Why Starving Yourself Doesn’t Work for Weight Loss
The road to significant and prolonged weight loss is simple: create a calorie deficit by consuming far less calories than your body burns. The greater the calorie deficit, the more significant the drop in weight will be. It would therefore make sense that if you significantly or completely cut off your calorie consumption, you will be able to enjoy accelerated weight loss, right? Well, not exactly. If weight loss were that simple, then we would all be model-thin. The truth is that starving yourself does not deliver the kind of results you would expect. The real results of starving the body are as follows.
High Loss in Muscle Mass
Regardless of your diet, your body has grown accustomed to expecting a certain amount of food daily. So, if you refrain from eating, your body perceives that as a period of famine and therefore kicks into survival mode whereby it starts making efforts to conserve fuel while still providing enough energy to keep you alive and functioning for as long as possible without food.
Weirdly enough, the very first step your body takes is to start burning muscle cells and keeping any stored fat safely tucked away to use as the very last resort. The protein released from the burnt muscle cells is then converted to energy, which the body uses to carry out life sustaining functions such as breathing, pumping of blood, cellular repair, and so on. That same energy will also be used to enable the performance of whatever physical activity you engage in while starving yourself.
Since 70% of muscle is water, you’ll also get to lose some weight as every destroyed muscle cell results in the release of water, which will be eventually excreted from the body. That is the weight loss that people on a very low calorie diet experience during the first few days of inadequate eating or starvation.
Decreased Metabolic Rate
Another of the body’s reaction to starvation is to slow down the metabolic rate in a bid to conserve as much energy as possible. How far the metabolic rate drops will depend on several things including a person’s genetics, the duration of the starvation period, and just how severe the starvation is.
The loss of muscle in itself also causes the metabolic rate to drop. This is because muscle is a metabolically active tissue. Therefore, the less the muscle percentage in your body, the slower your metabolism will be.
For someone looking to lose weight, a slow metabolism is the very last thing you would want. A slow metabolism results in the body burning very few calories. So, even if you manage to lose weight it will be at a painfully slow rate.
The energy we use to perform everyday activities such as walking, showering, and even something as simple as scratching your forehead comes from the energy produced after the body burns the calories ingested during eating. For someone who is fasting or starving, very few calories go into the body and even fewer are burnt. Therefore, energy levels naturally drop making it difficult to perform normal activities.
As you can see, starvation is not a good idea when you are looking to lose weight. You not only lose the wrong kind of weight and feel miserable the entire time, but you also gain back all lost weight if not more after resuming your normal eating habits. And, if the starvation period goes on for a long time, it could lead to dangerous effects. It’s therefore advisable to avoid the temptation of starving yourself and instead create a healthy calorie deficit by combining smart dieting with a rigorous workout plan. Doing so is not only safer than starving yourself, but it’s also the most effective route to permanent weight loss.
How to Deal with Food Cravings on a Healthy Diet
From ice cream to chocolate to juicy burgers, our bodies have certain food cravings that can strike at any given time. Under normal circumstances, the best way to get rid of a craving is to simply give in. After all, the harder you resist a food craving, the more intense it becomes. If you are on a diet, however, giving in to food cravings is not a good idea as doing so can wreak havoc on whatever fitness results you’ve achieved so far. So, what’s a dieter to do when that powerful desire to indulge in a craving hits? Well, by putting the following tricks into action, you should be able to deal with food cravings without breaking your diet.
Actively Prevent Cravings
As the old adage goes, “prevention is better than cure.” If you can prevent food cravings from even manifesting, then you’ll not have to struggle to beat them. While there is no surefire way to prevent cravings, you can minimize chances of a craving occurring by:
Hunger is one of the biggest causes of cravings. So, one of the best ways to prevent cravings is to avoid getting hungry. Regular small healthy meals and snacks taken every 3-4 hours should do the trick. It will keep your stomach full and prevent you from adding extra kilos as a result of over-feeding the body.
Identifying Your Triggers
We all have food cravings and these cravings are usually triggered by something. It could be a strong emotion such as grief or joy, certain feelings such as loneliness or boredom, a happy memory associated with food, or even a deeply ingrained habit. Knowing what your triggers are can help you keep your mind from going to that place that will cause you to start craving a certain food.
Keeping Those Foods You Crave Out Of The House
Resisting a craving becomes more difficult when that food you are yearning is within close reach. What’s more, the simple knowledge that the food is safely stored away in the fridge or kitchen cabinets can be enough to trigger a craving. So, make it a point to avoid keeping a stockpile of those foods you normally crave in your home. Although this sounds simple, it can be quite effective at preventing cravings.
Increase Your Protein and Fiber Intake
Unlike foods high in sugar and refined starch which digest quickly and cause a sugar crash effect that leaves you with a food craving (especially for sweet treats), protein and fiber rich foods slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for longer. Therefore, by simply upping the protein and fiber portions in your meals, you will remain in a satiated state throughout the day and thereby decrease your chances of developing cravings.
Go for a Healthier Alternative
One good way to satisfy a craving without going against your diet is to make a healthy re-creation of whatever you are craving. For instance, try a sweet fruit if you are craving sugary treats, satisfy a cake-crave by baking a whole wheat flour cake with no icing, go for the healthier alternative of dark chocolate when feeling an overwhelming desire to eat chocolate, and so on. A healthier alternative allows you to satisfy a craving without the high fat or calories that the actual food delivers.
Cravings are more of a psychological than physiological thing. This is why you can feel a craving even when in the natural sense you are not hungry. Distracting yourself by focusing your mind on something else will separate your mind from the food and thereby help break a craving’s hold on you. Any form of distraction will do whether it is reading a book, going for a walk, watching a favorite TV show, or squeezing in a light workout. Focusing your mind on anything other than food will kill the desire to eat.
From weight gain to eating disorders, food cravings can lead to several negative effects. Luckily, with these tips you will be able to take control of your food cravings and thus prevent them from ruining your health.