Fat loss is something that millions of people struggle with. The problem isn’t the lack of good information but the dilution of bad information mixed in – and the bad far outweighs the good. In this 10 Part series on fat loss, we examine the most common fat loss myths and take a look at the science behind what really works.
Myth 1 – Starvation mode will occur and prevent fat loss if you don’t eat enough.
The 90’s were notorious for propagating the myth of metabolism – or lack thereof. Every diet on the market reported the same false information – that not eating enough would have an effect of lowering metabolism and thereby, causing the body to not release any stored fat.
The truth? Your body can go for nearly three days without food before seeing the effects of a lowered metabolism and even then, it’s a mere 8% reduction in metabolism. This was demonstrated in a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. If you understand this, you’ll realize just how quickly it’s possible to lose body fat.
A pound of fat is approximately 3500 calories. A “quick and dirty” method of determining how many calories you need every day (your TDEE) is to take your body weight x 15. Using this method, a 200 pound man would typically burn about 3,000 calories. This assumes a small amount of daily activity and every individual is slightly different, so your number could vary slightly.
To burn fat, it’s often recommended to simply lower your daily calories under your TDEE by a few hundred. That’s a very workable solution and so long as a person doesn’t greatly overeat on any one day of the week in particular (feeding all those extra calories back and then some), this would work.
However, if someone was interested in extremely fast fat loss (let’s say that high school reunion is just a couple weeks away), fasting for three days would create a 9,000 calorie deficit for this 200 pound man. That’s nearly 3 pounds of fat loss in three days.
At this point, you would want to go back to eating maintenance (3,000 calories) again for a couple days to keep the hormones firing at optimum and ready the body for another quick fast.
We’re not advocating a three-day fast be continually used to lose weight. Most people have never fasted for a single day and would struggle mightily with even attempting this. We’re simply stating that going three days without food isn’t going to wreck your metabolism and keep you from losing fat – as has long and often been reported.
The study also noted that a short fast, such as three days, does not affect the body like long periods of drastically reducing calories – such as when individuals go months on severely hypo-caloric diets. Prolonged periods such as this are what causes a negative and lasting effect on hormones. Don’t choose extended periods of minimal calories to lose fat.
Understanding the truth about fasting and how your metabolism is affected will allow you to manipulate fat loss in ways that you never could before.
Let go of the fad diets and thoughts of “starvation mode”. All you really need to lose fat is a caloric deficit. How you achieve that is up to you but you will need to expend more calories than you eat if you want to see success – so eat less or move more.