You dream to lose some pounds. Tried everything but it was ineffective. Now, you think starving yourself is the best way to reach the goal. But is it really so? If you starve and don’t get enough calories, your body goes into so to say starvation mode. What is the cause? Your empty stomach sends a message or a signal to your cells to conserve energy if a food doesn’t arrive.
What is starvation mode? Is it real or myth? And what problems it may cause? Read on what happens, when you restrict your calorie intake and what side-effects of starving yourself you may have. Plus find out the answers to your starvation mode questions. Learn if starving is the only option to lose weight.
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Is starvation mode real?
Starvation mode: Reality or nonsense, fact or myth, truth or fiction? You consume a few calories – you gain weight. Sounds awkward? Some people believe that once they stop consuming food their body will surely go into starvation mode.
So what is starvation mode? This can be explained as a state in which human’s body responding to prolonged time or periods of low energy intake degrees or levels. Free fatty acids are burnt during these periods of energy abstinence. As a result, your body begins to burn muscle and lean tissue as a fuel source.
If you want to lose your weight, starvation is not a good idea. Starvation diets are often ineffective, because you can gain your weight back.
Instead, learn how to eat correctly and consult with your physician.
Will my body burn muscle or fat? – is a frequently asked question among people who are interested in starvation mode. The answer is muscles.
Our body needs to protect itself in order to have enough energy for the day. The body starts to burn or break down muscles not fat. What do we have then? Loss of muscle mass leads to more fat and as a result of a return of the weight.
A variety of specific and not really pleasant signs of starvation mode can affect people at any moment.
There are 5 starvation mode symptoms. They are:
People who go into starvation mode often feel fatigue. No matter what they do, even small tasks get them tired. Women can experience absence of their cycle. When it comes to men, they can experience a reduction in testosterone levels which in its turn leads to a decrease in sexual performance.
Headaches or migraines
The main cause is not eating enough. The second cause of your headaches is stress your body has because of an insufficient calorie intake. To avoid these symptoms you need to ensure that your diet or what you eat meets your daily needs.30% of migraines come out from diet-related issues
- Obsession with food
A reduction of the intake food when your body is in a starvation mode leads to a reduced metabolism. It’s really dangerous. As far as metabolism is essential in burning calories, a lower or reduced metabolic rate can lead to weight gain. Once you return to normal life and start eating you can regain your weigh which is mostly fat.
You eat less – you can easily have physiological disorders. Bad mood, depression, anxiety, angriness are all those things anyone may experience when being in a starvation mode.
- Binge eating
Binge eating or food obsession often happens when being in a starvation mode. A body in starvation mode signals that you need immediately increase your food intake. Binge eating can lead to unhealthy eating.
You will experience starvation mode until you start consuming food again. However, when you will start eating you’ll gain more weight. Any amount of food after depriving the body for so long will be converted into fat.
So is Starvation mode real? Yes, it is. It doesn’t mean it can happen in just a few days. In fact, this is the natural protective mechanism of our body that works to keep you from starving. No matter, who are you – an athlete, a lean bodybuilder or an average man or woman trying to lose weight, you will be impacted by a natural metabolic response.
Is starvation mode a myth? Read the truth
Starvation mode: Myth or fact? Where the truth is? How does the starvation happen?
- You go on a starvation diet trying to lose your weight. You eat less – exercise more and even lose some pounds. You are overjoyed at success. What next?
- After a while, your energy becomes unsteady, you start thinking more about food and become hungry, your metabolic rate declines. Maybe it’s a time to work harder?
- You start work harder, eating less and spending more hours at the gym. But at this time your weight loss stops. You don’t lose your weight. What’s happening? You can’t explain. Again, you try to work harder.
- Now, you experience feelings of bloating and depression. You are tired and exhausted. You train more, but…
- No matter how hard you try – you slowly gain weight. This is the final stage of your starvation mode.
- You think you need to ease training and eat more. You do this and guess what…
- You start gaining weight in a fast way and feel really bad.
Some people state that starvation mode is a myth when there are such ones that think it is a truth. Believe or not, but the fact remains when you severely reduce calories – weight loss stops.
Why starvation diets are ineffective
Starvation diets or heavily restricted calorie diets don’t work. Why? To survive, body defense mechanism starts working to protect the body from further loss of weight.
When you don’t get enough calories or nutrition to sustain normal functioning – levels of hormone Leptin in your body change. This hormone is your starvation response. Once your fat stores decrease, Leptin levels begin to decrease. The brain receives the signal to begin the starvation response. At that moment energy consumption begins to decrease and appetite signal increases.
