Is "Starvation Mode" Real?
The majority of us could stand to lose a little weight. Weight loss can improve our physical health, appearance, and mental/spiritual outlook.
I know that when I loss weight and eat healthier that I feel better and have much more energy. I sleep better and have a better outlook on life.
But does our body and brain agree that weight loss is a good thing?
One of the common concerns I get from patients in regards to diet and weight loss is that they will enter the so-called "starvation mode."
It is true that both our brains and bodies respond to weight loss by trying to conserve energy by reducing the number of calories that we burn. We can also feel hungrier and lethargic.
This normal response of the body is often called "starvation mode."
Whenever we limit our calories our body adapts to try to keep us at a stable weight. This stable weight is different for all of us and may change over time.
It is also key to remember that as we lose weight our calorie expenditure will also decrease just based on the fact that we are lighter. It requires less energy to move a smaller frame. Most people also lose some muscle mass with weight loss which also decreases our basal metabolic rate.
So how can we overcome "starvation mode"?
The more and more I work with patients and learn from my own experience I have come up with a few tricks to limit starvation mode.
1. Lift Weights or High Intensity Exercise: Resistance training has been shown to help limit decreases in muscle mass and our metabolic rate that can come during weight loss. Strength training can also increase our metabolic rate when we are not losing weight.
2. Taking Breaks: Our bodies respond quickly to changes in our environment. If our body senses a consistent caloric restriction then it may respond by decreasing our metabolic rate. One way to possibly combat this is to eat normal calorie amounts for short periods followed by periods of caloric restriction.
3. Fasting: The more and more I have practiced and studied fasting I have come to see it as a powerful tool in the weight loss and/or health arsenal. Some studies have shown that fasting can actually increase our metabolic rate as opposed to decreasing it. This may come as a surprise to some but it actually makes sense. Our bodies know that we cannot decrease our metabolic rate to zero. Our bodies also know that if we are "starving" that we need to have energy to find food. This means that our metabolic rate will increase. There are various types of fasting which can help including intermittent and sustained periods of fasting.
Starvation Mode is Real!
The bottom line is that starvation mode is a real phenomena but the fear of starvation mode should not stop us from trying to live healthier.
Fortunately, there are helpful strategies that can assist us during our weight loss journey. I am happy to help guide you through this process. Before considering any diet or weight loss regimen please consult your personal physician.
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