One common weight loss myth that drives us crazy here at dotFIT is the starvation mode myth. It goes something like this: Eating a diet that is too low in calories will cause the body to go into starvation mode and not burn any calories.
People love this myth. You know why? Because people, including me, love to eat. But here’s the fact of the matter: Severely cutting calories will cause your metabolism to adjust slightly, allowing your body to run on fewer calories, but it doesn’t prevent fat loss if you’re truly burning more calories than you’re consuming.
You’ll sometimes hear the trainers on the T.V. show The Biggest Loser alluding to this when they tell their contestants how important it is that they not eat fewer than 1200 calories a day. That’s a pretty low calorie diet, and the contestants are working out at least 5-6 hours every day. If they eat less than that they won’t “go into starvation mode,” but they won’t have the energy they need. The same holds true for the average person trying to lose weight.
If you cut your calories too much, you become less energetic. As a result, you’re less active. That is, you do fewer daily activities, and then you burn fewer calories overall. Crash dieting with excessively low calorie intake leads to low energy levels, so you burn fewer calories all day and work out less intensely. This leads to increased hunger, which in turn increases the chances of rebound and binge eating behavior. In other words, you’re likely to move a lot less and eat more. The result? You hit a plateau which easily misinterpreted as the result of a “damaged” metabolism.
The point is not to lose weight too quickly by drastically reducing calories because that method is generally not sustainable. Mainly because it takes extreme and unrealistic changes in your diet to get results and when you drift back to your old eating habits, the weight returns. The Biggest Loser is a reality show, but it’s not reality. The contestants are closely monitored by a staff of medics, physicians and trainers. And if you could follow up with past contestants, you would find that most of them haven’t been able to maintain the weight loss they achieved on the show.
If you need to lose weight, eat less, move more and forget about starvation mode or slowing metabolism. Remember that a calorie out cancels a calorie in, no exceptions. Research shows that most people think they’re eating less than they actually are, so keep tabs on your calorie intake by using a food journal.
And if you really want to see how many calories you burn every day, along with your steps, minutes and type of physical activity, and how efficiently you sleep at night, check out exerspy at www.dotFIT.com/exerspy. The research and development team at dotFIT that created exerspy and dotFIT Me is the same team that created the bodybugg® system featured on The Biggest Loser. By using exerspy and the dotFIT online program, you can see the calories you’re eating and burning, which takes the guesswork out of weight control. It’s not your metabolism that’s preventing you from losing weight – it’s NOT knowing your numbers. Take control, see your numbers and get results.