The road to significant and prolonged weight loss is simple: create a calorie deficit by consuming far fewer calories than your body burns. The greater the calorie deficit, the more significant the drop in weight will be. It would, therefore, make sense that if you significantly or completely cut off your calorie consumption, you will be able to enjoy accelerated weight loss, right? Well, not exactly. If weight loss were that simple, then we would all be model-thin. The truth is that starving yourself does not deliver the kind of results you would expect. The real results of starving the body are as follows.
Regardless of your diet, your body is accustomed to expecting a certain amount of food daily. If you refrain from eating, your body perceives that as famine and kicks into survival mode (starts to conserve fuel while providing energy to keep you functioning without food).
Then your body starts burning muscle cells and keeps stored fat to use as the last resort. The protein released from the burnt muscle cells is converted to energy, which the body uses to sustain functions (breathing, pumping of blood, cellular repair, etc.). That same energy will also be used to perform the physical activity while starving yourself.
Since 70% of muscle is water, some weight loss occurs as destroyed muscle cells result in the release of water, which is excreted from the body. That is the weight loss that people on a very low-calorie diet experience during the first few days of inadequate eating or starvation.
Another reaction to starvation is to slow the metabolic rate to conserve as much energy as possible. How far the metabolic rate drops will depend on several things including a person’s genetics, the duration of the starvation period, and just how severe the starvation is.
Loss of muscle causes the metabolic rate to drop (muscle is a metabolically active tissue). Fewer muscle results in a slower metabolism. To lose weight, slow metabolism is the last thing you want. A slow metabolism results in the body burning a few calories. Even if you manage to lose weight it will be at a very slow rate.
The energy we use to perform everyday activities such as walking, showering, and even something as simple as scratching your forehead comes from the energy produced after the body burns the calories ingested during eating. For someone who is fasting or starving, very few calories go into the body and even fewer are burnt. Therefore, energy levels naturally drop making it difficult to perform normal activities.
As you can see, starvation is not a good idea when you are looking to lose weight. You not only lose the wrong kind of weight and feel miserable the entire time, but you also gain back all lost weight if not more after resuming your normal eating habits. And, if the starvation period goes on for a long time, it could lead to dangerous effects. It’s therefore advisable to avoid the temptation of starving yourself and instead create a healthy calorie deficit by combining smart dieting with a rigorous workout plan. Doing so is not only safer than starving yourself, but it’s also the most effective route to permanent weight loss.