When trying to lose weight, we’re always asked to focus on burning more calories than consuming, i.e. calorie deficit diet. Does that mean that if you starve or eat less and work out more to torch calories, you achieve your weight loss goal faster? Sounds logical, but that isn’t how it works.
That is the math most people go wrong with. Depriving yourself of food only superficially makes you believe that you lose inches, however, it can cause muscle loss and can shun your progress and make you more prone to health issues. So instead, the key is not eating less, but eating right.
Having said that, when it comes to dropping kilos, eating right and exercising go hand in hand. Both should balance each other.
There is also a misconception among weight watchers that starving is equivalent to intermittent fasting and would give a similar result as both involve not eating for long hours. In reality, intermittent fasting is a calculated eating pattern that involves consuming all the calories in a fixed time frame. You do not deprive your body of food to shed kilos. Starving yourself means making your body suffer from hunger or limited food intake for an extended period. This leads to a huge calorie deficit in the body, enough to be unhealthy.
Here are four ways starving can disrupt your weight loss plan
When you deprive yourself of the minimum amount of food required by the body to function, it starts to use fat stored in it for producing energy. Not only that, but it also begins to use skeletal tissue and muscle as a secondary source of energy. When this happens, your body starts to respond to calorie deprivation by reducing your resting metabolic rate (RMR), making it difficult for the body to shed kilos over time. As opposed, muscles help to increase the body RMR, meaning, muscles help in burning calories even when the body is at rest, hence muscle loss leads to low metabolism. (1)
Lack of nutrients for the body to function may also lead to chronic fatigue. You may constantly feel weak and tired despite resting all night peacefully because your body needs to be constantly fuelled with food to be used as energy, and you might be depriving your body of that. That would increase the risk of injury while exercising or you might not even have the strength to workout. (2)
Depending on how long you are starving yourself, it may start to affect other bodily functions and hormones. Brittle nails, low immunity, change in the menstrual cycle, skin paleness are some common problems that may emerge due to the lack of proper nutrients. In severe cases, even the breathing and heart rate slows down. (3)
Food is not just for the body, but also for the mind. Deprived eating makes you more prone to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, and can build up to mental health issues like depression and stress. (4)