Many people, if not most, think that the less food they eat the quicker their weight loss will be. The way most people go about this is to eat very little, usually by skipping breakfast or lunch, or both. But this only has the effect of slowing your metabolism so you require less calories, which makes weight loss more difficult. This is made worse when the body enters what is known as starvation or survival mode.
This comes about when the daily calorie intake is less than the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the minimum amount of calories needed each day.
Fearing that food has become scarce the body adapts to this in several ways.
• With the level of available carbohydrates predictably low, energy stores are rapidly depleted. Glucose can be manufactured by the body though only if amino acids are available, but as they come from protein, which will also be in short supply, the only other source is the body’s own muscle. Basically that means the body would have to eat itself!
• To conserve energy the body’s metabolism slows to lower the BMR, one effect of which is that the release and use of fat is reduced and the storage of fat is increased. What this means is that more of the food that’s eaten is stored as fat than normal, causing weight gain instead of weight loss.
• Weight loss will occur, but it won’t be fat that’s being lost. Some of it will be muscle but most of it will just be water. The reason for this is that glucose is stored with a lot of water, so when it’s then used, 3 times as much water is also lost. Muscle too, is bound up with water, in this case 4 times as much. When it’s broken down the same thing happens. A body can lose 3 pounds in the first day of starvation mode, and for the first week it’s this that causes a drop in weight. It’s not because of a reduction in fat.
If a diet like this continues, weight loss per week will become increasingly less. After several weeks no further weight loss may occur because the body has adapted to the low-calorie situation.
The person probably hasn’t though, instead feeling pretty miserable, irritable, lethargic, tired, and physically weak. What’s most likely to happen is that they’ll give up and return to normal eating, undoing the weight loss very quickly as water and glucose stores are restored. Plus, with lower body weight and a slower metabolism, the BMR will have fallen so fewer calories are needed. This leaves the excess to be stored as fat, which the body now does very efficiently.
Also, psychologically starved of the pleasure gained from eating comfort food, binging on fatty and sweet treats is likely.
It’s for these reasons that when a period of poor diet ends, any weight loss is soon reversed, plus a bit more for good measure.
The Solution To Starvation Mode
The cause of starvation mode is eating less calories than your BMR figure, and this is usually the problem most people have when their goal is weight loss. The solution is one that you might never have heard before.
The solution is to eat more.
Eat more for weight loss? Don’t be ridiculous. How can eating more help you lose weight?
If this is your reaction then go back and read the beginning of this article, and then hopefully you’ll understand how this would work. I agree it sounds a little strange, but like many things the least obvious solution is often the most likely to work. I have advised numerous clients to follow this advice so I know firsthand how effective it can be, and it could drastically improve your ability to take off those excess pounds and keep them off!
Does this sound like it could be useful for getting a six pack?
Now of course it could be that in your case you are getting too many calories and a reduction IS what’s necessary, but the only way to find is to calculate your BMR and then complete a food diary to see if you’re getting too many calories for weight loss.
Or too few.
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