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Evidence-based articles & blogs to help with making training more effective, nutrition more flexible & life more enjoyable.


Starvation Mode

Starvation mode… You know it’s a myth. But it feels like it could be true, right?

What even is starvation mode?

It’s the idea that you can eat so little that your metabolism shuts down and you start gaining fat… Even in a calorie deficit?!

We all know someone who swears they’re not losing weight even though they’re “only eating 800 calories”.

Are they in “starvation mode”?

Probably not.

It is true that when you lose weight, your body burns less calories.

But at no point.

In human history.

Has a single living person’s metabolism.

Turned OFF.


It does not work like that. 

If it did work like this, we would expect people in poverty to be overweight. But they’re not - they’re severely underweight. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people die from hunger every year.

Because starvation mode is not a real thing.

What’s really going on here is…

When you diet to lose weight, your body starts to burn less calories every day.

You burn less calories digesting food because you’re eating less food.

You burn less calories at rest because you’re now a smaller individual.

And you burn less calories doing activity because dieting makes you a little bit more lazy than usual. 

This is called metabolic adaptation, and it’s completely normal.

 For that friend who swears they’re eating 800 calories and not losing weight…

Chances are they’ve eaten 800 calories from Monday to about lunch time on Friday.

Then they’ve been invited out to drinks after work…

Because they’re starving, drinks turn into food… Food turns into more drinks…

Friday night rolls into a hungover Saturday morning…

Saturday involves some delicious junk food to help the hangover…

You know what? F*ck it, I’ll start again on Monday. 

Monday morning they jump on the scale and…

No weight lost this week.

“But I’ve been eating 800 calories!”

So what does the research say?

You might be surprised to find we do actually have some research on this.

You see these decrepit gentlemen here?

They were 2 out of 36 men who were placed on a 1500 calories or less diet whilst also marching 36 kilometers per week…

In the famous Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

On average, every man in the study lost about one quarter of their total body weight and ended up around 5% body fat.

Not the typical “5% body fat” you’re used to seeing, is it?

Don’t underestimate how starved these guys were - one subject even resorted to cutting off his own fingers to finish early!

The participants’ weight loss did slow down - metabolic adaptation is real.

But it never stopped completely, and they never started putting weight back on.

So rest assured that reducing your calories will NOT cause you to somehow gain weight.

Because starvation mode is NOT a real thing.

If you want to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit.

But also take this as evidence that extreme, restrictive, crazy low-calorie diets aren’t the best course of action, either.

Not unless this is your goal physique.

In order to reduce metabolic adaptation as much as you can, so you don’t end up looking like this at the end of your diet, you want to focus on three things:

(1) Strength Training:

Lifting weights preserves muscle mass which keeps your metabolism elevated.

In this study overweight, untrained individuals were fed an 800 calorie per day diet.

Some of them actually increased their resting metabolism, because they were strength training.

The metabolic gain from lifting weights outweighed the drop from losing weight.

(2) Be more active.

This doesn’t mean get down on one knee and make a commitment to the treadmill. 

In fact, a big chunk of the metabolic adaptation seen in dieting comes from reduced Non Exercise Activity, or NEAT.

This is all of the activity we do subconsciously.

It’s me waving my typing on my computer to explain this to you right now, it’s you holding your phone to watch this.

So be mindful of the fact that as you get deeper into a diet, your body is trying to work against you, not with you to lose more fat. You need to fight that and keep your activity up.

(3) Diet using the right deficit - not too fast, not too slow:

If you need help figuring out what is the right deficit for you…

That’s what the SHRED Method is for.

This is our guide designed to help you drop your first 5-15 lbs in 30 days, for free.

To get your own copy, simply head to the Guides Section in our Free Private Community: Fat Loss Hacks For Frustrated Dieters.

See you there!