Starvation Mode Myth – Why It’s Not True!

Starvation Mode Myth? What’s that?

People believe that your body will go into starvation mode to preserve energy when it feels like it isn’t given enough fuel. Some sources will say that starvation mode will kick in when a person is consuming 1200 calories or less per day. In short, the starvation mode myth is the belief that if you don’t eat enough calories then you will be unable to lose weight. The myth makes people believe that their metabolism will slows down so that the body can protect itself from starvation and will start burning as few calories as possible.

Why is the starvation mode myth wrong?

3Somehow, people have forced themselves to believe that they cannot lose weight if they eat too few calories, this is ridiculous!

People somehow believe that if they want to lose weight, they have to eat more food! Isn’t that great? Sign me up for that diet! They believe that if someone eats 800 calories a day but doesn’t lose weight then they should go up to 1000, if that doesn’t work then they must go up to 1200, and up and up and up! If you don’t lose weight when you eat 800-1200 calories a day it isn’t because you are in ‘Starvation Mode’ it’s because of some other aspect of your life that you need to change! Are you drinking enough water?

Our body stores that extra fat for a reason! Our fat storage IS our body’s starvation mode! If we consume more calories in a day but don’t use them all then our body keeps a hold of the excess in order to protect itself when/if food ever does becomes scarce.

Then Why Does My Weight Loss Slow Down?

Assuming that your body naturally burns 2,000 calories per day in order to maintain its current weight then your weight loss should look like this depending on how many calories you eat:

Calories Per Day
Expected Weight Loss/week
Actual Loss/week
0 pounds
0 pounds
1 pound
1 pound
2 pounds
2 pounds
3 pounds
2 1/2 pounds

Hea look! The person only eating 500 calories didn’t keep up the trend of 1lb each week per 500 calories! Starvation Mode Myth confirmed!

Not quite. The person who only ate 500 calories still lost 2 1/2 pounds that week, the starvation mode myth would tell you they should have lost 0, or even gained some. Once a person is eating less calories they do need to take into consideration that their basal metabolic rate, or BMR, may go down. These people aren’t putting as much food in their stomach so their body doesn’t have to burn as much fuel to digest their food. Every time you eat, your stomach does a mini workout so that it can break down food. If you have less of these mini-workouts then your body doesn’t burn those extra calories. Adding more food to your diet will NOT fix this. The math still works out in the favor of the person who ate less.

Why Else Haven’t I Lost Weight?

If you’ve been cutting out calorie’s and didn’t slack on your exorcise routine then there is no good reason to why you haven’t lost weight. Unfortunately, we are our worst enemy when it comes to our weight loss goals. There are many reasons why you may not have lost some weight yet but it has nothing to do with the starvation mode myth. A few examples of what it could be are:

You’re Overestimating your workouts

You’ve just gone to the gym and worked out hard! Surly you’ve burned at least 500-1000 calories right? You even use a calorie counter like MyFitnessPal to keep track of how many calories you’ve burned! At the end of the week you take a look at your scale and are disappointed that there isn’t the weight loss you expected. Why doesn’t your body want to lose the weight?

The truth is, your calorie counter may not be accurate. No one burns calories exactly the same and you may have forgotten to subtract the time you spent taking a water break or bathroom break from your workout time. Also, the calorie counters don’t track your intensity. You may have thought you were burning 20 calories every minute but only actually burning 10-15, this is an easy mistake and it can easily make your calorie counter inaccurate. It is better to assume that you did less rather than more. If you document yourself high, you will set yourself up for disappointment. If you document yourself low then you may have a pleasant surprise next time you step on the scale!

Your After Workout Snack!

Starvation Mode Myth - cheat dayYeah! You’ve just completed a nice hard workout, time for an after workout snack! What snack did you grab? Did you grab a 100 calorie banana? A 300 calorie granola bar? A 600 calorie chocolate bar? Be careful that you don’t accidentally put back on all of the calories you just worked off, you may want to ask yourself, “would I have eaten this if I hadn’t worked out?” If the answer is yes, then you’ve just added unnecessary calories back into your body.If you absolutely do need an after workout snack, try some celery or other vegetables, the lower their calorie content the less you’ve sabotaged yourself.

Being Less Active

Your muscles are aching from your hard workout but you feel good about yourself. You may find it hard to do your normal routine and so you go watch some TV. You do the same thing for 7 days straight and weigh yourself at the end of the week. If you see that you haven’t lost any weight you may not understand why, you know that you stuck to your diet and worked out 7 times! You haven’t realized that the time you spent on the couch stopped your weight loss. If you normally burn 2,000 calories a day from normal activities you’d think burning an extra 500 would be great, just make sure that you don’t start acting lazy when you aren’t working out or you may only burn 1,500 a day… this plus your workout brought you back where you started. You can’t change your routine when you add in working out.

Count Your Calories Wrong

“I’ve eaten 900 calories every day this week, but I haven’t lost any weight yet! The starvation mode myth must be true!” Are you 100% sure that you’ve only eaten 900 calories that day? Is there any chance you may have picked up something small and eaten it without logging it into your calorie counter? It’s easy to forget to log something that is seemingly small and insignificant, this is the downfall of many weight loss attempts. A good rule of thumb is, if you don’t feel like logging it… don’t eat it!

Losing Weight is Mathematical

I’m sure you’d like to shed some weight off as fast and as easy as it attached to you but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. There is no magic cure that lets you eat 3 hamburgers every meal and lose weight without adding exorcise. People like to blame the starvation mode myth but there is a very easy equation that explains weight loss…

Calorie eaten > Calories burned = Weight Gain

Calorie eaten < Calories burned = Weight Loss

This is the magical equation. Unless you have a serious medical condition, this should work for you, stop using the starvation mode myth as your weight loss scapegoat.

Weight loss chart - starvation mode myth

If the Starvation Mode Myth Isn’t True, Why Shouldn’t I Stop Eating Altogether?

Your body NEEDS nutrients! You can’t get around this and if you try you could hurt yourself. If you decide to do a very low calorie diet (vlcd) then you need to also be very aware of what you eat. Take some supplements in order to keep your body running healthy. If you only eat 600 calories a day there is a huge difference between 600 calories of chocolate and 600 calories of vegetables, not all calories are created equal.

If you are planning to do a very low calorie diet then please talk to your doctor first, they can help you stay safe. Also keep in mind that these very low calorie diets are NOT GOOD for people who only need to lose a couple of pounds! The ones who benefit most from these diets are those in the morbid obesity range.

Thinking about low calorie dieting? What is your BMI?

BMI chart - Starvation mode myth

Sum It All Up!

  • Starvation Mode myth is false
  • You will not lose weight by eating more
  • You will not stop losing weight by eating less
  • There is no secret path around Calories in v.s. Calories out
  • Very low calorie diets can be great for very overweight people
  • Do not forget about nutrition no matter what diet you’re on

Don’t agree? Do you think that the Starvation Mode Myth is true? Tell us why in the comment section below!

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