Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsBiology · 11 months ago

Is starvation mode a myth?

According to my vague research fat is nothing but unused energy. If I'm fasting(not adding energy to burn off) and burning energy that is already stored shouldn't that make me lose fat?

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  • Cowboy
    Lv 6
    11 months ago

    Fat is active tissue - almost an organ on its own. Starvation mode is true. Your body is not a physics equation

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  • Anonymous
    11 months ago

    It's not a myth. Yes at first you will burn fat but-- Metabolism, the rate at which you expend energy (calories) changes with environmental circumstances. You will eventually burn fewer calories for the same work, to prevent starvation and because your muscles become more efficient. The scientific term is adaptive thermogenesis.

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  • 11 months ago

    Pretty much. Ask anyone who was held prisoner by the Japanese in WW2 about starvation mode.

    If you consume fewer calories than you use you WILL lose weight. People that say they eat little and still gain weight don't record their intake accurately.

    There was an interesting TV programme in the UK a while ago called "Secret Eaters". People would swear blind that they were eating, say, 1200 calories a day but not losing weight. The show producers had these people followed by private detectives. They were buying things like Choccamoccawhatsits and pies on the way to work.

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  • Julien
    Lv 7
    11 months ago

    I wouldn't say it's a myth, I'ld rather say that it's a ill-defined term behind which people tend to conveniently put whatever they want. If you ask to two different people having used the expression "starvation mode" to describe in more details what they meant, I'm pretty sure the two answers you would get would be quite different. Sometimes some of those answers do have a large overlap with our scientific knowledge, and sometimes it's just some completely made-up "bro-science" theories.

    "If I'm fasting(not adding energy to burn off) and burning energy that is already stored shouldn't that make me lose fat?"

    => Not necessarily. Your body stocks energy under the form of lipids (body fat in particular), carbs (glycogen in particular), and proteins (your muscles), the three of them, not just lipids. Burning some of the stock doesn't necessarily means you're burning the stock of lipids. In some situations there could perfectly be one stock emptying while another stock fills up, as long as the total stock decreases, or more commonly you can have one stock emptying while the others stay constant and then all the stocks filling up again at the same time (that's the crash-diet scenario in which you lose your protein/muscle stock and then after the end of the diet you gain fat instead)

    Another point is that there is some elasticity in the reaction of your TDEE and NEAT as you modify your calorie intake. There is actually no guarantee that the calorie deficit (TDEE minus intake) is a monotonous function of the calorie intake, because the TDEE is a complicated function of the calorie intake as well. Finally, your TDEE is not only a function of your current calorie deficit but also a function of your past calorie deficit: if you lose muscle because of a large calorie deficit then your TDEE drops down, even your BMR does.

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  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    11 months ago

    Not sure what you are asking, but without food, the body can get energy from glycogen, from fats or from proteins.

    The myth is that losing weight is always simply a matter of eating less and exercising more

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  • Anonymous
    11 months ago

    Fat is a way for the body to store excess energy. It is good because ounce for ounce, it contains the most energy, so it does not increase the weight of an animal as much as protein or carbohydrates. Fat is not just energy storage. Fat has also been used to insulate. Whales, dolphins and seals have a lot of fat under the skin to keep them well insulated. Fur does not insulate when it gets wet. The sea otter has a lot of fur and it insulates the animal, but the otter has to spend a lot of time grooming the fur, covering it with oil to keep it waterproof. Whales cannot groom themselves because the front legs have turned into flipper, and the rear legs have disappeared. Fur would not be useful, so they have evolved to be hairless and insulate themselves with subcutaneous fat.

    Humans evolved on the open African savanna, and we evolved to be hairless too because it is hot and fur is not needed. Then 60,000-70,000 years ago, some African migrated out of Africa and some of them ended up in Europe 40,000 years ago, when it was the ice age. In order to adapt to the cold climate, the first Europeans had to evolve. Some of the adaptations include increased body and facial hair and more subcutaneous fat for better insulation, shorter arms and legs, thin lips and a rounded torso for reduced body surface area to conserve heat. Other adaptations include a taller and narrower nose bridge to capture more heat coming out of the lungs and returning it to the lungs with the incoming air.

    So, for some humans adapted to cold climates, their fat is no longer just for energy storage. It is an adaptation to the cold. So, if these people were to experience a food shortage, then is it good for them to automatically lose body fat (which can result in frost bite or even freezing to death)? That may be why some people have bodies that will turn muscle mass into energy before fat is burned. That means when a person goes on a diet, he/she may not lose much fat, but will lose muscle instead. Since muscle burns energy, losing muscle means the body will burn less energy, making further weight loss harder. That may be why some people have so much trouble losing weight quickly. Starvation mode is not a myth. Scientists have found that animals that are underfed will lower their metabolism automatically to cope. A low metabolism also increases life span. That may be why animals that are put on a reduced calorie diet often live longer.

    • Julien
      Lv 7
      11 months agoReport

      This mostly makes sense but let me add something: Fat also forms cushions protecting our articulations and organs from mechanical damage, it helps to store vitamins, and it plays a major role in hormonal regulations. For humans those are much more important than just isolation from the cold.

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  • 11 months ago

    Yes, "starvation mode" is mostly a myth. There are a great many misconceptions around diet and exercise (mostly because most people are too lazy to do what it takes and many businesses take advantage of this). Yes, you can lose weight (and without losing muscle mass) by fasting.

    Some people overeat after they fast but that is a different thing.

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    • megalomaniac
      Lv 7
      11 months agoReport

      Not that YouTube is always a good source (it isn't) but it at least broaches the subject and you can do further research from there to either confirm or deny what was said.

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