Starvation Mode - Adaptive Thermogenesis and Weight Loss

I’ve read many times that Starvation Mode is a myth or that it isn’t - while this irks me, it isn’t sufficient to push me to just add more noise to the debate. I recently read an interesting article that reviewed different aspects of adaptive thermogenesis, thinking it might be of interest to others, I’ve written a summary.

Broken into several posts, this covers the Starvation Mode Myth and Reality, some of the (mis)definition, then focus on adaptive thermogenesis and how it can affect real people trying to lose weight and hopefully some practical day to day aspects.

While I can’t guarantee you’ll learn something new, my intent is to present information that isn’t generally covered in an easy to read format and I know I learned something from writing this.

I hope it is useful to you.

Given the forum format, I’ve broken this into several posts and created in each a “too long; didn’t read” section.

I'll also thank the individuals that helped me get this together and, in particular LiftAllThePizzas, sjohnny, McB for by providing content input, questions or editing support.


  • PepperWorm
    PepperWorm Posts: 1,213
    Great tips. Thanks!
  • Ophidion
    Ophidion Posts: 2,069 Member
    bump Good stuff! highest of fives for writing this thread and doing the research.
  • scottaworley
    scottaworley Posts: 871 Member
    Metabolic adaptation =/= starvation mode.

    ETA: While I think we would agree on the concept of metabolic adaptation, I think that it is dangerous to call metabolic adaptation "starvation mode".
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,152 Member
    Fascinating – thank you.
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylics
    ILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 27,760 Member
    Great post!


    I love seeing research attached.
  • LeanneGoingThin
    LeanneGoingThin Posts: 215 Member
    Interesting, thank you.
  • almc170
    almc170 Posts: 1,099 Member
    Great post, thanks!
  • ElliInJapan
    ElliInJapan Posts: 284 Member
    That's a great post, thank you for writing it! This whole "starvation mode" thing was always confusing to me. Are there any data whether this reduction in TDEE changes with time? (in terms of years I mean, assuming that the individual remains at the same level of leanness

    ETA: Also, another question: what is considered a "large" deficit? (how is it defined?) I think VLCD are at ~800kcal, where do the so common 1200kcal diets fall?
  • BeachIron
    BeachIron Posts: 6,517 Member
    Thank you for posting this. :drinker:
  • Maaike84
    Maaike84 Posts: 211 Member
    thanks for this, very informative!!
  • Cranquistador
    Cranquistador Posts: 39,745 Member
  • MrBecky
    MrBecky Posts: 55 Member
    A good read and thanks for referencing and laying it out so well!
  • BeachGingerOnTheRocks
    BeachGingerOnTheRocks Posts: 3,943 Member
    Thank you for compiling all this together into one post. I do think "starvation mode" is an overused and misunderstood term on MFP, and it is very helpful to understand what it happening and why there is a real need for going slow with weight loss. Thank you!
  • ihad
    ihad Posts: 7,468 Member
    Great writeup. This will be very valuable for many people.