You might have heard that the keto diet is great for natural appetite control and there is no denying that. However there are a few reasons why you might not be hungry on keto that are actually red flags rather than a sign that keto is working. Knowing the difference between natural appetite suppression and a more damaging lack of hunger will make sure that your metabolism isn’t impacted.
In my Keto Bootcamp I teach people how to use the natural appetite suppression of keto to be in a small calorie deficit without being too restrictive. When you restrict your calories, your body can enter conservation mode. This can be a serious reason why you might not be hungry on keto and if this is the case, you will need to take action.
You probably heard of starvation mode but conservation mode is something a bit different. Conservation mode could be why you might not be hungry on keto. Conservation mode happens when you have been restricting calories for a long period of time. The problem is that the more times you do restrictive dieting the quicker you get into conservation mode.
Conservation mode is an evolutionary adaptation that happens to protect our bodies during times when food is scarce. The difference between conservation mode and starvation mode is that in conservation mode, things slow down to conserve energy and resources. In starvation mode, everything is as slow as it can be and your body starts to tap into lean muscle to survive. If you have fat on your body and you know your metabolism has slowed, you are not in starvation mode, you are in conservation mode.
Conservation mode manifests as:
- extreme tiredness
- general tiredness that doesn’t go away with sleep
- brain fog
- air hunger
- hair loss
- disrupted sleep patterns
- unable to fall asleep
- unable to stay asleep
- feeling wired at night
- thin, peeling and splitting nails
- low pulse rate
- inward trembling especially at night
- dry skin
- lack of appetite
- sense of urgency in everything
- weight gain
- thyroid symptoms
- aches and pains
- low blood pressure
- general burnt out feelings
- zero ability to cope with minor stress
- feeling cold especially at night before you sleep
I have also called this Toxic Diet Culture Syndrome because this type of restrictive dieting is what puts your body in conservation mode. When this happens, your appetite peaks and then falls away. If you eat a large meal or something particularly sweet, you can wake the beast. It feels like you want to eat everything around you.
Conservation Mode Binge Eating
Conservation mode causes binge eating. It has nothing to do with weak willpower or not being able to control yourself. It’s simply your body trying to stock up on calories and nutrition when you actually eat.
Think of it like thirst. When you are really thirsty but don’t have much water you sip a little at a time to make it last. It doesn’t satisfy you wholly but it takes away the worst of the thirst. Then when you get to a bottomless drink, you gulp and gulp until your stomach feels distended. It’s exactly the same with food, with nutrition. Your body craves it and as long as you’re only “sipping” at the food, you won’t feel hungry.
Once you start eating enough again, it can be almost impossible to skip meals or fast. You can feel anxious and jittery if you try. This is like a conservation mode hangover. Your body fears going into conservation mode so it ramps up hunger and you don’t feel satisfied.
Getting Out of Conservation Mode
This is probably going to be a hard one but you are going to have to eat more and that means probably gaining some weight too. Most times you need to do work on your adrenals too. I have two free guides that you can use to help recover your metabolism if you have been practicing chronic calorie restriction. You can download them here: