One of the ways some people try to lose weight is to go on a starvation diet, drastically cutting down on the amount of calories they consume. Is this a good choice? Does starving yourself to lose weight work?
The logic behind a starvation diet seems pretty sound: you need a calorie deficit to lose weight and cutting down your calories as low as possible seems like a great way to create this deficit.
However, one needs to recall is that a calorie deficit depends on two factors: how much you take in and how much you burn off. In addition, with any weight loss process, you must always make sure to maintain proper health first and foremost. Losing weight is important but not as much as maintaining good health.
The truth is that starving yourself is one of the worst things you can do for two main reasons: 1. It can be quite unhealthy. 2. It is not a good long term weight loss strategy. Let’s go over these two points and delve into them a bit deeper…
Why Starving yourself to Lose Weight Doesn’t Work
The Health Issue
Our body needs food to function properly. This is the fuel that drives us and that allows us to work, do the things we like, and to feel good.
When you starve yourself, you’re actually depriving your body of the fuel it needs for day to day function. You’re making it harder on yourself to get through the day as you should. You’re also depriving your internal organs from what they need to continue operating as they should.
This may be okay for a few days but any longer than that might pose serious health issues. Starving yourself can lead to the following symptoms:
- Lack of energy.
- Feeling cranky and agitated.
- Lack of concentration.
- Serious health hazards (a variety of conditions may arise or worsen due to lack of food).
Starving yourself is not a good health choice.
It may seem like a good idea to starve yourself to lose weight and you will show less pounds on the scale if you cut down the calories that you eat but this will not be the kind of weight loss that you crave. It will not make you look good at all. If you don’t give your body enough calories, you will not only lose fat, you will also lose muscle tissue making you look frail, unfit, and unattractive.
In addition, cutting down your calories too low is not good for long term weight loss. You need to understand what happens to your body when you cut down your calories too drastically and why it may make it harder for you to shed weight and maintain the weight that you did lose.
The rate in which your body burns calories depends on your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the faster your burn calories and fat. If you want to make it easy for you to shed pounds and to later keep them off, you need to keep your metabolic rate as high as possible.
Our body comes wired with a certain biological internal process that regulates our metabolism. This process is interrupted when you go on a starvation diet. The reason this happens is that, on a biological level, your body is still living in an age in which food was scarce (in the time of our ancestors). Our body has not yet evolved to realize that today, food is not difficult to get.
What happens when you cut down your calories too drastically is that your body goes into starvation mode: it believes that you’re facing a shortage of food and it tries to protect you from hunger and death. It does so by reducing the rate in which you burn calories, your metabolic rate.
When this happens, you lose weight more slowly (regardless of which diet program you’re using). You need to take more and more drastic steps to keep the fat burning process going. This is often why people get stuck when trying to lose weight. Why they hit what is known as a weight loss plateau.
As you can’t really starve yourself forever, once you go back to normal eating, your metabolism is so slow that you start to gain back the weight that you lost. This is why starving yourself to lose weight is the wrong way to achieve long term results.
The right way to lose weight is to create a sensible calorie deficit, provide your body with the food and nutrients that it needs, and to exercise intensively. Starving yourself is not the answer.
I hope that you realize that starving yourself is not a good way to lose weight. It is counter-productive. To achieve long term results you need to follow a healthy diet solution, not a drastic and crazy one.
Please, don’t try to achieve a super fast fat loss by using drastic measures and depriving yourself of the food your body needs. A long term weight loss is what you want.