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Will I lose weight if I starve myself?

January 17. 2023

When in a rush to lose weight, most people are quick to start following any diet, signing up for all gym classes, and going to a healthcare professional for a weight loss supplement prescription and diet pills such as phentermine for weight loss. While that sounds great or promising, losing weight still requires effort and commitment. But as in anything else, we must know where to draw the line. If you are starting a weight loss journey or in the middle of one and struggling, you probably have asked yourself: “will I lose weight if I starve myself?”

It’s a valid question many of us have had at some point. After all, we know you must reach a calorie deficit to lose weight. That is, eating fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. And since “no food” basically means “no calories,” starving may have crossed your mind. But in your attempt to reach your goals as fast and smoothly as possible, you should not lose sight of what really matters here – your health. It is perfectly fine to cut down a few pounds or reduce belly fat only for aesthetic reasons like improving your body image. You have all the right to feel beautiful in your own body. But, if by doing so, you put your health at risk, you end up losing the entire game.

The professionals at our weight loss clinic in Chicago take your health very seriously. We want to see you thrive and achieve weight loss while taking care of your physical and mental health. Therefore, in this article, we’ll share our knowledge and experience regarding starvation. We will also discuss what happens when your body goes into starvation mode. And we will talk about intermittent fasting – an alternative to starvation diets that will give you better and healthier results.

What is starvation?

In a rapid attempt to change their body images, some people resort to crash diets. The primary purpose of these diets is to reach an extreme calorie deficit and burn calories quickly. One of the most common methods of these diets or weight loss plans is starvation. Simply put, starvation happens when a person stops consuming the necessary nutrients and amount of calories their body needs to survive.

If you are trying to lose weight, you have probably heard the phrase “calories in vs. calories out.” The golden rule for weight loss says that, in order to lose weight, you should consume fewer calories (calories in) than your body burns through exercise or basic functions (calories out). By doing so, you will reach a calorie deficit, something indispensable to achieving weight loss. Almost all weight loss diets aim to reduce your calorie intake. What happens with starvation diets is that they take it to the extreme. When following one of these diets, people consume only half or even less of the calories their bodies need. While a calorie restriction is vital when trying to cut down some weight or lose belly fat, these types of drastic approaches are often discouraged by professionals because of the many dangers of fad diets.

What happens to your body when you start starving?

Your body does not only need energy when performing a physical activity such as running, cleaning the house, and spending a few hours at the gym. It also requires energy to accomplish its most basic functions—for instance, breathing, brain function, and heart rate. Your body burns calories for energy even when you are inactive. That is known as the basal metabolic rate. The greater body mass a person has, the larger their basal metabolic rate. When you start starving, you barely provide your body with enough calories to obtain energy for vital functions. And so, your body composition starts to change drastically. Before asking: “if I starve myself, will I lose weight?” you should learn more about what starvation does to your body.

You will lose weight by resorting to starvation diets instead of a healthy and balanced one, exercise, and glutathione weight loss supplements or other weight loss aiders – but it will be at the cost of losing lean muscle mass. During starvation, your body has to sacrifice lean muscle mass to obtain energy and survive.

In severe cases, staying in starvation mode for a prolonged period can lead people to develop an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. The last one is the worst nightmare for those trying to lose weight. When you suffer from a binge eating disorder, you feel like you can not stop eating, even when you are already full.

These are other ways in which starving affects your body and mental health:

  • Depression: if you do not consume enough of some essential nutrients, you can start feeling depressed.
  • Constipation: not consuming foods rich in fiber leads to constipation. 
  • Eventual weight gain: starvation can lead to eating disorders that can produce weight gain hormone imbalance.
  • Hairs loss: another consequence of lacking essential nutrients. Without protein and fatty acids, you can experience hair loss. 
  • Feeling cold: it has been proven that your body temperature decreases when you do not eat enough calories.
  • Feeling lethargic: without enough calories to burn, your body can not produce energy, and you will often feel fatigued.

Starving vs. fasting: What’s the difference?

Even in 2023, some people still think starving and fasting are the same; that could not be further from the truth. It is crucial to learn the difference between these techniques to sustainably and healthily achieve weight loss.

Starving is often defined as the severe – and sometimes complete – lack of essential nutrients our bodies need to function correctly. When you starve yourself, you suffer from severe energy deficiency. This process is not about refraining from eating for some time. Starving diets last days or weeks in which you deprive yourself of calories to lose weight.

On the other hand, fasting, or intermittent fasting, is when you intentionally restrain from eating for hours. Between those no-eating hours, you have windows or breaks when you can eat and provide your body with the vital nutrients it requires. This technique is commonly used to lose weight fast while remaining healthy. Have you ever wondered: “why am I not losing weight on Ozempic or other weight loss supplements?” That is probably because most supplements require you to fast to achieve optimal results. This technique should be done under medical supervision; only until you reach your desired weight. Fasting can produce side effects, such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue.

Will I lose weight if I try to starve myself?

If I starve myself, will I lose weight?” Most definitely, yes, you will. But the weight you lose via starvation is not sustainable; it will likely come back once you start eating a balanced diet again. And let’s be honest, no one can or should stay on a starvation diet for too long. Besides, if you develop a binge eating disorder, starvation will eventually lead to weight gain.

Have you ever heard about starvation mode? Your body goes into this state when: you do not consume enough calories, burn too many calories, or are on a calorie deficit for too long. It is also known as the body survival mode. Once you reach this point, your body works hard not to lose more weight than it already has. That means it will try its best to consume as little energy as possible, leading you to stop losing weight or reaching a weight loss plateau. When that happens, your basal metabolic rate has already changed, and your body will not need as much energy as it used to. So it will burn fewer calories.

Since starvation also leads to leans muscle mass loss, your metabolism will also be prejudiced. It is a fact that muscles play a vital role in our metabolism. Muscle mass is necessary if you want a faster metabolism that burns more calories throughout the day.

If you think starving is not for you, here are some tips to boost your diet and weight loss journey healthily:

  • Increase your non-workout physical activity by parking a few blocks from your destination, taking a dance class, or using the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  • Start to track your food intake. Even if you only do it temporarily, you will learn so much. Besides knowing what you eat, it will make it easy to lower or increase your calorie intake. 
  • Rest more and get high-quality sleep throughout the night. Sleep helps you control hungry hormones, increases your metabolism output, and improves your recovery if you work out. 
  • Decrease your stress levels through meditation, yoga, journaling, walking in nature, and deep breaths. Stress is one of the primary triggers for weight gain.
  • Buy yourself weight loss gifts to motivate yourself and make things more fun. 
  • Consult with weight loss professionals if consistent lifestyle chances are not doing the trick. 

Final thoughts

Now that you know the answer to “will I lose weight if I starve myself?” you can decide whether this method is something you want to try. While you will lose significant weight during the first stage of starving, that loss will eventually stop. And once you return to your regular diet, you will likely regain the weight or gain even more than what you lost.

If you want to learn more about starving or other more sustainable and healthy ways to achieve your dream weight, schedule your appointment with us today. Our team knows all the most efficient weight loss tricks, and we are happy to share them with you.

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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