Metabolic Stall – Can Eating Too Less Calories Get You Into A ‘Starvation Mode’

We are often tempted to make drastic changes in our diet to reduce the number of calories we consume. Right? But do you know that eating too few calories can backfire and make your weight-loss efforts go in vain?

The starvation mode

The starvation mode is your body’s natural response to long-term calorie restriction. Under starvation mode, the metabolism slows down. The body burns calories as slowly as possible to conserve its energy and you may stop losing weight. You probably feel that your efforts are not paying off and ultimately it will lead you to overeat and gain weight. It also harms your health in many ways. When your body goes into starvation mode, you are at increased risk of abnormally low blood pressure and slow heart rate, electrolyte imbalances, loss of menstrual periods in women, dizziness, trouble concentrating, depression, etc. However, skipping meals occasionally won’t throw your body into starvation mode. Starvation mode happens over the long term. Therefore, skipping a meal every once in a while, won’t permanently affect your metabolism. It is recommended to eat every three to four hours for optimal energy and health.

Importance of Calories

Calories are the energy in food. Your body has a constant energy demand and uses the calories from food to keep functioning properly. The number of calories in your food is an indication of how much potential energy they contain. Also, it is not only calories that are important, but also the substance from which the calories are taken. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, regardless of where calories are coming from, are either converted to physical energy or stored within your body as fat. In addition to this, the time of day at which a person eats is also an important factor that can shape how effectively their body uses calories. Research suggests that a large breakfast containing approximately 700 kcal is ideal for losing weight and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

Lifestyle tweaks

Calories play a vital role in keeping you healthy and energetic. If you’re trying to change your eating habits, make small lifestyle tweaks that you can stick to. This way, you can avoid being cranky and unhappy. Pay attention to your hunger cues and eat only enough until you feel like you’ve been satiated. Eat high-fibre foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, along with foods rich in protein and healthy fats. Replacing high-calorie foods with lower-calorie and reducing your portion sizes can help you cut calories and improve weight control measures. For a successful weight management plan, you also need to increase your physical activity. Be active, do strength training to build muscle, which can help keep your metabolism high. Lifting weights and keeping protein intake as recommended are two evidence-based ways to reduce muscle loss and metabolic slowdown during weight loss. Taking a break from your diet, under expert supervision might also help in selective cases.

The starvation mode may help, but it’s not as powerful as you think. Talk to a dietician and plan to achieve your fitness goals under expert care.

The article is contributed by Dr. Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder- Food Darzee.

[Read More…]