I have heard it mentioned a number of times in my passing visits to various gyms.

Does starvation mode exist and is it preventing you losing more weight?

The golden rule of weight loss is: if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight; if you eat more than you burn, you gain weight.

However, this popular starvation mode myth I’ve heard time and again is that if you starve yourself, you can actually start gaining weight.

The story goes that when you eat far too few calories, your body enters starvation mode, in which it panics about not getting enough fuel, so starts storing fat in desperation.

It seems like a decent theory, but it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. 

It is true that dieting and weight loss affects your metabolism[2].  As you lose weight, your calorie requirements decrease.  There are also hormonal and metabolic efficiency changes which can reduce your calorie requirements.

However, while these changes slow down weight loss, they do not prevent weight loss.  A comparison of low calorie diets and extreme low calorie diets published in 2006 showed that weight loss due to extreme diets was much greater than for minor calorie restriction[3].

That being said, while extreme dieting does lead to heavy weight loss initially, I would not recommend it.  Extreme dieting is unpleasant and results in fatigue and higher stress levels.  Also, it has been shown that over a long period of time, a moderate calorie restriction is just as effective for losing weight. 

The reasons people are not successful with their fat loss goals is because they have failed to achieve a consistent calorie deficit.

Diets with too few calories can be responsible for this. Whilst these studies do show heavy weight loss initially for extreme diets, for most people it doesn’t work out like this.

Ever eaten really light all day?

Then eaten the entire contents of your cupboards and fridge in the evening?

Yea, me too.

When calories are too low it makes it almost impossible to stick to them. And even if you could stick to them I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Too few calories will result in more muscle loss and hormonal and metabolic changes, none of this is cool.

Go for a sensible calorie deficit you can stick to AND ACTUALLY ENJOY! Dieting doesn’t have to be savage.

Steady consistent progress is always the best way to get fit and healthy.