What is starvation mode?
Starvation mode is the idea that when you cut your calories too low, your body starts hanging on to those calories to create energy instead of burning them. This means that even when you think you’re working hard, you end up keeping weight instead of losing it.
According to top medical doctors, starvation mode occurs when you restrict calories too much. In earlier times when food was scarce, your body would “turn on” starvation mode to protect the body as much as possible from hunger and famine. The body decreases your everyday caloric burn for everyday movements like breathing, walking, and talking the more body weight you lose.
What causes starvation mode?
Starvation mode is caused by a major drop in the number of calories and food that you’re eating – usually due to a new diet. A 500-calorie drop will slow the metabolism some but reducing your calories by 750 or more calories will slow much more dramatically.
The major “breaking point” is a total daily calorie intake of 1,200 or less. At this point, your body goes into starvation mode and begins hoarding calories. It can also cause body damaging symptoms including hair loss, extreme fatigue, and a drop in overall body temperature. You might feel dizzy, get frequent headaches, or feel hungry often throughout the day.
What can you do to prevent starvation mode?
The best way to prevent your body from going into starvation mode is to reduce your calorie intake in a slow, gradual process. You’ll also want to keep your total calories above 1,200 a day. In addition, you can boost your protein intake which will help your body protect muscle growth and maintenance.
Does starvation mode affect normal dieting?
Most people aren’t affected by starvation mode in regular dieting. For your body to go into a true starvation mode, your body has to have burned through most of your body fat already and start burning into your muscles. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to worry about – keep reading!
You’ll typically see starvation mode symptoms with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, where the amount of food consumed falls to an extremely low amount for a long period of time. Most diets ask you to restrict your calories in a gradual manner. The concern for starvation mode becomes larger when you drop your calories by a large amount in a short period of time and then hold that decreased calorie amount for a long period of time.
Then what does a normal dieter need to know?
While your body shouldn’t go into starvation mode without extreme circumstances, you can still see metabolic slowdowns. The amount of weight you drop directly correlates to your metabolic rate – how fast your body burns calories in everyday movements like walking or talking.
When you are dieting and restricting calories to lose weight, you need to pay attention to what you’re eating in addition to how much you’re eating. Your body will burn calories from processed pizza and chips differently than it will from real, whole foods like chicken and veggies. Eating healthier foods with extra protein in the appropriate amount will help your body burn calories and keep you full throughout the day.
If you’re not seeing the weight loss that you want while cutting calories, you might be over restricting your calories. Decreasing your calories by too much can cause a few negative symptoms. For one, you’re going to be more likely to crash and binge eat. If you’re restricting your calories too much, you end up feeling like you HAVE to eat more to handle the amount of stress that you’re putting on your body and mind. You’ll also be less likely to stick to an extremely low-calorie diet long term, simply because it takes too much to handle.