Starvation mode, what is it?
I read a blog the other day that stated “the idea of starvation mode is a myth”, stated by a woman who began an intense training regimen with a scarce diet. She lost an enormous amount of weight and began the blog to share her success and fight against the starvation mode theory. Since it’s very popular on Google and has many followers, I thought it would be best to decipher fact from fiction.
What starvation mode is said to be:
The idea is to eat no more than 1200 calories when trying to lose weight. When a person eats less than 1200 calories a day, the body begins to switch into “starvation mode” and that weight loss will cease.
What people challenge:
There are countless news stories, pictures, and videos of people dying of starvation in third world countries. The question is “if starvation mode really is true, then why do people starve to death?” Though the example used is extreme, it does make a valid point. People will lose weight and even body fat (as well as muscle) if they do not eat. Thus, starvation mode must be a myth.
So is it a myth?
Starvation mode is not a myth. Confusion usually occurs in the explanation of the myth. Starvation mode does not mean that the body stops losing weight. The term is inaccurately defined by many. Starvation mode causes the body to become more efficient with how it uses its energy. The body is meant to survive, remembering the caveman; they may not have eaten for days at a time. The body slows down metabolic processes to conserve energy. When people say “you’re not eating enough; your body is going to go into starvation mode,” meaning your body will stop developing and building and instead conserve, resulting in a weight-loss plateau. The other issue is that the body wants to hold onto the storage of energy (fat), so it will use muscle and anything else possible to keep those fat stores from being depleted. This is why it’s important to eat for proper lean muscle replenishment, as opposed to simply cutting Calories.
Yes, those who starve themselves will lose weight eventually. However, in most cases, the breakdown of the weight lost will be more lean muscle tissue than fat, and for this reason it is important to focus on getting a proper Calorie intake. To speed up metabolism, one must increase the amount of lean muscle in the body as well as increase the amount of meals one eats in a day (speeding up your metabolic rate, next week’s article). Many people come to me after they have already lost a significant amount of weight on their own and have plateaued. In many situations, after I double their intake and replace it with nutrient-dense food, they’ve been able to overcome the plateau, lose the proper amount of body fat and not only look but move and feel as they’ve always desired! Don’t torture yourself with starving yourself; there are much more effective ways to accomplish your physical goals. Until next week!
* Cardio Vs. Resistance training
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