Starvation mode

Starvation mode

I have done a ketogenic way of eating since about 2016 as most of you will know I fell off the keto wagon a little while ago due to ill health and the stress of running my own business.

I ran a home cleaning company for two and a half years, during the day I was struggling to find time to eat and my fatigue went through the roof, I started craving junk food again that’s when I well and truly fell off the wagon and burnt it out in the process.

Fast forward a few months and I was in addiction hell, binge eating day and night like I always did. I, more than anyone know how hard it is to stay on track when you don’t have the energy to cook (especially with a chronic illness) so you live on takeaways and junk food, then I got my diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

After 20 years of dealing with a huge amount of symptoms and trying the medications that the doctor so freely handed out I decided that I would re-start my keto journey and get my health back by using food as medicine, I ditched the toxic pills and jumped right back in.

Since starting back on keto (except for the initial weight loss) the scales haven’t moved at all, I tell people all the time not to worry about the scales and measure ect but I wasn’t losing inches either. I do lazy keto, I eat everything keto I just don’t track my macros, now if you mention to someone who is doing keto that you haven’t lost weight they will say oh you just need to track macros you’re eating too much, when in fact I know I haven’t been eating enough.

Fasting

I tried fasting but it backfired, starvation mode kicked in and I was absolutely not going to lose any weight, 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 starvation mode is a myth this is not true, it happens, and it happens because you don’t eat enough.
So why did I do it if I know I shouldn’t? Excess skin I have a lot of excess skin from previous weight loss and we have all heard about the great benefits of autophagy and how it can help with loose skin.

I know my body stresses when I go long periods without eating but I wanted to try it, yes I have discovered I am one of many people who absolutely cannot and should not fast, I’ve learned my lesson!

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 will not be advocating fasting for women and not for long periods of time anyway.

There are tons of studies on fasting for men but I haven’t seen any on fasting for women, I know there are certain female body types who absolutely should not fast but I haven’t seen any other full female fasting studies which say that fasting and women go hand in hand, men are completely different to women due to hormones which means fasting affects us differently.

Fasting for some people puts them in starvation mode, where the body refuses to lose weight and in some cases they will start to gain weight because the body is trying to hold on to it’s fat stores.

Calories

Many people are unknowingly putting themselves in starvation mode, if you lower your calories to the extreme like 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 all know 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 your 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.

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, 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.

Kickstart metabolism

So 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 afterward.

In order to kick start my metabolism again and trick my body into thinking I’m not starving, but at the same time still be able to lose weight I had to break a few keto rules.

This is absolutely the reason I say that keto is not a one size fits all approach sometimes it needs to be tweaked to suit you and your body type, and being too strict may work for the guys but lazy keto is definitely better suited to a lot of us women.

What I did

  • I gave up my bulletproof coffee, coffee is not good with stressed adrenals anyway 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 causing more stress to the body.
  • I upped my meals to 3 a day and have snacks in between my 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.
  • I ate a higher protein breakfast every day ideally before 10am and absolutely no skipping meals.
  • I ate a higher carbohydrate meal at tea time, with protein and lots of veggies as some of us simply do not do well on low carbohydrate diets, the carbs I eat are all keto approved I do not eat junk food anymore.
  • I’ve included a small amount of berries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries every day either with double cream or in a smoothie.

For the first time in 3 months! I’ve stood on the scales to see a 2lb loss wooooo hooooo may the weight loss continue as I rebuild my metabolism and hopefully if any of you are in the same boat, struggling to lose the weight and are willing to try something to get you kickstarted give it a go, go lazy! it may just be that you are not eating enough real food 🙂

See our guide to getting started on keto here

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