Conventional wisdom says that being fit and skinny is an important part of any zombie survival plan. Even the hit movie Zombieland makes clear that the first rule in outlasting the undead is to work on your cardio. But what if conventional wisdom is wrong? What if carrying a few extra pounds is better for survival?
Looking at the three stages of human starvation we find that in the first stage blood glucose levels are maintained by the liver, but because there is only enough stored glycogen to last a few hours the body quickly moves into the second stage. Nutritionist Kevin Quirk explains that this is when a person’s fat percentage comes into play.
“The body begins to convert its fat reserves into fatty acids and glycerol to support muscle and brain function. Once the fat runs out, the third stage of starvation begins, and there is a switch to proteins as the major energy source. Muscles, the largest source of protein in the body, are rapidly depleted.”
Needless to say, once your muscles are being eaten from within you’re in big trouble. In fact, starvation-related death is often caused by heart failure, because the heart muscle is broken down to the point of collapse.
Quirk explains that individuals with higher levels of body fat can last longer without food, because they remain in the second stage of starvation for more time than their skinny counterparts. It’s not unlike a camel in the desert that is able to supply energy to the body by using up ample stores of fat.
Of course, if you’re being chased by zombies it doesn’t hurt to be able to run fast and for long distances, not to mention the added physical and psychological benefits of being in top condition. But if you’re locked in a safe place and forced to stay put long after food supplies have been depleted, you’re clearly better off packing at least a few extra pounds.
Food for thought.