“Fasting is the best way to send your metabolism into haywire, and starvation mode, leading to more weight gain”
This statement is absolutely wrong!
Starvation mode is a myth
At least, it’s a myth in the context of dieting or intermittent fasting. Starvation mode is not something any typical overweight or obese dieter will ever encounter or need to worry about. Now, if you are a bean pole body with no muscle mass and decide to extreme diet, then maybe you might actually encounter it.
Starvation mode is the idea that not eating enough can cause the body to stop losing weight. In the mythical starvation mode, your body picks up on your dieting attempts, and calorie restrictions, and tries to undermine you by sending your metabolism on strike.
In reality, your metabolism will never do this to you during diets or short-term fasting.
The reason you will never reach starvation mode
Starvation mode can only be reached once ALL the available fat stores and muscle have been depleted. If you are still fat or if you still have muscle, then starvation mode should not be your concern. If you have extra fat then you cannot reach starvation mode, it’s that simple.
How would you know if you encountered true starvation mode?
You would begin to be tired every day, a dysfunctional level of tired, and be skin and bones skinny. You would appear to be approaching death skinny, well beyond the goal of virtually all dieters. True starvation mode, is your body aking its last stand to preserve life. To slow your metabolism down it must slow you down.
Even with the facts about starvation mode, this dieting myth continues on. The myth works well to explain why people aren’t losing weight without really diving into the numbers. We can just say starvation mode is to blame, instead of examining your caloric needs, intake, exercise, and macros. The starvation myth is nothing more than a lazy excuse for a lack of success. Although popular, it lacks any true scientific backing.
In reality, fasting or dieting will never cause you to go into starvation mode. Fasting has actually been studied by the scientific community and been found to support our health in many positive ways.
Intermittent fasting and dieting is actually a good thing
Fasting has been shown to help with weight control goals time and time again, and can even reduce your risk of certain cancers.
Recently, a study by the University of South Australia found numerous benefits while observing one fasting diet known as the 5:2 or intermittent fasting diet. The intermittent fasting diet involves fasting for two non-consecutive days of the week; a calorie-restricted diet of 1200 calories a day for women and 1500 calories for men for the other 5 days; in addition to participants walking 2,000 steps or 1 mile each day. They combined fasting and exercise and at no point did any participant in the study experience starvation mode.
To help relate the calorie intake, the women participants consuming 1200 calories a day, is roughly a single McDonald’s Big Mac Meal With Fries and Coke (source data).
The study did find improved cholesterol, insulin resistance, blood glucose levels and blood pressure. All of these improvements are significant for heart health and even medical conditions like diabetes.
The take away here is that starvation mode is a myth
It is perpetuated by people who either aren’t successful in their diets and need a scapegoat or people trying to sell you diet gimmicks that don’t work, like the fat acceptance and healthy at any size crowd. Don’t worry about starvation mode in planning and executing a diet. To be successful, you only need to create a realistic plan and stick to it. Successfully executing a diet plan is the key to everything and the hardest part. It’s usually advisable to attempt to lose no more than 2 lbs per week except under extreme circumstances under direct doctor supervision and losing 2 lbs a week is hardly starving.
A Web Developer by trade, future data scientist.
A motorcycle enthusiast at heart.
Most days I’d rather be in the woods anywhere.