Most of us would like to lose a few pounds and that too immediately. And many people think the best way to lose weight is to starve ourselves. However, undereating is the worst thing you can do if you want to lose weight. Your body needs to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but this is different from going into starvation mode. In fact, not eating or eating very little will have the opposite effect on your weight loss efforts.
Keep reading to learn why not eating is not a good idea for weight loss and how you can implement other, healthier weight loss strategies.
What happens if you don’t eat?
It’s no surprise that if you overeat, you’re very likely to gain weight. Conversely, the biggest myth is that if you stop eating completely, you won’t add new fat and lose a ton of weight. However, that’s not how it works.
Studies shows that excessive calorie restriction is not healthy or sustainable in the long term. When you stop eating altogether, your body goes into starvation mode, leading to problems such as increased appetite, cravings, fatigue, and poor sleep. Eating less or skipping meals may help you lose some water weight for the first few days, but most of the weight lost while not eating or eating less comes from burned muscle, not body fat!
Here are some potential health risks that come from starving yourself.
1. Not eating slows down metabolism.
If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will slow down its metabolism to try to conserve energy. This causes your resting metabolism to drop, making it harder for your body to burn calories, leading to weight gain. When you don’t eat, your body goes into “survival mode” and begins to slow down all of its functions to conserve energy. It can be harmful to your health in the long run.
2. Not eating interferes with the normal functioning of the body.
The longer you stick to a low-calorie diet, or the longer you go without eating, the more your body will prioritize primary functions over secondary essential processes. This means that your hair and nails may become less healthy, your immunity may decrease, and you may experience problems with your skin, reproductive health, and digestion.
3. It harms your mental health
eating disorders are classified as mental disorders because they involve harmful dietary behaviors that can damage your mental health. These behaviors are usually the main cause of developing eating disorders.
4. You burn lean muscle
When you don’t eat enough, your body begins to burn lean muscle and skeletal tissue for energy. The body does this because the more tissue there is, the more calories it has to burn. However, your body needs muscle and skeletal tissue to survive; Not eating for a long time can be harmful.
5. You may gain more weight
One of the drawbacks of not eating is that you will eventually gain back the weight you lost during that time. While you can lose weight quickly by not eating, you’ll probably gain more weight than you started with once you start eating regularly. That’s because your body has become accustomed to fewer calories, and it will view regular calorie intake as excess calories and convert them into fats.
The HealthifyMe note
Not eating has many side effects. While you may lose weight in the short term, it is not a healthy or sustainable weight loss solution. Your metabolism slows down, you burn lean muscle and store fat, and your body’s overall function declines. In addition, not eating can seriously harm your mental health. You may also find yourself gaining more weight than you originally had.
Signs of not eating enough
Consistent thoughts about food
Do you dream of eating a delicious meal without worrying about calories? It’s not because you’re bored or have something to do. Instead, those persistent thoughts about the next meal you might have or the food you want to eat right now are the result of not eating consistently over an extended period of time.
Your body, in survival mode, is constantly looking for food and energy. But if you’re getting headaches on a regular basis, it’s time to step back and look at how much you’ve been eating throughout the day, as your blood sugar may have dropped.
No significant changes are visible in the menstrual cycle when a person is relatively healthy. However, if you don’t eat enough, there’s a good chance your period will become irregular as well. You may even experience early menopause because your body doesn’t have enough fat and energy to release the hormones needed for menstruation.
Frequent feelings of tiredness and irritability
Without food, the body does not have the energy to get through the day. In addition, going too long without food leads to lower blood sugar, which affects your concentration, patience and focus.
What is the right way to lose weight?
Healthy weight loss is eating just enough calories to maximize fat metabolism and keep your blood sugar within normal limits. A studies shows that eating small, frequent meals throughout the day keeps your metabolism going and is a better way to lose body fat. Plus, this approach will make you feel less hungry and you won’t eat as much without starving yourself.
Here are some other healthier weight loss strategies:
Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals like breakfast every day or surviving on just one cup of coffee until lunch is not the way to lose weight. Cutting out too much from your regular feeding schedule can leave you feeling psychologically and nutritionally deprived.
Start by eating healthy foods and gradually replace the unhealthy ones with healthier alternatives. The priority should be on consuming more nutritious and healthy foods. Then you can work your way to a balanced diet.
Start with a small calorie deficit
Start with something that doesn’t restrict you so much as focuses on providing your body with the nutrition it needs to reach a sustainable weight. Aim for a small calorie deficit, about 20-25% less than what you usually eat, or remove 500 calories daily from a 2,000-calorie diet.
Optimize your workouts
Aim for a balanced workout that includes cardio exercise and strength training for at least 30 minutes a day. Strength training during your daily activities helps to maintain and build muscle tissue, especially during weight loss.
A weight loss diet should not be a starvation diet. Starving yourself may result in short-term weight loss, but you’ll gain more weight once you return to a normal diet. On the other hand, starving or not eating enough is bad for weight loss and overall health. Therefore, eat small, healthy meals throughout the day, along with regular workouts. And if you feel the need to limit your food intake, mindful intermittent fasting can help.