The short answer is no.
The long answer is quite complicated and involves many studies which can be found on google scholar. I will go into 2 briefly below in layman terms later.
If we take what happens to the body when actually clinically starving you will see why you are not in starvation mode.
Your body will start to increase lipolysis, or breaking down fat to release fatty acids for energy. You’ll break down protein reserves, usually muscle, for another energy source. Symptoms of all of this can include weakness, apathy, memory lapses, and muscle cramps. As you can see you will still continue to lose weight, at an accelerated rate as your body tries to keep you alive.
Most studies on starvation mode (in an average Joe trying to loose weight sense) put people in 2 categories to compare people that have lost weight and people that haven’t. These categories are “reduced obese” and “control"
Reduced obese will be people that are a certain weight, lets say 70kg, but used to be heavier and recently lost weight. “Control” will be people that have been 70kg for a long time and not categorised as obese.
When comparing the 2 groups Martins et al  found that the difference in resting metabolic rates were minimal between the groups even when the reduced obese groups lost a lot of weight consuming only 800 kcals per day.
Weinsier et al  found that after weight loss had occurred and a weight maintenance period started (slight increase in calories to slow/stop weight loss) there was not a significant difference in how many calories burned per day between reduced obese and control individuals. "Failure to establish energy balance after weight loss gives the misleading impression that weight-reduced persons are energy conservative and predisposed to weight regain.”
There are quite a few new studies from 2019 and 2020 that come to the same conclusion. As long as there is an assessment of calorific intake and a transfer to a maintenance amount of calories after weight loss there will not be a weight increase.
Send me a message if you have any questions about starvation mode, diet or nutrition.
Looking to burn calories during lockdown? Here are 5 super easy tips to help you out
1. Maximise what you are already doing. Use a backpack to increase calorie burn throughout the day. Simply fill up a backpack and wear it while you do your daily physical tasks such as cleaning and cooking. According to the Compendium of Physical Activities you can more than double your calorific output while walking around by carrying 10kg of weight.
2. That same backpack can be used as a kettlebell for swings(I can send you a video if you need), or wear it while you are doing squats/lunges and push ups to add resistance.
3. Another useful household item for exercise are towels. They can be used to maintain and even build overall strength. Simply stand on a towel, gather up one end and with deadlift form try to pull the towel straight up from underneath your feet. Nothing will move and you can put maximum effort. Perfect for a home setting with limited space. This exercises uses Isometric pulling which is a very old strength building exercise used by strong men like George Hackenschmidt (Previous strongest man in the world and all time wrestling great) and martial artists like Bruce Lee.
4. Use water bottles as dumbbells. Yes they may be too light but you can increase the difficulty with some minor adjustments. Take the bicep curl. Simply move the elbows slightly in front of you. Now the biceps have to work harder to perform a repetition. Most people can get a solid bicep workout with a 5L bottle of water.
5. Bed sheets. This is a simple one. You can replicate a TRx suspension trainer easily by tying a knot in a bedsheet and closing that knot in the top of a door. You can then hand from the bedsheet to do Pull ups, lean back while holding it to do rows and use it for stability and assistance to squat or pistol squat. Almost any suspension trainer exercise can be emulated using a bedsheet shaving you £££ and no waiting for home delivery.
Your brain makes decisions on when and how you need to eat throughout the day and it processes multiple different types of information to make an informed decision.
Many of the most important signals to the brain are hormones that change in response to eating habits.
A higher protein intake actually increases levels of the satiety (appetite-reducing) hormones cholecystokinin, GLP-1, and peptide YY, while reducing your levels of the hormone ghrelin which is used by the body to tell your brain you are hungry.
By switching carbohydrates and fat with protein, you reduce the hunger hormone and boost several hormones that tell you that you are full and consumed enough nutrients.
This leads to a huge reduction in hunger and is the main reason protein helps you lose weight. It can make you eat fewer calories in the future by making you feel fuller and satiated for longer.
THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD
After eating your body will use some calories to digest your food. Most calorie counting apps factor this in to their calculations but you can get a small head start on your weight loss by making your body work harder to digest your food. Below you can see that of the food types protein uses the most calories to break down.
* Carbohydrates: 5 to 15% of the energy consumed
* Protein: 20 to 35%
* Fats: at most 5 to 15%
The more you allot your daily calorie allowance to protein the less calories are actually absorbed, while also filling your stomach up.
The amount of time it takes your body to digest food is also affected by the amount of time certain foodstuffs stay in your stomach. The shortest time is simple and refined sugars, with some being absorbed in the mouth and passing out of the stomach to be absorbed quick sharp. The longest to stay in the stomach, up to 12 hours are fats and protein especially from animal sources.
Try to switch up your diet wherever possible to include more protein. It will help you feel fuller, burn more calories and trick your brain into thinking you don’t need to eat as much or earlier so you will be less inclined to snack. GO PROTEIN!
My weight loss clients often ask why we train bum or gluteal muscles regularly in the form or banded exercises, cable machines or good old fashioned squats. Below I explain why we do.
PreventionOne of the biggest reasons people stop training in the gym on their own, especially if its a newbie is injury.
If your glutes are not functioning correctly you can increase injury risk in other parts of the body. As your Glutes do most of the controlling of the hips every other muscle around them has to take over. Most commonly under active glutes lead to injuries in the lower back, knees, hamstrings and the groin. Pretty much anything attached to the hips, which is a lot of things.
If you are trying to lose weight especially around the stomach, correcting prevalent lordosis (inward curvature in the lower back) can go a long way to making you look thinner. Strengthening the glutes allows you to control the hips and eventually it will happen passively. Improved posture is also related to feeling more confident, and multiple health benefits such as improved blood pressure, digestion and reduced occurrence of migraines.
3. Lower Back Pain
Another byproduct of other muscles taking over the positioning of the pelvis is lower back pain and sciatica. The piriformis is a small muscle located deep in the buttock, behind the gluteus maximus and it passes over the sciatic nerve which at that point is as thick as your thumb. If the piriformis is over used it can aggravate the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica from the lower back down to the toes. Lots of lower back pain is actually caused by the dysfunctional muscles in the bum.
Any client that has any athletic aims or wishes to start taking part in sport recreationally will perform better at jumping, running and even throwing with strong glutes. They will also be more accurate in the movements they are performing as through training the proprioceptive capabilities of muscles increase (They report back to the brain with more info about their position and how they are moving)
Overall we aim to make our clients as fit, healthy and injury resistant as possible while also reducing body fat.
Cortisol is a stress hormone, produced as part of the fight or flight response to help increase glucose levels in the blood. This is what helps the body fight or run from a dangerous situation!
As your body produces cortisol responding to a threat, it shuts down less critical functions like reproduction and immunity allowing the body to concentrate on surviving the immediate threat. Although this can be useful when triggered during physical activity, a modern lifestyle that involves high levels of stress, especially in the sedentary corporate environment, may lead to excessive amounts of cortisol in your system. Regular exercise can help reduce your cortisol and stress levels.
With stress being slowly built, the body believes it is constantly under threat, with no crescendo to announce the danger has passed so cortisol levels keep rising.
An early evening high intensity workout or heavy deadlifting session can be the crescendo your body needs to flick the switch on cortisol. You should view your workout as therapy for your body!
“View your workout as therapy for your body!”
Too much cortisol for too long can have a multitude of negative effects. One of the most noticeable is weight gain as your body tries to fight fatigue you will crave more sugary foods. It also reduces protein synthesis which can reduce muscle mass. It also curbs levels of human growth hormone and sex hormones, which can reduce libido and fertility in both males and females. Furthermore the increase in weight and long term elevated sugar levels in the blood increase the chances of developing diabetes over the very long term.
It is all reversible if the right steps are taken. Change of the stressful environment is number one and actually more important that exercise in this situation. Exercise can help manage stress levels but should not be a long term solution to
If you would like to learn how to de-stress and use exercise for therapy of your body contact me now for a free consultation.
As a personal trainer the majority of my clients are trying to lose weight, with their diet adjusted to create a calorie deficit I get asked a lot about how long it would take to burn a certain meal or snack off. The answer is never the one they have been programmed by the media to hear. “After 15 minutes of your body pump class you have burnt the same amount of calories as in a digestive biscuit”
The disbelief at the little calorie burn of exercise compared to calories contained in food is caused by the media misrepresenting exercise as a trade off for supporting a fast food diet.
