Constantly picking up heavy stuff is awesome, but the hunger that comes with it can be…umm…frustrating at times. Why? Well, while we’re opening up new windows by working out like improved strength, new gym friends, PRs, bigger muscles, and lifelong hobbies – we’re closing one.
That closing window is of course the amount of time we can go without eating.
I’m almost positive the person who created the 6-7 small meals a day theory had no interest with their metabolism, but instead, their constant hunger (I’m only somewhat joking about that). Throughout your lifting career you learn a whole lot about yourself, and one of those things includes the savage you become when you experience prolonged uncured hunger.
In fact, there are few things in life more dangerous than a strength athlete moving into catabolic territories. Hell, I’d go over Niagara Falls in a barrel before I go 10-hours without a solid meal after a workout. This article will try to illustrate what it’s like being a strength athlete with hunger that’s unfed.
Phase One: Your Brain’s Friendly Reminder.
The first phase is when your stomach and muscles send a message to your brain saying something like, “Hey there pal, you should probably find something to eat in the next hour, or this could get ugly.” This is the preemptive kind suggestion your body gives your brain, it’s like kindly asking someone to put their phone away in the movies.
It’s a nice friendly reminder that you should be doing something to support others around you. In this case, it’s the stomach and muscles asking the brain to please find a meal to support them.
Phase Two: Did You Not Hear Us the First Time?
The second phase is when you begin the transition from friendly to anxious. You’re not quite angry, or annoyed yet, but you’re moving in that direction. It’s more of a panicked feeling, like getting to the top of a roller coaster. You know something scary is about to happen (your savage hunger side being exposed), but you’re stuck and don’t know how to get out of the situation.
If you’re in this phase, then you’re more than likely in a setting where food isn’t readily available. Hence where the anxious feeling comes from. Your stomach and muscles are now saying, “Hey, it’s me again, if you could go ahead and find some resources….NOW, that would be great.” You might be stuck in a meeting, a long wedding, or any other event that you can’t readily get up and eat, cook, or buy food at.
The worse part is, the busier the setting, the more heightened this panicked feeling grows. You know in the back of your head what your hungry savage self can be like. No one is safe.
Phase Three: Annoyed, Angry, and Short-Tempered.
The third phase is when you make the switch from human into some form of beast-like creature. Primal instincts begin to kick in. As you sit in your office’s meeting and Janice continues to talk, you start fantasizing about what it’s like on the outside with food running freely. You’re ready to snap at any minute. Thoughts turn from supportive and productive to anger filled monologues.
This is when your stomach and muscles stop messing around. They start an inner monologue as your brain stays silent and say something like…“Give me food, or someone is seriously going to get hurt (you start looking at Janice who’s still talking) Hmm..if I throw this notebook at her, what are the odds I get fired and can go grab a meal? Does Janice even lift? Probably not. Dammit Janice, be quiet so I can eat.”
These extended negative monologues continue, and begin to cross the borderline into unconscious rambling. This is why there are shirts out there that say, “I’m sorry I said that, I was hungry.” You didn’t start the day angry, but you’re there now. No one is safe at this point. You’re on edge and begin to get light headed as you fill with hunger and anger.
Phase Four: Complete Catabolic Blackout, but Then…
At this point, all hope is lost. Your stomach and muscles have completely given up, they have no more energy to give. The brain is just as exhausted, because it was working to control them. Nothing makes sense, energy is low, thoughts are non-existent, and life seems meaningless.
All of a sudden, a sliver lining appears. Janice begins to wrap up her Thursday tirade about this quarter’s earnings. To you, that means one thing…food is on the horizon. The fog that has filled you begins to subside.
As you leave the meeting and rush to the kitchen, you grab everything that’s yours and edible in-sight and begin to ravish through it. As you scarf down food, not one word is said, not even to Janice who’s called your name now twice as she reheats her meatloaf. The only thing that’s coming out of your mouth is a snarling sound that most lions make when they’ve caught a nice juicy gazelle.
It’s at this moment everyone around you learn an important lesson…and that’s to not mess with you when you’re hungry.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Feature image on right of collage from @thevanillagorilla92 Instagram page.