I am trying to lose weight and am at a plateau, am I in starvation mode?

If you have hit a weight loss plateau, you are not in starvation mode. You have actually reached a state of equilibrium. The calories you are taking in (eating) have equaled the calories your body is burning. When this happens, no weight is lost or gained.

There are a few reasons for a plateau. One reason could be that you have adapted to your exercise program. If your routine exercises are becoming easy, add some new, more challenging movements. The extra push will cause your body to burn extra calories. Also, add more movement in to your day - take the stairs, walk, fidget, or dance - and avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Another reason for your plateau might be that you have shrunk! As your body mass decreases, you actually need slightly less calories. It's hard on a body to carry around extra weight, so overweight people typically need more energy than leaner people. If you've experienced significant weight loss, you may need to decrease your food intake just a bit. A deficit of only 300-500 calories a day, whether by burning it, or avoiding it, can equal up to one pound of weight lost per week. The only way to be sure you are reaching your calorie goal is to, first of all, know how many calories your body needs, and to commit to a food log. A food log will help you stay on your calorie target. There are many electronic apps that simplify food logging. 

If you have more questions, please connect to an Elite Trainer on Sharecare. We are here to help!

Your plateau is not due to starvation mode but you not burning more calories than you take in.  Many times people hit this plateau because they have been doing the same workout for awhile.  Your program has to change just as your body does.  As your body adapts to the program it doesn't have to work as hard to do your workout.  So it will not burn as many calories as you did in the beginning.  Basically you will have to step up your resistance training and cardiovascular workouts to still see weight loss and body fat drops.
The so-called “starvation mode” is the point where the body supposedly decides not to lose more weight, even when you eat “hardly anything”, by slowing down the metabolism because the body is afraid you will starve to death. To put your entire issue into perspective, first realize that the people around the world who truly die of starvation do not die overweight.
This myth was born from a combination of facts: 1) we physically move very little in the modern world, thus burn few daily calories compared to our ancestors, and 2) most people tend to underreport their TRUE calorie intake by 20-45% (the more overweight, the more they underreport). Therefore, we are actually eating more and moving less than we think.
The main reason the body comes to plateaus during dieting or exercise (besides consciously or subconsciously not properly following the plan), is that when weight is lost and you become more fit, your body uses fewer calories for the same activities. Your muscles are more efficient, which makes work easier. You are moving less body weight during all activities, forcing you to add work or eat less in order to continue to lose weight. Moreover, dieting often makes people feel less energetic, which leads to moving less throughout the day, therefore burning fewer calories overall.
For people who eat well, exercise regularly, and do not want to cut more calories to keep losing, simply increase your daily movements at home or at the office. Stand or pace anytime you can instead of sitting: pace the room while on the phone or thinking, take stairs instead of elevators or escalators, park farther away from your final destination, take a walk at lunch, walk to a colleague’s office to talk rather than use e-mail or the intercom, walk or pace slowly while watching your favorite TV shows, etc. Additionally, you can try changing your workout, including the intensity and type of cardio you perform, which can help you burn a few more calories in the same workout timeframe. And never sit down or stop moving in the gym.
One thing that we have learned over the years is that true starvation patterns are very similar.  Think of the various images you get in your mind from prisoner of war camps, patients struggling with anorexia, or places in the world where food is scarce.  Starvation always begins with severe caloric restriction followed by severe unhealthy weight loss.  Media has driven in America and developed countries a belief that we may go through severe metabolic changes because of calorie restriction.  While this can and is true in the extreme examples above if by chance you are like most American dieters you simply have reached homeostasis.  The calories you are taking in are now equal to what your body is demanding.  The simple solution assuming you are not one of the examples above is to look at your true total calories in and if appropriate reduce them safely while increasing your calorie burn through additional exercise.  Also get a true measurement of your body fat percentage it will give you additional insight into how much more weight (fat) you can safely lose.
Your lack of weight loss is unlikely due to starvation. Think of starving people and what image comes to mind? Somehow, only in American gyms are “starving” people overweight. The premise is that a dieter eats so few calories that their body perceives a survival threat and makes drastic adjustments to hormonal and metabolic systems, severely reducing metabolic rate and calorie burn. Starvation responses have been identified in starving people, but it is always preceded by a prolonged lack of food and significant and unhealthy weight loss. If you have been eating a severely reduced calorie diet, have lost significant and unhealthy amounts of weight, then indeed you may be starving yourself and you should stop. If this is not the case, then you have simply stopped doing what allowed you to lose weight up to this point. Sometimes we get a little lax on our food intake, sneaking a bite or two here and there. Or perhaps you have been a little tired and move less during the day or have failed to vary your exercise routine so your body has adapted. There is simply no evidence to support the notion that people fail to lose weight due to a metabolic compensation, but rather a failure to consistently eat fewer calories than they burn.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.