So I read a very interesting article yesterday on starvation mode. In all actuality, it was about the MYTH that is starvation mode. I used to be a believer; believing that if I ate too little my body would think it is “starving” and stop burning fat. That, however, is incorrect. The way Leigh states it makes perfect sense:
Any weight loss that takes place carries a significant change with it. We should expect to see a downgrade in metabolic activity. In fact, let me put it this way: in order to lose fat, you have to have a metabolic adaptation. You have to have alterations in hormones.
It isn’t that your body is going to stop burning fat because you aren’t eating enough. It is that your body is adapting to the lower calories you are eating. Your body doesn’t WANT to be super skinny and buff. Your body naturally wants to protect and store energy. So when you are decreasing the amount of energy (calories) in then your body will begin to adapt. This is especially true if you are increasing the amount of energy you burn at the same time.
I’m going to try this out starting next week. It is recommended that you refeed or take a maintenance break while you are attempting to lose weight. There is no set rule, but I like the way Leigh puts it. For every 3 weeks you are at a deficit, refeed (eat at maintenance or slightly above) for 5-7 days. I have been doing this for 14 weeks. So after I finish up this week I’ll be through roughly 15 weeks. That means I should take 25-35 off and eat at maintenance during that time. There will – of course – be weight gain from glycogen levels, food weight and water weight, but if I am doing it correctly, I shouldn’t gain more than that back. Then after the timeframe I go back to eating at my deficit until the next maintenance break.
This may or may not be backed by science, but it makes a lot of sense. You see so many people who say, “I stopped losing weight and when I started eating more I ‘shocked’ my system and started losing again!” Maybe it’s all true. I have no doubts your body adapts to your deficit, so forcing it back into “normal” mode before continuing on makes perfect sense.