Many fitness gurus have popularized the term starvation mode. The theory suggests that when a dieter eats too little, the body attempts to hold on to extra calories by decreasing metabolic rate. Is this fact or fiction?
Multiple studies would conclude that a reduction in calories can lead to a drop in your basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the energy your body utilizes whilst at rest. Our bodies consistently burns calories to keep us warm and keep our vital organs functioning.
A study by Kouda K. et al. concluded that test subjects who underwent a slight calorie restriction experienced a 6% decrease in their metabolic rate. Those who underwent a moderate calorie restriction had a 13% decrease.
Although this concludes that our metabolic rate will drop during a calorie deficit, it isn’t evidence of starvation mode. After all, our metabolic rate only accounts for 60% to 75% of the calories we burn. As we need energy for regular daily movement, it is only possible that we are utilizing the remaining 40% to 35% of our calories that haven’t yet been accounted for.
If you’re still asking yourself if starvation mode is real, consider the Minnesota starvation study of 1944. A post World War 2 study attempted to dissect the physiological and psychological effects of starvation. Thirty six volunteers consumed 3200 calories daily for the first three months. This followed with a six month period of consuming 1570 calories daily.
Throughout the study, each participant continued to lose weight. By the end of the six month period, participants lost up to 25% of their body weight.
Is starvation mode real? No. It is physiologically impossible to eat so few calories that our bodies will cease to lose weight. If this was possible, we’d die!
So What’s Going On?
Let me be perfectly clear. If you are not losing weight, there is no way in hell that you are consuming less calories than you are burning each day. If you believe that you are not losing weight because you are under-consuming on calories, you are grossly miscalculating your consumption.
Maybe you’re snacking more than you realize or that extra splash of milk in your ten cups of tea each day has added up. Either way, I would suggest that you bring your calorie deficit down to a level that you can actually manage.
To Conclude the Question “Is Starvation Mode Real?”
Starvation mode is a fictional phenomenon. Stop humoring the idea of consuming a “calorie shortage” or putting your body through “metabolic damage.”