Angus Barbieri, a Scottish man, made medical history with his astonishing fast, which lasted for 382 days, ending on 11th July 1966. At 27 years old and weighing a substantial 207 kg (456 pounds), Angus was determined to shed his excessive weight. His journey began at the University Department of Medicine at the Royal Infirmary of Dundee, Scotland, where doctors initially advised a short fast, never anticipating the remarkable duration it would eventually reach.
During his fast, Angus consumed no solid food. Instead, his diet consisted of tea, coffee, soda water, and vitamins. Despite the extreme nature of his regimen, he continued his daily life mostly from home, visiting the hospital for regular checkups and overnight stays. Throughout this period, regular blood sugar tests confirmed that Angus was indeed not eating. His intake of vitamins, including potassium and sodium supplements, along with zero-calorie beverages like coffee, tea, and sparkling water, sustained him. On a few occasions, particularly in the final weeks of fasting, he admitted to having a small amount of sugar or milk in his tea.
Remarkably, Angus achieved his goal weight of 82 kg (180 pounds), a significant drop from his initial weight. His journey demonstrated the body’s capability to endure prolonged periods without food, relying on fat stores for energy. However, this extreme approach to weight loss is not without risks. Prolonged starvation can lead to severe health complications, including the possibility of death during the re-feeding process, as the body, having consumed its fat and muscle reserves, becomes highly susceptible to fatal conditions like heart attacks. Despite these dangers, Angus managed to maintain most of his weight loss, weighing 89 kg (196 pounds) five years after the fast.
Angus Barbieri’s case is an extraordinary example of human endurance and the limits of the body’s survival mechanisms. While his story is often cited in discussions about fasting and weight loss, it’s important to recognize that such extreme measures are generally considered dangerous and not advisable for weight loss or other health-related purposes. The human body requires a balance of nutrients and energy to function optimally, and deprivation of these can lead to severe consequences. Barbieri’s fast remains a unique episode in medical history, showcasing an extreme form of human resilience and adaptation.
As I head into 2024, I have decided to work hard on my physical and mental health. Over the last 18 months or so, I have made major changes to my health, mostly through fasting and lifestyle changes. Now, with the additional problem of arthritis in my hip, I am even more determined than ever to do everything I can to maintain good health and vitality. If Angus can do it, so can I.