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Christopher M. Young, CPT, FNC
Online Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach

Your Body and the Dreaded Starvation Mode – A Truth Bomb of a Blog

I am just going to come right out of the gate and say it…starvation mode, in the context that most people believe to be true, is a myth.

Let that sink in for a few minutes.

Those that follow within the diet and fitness communities are often misinformed about the realities of what we call ‘starvation mode’. Most of us have been told, and I have even been completely guilty of believing this myself, that if you go without food for X number of hours, your body will enter ‘starvation mode’ which causes your body to lower its metabolism and increases the inability to burn fat or lose weight. The claim is that when you enter starvation mode, your body will lower your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight as well as stall any progress, including any fat burning. This is actually the opposite of what really happens. You see, the starvation response actually occurs ONLY after your body has completely run out of energy. This means that it has fully depleted any and all of your fat stores and is also not eating up your lean muscle mass to keep you alive.

Let’s take a look at the chain of command when it comes to your body’s energy usage. The body gets its primary source of energy through the food you eat. Once your body has fully digested and utilized the food for fuel/energy, the body will then switch over to glycogen stores for fuel. Once the glycogen stores are used up {up to six hours), the body then starts using your fat stores for energy. Your fat stores provides fuel for the body when you have no food to eat. And the body will rely on your fat stores for up to 72 hours. After 72 hours, if you are still without food, the body will then start to fill its amino acid needs from your body’s lean mass (muscle). Attacking your lean mass to get the amino acids your body needs to function properly will not immediately slow your metabolism down, however, we want to keep lean mass intact. The goal is to build lean muscle while losing body fat. To reiterate, the starvation response {aka starvation mode) is really just a matter of the body slowing down its metabolism after prolonged periods of low energy intake and when all other energy in the body has been exhausted

If you are worried about your body going into starvation mode because a friend told you, know that skipping meals here and there and reducing calories will not put your body into starvation mode. Prolonged extreme caloric restriction will. If you want to lose fat, you MUST be in a caloric deficit. So stop worrying too much about eating less than you are used to.

– Christopher “Beast” Young




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