You hear the term "starvation mode" tossed around by dieters internet-wide. But what is it, exactly? Is it even real? The unfortunately complicated answer is: yeah, kind of.

However, it's not really a "mode" that you can easily snap in and out of but more like a slow process of bodily adaption to a reduced calorie intake. Skipping one meal or even fasting for a whole day is unlikely to lead to any metabolic changes: but long-term calorie restriction may indeed slow your metabolism down.

A well-documented process called "adaptive thermogenesis" can lead to changes in your basal metabolic rate greater than would be expected from the loss of weight alone. This effect could cause up to a 10% reduction in your metabolism, which would in turn account for burning approximately 200 less calories per day.

This slow-down will be more severe if you use more extreme weight-loss methods or if you are older, since your metabolism also slows naturally as you age. Calorie restriction can also causes changes in the levels of hormones like leptin, thyroxine, and norepinephrine, which can send messages to your brain that "tell" you to eat more and move around less without you even being consciously aware of it.


"Starvation mode" is part of the reason that yo-yo dieting can be so frustrating and counterproductive. If you've been following a restrictive diet for long enough, when you do finally break down and eat more calories, your body will more readily store them as fat since it has been optimized to run on less.

However, starvation mode is never severe enough to prevent weight loss entirely if you are consistently eating few enough calories, which doesn't mean that outright starvation is a smart weight-loss strategy. It's terrible for your health, a miserable way to live, and may even put you on the road to an eating disorder.

If you consistency eat below the daily recommended intake of 1,200 calories per day for women or 1,500 for men, you could experience symptoms like extreme fatigue, depression and mood swings, lowered body temperature, hormonal disturbances, preoccupation with food, and hair loss. Does not sound like fun!


To counter your adaptive thermogenesis, you can make an effort to eat more metabolism-boosting foods, be sure to keep taking our metabolism-boosting drops, and incorporate more resistance training into your health routine to build and maintain your muscle, which burns more calories per day than fat does. Eating more protein can also help reduce appetite and boost metabolism—experts recommend aiming for 25-30 grams per meal.

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