What is Starvation Mode?
Starvation mode is when you severely restrict calories, often done as a attempt to lose weight. When you cut your calories too low your body is put in starvation mode and as a response it slows your metabolism and starts to store as much fat as it can rather than burning it off.
The result? you can quickly end up gaining weight and ending with more fat than when you started your diet.
How does Starvation Mode work?
When you restrict calories to a low level and start losing body weight as a result a biological process called "starvation mode" kicks in. This is a survival tactic and we depended on thousands of years ago when food was scarce. It was a way for our body to ensure survival. But in today's diet obsessed world it can be counter productive.
Dieting will result in this survival tactic to kick in. One effect of being in starvation mode is a decrease in your metabolic rate. Every eating habit will cause your metabolism to react to some degree, even if you eat healthy. Metabolic adaptation is a normal process and it simply regulates how many calories you will burn for just staying alive and doing things like breathing.
When you start losing weight your body responding by reducing the rate at which it burns calories to make sure that it will have enough calories to preform basic bodily functions.
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How to Avoid the Metabolic Dip
The more your reduce your calorie intake the more your metabolism will slow down. I never recommend lowering your daily calorie intake to less than 1,200 calories per day. If you do you could start experiencing serious side effects from the metabolic response including hair loss and extreme fatigue. So what can you do to prevent your metabolism from reacting like this?
1. Increase Protein
One reason your metabolism lowers is because you lose muscle mass when you restrict your calories. Once way to preserve muscle mass is to increase your intake of protein. Eat more foods that are high in lean protein like chicken, tuna, turkey, salmon, etc. Another great option is a meal replacement shake that is high in protein and low in carbs like IdealShake.
2. Strength Training
While working out is great for weight loss, strength or resistance training is great at burning fat, building lean muscle, and preserving that essential muscle mass. You don't have to worry about becoming bulky. Strength training should be a part of every fitness routine. Two of my favorite strength training programs are Jen's Bikini Body Guide and Bodyweight Burn. These will really work your body and build muscle to give your metabolism a boost!