Diets & Weight Loss Health & Fitness

Starve Mode

I run, lift weights, and am generally pretty fit. Despite this, I struggle with my weight and feel like I’m forever on a diet. After initially  losing weight easily on a low calorie, diet, I’ve since struggled to keep it off, and have gained just about everything back again.

I’ve been struggling with my weight again since. I’ve purchased diet book after diet book, looking for the elusive diet that suits my lifestyle and will help me keep weight off easily. I haven’t found it.   All that’s happened is that I’ve slowly put weight back on. What’s more, I’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food and feel like I’m constantly thinking about dieting.

Product Name: Starve Mode-starvem
Publisher Web Site:
Trial period:60 Days

Starve Mode

Then I started to come across terms such as starvation mode, metabolic damage, metabolic repair, and plateaus.  Through rave reviews on a number of health / fitness forums / groups, I came across Leigh Peele’s Starve Mode and decided this would, for a change, be a worthwhile ebook purchase about diet. Following is a detailed Starve Mode review.

Starve Mode addresses the following:

  • What is starvation mode? Does it really exist?
  • What roles are my hormones playing during (and after) fat loss?
  • Is a metabolism damaged forever?
  • Which macronutrient speeds up my metabolism the most, really?
  • Do I have to gain weight if I increase calories?
  • What role does water play in my weight?
  • Do I need supplements or drugs to have a healthy metabolism?
  • What can I ask my dietitian or doctors to get the best help?
  • How I can I weed out bad research?
  • How long does it take to get a revving metabolism?
  • Is a calorie a calorie?
  • What is refeeding? How do I know if I need it?
  • If I increase calories fast, will I gain fat?
  • Have I plateaued in my fat loss?
  • How do I keep a fast metabolism at any age?

Leigh advises to not skim read the book and to take notes along the way.  Even though I am generally a skimmer when it comes to diet and nutrition books, I wholeheartedly agree with this, and this is not a book which can be skim read.   In fact I went back and read some key chapters again because there is so much information in the book.

starve mods

Metabolism Calculations

The book begins by talking about metabolism including metabolic rate and caloric burn.  The various components that make up your metabolism are explained:

  1. Basal Energy Expenditure  (BEE)
  2. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
  3. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
  4. Non-Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA)
  5. Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)

There’s a lengthy explanation of methods of determining your metabolic rate, including testing and formulas.  The formulas are explained in this section, but also included with the purchase of the ebook are spreadsheets which make this calculation easier.

One of the methods of calculating total daily energy expenditure that I’ve used in the past  is the BMR multiplier. I have always struggled with what multiplier to use – am I lightly active if I have a desk job, but train every day? Leigh provides a very clear example about not over-rating yourself. It’s not just about exercise, but other factors as well.


There is so much conflicting advice about high protein, low carb, high fat, low fat, meal timing, how much etc etc.  The book provides a very good explanation about these macronutrients and metabolic rates as well as touching on the calories in vs calories out equation.

Starve Mode

The book devotes a chapter to the explanation of starve mode – what it is and what the myths surrounding it are and what effect a deficit has on the body. The book points out that if you aren’t losing fat, it is time or a break.

Cortisol, Leptin, Thyroid

Cortisol, leptin, thyroid are all terms that are bandied across forums and referenced in many diet books.  But in truth, I haven’t really understood them and Starve Mode gives a good explanation about them as well as how things like stress, carbohydates, sleep, level of calorie intake, and macronutrient profile impact.

There is a good explanation about body temperature within these sections. I’ve read some articles that suggest that body temperature should be over 98F for metabolism to be healthy, but mine has always been lower.  Leigh indicates that anything upwards of 96.2 first thing in the morning  is safe for women ( but it is how the body responds during the day which is so important).

starve mode review


Hormones are discussed because this is essential to body composition and ease of fat loss.This includes male and female hormones and a good discussion about loss of periods and weight loss.

Water Retention

This was my favourite chapter in the book and I think this will be a chapter I continually refer back  to.

Water weight is one of those things that I’m sure many of us recognise happens, but still freak out when it does.  There are a couple of comments in the book that have really stuck with me, and in this chapter Leigh says that unless you are in a competition that involves a weight class, your weight number should not affect you.

She discusses electrolytes, sodium potassium, magnesium, calcium and signs of water balance problems.   Also discussed is cortisol and exercise / emotional stress related water retention, hormones and water retention, carbohydrates, insulin and water retention and glycogen storage.

There are also excellent explanations about the everyday things than can cause weight fluctuations, such as dieting down or not, eating in surplus, water weight, stress and training.

I also LOVED Leigh pointing out the common misconception that muscle weighs more than fat.  Muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat.  Five founds of muscle is five pounds.  Five pounds of fat is five pounds (it is just that muscle is more dense than fat, so five pounds of muscle takes up less space than five pounds of fat).

starve mode pdf

Refeeding for metabolic reset

I loved this chapter, and again, I think this will be a chapter that I continually refer back to. It’s all about eating to your metabolic potential so that, amongst other things:

  1. You can lose body fat anytime you want
  2. You have strength
  3. Your skin, hair and body will look less dry
  4. And my favourite – you will get to eat more food.

The book talks about short term and long term refeeding.

Short-term refeeds are short breaks, often called cheat days, high days, carb days etc.The book gives some guidelines on short-term refeeding including number of breaks on a weekly basis and how frequently to program overall breaks in deficit.

The long-term refeeding section is more detailed and is aimed at the healthy population. This is not to be confused with clinical refeeding which is for those who have eaten very little for an extended period of time.

The goals of refeeding are to achieve:

  • Decreased electrolyte imbalances
  • Increase vitamin and macronutrient intake
  • Decrease unnecessary fluid retention
  • Increase strength
  • Decrease unnecessary fat gain
  • Increase basal metabolic rate
  • Increase caloric maintenance level.

Because it is likely that people will gain weight during a break, Leigh reiterates the need to determine your activity level as explained earlier in the book. She also suggests re-reading the water weight section again.

What I found fascinating in this section was the explanation of why your weight goes up. The explanation of this is aided with an example of a women age 34, height 5’6; weight 126lbs, body fat, 19%.   A number of scenarios are presented including increased food intake, eating at a deficit, decreasing activity and increasing food to maintenance.

This section includes a chart indicating regain estimate based on percentage of deficit from maintenance, and also details what will make you gain more than you should (eating more than 10% over maintenance for example).

The book then steps through two options of refeeding and explains how to do it, using an example. Minimum macronutrient intake is also suggested. The book also includes details about how to calculate the time frame of your reefed and then the stabilisation period.

The book also includes sections on

  • Age and metabolism
  • Metabolic disorders and disordered eating
  • Supplements
  • And a useful chapter on reading and interpreting research and studies.


This book is not a diet book.  It provides answers to questions about metabolism and will help you get a clearer understanding about how it all works and how to reset your metabolism. In doing so, Leigh’s hope with the book is that, with this understanding, you will eat more, burn more and grow strong in your body and dreams.

For someone who’s often skim reads nutritional books, it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but I saw that as a good thing as there is so much information contained within the book.   The advice is to take notes and re-read any chapters.

The book includes numerous examples and references to studies.

The book comes with some additional spread sheet calculators – activity calculator and reefed calculators (that includes macro calculations).

Overall, this is an excellent resource.  It really makes you think about past diets that you may have been on, and gives you a really good understanding about so many of the terms that are bandied around various forums and discussions groups.

Well worth the read for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.