As a result, you have more problems than you had before. Excess weight is what you get in the end. Starvation mode is not a fairy-tale. It does exist. There are only two effective options for helping to decrease the stress on metabolism without gaining weight in the process.
To lose weight choose one of them:
- Option 1: Eat less – exercise less.
- Option 2: Eat more – exercise more.
Do not starve your body. When it comes to losing the weight, cutting calories is essential. But it doesn’t mean you need to starve.
To keep your body out of starvation mode, try to eat small meals throughout the day.
Starvation diet can be explained as cutting caloric intake to less than fifty percent of what your body requires. The fear of most people is that going into starvation mode will fundamentally reduce their metabolic rate. In fact, it’s true – your metabolic rate will be reduced with the excessive calorie deficit.
Why you should not starve yourself to lose weight
For the best weight loss results, your total calorie intake should be below what you burn. However, this does not necessarily mean that you should cut out completely the calories you consume. It would not make sense either. Starving yourself could offer immediate weight loss. Nevertheless, it is not a long-term weight loss solution.
Here are more reasons why you should not starve yourself with the hope to lose weight:
- It is hard to get sleep
Starvation mode can bring you sleep issues. It will be harder for you to sleep because your whole concentration will be on getting food into your stomach.
- Concentration gets complicated
If you do not have anything on your belly, it will be very hard for you to concentrate even on the easiest tasks. All the focus will be on your body, which constantly screams at you to consume something.
- Starvation is painful
Starvation can be quite painful, especially when you only consume very little food for more than two days.
- Be ready for mood swings
A nasty effect of being in the starvation mode is that you tend to become quite moody. You might suffer extreme levels of both anger and happiness in an instant, without any good reason.
- You feel worse about yourself
Starving yourself for a long time, automatically makes you want to spoil yourself with some good food. Doing this makes you feel bad about your decisions.
9 best ways to lose weight without having to starve yourself
Food is one of the best things ever and missing it to achieve a small waist is certainly not worth it. Therefore, starving yourself is not the way to go about ensuring proper weight loss. So, how do you go about weight loss without starving?
- Fill up with fiber
Consuming fiber-rich foods is critical as it helps you feel full for longer. This is essential as it makes you take in lesser calories, ensuring proper weight loss.
- Have a plan
You need to understand that weight loss takes time. Therefore, you should come up with a long-term plan and divide it into various short-term objectives.
- Prepare your meals
Cooking your own food is essential if you want to maintain a good weight. This is because it allows you to take note of the number of calories in your diet. Since you want to achieve weight loss, you will cook with ingredients that are going to help you achieve exactly that. For more information on what to eat to get ripped, go here.
- Get sufficient sleep
Sleep helps you feel full as it increases satiety hormones while reducing hormones related to hunger. It also allows you to recover after working out. For the best weight loss results, consider having over 8 hours of sleep a day.
- Consume lots of water
Taking a lot of water helps you feel full and eliminates any misunderstood hunger pangs. Thus, consider taking a water bottle with you everywhere you go.
- Reward yourself in non-food ways
It is natural for people to reward themselves with good food after completing a certain task. Nevertheless, if you would like to achieve good weight loss results, then you should consider rewarding yourself in other ways, like getting your hair done, going to the spa, or taking a nap.
- Hide those junks
If you constantly feel the urge to consume your favorite junk foods, you must be willing to store such snacks in places where they are not visible to you. Doing this will assist to remind you of your body objectives when you feel tempted.
- Get active
As aforementioned, consuming a healthy diet is important for achieving outstanding weight loss results. Nevertheless, working out accelerates the whole process. For the best results, we advise that you combine cardio and resistance training in your routine. Cardio helps burn the calories, while resistance training ensures healthy muscle growth. For more information on workouts to get ripped, go here.
- Go slow during happy hours
Beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks are great, as far as they are taken in moderation. Despite this, most people tend to overindulge especially during parties and social gatherings. If you want to achieve good weight loss results, you ought to go slow on excessive drinking since this adds many calories to your body.
No need to go into starvation mode. Remember, balance intake is a key to any weight loss programme. Make some small changes. Limit your daily calories to an amount recommended by your nutritionist. Nutrient-rich diet and moderate exercise help to go out of starvation mode. Remember, you deserve to stay healthy!
You can find further details of Weight Loss Strategies here.
Ive been eating very little for several years. When I do eat its usually rice and some kinda meat when im lucky. This diet isnt by choice rather than by circumstance. Aboult once or twice a month ill buy a pizza or some other luxury food that I make last for several days. I weighed 160lbs aboult four years ago now I barely weigh 130lbs. Ive been off on my food take I no longer know what my calorie intake should be if I had the money to eat right. At 5’11 and once 160lbs could any one tell me?
