I Can Only Lose Weight If I Starve Myself – Maybe you have a few (or more) extra pounds to shed. What are you doing? Of course, like most people, you turn to proven methods of weight loss, diet and exercise. A few days a week you start jogging or hitting weights. You start to tighten your diet, skip fast food more often and cook at home.
For some people, the results of this process are not achieved quickly enough. We live in a world of instant gratification. If you can’t reach your goals like yesterday, what do many people do? Some resort to starvation or extreme diets that restrict calories far below their daily energy needs.
I Can Only Lose Weight If I Starve Myself
They could drop the pounds fast, just look at The Biggest Loser for proof. But what really happens to their bodies? What are the short-term and long-term health effects of fasting on body composition?
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Body composition is the term used to describe the components that make up your body: fat and fat-free mass. Fat-free mass consists of everything that is not fat, such as protein (muscle, organs), water, and minerals (ie, bones and iron in the blood).
If you want to change your body composition, you can’t simply focus on the bigger goal of losing weight. Instead, your goal is twofold: reduce fat mass while maintaining or increasing muscle mass. But why would you focus on changing your body composition instead of losing weight?
Simply put, gaining muscle will make you look thinner, even if the number on the scale doesn’t move. Muscles are more compact than fat. So focusing on body composition, as opposed to fat loss, can help you improve your overall appearance and reduce body fat while increasing your strength.
The standard weight loss model is calories in versus calories out. If you take in more calories per day than you burn, you will gain weight; by burning more calories per day than you take in, you will lose weight. Calorie restriction is important if you’re trying to see that number on the scale drop.
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As mentioned earlier, many people take a permanent all-or-nothing approach to weight loss and choose much lower caloric intake than recommended, leading to rapid weight loss. Starvation can get you to your “goal weight,” but at what cost?
Research shows that people who used a diet to lose weight and ate 50% of their energy needs for three weeks reduced their overall body weight. However, they also reduced muscle mass by 5%. If the state of starvation is maintained chronically, muscle mass and organ size are reduced by 20%.
Similarly, a study in mice found that lean mass and muscle mass were sacrificed during fasting; however, body fat stores were relatively equal in mice on a control diet and in obese mice on a fasted diet.
Fasting weight loss causes individuals to lose a significant amount of muscle and lean tissue, which includes water, bones, organs, etc. Losing bone mass is problematic because it reduces bone density and can make you more susceptible to injury. Conversely, increasing muscle mass increases bone strength and density, a common problem for many Americans as they age.
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One study with human participants showed that cutting a significant amount of calories from the diet resulted in significant weight loss and a reduction in lean muscle mass. However, the participants also regained almost all of the fat they lost over the 8 years.
This promotes discussion and understanding of an important topic – metabolism. In addition, chronic starvation leads to changes in metabolism. Metabolism and resting metabolic rate are directly related to lean body mass. People with a higher body weight will need more energy to function on a daily basis, so they will have a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR). As weight decreases, so does BMR.
This means that there is a certain number of calories necessary to maintain your lean mass. If you go below that number, your body will be forced to break down those muscle stores to create energy.
Hunger strikes have far-reaching negative effects on the body. Fasting for weight loss alters metabolism, decreases muscle mass, decreases bone density, and decreases strength.
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Maybe you’ve gone on an ultra-low-calorie diet, putting your body into starvation mode. You’ve lost a ton of weight and are ready to get back to “normal” eating. Now your body has also responded by losing muscle and lowering your BMR. But after the fasting period, something else interesting happens with the body.
Body systems do not “reset” after starvation. What does it mean? The body adapts to focus on significant weight loss at the expense of body fat, muscle mass, and other muscle mass. It lowered his basal metabolic rate. However, when a person returns to normal calorie levels, the body cannot adjust.
The body cannot adapt from dropping to an ultra-low calorie intake to lose weight and back to a higher calorie intake to maintain the weight. The body stores excess calories as fat.
This is because the body is now ready to replace the lost fat stores, not the muscles lost during starvation. Starving yourself to lose weight causes your body to replace fat over the long term. It uses a new basal metabolism from starvation mode.
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Thin people feast more often after fasting. To this end, the body’s system did not “reset” until all body fat lost during the fast was returned. This negates any progress made during this period.
One reason this may be the case is that blood leptin levels decrease in people who have lost a lot of weight through fasting. Leptin is a hormone that signals satiety. It is produced by fat cells and helps regulate energy balance and suppress hunger. In short, it signals to the brain that you are not hungry.
However, those who starved themselves to lose more weight had lower leptin levels, putting them at risk of regaining the weight because the body didn’t signal the brain correctly. Low levels of leptin in the blood signal the brain that the body is not full or satisfied after eating, causing it to eat more.
Research shows that extreme weight loss through starvation is often not sustainable. Consider the Biggest Loser example again. What happens when the show ends? Most competitions put a lot of weight back.
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From a study of 14 competitors with the highest losses, 13 of the 14 gained significant weight back within 6 years of competing. Moreover, their basal metabolic rate decreased with weight loss, as expected. However, when the competitors put the weight back on, their BMR did not increase with the weight.
Remember the correlation between weight and BMR. Someone with more weight has a higher BMR. However, Biggest Loser contestants who lost weight and regained it had a lower BMR. Their BMR was low even though they regained more weight. Simply put, the competitors now burned fewer calories at rest, even though they had more mass.
Some people point to set point theory as the reason for this inequality. The set-point theory states that everyone has a “normal” weight that the body is “set” to. This depends on DNA, genetic effects and environmental influences.
So when you’re trying to lose weight, the body works hard to keep the weight off, even through extreme measures. One way to do this is by slowing your metabolism, thus lowering your BMR and increasing your hunger. In addition, when a person returns to a normal calorie range, they can often experience secondary fattening, where weight loss leads to overeating until fat is regained.
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Weight loss causes the body to focus on gaining weight for fat-free mass loss. Remember that fat-free mass includes any body mass without fat, such as bones, organs, and muscle.
Since fasting leads not only to fat loss, but also to muscle, organ tissue, and skeletal mass, the body begins to work to regain the lost mass. This activates “collateral fattening” which increases appetite.
Starvation for weight loss is a short-term solution to a problem that requires long-term methods. However, this type of extreme calorie deficit can produce the opposite results of what you are looking for. Instead of helping the body lose fat, it causes the body to catabolize muscle mass and muscle tissue and bone.
In addition, this type of weight loss is not sustainable in the long term. Those who choose to fast usually gain most of their weight back within a few years. It encourages your body to gain fat more easily in the long term and lowers your BMR, making it harder for your body to do what it naturally does, burn calories for energy. In the long run, your body works harder to return to the overweight state it was in before the starvation.
What Happens To Your Body When You Starve
Instead of starving yourself, opt for healthier ways to lose weight. Consider a dual approach to body composition and focus on fat loss and muscle gain. Choose a healthy diet within a healthy calorie range or a healthy deficit and harness your power
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