Is their such a thing as starvation mode?



It’s a phrase that gets branded about in the industry and also something I’ve used in the past and often it’s taken out of context but terms like this can be heard by clients and the general public and that can lead to false information

I don’t want to be one of those guys and I want to help the general public understand what’s going on and how they can achieve their goals.

Many people use the word STARVTION MODE when someone eats a very low calorie diet and then uses it to say that the body shuts down it’s metabolism completely and it means you can’t lose any more weight.

Although there is research to state that your metabolism can slow down due the body trying to adapt to a very low calorie plan, it doesn’t actually shut down completely. You will still be able to lose weight on low calories and it won’t kill you. But for me, and my clients I always want to take into consideration performance and the actual goal at hand.

Now if you’re a client who is an actress or actor playing a part where you have to lose weight very fast, then a very low calorie diet is a fast way to achieve that goal. But if you’re a girl looking to tone up or a guy wanting to lose weight while putting on some lean mass then it’s not an ideal way to achieve that goal.

Also if you are a sports athlete who needs to lose 6-7kilo’s but at same time needs to perform in their workouts leading up to competition, again you’re going to need a specific way of ensuring you meet all targets to your best ability.

So it’s your goal that first dictates the severity of your deficit, and then also optimal performance. You also need to look at how you feel on a low calorie diet. When you cut calories, some people really struggle for energy day to day while others don’t so much. So take that into account because is it worth feeling like crap all the time and then getting to a point where you give up, because that’s where much of the problem comes from. If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing and feel like it’s a massive sacrifice then you may find you quit before you reach your goal.

Personally I am intensive, when I go for something I give it my all and then if I have a period where I go off kilt I don’t stress about it and work it off and get myself back on track very quickly and keep pushing. If I give myself 6weeks to achieve something special with my physique I make it a priority in my life alongside family time. But not all people work that way and work better with a more balanced approach.

What actually happens when you cut calories is as you lose weight, there’s obviously less demand of your body to burn calories.

So let’s say you start at 80kilograms weight and you maintain that weight at 2,500calories a day. You decide to drop down to 1250 calories a day and eventually you’re down to 65kilograms and your fat loss stops completely. With this method you will achieve fast fat loss at first and lose weight quickly but each week will slow down until eventually you stop losing weight. This isn’t starvation mode where your metabolism shuts down completely. The first thing to say on this is the main reason you stopped losing weight is your body has less weight itself and therefore burns less calories per day.

You may also not be eating enough to hold onto precious muscle tissue because you are lacking vital nutrients and protein to maintain it and therefore the body can eat into it’s own muscle tissue which isn’t ideal. Another reason people can struggle with muscle loss when on a low calorie diet is not only can they lose muscle through not getting enough nutrients into the body to maintain it, but stressful periods, training intensification and volume, and lack of recovery can also further deplete nutrients which can then actually cause your training program to actually be counter productive. So it’s a fine line and that’s why I always say have very specific goals that you want to achieve, use as many tools as possible to measure your success and see whether you are on the wrong track.

So although for me it’s not a great way to lose weight to just go super low calories and eat nothing, it doesn’t actually completely shut down your metabolism.

When it comes to fat loss long term, what I would always prefer with my clients is to be losing weight steadily, hold onto as much muscle tissue as possible, and be able to train without losing strength as much as possible. It’s about finding a place where you can optimally achieve the desired result while fuelling the body as efficiently as possible for what life throws at it.