If you’ve ever tried losing weight before, only to fail time and time again, we understand how frustrating it can be to keep hitting a dead end. Where do you go when your attempts seem to yield no results, even though you believe that you are doing your best?
Unfortunately, for many people, the answer for them is by starving yourself. Think about it; in theory, it makes perfect sense because if your weight gain is attributed to overeating, then starving yourself should have the opposite effect, right? The answer to this is surprisingly no, starving yourself will not lead to effective weight loss.
Why Starving Yourself Does Not Work
If you have attempted to lose weight by starving yourself in the past, you would have undoubtedly observed certain things. For instance, in the beginning, you might have been feeling pretty good about it, as the scale would have reflected a decrease in weight. However, this is short-lived as after a week or two, you would have noticed no subsequent change and started to wonder where you went wrong.
It is not so much a matter of where you went wrong, but rather why starving is not a good idea from the get-go. The number one reason why the starvation diet fails miserably? Your body kicking in its survival instinct known as starvation mode.
This is a primal adaptation found in our bodies, which allow us to survive for an extended period of time on calories far below what we would normally need for normal body processes.
Think of it as activating the power saving mode on your phone when your battery is low. Sure, it allows you to preserve your battery for a longer period of time, or reduce the speed by which it drains, but at the expense of performance.
This is exactly how the body’s starvation mode works. It slows down all non-essential processes and our metabolism in the process, to just ensure that we have enough in the tank to get by. Thus, the body is in no way inclined to promote weight loss but rather attempts to hold on to every ounce of caloric surplus it has, in the anticipation of worse times to come.
The end result is impaired weight loss, and your body becoming even more sensitive to grabbing as many nutrients as it can find and hoard it.
The Negative Effects Of Starving Yourself
As you may have guessed by now, starving yourself is not an adaptation your body readily accepts, but rather fights against, so you can expect to see negative effects from the practice. Besides obviously looking sick on the outside, there is a lot more going on that may not be visible but which you surely feel every day. Common adverse effects include:
In order to protect yourself from various pathogens that we come into contact with on a daily basis, you must have a healthy functioning immune system. The best way to do this? Fortify it by consuming a diet rich in nutrients and bioactive compounds that optimize its function.
This means eating a complete spectrum of fruits, vegetables, protein, good fats, probiotics and some slower digesting carbohydrates for support.
When trying to lose weight by starving yourself, you inevitably end up making huge sacrifices, given up many of the foods that have the highest nutritional density, such as fruits, various meats and of course carbohydrates of all types.
The end result? An immune system that is unable to produce the necessary immune factors to safeguard you from infection. Coupled with this, you may be more prone to developing opportunistic infections such as those caused by fungi which reside in our bodies normally.
Many people do not appreciate the importance of muscles, shrugging it off as just something that makes you look good when in reality they do so much more. Most importantly, is the fact that muscles make it possible for the movement to occur.
They are attached to bones and allowed them to flex and propel you from place to place. This is why the elderly who typically experience accelerated muscle loss, lose their mobility as their appetite decreases because they are not supplying the cells with enough protein for their repair.
Besides this, another little-known fact is that muscles can make or break your weight loss efforts. It is within muscle cells, and structures known as the mitochondria, where energy production actually occurs, and where much of your dietary calories are utilized.
Thus, it makes sense that someone who has a greater amount of muscle mass will burn more calories over the course of the day to help provide energy and power their body. The more muscle you have, the easier it is to lose weight and more calories you burn at rest doing absolutely nothing.
It Is Not True Weight Loss
It is understandable to be confused by this, especially if you think that all weight loss is the same. However, often times, the first 5 to 20 pounds that someone loses is composed largely of water weight, due to changes in the diet the person may have been introducing at this time. Most weight loss plans involve some degree of calorie restriction, and with it, decreasing the number of carbohydrates consumed.
Carbohydrates, by name and chemistry, draw water to themselves when they are stored in muscle cells or the liver as glycogen. This glycogen is utilized for energy when the body detects a low amount of glucose in the blood, and as a result, excess water is liberated in the process.
So, don’t get overly excited during the first week or two of starving yourself, as it is likely not fat you are losing, but just excess water being flushed out of the body.
Reduced Energy Levels
The worst thing that can happen when trying to lose weight is to have your energy levels crash to the extent that you are unable to exercise, or even perform normal daily activities. Starving yourself often causes your energy levels to crash, since you are probably not consuming enough food to fuel your body in the first place, and when coupled with reduced muscle mass, it means less energy can be produced too.