I wish more people were aware the fast food industry has a vested interest in encouraging exercise to make you believe you can “burn” or “run off” your fast food meal or sugary drink, while it is true its much harder than you think!
For example, McDonald’s and Coca Cola are both long term sponsors of the Olympic games. The two most well known producers of empty calories are long term sponsors of the largest and most well known sporting event in the world. McDonald’s has been associating itself with physical activity at the Olympics for over 3 decades and Coca Cola have been a sponsor since 1928, reinforcing the idea that you can offset your junk diet with exercise. This association is however due to investments and a business agenda to increase sales, not to improve health.
There is some truth in what they are saying and it is possible to off set calories from your diet with exercise. The problem is the human body is rather efficient at physical activity so it takes a monumental effort to outrun a bad diet.
For example a Large Big Mac meal with Coca Cola (uk) = 1185ckal would take running 12 minute miles for 2.5 hours to burn off for the average female. In other words, if you were trying not to gain weight, every time you eat a Big Mac meal you would need to run 12.5 miles at a decent pace to then not gain weight.
For anyone already fighting for fat loss through a calorie deficit diet this one meal could mean the difference between success and failure for their weekly weigh in.
Ironically, the strongly fast food sponsored 2012 Olympics were used to kick start the fight against childhood obesity in London by getting them active but as researchers have shown (1–3), childhood obesity is not a consequence of inactivity, but rather inactivity is a consequence of obesity.
The major cause of childhood obesity and obesity in general is individuals running a calorie surplus diet.
1 — B. S. Metcalf, J. Hosking, A. N. Jeffery, L. D. Voss, W. Henley, T. J. Wilkin.Fatness leads to inactivity, but inactivity does not lead to fatness: a longitudinal study in children (EarlyBird 45). Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2010; DOI: 10.1136/adc.2009.175927
2 — Ness AR, Leary SD, Mattocks C, Blair SN, Reilly JJ, Wells J, et al. (2007) Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Fat Mass in a Large Cohort of Children. PLoS Med 4(3): e97. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040097
3- Yeung, Daniel Chi-Shing, et al. “Determinants of moderate to vigorous physical activity and obesity in children: a structural equation modeling analysis.” World Journal of Pediatrics 12.2 (2016): 170–176.
Activation energy. What is it?
Basically any and all barriers for starting your chosen activity, making it more difficult to start. The most given example of reducing activation energy for working out is sleeping in your workout clothes so you can get those early workouts in without any friction between you and your activity. Another is planning out your meals and actually having the ingredients ready to go.
Motivation. What is it And where does it go?
Needs, desires or wants that drive a person towards a goal. For exercise the most common goal is weight loss. Motivation ebbs and flows within a person daily or even hourly. When it is high during January you can see lots of people starting new things like hitting the gym. But once motivation drops, so does the attendances at the gym or the cooking at home fad ends.
The largest reason for drop offs in motivation are not setting the correct goals or breaking down large goals. At the end of January the aim of “getting fit” hasn’t been achieved, sure a bit of weight has been lost but the “fit” body isn’t anywhere near being as sculpted as invisioned. So after the “New Year New Me” novelty wears off at the end of January people that have broken down their goals into chunks are much more likely to continue, creating a new habit rather than just a fad.
Combining the two for success
When motivation drops the first thing that happens is obstacles to starting a chosen activity become magnified. The cost suddenly becomes too much to bear. The time spent travelling could be reallocated to something else like an old habit that you have been missing, usually one that was part of the new resolution to give up.
This is when reducing activation energy comes into play. If you reduce the friction between you and the exercise its much easier to maintain a new activity even with low motivation and give it a chance to become a new habit.
Our examples from before, the cost can be countered with committing while motivation is high. Paying up front for a gym membership or a course of classes. Paying for a repeat appointment with someone is one of the best ways to keep yourself accountable, such as working with a personal trainer.
Also reducing the time to travel to the gym or class location is a key factor. Or optimising the time while travelling like listening to language lessons or audiobooks in the car, or using duolingo or writing while on public transport so you don’t fell like the time is wasted.
If you would like a free print out for reducing activation energy in the kitchen and to increase your chances of success please drop us an email asking for the slim by design checklist.