2000-2500 calories. Your eating too little, to maintain your weight eat 2000-2500 calories.
If you want to lose weight, eat only 1500 calories a day.
I’m like 5’0 & I weigh around 110-115 what should my calorie intake be?
You’re absolutely right. That’s why anorexics and starving people in Africa are all so fat, because starvation mode is real.
I’m eating around 600-650 calories a day and working out for an hour each day! Mostly cardio and strength training. I have been losing so much weight and I like it. I feel more confident now. My stats are 5’4 and 118 pounds. My goal weight is 100 pounds. I wanna have abs and a strong skinny body. Any advice?
“Will my body burn muscle or fat? – is a frequently asked question among people who are interested in starvation mode. The answer is muscles.”
So you’re proposing that human’s evolved to store fat for… what exactly? What’s the point of ever storing fat if your body prefers to burn muscle in times of prolonged famine? What’s the evolutionary advantage of taking away an early human’s muscle tissue (It’s only means of getting more food by walking around to find fruits or roots or vegetables, or killing an animal). in favor of useless fat?
“You will experience starvation mode until you start consuming food again. However, when you will start eating you’ll gain more weight. Any amount of food after depriving the body for so long will be converted into fat.”
So this supposed person, who hasn’t eaten in months or days or hours or however long you think it takes a body to enter your made up starvation mode, is getting fatter by the second (without any incoming energy mind you. I guess our bodies are breaking down that valuable muscle to convert into useless fat cells because it’s trying to help us) and finally, miraculously, finds some food. (I’m assuming a rabbit just committed suicide in this hypothetical persons mouth because he/she has zero muscle at this point). Instead of converting the calories and nutrients into energy that our poor hypothetical person desperately needs, the body again just stores these calories as useless fat? So if I just go out to the desert and never eat again my muscles will be turned into fat to save my life and also my body will create fat out of thin air or photosynthesis or fucking Bob Dylan songs and I’ll never die of starvation I’ll just end up getting fatter and fatter until I look like Tetsuo at the end of Akira. Got it.
Look, your blog is advocating eating healthy vs starving yourself which is a great and noble stance to have. But, the opposite of science and reason is not a good way to get this message across.
This response is so relevant!!
This would’ve been a relevant response if you just fraimed your rhetoric in such a way that explains the logical and scientific explanation as to why you disagree with the article and written down the sources for your knowledge. Could’ve been a better use of your time in writing such a lengthy response. We, including the author could’ve had a more productive discussion with the goal of understanding the topic at hand.
I’m just starting to take interest in this particular subject, I’d truly appreciate it if you could point me out to books and/articles that discusses starvation mode.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day.
So I’ve been eating between 400-800 calories a day, I’m 5″4 and weigh 116 pounds. I started feeling fatigued and have frequent headaches (especially around the afternoon) and I hardly have energy for anything. I’m afraid that I might be going into starvation mode? I eat really healthy keep in mind that’s why my calorie intake is pretty low. But then again I don’t really want to eat more because I just end up self loathing and that’s not what I want.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading R’s comment. Lol. Especially the rabbit commiting suicide part. Sarcasm at its finest, I love it. Anyway, thanks to R for setting me straight. I was 222 lbs now 210 after 1 week of “starvation” and happy with the results. Im a food addict, an all or nothing type person so basically its either eat or dont eat. I cant seem to do the in between. I was actually considering stopping after reading the article but it didnt quite make sense from a scientific perspective. I just figured hey this guy must know what hes talking about. Get your facts straight before you write an informational piece that people are going to read and take advice from. Remember, it affects peoples lives directly, perhaps you havent considered that?
I have been suffering with major depressive disorder, anxiety, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, carpel tunnel, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and gerd.
A few years back I was forced to apply for disability because I was constantly getting I’ll and missing a lot of work. Since then I have been in all kinds of meds and feel as if I’m falling deeper into my depression. Because of this my appetite has not been very good at all. I believe this has caused me to gain weight. And because my appetite has been so poor I think I’m now in starvation mode. This is really scaring me because now every time I eat I get diarrhea and feel very nauseated.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
The most useful info here is R’s comment. I was grossly obese (330lbs )and “starved” down to 180 lbs. That was 14byears ago and I STILL weigh 180lbs eating a healthy Mediterranean diet. I did NOT lose the weight on a Mediterranean diet. I was able to eat a healthy diet AFTER I got rid of all that weight. STARVATION MODE IS A MYTH. IT’S A LIE. Another lie…you MUST exercise to lose weight. NOT TRUE!! Diet is 80% (if not more) of weight loss. Exercise is GOOD for you. It makes you healthier. It helps you burn more calories at rest. BUT do NOT believe that you can’t lose weight without exercise. You CAN..just google it. I DID. Once I got healthy I was motivated to exercise to feel even better but before I lost the weight I just didn’t do it and still dropped yhe 130lbs in 11 months. By this article’s reasoning the concentration camp victims should all have been fat. Third world starving nations should be filled with morbidly obese people. Not only does this defy science, it just insults our common sense.
