Published on November 3, 2018
First, let me be clear: When I say, “starving yourself doesn’t work in dieting,” I am referring to regularly and purposely skipping meals or eating super small meals . . . that sort of thing. I am not referring to the disease of anorexia (that’s a different topic for another day).
It’s hard to explain to someone who has nearly or fully starved themselves for a few days that what they’re doing isn’t effective. After all, they’ll say, the proof is right there on the scale, right? They see they’ve lost 2 pounds or 5 pounds or more flushed from their bodies just like that (hear my fingers snap), simply from not eating.
Losing real weight from starving is physically impossible.
Your body absolutely can not lose that much weight that fast. It’s not because you weren’t working hard enough, or didn’t starve yourself for long enough. It’s simply because you can’t do it — just like you can’t grow gills and live underwater like a fish.
Your body knows it needs energy to function, to blink and breathe and to raise your hand to scratch your forehead! All of this requires a power source, and your body has to get it from somewhere. When you don’t give your body the energy it needs from food, it cannibalizes itself as an energy source. The prime directive of the body is that it must have energy at any cost.
The protein in the muscles is the only energy source a starving person has, and since you aren’t eating, it’s the only choice you’re left with. Your body will begin to destroy muscle cells (and tissues) to release that protein so it can convert it into energy. Muscles are about 65-70% water, so when a muscle cell is destroyed, that water is released and eventually excreted. That’s your “weight” loss. (And remember, your heart is a muscle, and anorexics have a very high risk of dying from heart failure for that reason.)
📌 Your body didn’t convert any lumpy fat into lean muscle.
📌 It didn’t begin to use fat as an energy source.
📌 It didn’t just magically get rid of three or four pounds of pure fat.
And guess what? You’ve just increased your body fat percentage because fat takes up more space than muscle, so you might even look bigger than before.
Remember, too, that muscle is metabolically active tissue, so the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate. When you starve yourself, however, you slow your metabolism. This means that your body will use the next bite of food you take less efficiently; it will hold on to it much longer, converting it into fat and storing it for a perceived repeat of famine ahead.
Starving is not an effective weight loss tool — not just because you shouldn’t starve yourself, not just because of the incredibly dangerous effects it has on your brain, not just because it can ruin your body forever.
It just doesn’t work.