Misconstrued misconceptions about Starvation Mode

Misconstrued misconceptions about Starvation Mode

Maintaining a normal body weight is daily struggle for many people. There is a plethora of myths surrounding weight loss that can be both misleading and even detrimental to your health, Starvation mode is a commonly misunderstood concept that you need to know about if you are trying to lose weight. So what is starvation mode? Can starvation mode really help you lose weight? Hopefully, by the end of this article you will get conclusive answer that will help in your weight loss journey.

Misconstrued misconceptions about Starvation Mode

Thanks to the peddling of false starvation diets most people have no idea what starvation mode actually is. Some common misconceptions include:

  • If you consistently deny your body calories, the body metabolism will slow down incredibly to a point where weight loss completely halts.
  • Low caloric intake prevents weight loss and instead causes rapid weight gain.

To help you debunk these myths and understand what starvation mode really is, here is a brief introduction.

What is Starvation Mode?

To understand starvation mode, it is essential to keep in mind that the human body responds to a consistent deficiency in calories by pulling stops to prevent any further weight loss. Starvation mode refers to the effects that caloric deficiency has on a person’s metabolism, body weight, and hunger levels. A person is in starvation mode if they cut down the total caloric intake to less than 50 percent of what the body requires to function normally.

Starvation mode is a controversial subject because it deals with important weight loss issues such as:

  • Does Starvation mode stop completely halt weight gain?
  • Does starvation mode make it difficult to lose weight?
  • Does starvation mode cause weight gain

The next section of this article will attempt to answers to these questions in order to help you dispel the myths from the facts

How the Body adapts to consistent caloric deficiency

If the human body consistently lacks calories, it will adapt in different ways to resist the weight loss. Your body will essentially go to survival mode because it is reacting to the excessive loss of calories. Some of the ways your body will adapt include:

  • Consistent caloric deficiency will reduce body temperatures because the body will burn fewer calories to maintain body temperature.
  • Levels of several hormones drop for instance thyroid hormones drop, leptin and ghrelin hormones also drop.

The starvation mode cannot help lose weight because your body reacts negatively to consistent caloric deficiency. Earlier studies done on ‘starvation mode’ actually prove that consistent caloric deficiency has negative and psychological effects such as;

  • The affected person becomes excessively fixated on food
  • People suffering from caloric deficiency spontaneously lose interest and strength needed to be physically active
  • Additionally, caloric deficiency can also make subjects anxious, depressed and irritable

If you are focusing on long term and healthy weight loss, then scientific evidence proves that the claim that starvation mode can help you lose weight and keep off is an absolute myth. Starvation can result in weight loss, however this does not mean it is healthy or sustainable way of losing weight. It is unrealistic and unhealthy.

Does starvation mode slow weight loss, does it totally stall weight loss or does it lead to weight gain?

  • There is no factual evidence to ascertain that there is a specific threshold level of calories that can make your body freak out to the extent of completely stalling weight loss or even starting weight gain. The evidence is quite obvious; people in famine-ridden places lose weight to the point of dying from starvation. If there is actually a threshold that makes it physiologically impossible to lose weight, then death from then such people would not keep losing weight.
  • Scientific evidence also proves that consistent caloric deficiency doesn’t cause weight gain. For instance; after Bariatric surgery patients consume less than 1000 calories a day and lose weight very rapidly.

These examples ascertain that there is no specific ‘magic’ level of caloric deficit that can cause weight loss, weight gain or stall weight loss.

How the Minnesota Starvation Experiment is Unrealistic in Real Life

This clinical study was conducted between 1944 and 1945 to ascertain the psychological and physiological effects of prolonged dietary restrictions and to determine dietary rehabilitation strategies that are effective.

According to this controversial study, weight loss after losing over 25% of their body weight and after remaining with 5% body fat

The physiological effects of caloric deficiency according to the Minnesota Starvation Experiment include dizziness, constant exhaustion, crazy mood swings and irritability at the slightest provocation. Am I sure you don’t want to lose weight just to lose your personality and ability to be physically active right? In fact, the effects of caloric deficiency defeat the entire point of weight loss which is a healthier more active lifestyle.

Additionally, if a person goes on a starvation diet and couples it with exercise they may lose the weight but fail to keep it off. Exercising without consuming sufficient calories will undoubtedly make a person vulnerable to weight gain the minute they get off the unrealistic; starvation diet’ So why starve yourself then gain it all back?

A prominent effect of the Minnesota Starvation experiment that makes it unrealistic in normal life is the fact that consistent caloric deficiency leads to overwhelming psychological and physiological pressure to eat. Keeping the weight off in the real world requires the ability to suppress appetite in order to consume small proportions and maintain a healthy balanced diet. This effect of starvation makes appetite suppression impossible, so why bother starving yourself?

In a nutshell here is a sum up of the myths and facts about ‘starvation mode’


  • It is a completely false notion that if you cut down calorie consumption to a certain extent, your body will be physiologically triggered to stop losing weight no matter the amount of food you consume.
  • Starvation mode is a reliable and healthy way of losing weight and keeping the weight off


  • If you continuously and consistently lose calories, your body will resist further weight loss by reacting strongly as explained above. It’s quite difficult to resist your body’s reaction and most people will start eating again and possibly even eat more than before.
  • If you go back eating after a starvation diet, you will gain back the fat very fast because of suppressed metabolic rate and decimated muscle mass.

Attempting to lose weight through starvation mode is detrimental to your health, keep in mind that sustainable weight loss cannot be achieved by starving yourself or going on a rigorous dieting regimen that features unrealistically low calories; the only way to healthily lose weight is by adopting a healthy eating plan together with a reasonable exercise regimen.