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Starvation Mode

Every day there’s a new image of a celebrity looking ultra slim or all muscular and “ripped” and they always seem to do it in the time it takes us to lace up our running shoes, so it’s no wonder that we are tempted to cut down our calories as low as we possibly can to look thin.

But as surprising as this may sound, drastically reducing your calorie intake can actually make you go in reverse. Quite simply, your body goes into 'starvation mode'. This mechanism, which is thought to have evolved as a defence against starvation, means the body becomes super-efficient at making the most of the calories it does get from food and drink. The main way it does this is to protect its fat stores and instead use lean tissue or muscle to provide it with some of the calories it needs to keep functioning. This then leads to a loss of muscle, which will then lower your metabolic rate so that the body needs fewer calories to keep ticking over and weight loss slows down. Obviously this is the perfect solution if you're in a famine situation, but if you're trying to lose weight, it's going to do little to help you shift those unwanted pounds.

Your metabolic rate is the rate at which the body burns calories and is partly determined by the amount of muscle we have. Generally, the more muscle we have, the higher our metabolic rate; the less muscle we have, the lower our metabolic rate. This is why most men, who have a high proportion of muscle, have a faster metabolism than women, and why a 20-year-old normally has a higher metabolism than a 70-year-old.

Muscle burns a lot more calories than fat so when we lose muscle, our metabolic rate drops and we burn fewer calories. In fact, research shows that the body loses a high amount of muscle with very low calorie diets and this may considerably slow you’re your metabolism by up to 45 percent.

This is why it's crucial to do as much as you can to protect your metabolic rate, especially when you're dieting. This means dieting sensibly with a good healthy diet, rather than a very low calorie intake diet so that you lose fat rather than muscle. As mentioned in recent articles an average lady should consume 2000 calories per day and men 2500, if you are then looking for weight loss every individual is different, but you should never be dropping less than 1300 calories per day, combined with cardio and muscular exercise.

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