Is starvation mode a myth or real? Some say it’s a total BS, some say it’s very real. What do I say?
Many people assume starvation mode is a point where your body completely stops losing weight. And since this is not happening as we can all lose weight by starving ourselves more and more, therefore some think starvation mode does not exist and is a myth.
And while, of course, we can all starve to death if we eat too little but this is not what starvation mode really is!
Starvation mode is rather a body’s biological response to starvation where it starts to adapt certain body processes to fight the weight loss in order to keep you alive for longer.
What happens when your body is in a starvation mode:
- Your metabolism slows down. When you restrict or diet (forms of starvation) your metabolism slows down. The men’s metabolism in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment slowed down by 40% after being on a semi-starvation diet of 1570 calories per day. This is an example of your body entering starvation mode to conserve energy.
- Leptin levels decrease. Research shows that when people diet their leptin levels decrease. Leptin is a hormone that signals to the brain that we have had enough food and we can stop eating. Chronic dieting decreases this hormone significantly so you become ravenously hungry. It causes you to not feel satisfied with food and feel you need to eat more. This is another example of your body entering a starvation mode.
- You start to obsess about food. Studies show that when people restrict and diet it causes neurological changes in the brain and they start to notice and think about food more often compared to normal eaters who don’t diet. They become obsessed with food. This is another sign of your body being underfed and a side-effect of being in a starvation mode.
- Your body prefers to store fat when in stress. Starvation (aka dieting and restriction) is very stressful for the body and causes your body to be in the fight or flight mode. Stress makes your body produce more cortisol that is known to increase the levels of fat cell production. Dieters are known to gain back more weight than they started with and also have higher fat levels when they started with. This is another example of your body trying to protect you and the starvation mode in action. In the case of a famine environment (what dieting creates) your body prefers to store more fat to keep you alive for longer.
Starvation mode is scientifically known as adaptive thermogenesis that doesn’t mean your body will stop losing weight in case of starvation (dieting and restriction) but it adapts certain body’s biological processes to fight the weight loss, to keep you alive for longer. And this is a very real thing, not a myth.
As you can see, your body has various mechanisms to fight malnutrition and to keep you from losing weight at a rapid pace. Yes, we can all lose weight by eating less food…until we starve to death, but this does not mean starvation mode isn’t real. Starvation mode just means your body will adapt to you eating less, to fight back the weight loss for survival purposes.
How to get out of starvation mode is to start recovery. Then your body can heal and your hunger hormones and metabolism can be restored back to balance. For that I recommend you to read my book BrainwashED.