You will not be losing any more weight if all you do is sit or lay in bed all day.
Unwanted Changes To Mood
In addition to not having the energy to work out and perform tasks, your mental willpower will take a beating as well, as diet provides important raw materials for the production of many hormones and neurotransmitters vital to the preservation of brain function and overall mental well-being.
Levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are decreased, which in turn kill your motivation and optimism. Depressive illness is likely to develop and can end up triggering a cascade of associated eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
It Is Very Impractical
Given that you are not a hermit living in a cave, you probably have a job and a social life. To effectively perform the way you are expected to, you need food. Sure, you can try starving yourself for a few days, but you will soon discover that you can’t do it long-term as you have commitments to fulfill and can’t do it if constantly tired, mentally fatigued and hungry all the time.
Hunger is probably a major factor that many people don’t make accommodations for, but it kicks in and often much greater than the way you feel a 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Hunger is also one of the primary reasons why starving yourself is impractical, because the body tends to activate mechanisms that make you actively seek out food to fill the void you are creating.
Instead, you may consider going on a ketogenic diet for 28-days to shed fat rapidly. We did a comprehensive review of 28-days Keto Diet Challenge Here.
How To Starve Yourself The Right Way
While this headline may be deceitful, you aren’t actually going to be starving yourself, but actually making better choices, and tricking your body to take advantage of metabolic adaptations that promote weight loss, but do not trigger the primitive survival response. These are the tips you should focus the most of your time and energy on, as they will not leave you feeling sick, impair your health or adversely affect your well-being.
The best things you can do to promote meaningful weight loss include:
Reduce Your Caloric Intake Moderately And In A Slow Fashion
Instead of starving yourself cold turkey and reducing calories to virtually zero, it is a great place to start by first figuring out how many calories your body needs to fulfill its basic job. Known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR), this shows you the bare minimum you should be consuming to keep your body weight exactly the way it. From this number, you can then safely calculate how much calories your body needs to lose weight at a consistent rate.
Most people find that they lose weight in a slow but steady fashion when they reduce calories by 300 to 500 less than the number needed for the body to maintain its weight. This is considered the sweet spot and is by far what most nutritionists and fitness experts advise.
Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
You may be surprised to find out how many of your daily calories come from foods that are less than ideal, such as soda and packaged snacks. While these provide an immense number of calories, they offer no benefit to your body and promotes weight gain. A much better option is to starve yourself of these types of food and instead consume foods that are filling, nutrient dense and often times lower in calories. Vegetables are a great example, as they are packed with vital nutrients that your body needs, but are so low in calories that you can often eat as much as you want and not make a big dent into your calorie quota for the day.
Exercise can help you easily meet your reduced calorie targets for the day, especially if you find it hard to reduce food intake or dislike doing it. Add the power of cardiovascular exercise can help you burn between 200 to 600 Cal, sometimes more – depending on your overall intensity. However, keep in mind you do not want to lower your calories much below your recommended number, as you may inadvertently trigger the body’s survival mechanism that you ought to avoid.
The Secret Weapon Of Turbocharged Weight Loss – The Lean Belly Breakthrough System
Though there are many weight loss programs on the market, many of them just make a desperate money grab by feeding you false promises and taking advantage of your desperation.
The lean belly breakthrough system is different, as at its core it addresses the major problems with weight loss, and teaches you how to address and overcome them. If you are over the age of 30 and are overweight, chances are high that you stand to develop serious metabolic conditions later in life, if not already at very high risk.
The lean belly breakthrough system teaches you which foods to eat, as well as ways to help reduce your diabetes or heart disease risk, adding years to your life in the process.
One of the greatest selling points of the system? The fact that it does not require you to dedicate hours at the time to workouts. Your workouts can be completed in just two minutes, and as long as you Institute and follow the core principles of the system, it is very likely that you can see as much as 1 pound of weight loss daily for the first few days of the program. It doesn’t stop there, however, as many people who have successfully followed the system have continuously lost in excess of 15, 20 and even 30 pounds over the next 30 to 60 days.
We know you value your health and would try everything you can to prevent the dreaded heart disease, so listen to the advice of the program’s creator, celebrity fitness instructor Bruce Krahn. He devised this system along with a German physician after his father-in-law suffered a near-fatal heart attack while on board a plane traveling to Europe. This is something no one wishes on another, so you should do everything in your power to prevent it from happening to someone you love.
Click here to read our full review of the lean belly breakthrough system and how it can help you achieve long-term weight loss, look better while doing it, and all without the dangers of starving yourself.