Your comment has really helped me! I was advised to follow an 800-1000 liver reducing diet to enable me to have surgery in march. However I was only advised to start this diet 2 weeks before the surgery was planned. I thought if I started now I could shed some serious weight before I go under the knife, which as someone who weighs close to your previous weight, would make my surgery a lot safer. This article made me scared that staying on such a low calorie diet for so long wouldn’t be beneficial but your story has encouraged me to try so thank you! I hope to lose as much weight as you have 🙂
I haven’t eaten anything except a few crackers here and there a couple pickle slices and a toaster strudel since Sunday. I also take several medications two that are psych meds. But I just haven’t felt well mentally and in pain physically, so I just don’t want to eat. But the place I live at they keep getting on me telling me I have to eat. Hmm No I don’t if I don’t want to or ain’t hungry I ain’t gonna eat its not like they can make me!!
your body doesn’t just burn muscle, it also burns fat. this doesn’t talk about ketosis. starving is not always a bad thing. some religions usually use a water fast for a certain period of time and that puts there body in starvation mode. and if you starve yourself for a prolonged period of time and pick up eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables your body gains weight of course but you don’t become fat. your body adjust to your healthy eating habits.. exercise would also be done while eating healthy. I don’t see how you’d become a body of fat while exercising and eating healthy.
I’ve been mulling this theory in my head for months now, but the scare tactics of the so ed ‘starvation mode’ keep preventing me from really trying it.
Think of this…
A lion is predominantly muscle. How often do they eat? How often do they ‘exercise’ by chasing down a kill and failing…
Lions gorge themselves when they do have a successful kill resulting in a bloated belly for a day or two… but then they ‘fast’ for 2-5 days, some times more…. then they use what every stores they have for another hunt.
Considering the fact that we are omnivorous creatures… food is technically more readily available to us. But what about winter? When the crops are gone and food is sparce… tell me, how did native Americans do it? They survive for quite some time without a annually consistent food source depending on their agricultural location. You never see any fat ones, that’s for sure…
I think the bigger concern is people worrying about people taking it to far. Anorexia could easily follow a starvation diet.
I’d even go so far as to say, if you’re considering a starvation diet, you’re likely predisposed for an eating disorder.
Moderation and caloric restriction with occasional fasting could be very beneficial to the human body.
Haven’t ate in over two wks now I last my voice shortness of breath and pain in my kidneys plus fatigue can that happen from not eating I can’t eat I’m stressed
Starvation mode is b.s. Why don’t you get better informed about ketosis? And tell me, did all the poor Jews, gipsies, homosexuals and POWs go into starvation mode while they were in nazi concentration camps? Your article is misleading and gives false information to people. You should study a little more before writing such b.s. Also, you should try starvation mode yourself and then, tell us about it. Anyway, where did you go to schools? Why don’t you post any bibliography?
Well, I don’t agree with this in my case. See if anyone can find a solution to my problem:
I am now 53 years old and very fit. I started competitive figure skating two years ago after having skated as a child. I train between 4-7 hours at the rink over two or three days, I run every morning for 15 mins (uphill) and do yoga. I eat 1,250 calories a day and 1,400 on days I skate. If I increase this I put weight on. BUT I am constantly tired. The day after I’ve trained at the rink for two or three hours I am too exhausted to do anything. Eating more makes no difference to my energy levels and I have even seen a Sports Nutritionist who suggested I try 1,700 calories a day – guess what happened? I gained weight – around half a stone I really didn’t need.
Now, I was anorexic at 21 and since then I have had to fight to keep my weight down, my body having adjusted to eating so little. In fact, I became anorexic because I was fat which was because my body just doesn’t convert food very well.
I would love to find some way of having more energy and not gaining weight. If anyone has any suggestions I would be very grateful.
I fasted 36 hours once per week.
In 3.5 years I lost 11 pounds of fat and 9 pounds of muscle.
Could that cause starvation mode?
I might have messed with the thyroid, increasing reverse t3, and decreasing the t4 to t3 conversion.