Why Starving Yourself Isn’t a Good Idea for Weight Loss

If you take heed to the numerous health gurus on-line, you’ve most likely heard “energy in versus energy out” as the one solution to shed extra pounds.

While the saying holds some benefit, it doesn’t absolutely clarify essentially the most wholesome and efficient approaches that may result in sustainable, long-term weight reduction.

As a outcome, many individuals have resorted to ravenous themselves of energy, which can be extremely dangerous to well being.

In this text, you’ll be taught why ravenous your self isn’t a good suggestion for weight reduction and how you can implement more healthy weight reduction methods.

If you’re not conversant in the time period, you could suppose intermittent fasting is similar as ravenous. However, when accomplished correctly, intermittent fasting could be a wholesome and sustainable follow (1, 2).

Intermittent fasting is an consuming sample that includes biking between “consuming” and “fasting” intervals. For instance, the most common type is 16:8, which includes an 8-hour consuming window and 16 hours of fasting (1, 2, 3).

While intermittent fasting can assist you shed extra pounds, the purpose is to not over-restrict energy. Rather, you merely eat your regular each day energy or a small calorie deficit in a shorter time-frame every day (1, 2, 3).

On the opposite, hunger is often outlined as an prolonged time frame with out meals or with very restricted meals consumption considerably under your physique’s each day calorie wants. This leaves your physique in a big calorie deficit and can result in unsustainable weight reduction.

Generally, nutritionists outline a really low calorie weight loss plan as consuming 450–800 energy or fewer per day, which isn’t wholesome or sustainable in the long run. As such, ravenous your physique of energy could pose quite a few well being dangers and isn’t really useful (4, 5, 6).


Intermittent fasting is outlined as consuming meals inside a selected time-frame, whereas hunger includes withholding meals fully or consuming only a few energy over an prolonged interval.

To shed extra pounds, your physique must be in a calorie deficit, which incorporates expending extra energy via train and/or consuming fewer energy from meals. However, a bigger calorie deficit doesn’t all the time imply you’ll shed extra pounds and hold it off.

Though you could expertise vital weight reduction at first, you could discover it troublesome to maintain this weight reduction in the long run.

Even extra problematic, when you starve your self, your physique’s survival mechanisms could adapt to stark calorie deficits. This could intrude together with your meant weight reduction plan within the first place.

Your metabolism slows down

During long-term calorie deprivation, your physique begins to make use of its fats shops as a major power supply and muscle and skeletal tissue as secondary power sources.

Over time, your physique responds to calorie deprivation by decreasing your resting metabolic rate (RMR) through adaptive thermogenesis (metabolic adaptation). This makes your physique much less efficient at burning energy in an effort to protect as a lot power as potential (7, 8, 9).

This was proven in a landmark research on 14 members from the present “The Biggest Loser.” Over the 30-week present, members misplaced a mean of 129 kilos (58.3 kg) and their RMR dropped from a mean of two,607 energy per day to 1,996 energy per day (10).

Although they regained a mean of 90 kilos (41 kg), their common RMR remained suppressed (1,903 energy per day) (10).

These outcomes recommend they would want to devour fewer energy and expend extra energy to take care of their weight, so it could be tougher to maintain weight reduction (10).

Yet latest research recommend metabolic adaptation subsides when you’re not in a calorie deficit. It’s thought that the majority weight regain is because of extreme calorie consumption, which can be attributable to elevated starvation and feeling “free” from calorie deprivation (11, 12, 13, 14, 15).

Further, a slowed metabolic price could fatigue you extra simply. This is a strategic mechanism your physique places in place to stop you from expending an excessive amount of power. Your physique additionally will increase the discharge of hunger hormones to inspire you to eat (9, 16, 17, 18).

Ultimately, your physique will work exhausting to stop additional weight reduction by slowing down your metabolism, particularly throughout occasions of extended hunger.

