(The author is a psychotherapist who lost 140 lbs. when he discovered his unique method, and he’s kept it off for over 25 years. Read about his method of fast permanent weight loss in his book, The Anderson Method.)
A reader has written in asking, “Does my stomach actually shrink after a few weeks of eating less, or is it all in my imagination?”
Much to my surprise, the answer is YES!, your stomach actually does shrink!
For years, the answer from all the experts has always been “no”, your stomach does not actually shrink.
My dietitians and physicians have always told me that this is an “old wives’ tale”, a myth that came about because after a while of eating less, we seem to get used to it. They said that the hunger that you got when you first “dieted” goes away after a few days, but it wasn’t from your stomach actually getting smaller. “It’s a matter of habituation”, they said. You also get a full feeling on less food than before, but “it’s not actually your stomach physically shrinking. The new experience becomes our new normal and we get used to it”. According to them, our digestive system and appestat adjust to the new level of consumption, and now, when we’ve had the new normal amount or new normal of going without, our brain gives us the same messages it used to give us, but on less food. But the stomach physically shrinking? “No”, they scoffed, “just another silly myth lay people believe”.
It turns out they were wrong, at least about the stomach shrinking part.
Here’s the scoop: Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Department of Medicine and Psychiatry at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital have actually measured the size of the stomachs of people before and after 4 weeks of eating less. They found that dieters had their stomachs shrink by 27-36%!
They inserted balloons into the empty stomachs of 25 obese volunteers and then filled them with water to measure the volume the stomach would hold. Then, a group of 14 of them went on restricted diets, reducing the amount of food they ate, and 9 did not. At the end of 4 weeks, they repeated the measuring procedure using the balloons. The non-dieters had no change in the volume their stomachs would hold, but the dieters’ stomachs would not hold what they used to. The volume their stomachs’ would hold had shrunk by 27 to 36%.
So, its true, your stomach actually does shrink after you eat less for a while.
Now that we have that settled, so what? If you want to lose weight, you still have to figure out what to do to get yourself to do that. That’s where I and my book come in. Read my book or listen to my audiobook and find out!
Andl it really, really shrinks if you diet after a gastric bypass!
Enjoyed this post, and am also enjoying reading (and re-reading) your book, which I bought in the e-version from Amazon.
At first I thought there was no way I could eat this way and be satisfied, but after 3 days (and I keep to the protein/vegetable combinations, which I do enjoy, to get the most nutritional bang for my caloric buck) I’m finding it not too hard. Your combination of straight talk and experience is very persuasive.
Your advice does seem to contradict most dietitians’ advice not to go below 1,000 or 1,200 calories, though, so I wonder if you might address that in future blogs.
Great to hear from you, Cassandra. Thanks for your thoughtful letter. Don’t forget there is a minimum you need to eat, regardless of the 1/3 figure, and if you calculate the average of what you are eating for the entire week, your dietician’s advice is being followed.