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Starvation mode

by | May 24, 2018 | Health, metabolism, nutrition | 0 comments

Starvation mode

Thousands of Years ago (back when our ancestors were around) they would have had a relatively sedentary lifestyle. What is starvation mode?

If you do a google search or even speak to some fitness experts they will probably say that starvation mode is a myth or it isn’t actually real, but it is real and it can have detrimental effects on your weight loss efforts and can also lead to weight gain. in lamens terms, starvation mode is actually the body’s way of preserving itself when we cut the number of calories we eat to below what is needed not only to be healthy but also to support our organs and bodily functions.


We each have a minimum amount of calories we need in order for our organs to function correctly if we drop our calorie intake to below the minimum amount the body will call a halt to all non-essential bodily functions in order to preserve the important ones. The brain, for instance, uses on average 400 calories per day. So if our essential organs are using the minimum amount just to protect themselves non-essential things like hair and nails and ohh let’s say fertility is abandoned. This is why women who are on a low-calorie diet suffer from hair loss and brittle nails and in some extreme cases periods stop and fertility goes out the window.

Many people are unknowingly putting themselves in starvation mode, if you lower your calories to the extreme as people do with keto you may be causing your metabolism to slow down, you may have heard people say oh I have to be strict or I gain weight, yes because they have conditioned their body to run on x amount of calories, so the minute they go over those calories they start to gain weight again.

Calorie deficit

We have all been told that the body should be in a calorie deficit to lose weight but the body is designed to hold onto fat, so if you decrease your calories too much you start to affect your metabolism, and the body says hang on a minute you’re losing weight which means I’m going to starve, so in order to conserve the body fat it starts sending you food cravings to make you eat more.

Lowering your calories by 2-300 opposed to 5-600 or more will probably go unnoticed by the metabolism, if you are exercising then you absolutely need to add extra calories or again you risk lowering your metabolism.

I hear all the time on social media, people saying my hair is falling out, I’m freezing all the time, I’m craving sweet stuff. Or my favourite I don’t eat much and I’m smashing it at the gym but I’m not losing weight and 9 times out of ten it’s because these people just aren’t eating enough!

If you want to lose weight you either need to do no exercise and eat a little less or eat more and incorporate exercise, you can’t do both because you end up lowering your calories too much and eventually you just stop losing altogether, you will then start gaining back the weight you lost and over-compensating by gaining those extra lbs on top.

Slowed metabolism

Have you ever seen someone from the biggest loser after they stop the show? They usually gain back all the weight and more because they screwed their metabolisms and taught the body to run on x amount of calories because they didn’t deal with the reasons behind why they gained the weight in the first place.

They got thrown on a crash diet and that is literally what they did, crash! So when they went back to normality they were unable to maintain the ridiculously low amount of calories, their hormones kicked in and they regained the weight and more in most cases.

Calories were first used to control the food intake in someone with an eating disorder, many people believe that you need to cut calories to lose weight but if you think about it logically if you use this method for weight loss what actually happens when you can no longer cut calories? yep, you guessed it starvation mode rebound weight gain. This is also the reason why you do not need to worry about calorie counting while you are on a ketogenic diet.


Fasting is another form of extreme calorie restriction, over time starvation mode kicks in and the weight starts creeping up, I’ve been here so many times in the past with yo-yo dieting and do the same thing every time I restrict too much and end up craving junk food and falling off the wagon, regaining all the weight and more and every time I unknowingly put myself into starvation mode.

Some people will tell you fasting is awesome and it has lots of health benefits but there is no actual proof of this, there have been no long term studies on its effectiveness and there has also not been any gender-specific studies carried out, especially on women. You may ask why women specifically? well, this is because women have a whole host of hormones that men don’t.

We have all heard about the supposed great benefits of autophagy too and how it can help with loose skin, at the end of the day no amount of fasting will have an effect on loose skin it is all down to genetics and elasticity. if you have poor genetics and have been overweight for a long time then your skin will almost never return to its original state and the only thing that will get rid of the loose skin is surgery.

Fasting not recommended

There are a few people who believe that fasting is something that we shouldn’t do, Stephanie Person and Dr Stephen Phinney are two of them, and from my own experience, I also believe that we absolutely should not fast.

there are a few keto advocates where you can clearly see the negative effects of Fasting, Jimmy Moore is one of them. Jimmy lost a huge amount of weight and looked really good, he then started to incorporate fasting and this has led to rebound weight gain. Jimmy still swears by fasting and cannot see that it has had a negative effect on his weight loss efforts, this is a prime example of starvation mode.

How to Kickstart Metabolism

In cases where metabolism has burned out, you need to do some work to get it back, it may mean that you gain a little bit of weight in the short term but it could also mean that you are able to continue losing the rest of the weight and more if done correctly.

  • stop drinking bulletproof coffee, we all know that coffee is not good for us there is also something that you may not know about coffee and it’s also a cross reactor for gluten as they contain similar proteins, the body thinks it is gluten which means you get an autoimmune response from it, bulletproof coffee also acts as a meal but without the food, which means you go even longer without eating which causes stress to the body.
  • Increase intake of meals to 3 a day and have snacks in between meals like a babybel or some almonds or brazil nuts, all the research on keto suggests that you should eat 1-3 meals a day and no snacking in between to lower insulin but for some people like me if we don’t eat regularly and snack in between we end up in starvation mode.
  • Eat a higher-protein breakfast every day ideally before 10 am and absolutely no skipping meals.
  • Eat the meal with the highest carbohydrate at tea time.

See our guide to getting started on a ketogenic diet


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