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  • Ben Yates

Can you gain weight from not eating enough?

Updated: Jan 21

You're here because you want to lose weight.


But let me guess, if you're reading this, you're not actually losing weight.


You've tried everything and you've come to the conclusion that,


"I'm not losing weight because I'm not eating enough, shall I increase my calories?"


And you want to know if this is true and if so, what can you do about it?


What you are referring to is starvation mode.


What is starvation mode?


Starvation mode is the supposed state a person is in when their excessive approach to losing weight has slowed their metabolic rate so much that it completely stops any further weight loss from occurring or even more amazingly, cause weight gain ... even though the said person is still in a calorie deficit.


A quick recap: Calories


Calories are energy.

Your body uses calories for everything it has to do.

From intense exercise like running and weight training to everyday tasks like standing and tying your shoes and activities like gardening and walking... they all burn calories.

Did you know that your body actually uses a ton of calories every single day even when you aren't doing anything?

Keeping your body alive and functioning burns lots of calories.

Include things like walking, housework and gardening.


If your goal is to lose weight, you can either increase the number of calories you burn through exercise, reduce the number of calories you consume, or do both.


But, to lose weight, you must be in a consistent calorie deficit.


What are the supposed causes of starvation mode?


I've heard people claim that starvation mode is caused by:

  • Crash dieting

  • Yo-yo dieting

  • Not eating enough calories

  • Dieting for too long

  • Working out too much

  • Skipping meals

Above all else, the fundamental idea for starvation mode is that if you don't eat enough for a prolonged period, your body will shut down various processes to preserve the energy it has, including holding onto any weight you're trying to lose.


And, to then supposedly reverse this starvation mode process, the person needs to eat more calories to theoretically speed up their metabolism, burn more calories and then lose weight.....!?


Whew ... are you still me with?


Nope ... me neither.


So, once and for all...


Bottom line: Is starvation mode real?


No, it's not.


In fact, I'll go as far as to say that the concept of starvation mode is completely ridiculous when it comes to most peoples weight loss.


It's not how the body works.


Clearly, eating too little is not something that anyone should advise but you only need to look at people who have suffered in awful environments throughout history to see that being underfed does not lead to weight loss stalling.