Can you reduce calories by so much your body goes into “starvation mode” and stops losing fat?

Starvation mode.jpg

The short answer is no, as much as you will become metabolically adapted (reduced metabolism) and require less calories as you lose fat, your body isn’t stupid enough to think that it’s a good idea to hold onto an excessive amount of body fat whilst you’re “starving”.


Having said that, what I do find a lot is that when people drop their calories by too much, they become a lot less active. I’m not talking about them missing gym sessions, I’m talking about everything else. When you’re really hungry due to your calories being too low, you have no energy, you feel like shit, you might even look like shit. And day by day you become less and less active, you sit when you usually would have stood, you drive when you would have walked, your sex drive goes down so you have less sex, sex burns a lot of calories… when done correct… giggidy. And even day to day fidgeting and impulsive movements can reduce. All this results in your energy expenditure significantly reducing as your body tries to preserve energy. This reduction in NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) quite often happens subtly, therefore, people rarely notice that they have become less active. In essence, your calories are that low you now struggle to harbour enough energy to burn enough calories to keep losing fat. It’s of course not impossible for you to continue losing fat, but as your energy levels are through the floor, you really just can’t summon the energy or willpower to move enough. Especially when a lot of this reduction in NEAT is happened subconsciously. Consequently your very low calorie diet is now your maintenance calories, that sucks doesn’t it!

Rather than trying to starve yourself with a dangerously excessive drop in calories, instead simply create a slight calorie deficit. What I find is that there is a sweet spot, an amount of calories that reduces your body fat % but also gives you enough energy to train hard, be active, feel good and most importantly is sustainable.

Feeling a bit hungry sometimes is normal, healthy in fact, but if you feel like chewing off your own arm, you might want to reassess your calories.