Will I lose weight if I stop eating?

There is an age-old myth that if you stop eating, one can lose weight. The fact of the matter is, it is not simply a matter of not eating at all, but rather reducing or balancing the number of calories you consume, which will help you lose weight. Consistency is key, and if you do any type of activity in conjunction with cutting back on your food intake, the pounds will gradually start to drop off.

The Mechanism of Weight Loss

Our body is a complicated machine that requires a certain amount of energy to operate. This energy comes from the food we consume, and it is measured in the form of calories. When we eat too many calories, the body stores the excess calories as fat, and this is how we gain weight. To lose weight, your body must burn off more calories than it consumes daily.

What Happens When You Stop Eating

If you stop eating altogether, your body will start to use up energy from the stored fat. Initially, this may lead to weight loss, but it is not an effective way to lose weight in the long term. The human body requires a specific amount of energy to function, and when it is not getting that supply through food, it will take the energy from another source. Unfortunately, this energy source may not always be your stored fat. The body may resort to breaking down muscle tissue for energy, which is not ideal since this can decrease your metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight in the future.

Dangers of Starvation Diets

Starvation diets can have some serious side effects that can be detrimental to your health. When you limit your food intake significantly, you may experience fatigue, dizziness, and brain fog. In extreme cases, it can lead to organ failure, malnutrition, and in some cases, even death. A better approach to weight loss is to maintain a balanced diet with the appropriate number of calories to support your body’s needs.

How to Lose Weight Safely

There are several safe ways to lose weight, and the key is to create a calorie deficit without depriving your body of the nutrients it needs. Here are a few strategies:

1. Count Calories

The first step in losing weight is figuring out how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight. There are many online calculators to help you determine your daily calorie needs, such as the Harris-Benedict equation. Once you have determined that number, reducing your caloric intake by 500-1000 calories per day will lead to a safe and sustainable weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds per week.

2. Increase Exercise

Increasing your physical activity not only helps to burn calories but can also bring other health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and better mood. Incorporating activities like walking, cycling, or jogging can help to increase the number of calories burned each day, speeding up your weight loss goals.

3. Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods

Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will help to ensure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs to function optimally, while keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Avoiding processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats will help to ensure that you are consuming the right kinds of calories.

4. Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Planning your meals in advance helps to avoid impulse eating, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. Preparing meals at home also helps control the number of calories you consume and can be a fun and creative way to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods.


Losing weight is not an overnight process and requires a consistent effort to create a calorie deficit while maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. While it may be tempting to try extreme strategies like starvation diets, they are not only ineffective but can also be dangerous to your health.

Common Questions About Weight Loss and Eating Habits

  • 1. Can I lose weight by skipping meals?
  • Skipping meals will generate short-term weight loss, but it is not advisable. The body requires constant sources of energy so it can function properly. When we skip meals, the body’s metabolism slows down, which can cause weight gain in the future.

  • 2. Can I eat unhealthy foods and still lose weight?
  • While it is possible to lose weight consuming unhealthy foods, this is not the best approach. Consuming too many calories from unhealthy foods can cause nutrient deficiencies and health complications in the future. Losing weight typically involves reducing calorie intake and balancing the number of calories consumed.

  • 3. What foods should I avoid eating to lose weight?
  • Foods to avoid include processed foods, high-fat foods like fried chicken, fast food, sugary snacks, and sweetened beverages. These foods typically contain high amounts of calories and are low in nutrients. Instead, opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

  • 4. How much physical activity do I need to lose weight?
  • Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to maintain good health. However, if you are looking to lose weight, 300 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended. This can be spread across the week, for example, 45 minutes per day, four to five times a week.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Healthy Weight. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2013). Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/DASH_brief.pdf
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019). Weight loss: 6 strategies for success. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047752