"I would agree that "starvation mode" is a concept that gets overused and misunderstood very often and easily. Eating too little will not cause you to stop losing weight or gain weight over the long term. It can cause that effect in the short term, if the calorie deficit is not too large, because your body does have mechanisms for slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy, in order to cope with short-term variations or shortages in food supply."
Read the full post for a fabulous explanation of all of the related terms and ideas.
Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 1/23/2013 (18:24)
Heather Writer, mother, wife, and breadwinner. I love to run, but running doesn't love me, so I'm switching to my low-impact bike.
Fitness Minutes: (555)
1/23/13 5:36 P
I do believe the body enters a "starvation mode" with prolonged low calorie diets, but I think I read a peer-reviewed study recently that showed the effects of yo-yo and low calorie diets did NOT permanently alter metabolism, so good news for those who have done these crappy diets for years.
eat food. not too much. mostly plants.
Goal 1: 160lbs by May 15 (breast reduction day!) Goal 2: 150 by July 1 (summer!!) Goal 3: 135-140 by December 1 (ultimate goal weight)
I've known women who have dieted - without exercising - for years. They have restricted calories for so long, without the metabolic boost of exercise, that they can gain weight on 1200 calories per day. It's as if their bodies believe 1000 calories a day to be normal. We're built to resist famine; they have seemingly taught their bodies "This is all you'll ever get."
Of course, the starvation mode idea only goes so far -- if you stop eating long enough, you will get thin and eventually die. If you stop starving yourself before you die, yeah, you'll be thin, but you'll have damaged your body and you'll get the effects Russell describes below. No one wants that.
When I started my weight-loss program, my doctor told me I would eventually stop losing on 1200 or 1400 calories a day; not because I don't burn more than that, but because the body adapts to dieting eventually. She said the way to counter this is to exercise. I want to TORCH calories, not adapt to starvation. So I think that's what's meant by the starvation response.
Here is the best way to explain starvation mode.. The year after I graduated I weighed 317 pounds. I cut down to one bowl of cottage cheese a week, orange juice twice a week, and water every day obviously. I did this for an entire summer, while taking Dexatrim, and playing basketball for 6 hours on Friday's. The other 6 days I worked 16 hours a day as a dishwasher, and worked out 2 hours at a 24 hour gym. In 3 months I got down to 183 lbs.
Starvation. The idea of starvation mode is what happened next. I started eating again. 600-800 calories. I threw up the first time, but after that I was eating 800 calories a day... and gaining weight. After a month I balance out, and stayed the same on 1600 calories, but I was 215.
Starvation mode is not something 95% of you need to worry about. It only happens with severe restrictions. I went the other way, and binged during my 20's, and topped out at 361.
You are not going to damage your metabolism by eating 1000 calories for a month. You probably aren't going to lose much extra either. Instead of worrying about not eating 1200 calories to prevent starvation mode, people should want to eat more than 1200, because it is messed up to think that you shouldn't. Less is not better.
The term starvation mode is just a term that gained popularity to more easily explain the slowing of your metabolism, after a protracted period of reduced calories. It takes a while though. You won't experience it if you skip 1 meal, or eat 1000 calories on Tuesday.
Except for the basic idea that you should eat more than 1200 calories, I would just forget the term.
"We can't solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them "
- Albert Einstein
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
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Fitness Minutes: (3,449)
310 1/23/13 3:58 P
Its true that you will lose weight. One doctor told me the downside (though he was doing lecture on bariatric surgery and why diets so often fail once someone goes past a certain point) of this approach is that lowering your intake (any) teaches your body that it can survive on less, and our bodies have adapted over the many generations to survive periods of famine. So, once your body realizes that 'hey, i can work on 1700 (say you diet to 1500), it won't go back up to the 2000 it was using before you started your diet but level off around 17-1800. Next diet, it'll be harder, and it'll result in your body surviving on 1500 (say you diet to 1200), etc. The metabolism goes back up, eventually, but he (and I'm skeptical on this) insisted the process is very slow and will never go all the way back to where it was before you even though of the word 'diet'. Did I fully buy into his lecture? no. Do I see his logic? yes. Do I still itch to go on a 700 cal diet so that I reach my goal 2x as fast? yes (actually posted something to that effect due to sheer frustration over it). Will I go on a 700 cal diet? no, and not in a small part because I fear at least some of what he said is true (and the theory WW is trying to discredit, though I've yet to hear anyone say that you won't lose *anything* due to going into starvation mode, as that article implied -_-; )... and if I would get stuck eating only 700cal or suffering weight gain for the rest of my life I'd probably go insane before I hit 30. Also, the study cited was on post-menopausal women (and only 24)... using it to support the article is a little like pointing to a pond and insisting waves are simply made due to wind and nothing else (false for larger bodies of water).
Fitness Minutes: (48,785)
296 1/23/13 3:51 P
There is a lot of talk about this in bodybuilding circles right now. As a previous poster said, when people who have been on very low calorie diets to get themselves very lean in order to be stage ready, they get metabolic damage. When they return to normal calorie intake levels, they gain large amounts of weight. Pretty scary stuff. Risk factors include diets very low in calories, very low in carbs, coupled with high amounts of cardio. It seems to be more likely to happen in people who have dieted this way multiple times or for prolonged periods of time. So, yes, I believe metabolic damage is a real entity. Google Scott Abel or Lean Bodies Consulting. Both of these pages have some valuable information on the topic.
Fitness Minutes: (35,911)
5,092 1/23/13 3:43 P
I always thought starvation mode messes up your metabolism and other bodily functions, and then if you continue starving yourself, your body starts eating away at your muscles, eventually your fat, until you're skin and bones. And then when you start eating a healthy amount of food, that's when the weight gain happens, and then it becomes harder to lose. That's my logical understanding of it.
Fitness Minutes: (21,342)
1/23/13 3:31 P
I've been trying to wrap my head around it. Everyone always says if you don't eat enough you go into starvation mode and don't lose and possibly gain weight (which makes no logical sense looking at people who are actually starving), but when I googled it to see exactly what happens to the body, I'm seeing that it's a myth, or at least greatly exaggerated... Yes or no? Becky?
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