Why starving doesn’t help to lose weight

Have you ever became desperate about weight loss that you decided to start starving for days and expect to burn the fat in your body and you’ll finally become thin and lean? Well, nothing can be farther from truth.

First, let me define starving, According to the Wikipedia,

 “Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient, and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition.”

Technically, if you deprive your body of more that 15% of the calorie intake on a regular basis, it is termed as starvation.

Thing is, in most of the cases, overeating (in reality, overeating Junk) is one main reason for overweight, so naturally our logic says eating less can will lead to weight loss. That’s good. But stretching this and saying eating even less will lead to more or faster weight loss is where the problem starts.

Do we really Burn fat when starving?

Our assumption is when we provide body with much less calories to burn from food; body turns to burning FAT for energy.

Well, that’s where we got it all wrong. The fact is, when we starve; our body first turns to burn muscle for the energy. Why? Because, muscle is Calorie Expensive i.e. Muscle need more calories to maintain. Hence, Body thinks “Oh no, I’m deprived of food, let me get rid of my most expensive stuff first.”

So, our body first burn our muscle, and then if we continue starving, it starts burning our fat. By this time, although we might have achieved some weight loss, this came at the expense of losing muscle.

(Nice image i found below, but do not agree comparison of fat with weed, but nevertheless the point is well represented)


Metabolism takes a hit!!

Again, if we starve and make our body receive less and less of the food, it starts realizing that “I have less food available to me, let me make sure I retain my fat and not burn it so easily. Let me hold on to my fat/carb reserves. How do I do that? Let me give out all signals of tiredness so that he/she will not be able to do anything fat burning. Also, let me slow down the metabolism and try to retain as much fat/carb reserves as possible.”

If our body gets into such survival mode, you know what happens. Whenever we take any food, body immediately starts storing it as fat reserve fearing it might not receive food for a long time. Simply Put, our body tries to adjust its metabolism to a new equilibrium level where it can survive with whatever lower levels of food intake we provide.

Now, the fact is we simply cannot continue starving for longer periods of time. So, the moment we start eating normal, interesting things happen. Since the metabolism is already slowed down and there’s little muscle to consume the food intake effectively, it directly goes in and gets stored as fat thereby making us gain more weight again.

Long term Appetite Loss

With Body getting used to lower intake of foods, we may lose our appetite which is not good for overall health. With lower appetite, we may end up sucked into a vicious cycle of starvation leading to weak body and even anorexia.

You may Binge heavily later

After a heavy starvation phase, we generally tend to have a feeling that we deserve to feast and hence we end up gorging anything and everything including unhealthy junk. With lowered metabolism, such heavy binging can create more weight issues. Additionally, it can wreak havoc on our self-esteem as we feel like we have failed.

Emotional Hell

Going on such starvation diet will sure affect our emotions. Think of the times when you yelled at your loved ones just because you are very hungry. Starvation can sometimes lead to heavy indulgences and thus we tend to gave a rollercoaster of mood swings, impacting our relationships with close ones.

Cannot achieve Well Toned Body

Since, most of the times, starvation simply ends up eating away your muscle, although we might achieve some weight loss, there won’t be any improvement in the structure of our bodies, in fact, reduced muscles will make us feel we are in worse shape than before. Or at best, we might be nothing more than a smaller version of our former self.


Affects brain and concentration levels

Do you know, that brain constitutes only 2% of the body weight, but consumes close to 20-25% of the calories that we take in?  This is the organ that needs and consumes most of the calorie intake for it to function normally. With modern day lives and Jobs needing more of our brain as the input, the consequences of starvation on brain could impact concentration, memory, creativity and efficiency. In the current situation, it’s hard to ignore such side effects which can impact our career and life as a whole.

Nutrient Deficiency will lead to other forms of illness

Well, starvation will simply lead to deficiency in vitamin, mineral and other nutrients, various organs in our body may stop functioning properly leading to unimaginable forms of illness and disease ranging from hair loss, skin diseases to nervous system disorders.

See Figure: Nice illustration from eatingdisorderri

effects of starving

Lack of energy will influence daily life

Nothing much to say here except that lower energy will impact every aspect of our daily life

Finally, Defeats the very purpose of Starving

When your start starving to get rid of fat, our body goes into survival mode, holding onto the very fat we are trying so desperately to get rid of. Instead of burning fat, your body will start first with muscle while trying to keep the fat for as long as possible defeating the whole purpose of starving.

So, my Advice is do not think of Starving as the solution to weight loss. If at all there is one, it can be intermittent fasting, More on it in a later post. Till, then

Be healthy, Keep rocking, Keep LIVING.

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