Your physique works much less successfully

Depending on the severity of hunger, the variety of energy restricted, and size of time, your physique could start to prioritize important bodily capabilities, reminiscent of respiration and coronary heart price, and decelerate nonessential bodily processes, reminiscent of (16, 17, 18):

  • Hair and nail progress. Your hair and nails could develop into brittle.
  • Immunity. Your immune system could have a more durable time preventing an infection and sickness.
  • Digestion and starvation regulation. You could expertise irregular or intensified starvation, recurring bloating, or abdomen discomfort.
  • Reproductive well being. Your menstrual cycle could change or cease.
  • Skin well being. You could expertise improper or delayed wound therapeutic or untimely growing older.
  • Bone well being. Your bones could develop into weakened.

Starvation places your physique in an unhealthy state that it desperately desires to get out of. Though at first you could shed extra pounds shortly, your physique wants sufficient energy to operate correctly and can work exhausting to revive your weight and well being as shortly as potential.

May hurt your psychological well being

Starvation and different dangerous weight-reduction plan behaviors could be detrimental to psychological well-being.

Dieting via hunger could result in the event of disordered consuming behaviors reminiscent of meals restriction, worry surrounding meals selections, a unfavourable relationship with meals, extreme exercising, and an obsession with physique weight and dimension (19, 20, 21, 22).

In extreme circumstances, extended hunger can turn into an consuming dysfunction reminiscent of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge consuming dysfunction.

If you consider you might be starting to develop an consuming dysfunction or disordered consuming patterns, it’s necessary to talk with a healthcare skilled who can refer you to a specialist. You may contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline for assist.


Starving your physique of energy shouldn’t be wholesome or sustainable. Over time, it could lower your metabolism, trigger your physique to operate much less successfully, and result in disordered consuming behaviors.

Instead of placing your well being in danger within the title of weight reduction, you’re higher off adopting wholesome, sustainable habits.

Here are some science-backed methods that will help you shed extra pounds and hold it off (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29):

  • Aim for a small calorie deficit. Most analysis suggests a ten–20% deficit is sustainable and manageable. For instance, in case your upkeep energy are 2,500 energy per day, intention for a deficit of 250–500 energy per day via a nutritious diet and train.
  • Increase bodily exercise. Aim for a mixture of energy coaching and cardiorespiratory train (operating, strolling, and many others.) for at the very least 200 minutes per week, or about half-hour every day.
  • Add energy coaching to your routine. Strength coaching helps protect and construct muscle tissue throughout weight reduction. Building extra muscle mass can enhance your metabolism.
  • Limit processed meals. Try to make most of your meals from complete, minimally processed meals, that are often decrease in energy and better in protein, fiber, and wholesome fat to advertise fullness.
  • Eat extra protein. A high protein diet can assist protect muscle tissue throughout a calorie deficit.
  • Drink largely water. Limit sugary drinks, power drinks, and specialty drinks, which are typically excessive in sugar and energy. Instead, go for water, flavored water, espresso, and tea most frequently.
  • Go sluggish. Most analysis reveals {that a} sustainable and wholesome price of weight reduction is round 1–2 kilos (0.45–0.9 kg) per week. Therefore, slowly add new wholesome habits that will help you keep on with your weight reduction targets.

The greatest diets are inexpensive, gratifying, and sustainable. Remember that not all weight reduction is wholesome. Focus on adopting wholesome way of life behaviors that make you’re feeling energetic and that you simply get pleasure from doing.


Starving your self within the title of weight reduction isn’t wholesome or sustainable. Healthy, sustainable weight reduction is round 1–2 kilos (0.45–0.9 kg) per week and includes consuming a nutritious weight loss plan and exercising recurrently to achieve a small calorie deficit.

Starving yourself within the title of weight reduction isn’t wholesome or sustainable.

While it could be tempting to deprive your self of meals, your physique will undergo. After extended hunger, your physique’s metabolism could decelerate, your physique could not operate correctly, and your psychological well being could decline. Though you could shed extra pounds initially, you’ll doubtless achieve it again.

If you’re scuffling with establishing wholesome consuming habits or end up creating regarding consuming behaviors, work with a well being skilled who can assist you reside at your healthiest.

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