unrelenting heat, which causes dehydration.
  • A monotonous diet based on a single staple carbohydrate food, e.g. maize meal in Africa and manioc in the Amazon.
  • Practically zero fat intake.
  • Tiny portions of protein, if they're able to catch fish or trap animals.
  • Great physical exertion when they have to build shelters, fetch wood and participate in challenges.
  • Extreme and constant psychological stress and anxiety.

In addition, many of the contestants started out on their Survivor adventure not carrying much weight.

  • Deficiencies of vital vitamins and minerals, which cause infections, skin conditions, poor wound healing, hair loss and exhaustion. Some of the long-lasting Survivors also start to develop anaemia due to a lack of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12.
  • Emotional fragility and depression caused by lack of vitamin B complex and amino acids, such as tryptophan.
  • Extreme lack of energy and tiredness due to the low energy content of their diet.

  • Desired weight loss
  • Plenty of energy for exercise and work
  • Emotionally stable and not depressed
  • Bursting with good health
  • Not going to regain all the weight you've lost


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