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article on starvation mode


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I found a very good article on this. At some point  I will learn how to do that wonderful link skill you all know. :-)  In the mean time, google "Weight Watchers  The Starvation Myth."  The article provides footnotes for studies as its basis of its points.  According to this and other articles, when you cut calories your metabolism naturally slows, but it does not come to a complete stop. You will lose more weight at extremely low calorie numbers, but the rate of loss slows. The WW article uses math to show how this works. Researchers are unclear if the metabolism slow down is gradual as you reduce calories, or if the slow down is significant only when you hit very low numbers.   When "extremely low" is discussed, experts mean like 800 calories. Other sources I have read says the RMR varies only by about 15%.  If it was possible for the metabolism to stall 100%, people wouldn't starve to death.

The goal is to get adequate nutrition when dieting, and to not try to lose more than two pounds a week, probably less for smaller women close to their goal.  Obviously losing too quickly has many drawbacks.

With more food, you will have more energy, and can exercise more efficiently.  This may be why more dieters feel they lose weight faster when they eat more.  If you're lethargic, it is unlikely you will be doing a five-mile run. If you are too wiped to do anything but watch TV, you're burning barely more calories than sleeping.  But if you have energy, any additional movement burns energy all the hours you are awake.  Researchers know, for example, people who "fidgit" are less likely to have weight issues. 
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This is my favorite article on the subject

Dieting & Metabolism

I'm living proof that "starvation mode" exists.  I was eating 1200 calories a day and lost weight, then hit a plateau, as I'd done many times over the years.  This time, instead of urging me to eat even less (as WW did), my CC friends told me to eat MORE.  It sounded crazy, but I tried it and lost 9 pounds in 3 weeks.  Then I hit another plateau, which lasted for months

Finally, I consulted a nutritionist who calculated my caloric intake and needs based on my CC food logs.  She said I was eating too little.  She put me on a 2000 cal diet for 3 months and warned that I would gain.  I did gain back 8 pounds.  When my weight stabilized, she took away 100 calories a day each week.  I'm now at 1500 calories and losing very slowly, which is the reccomendation for someone my age and physical condition. 

So if you are eating low calorie and your weight loss stalls, it's something you might want to learn more about.
#2  
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I have seen that article before.  It dosn't say if your calories are too low, you will plateau and eating more is the solution. It says your metabolism will slow, which is different.  I have just tried really hard, for years before I joined this forum actually, to find some metabolic expert or obesity specialist to agree this phenomenon happens. Specifically, I've looked for something that says eating too little completely stalls your resting metabolic rate.  When people worry about "wrecking" their metabolisms, my sense is they believe somehow the RMR has been permanently altered.

As I said, I agree it is possible eating too little could shut down your energy level for activity (also part of metabolism).  It is also plausible to me that if the diet is too restrictive, too sudden of a crash, the dieter might not be able to adhere, so the average of good and bad days over a long period of time might result in a plateau. In this sense, I agree attempted diet is too low.  However the approach you describe of this nutritionist is one that would gently ease a dieter to less calories, and so sustainable in the long run.  I agree absolutely that many diets suggest calories unnecessarily low for weight loss, especially for heavier people.  A woman who is 200 pounds could easily lose on 1800 per day, so why do 1200?

Thanks for your response, I'll keep an open mind and keep digging.
I don't think anyone has said starvation "stalls" your metabolism entirely, no? After all, your heart is still beating etc.
It just slows your metabolism disproportionately and - importantly - inhibits weight loss and fat loss.
All calorie deficits slow your metabolism a little bit, but it usually returns to normal once you reach your goal weight and start maintaining. However, starvation makes your metabolism slow much more and can make people's *weight loss* stall.
okay here is how I see it,

Eating a calorie restricted diet will always cause muscle loss.  Muscles are where the majority of your energy is spent after the basic biological functions are taken care of.  So, your body will consume fat and muscle in a ratio that is related to your intake, or lack thereof, and activity level such that they will eventually balance out. 

Loss of muscle means lower metabolic rate (less calories needed per day to run your muscles, in essence).  Any restricted diet will lead to muscle loss.  But this is okay.  They key is to burn more fat than muscle.  The optimal caloric intake level is different for everyone but this does mean the likelyhood of eating more.
tbds
Jul 13 2007 23:59
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#5  
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People never stop with this "starvation mode" myth. The problem is that they have no idea how EFFICIENT the human body is. Its hard to lose fat, especially when you are lean, as the body is highly efficient. As the article says,  the "starvation mode" appears to largely be a myth, and has only a moderate effect when people are literally "starving".

The average North American fat Joe-Jane ain't starving. The reason they are not losing weight is due to not being aware of how many calories they are eating, and because they sit on their butts all day and all night.

I have lost a lot of weight recently, pretty quickly at about 3 lbs a week or so consistently, by simpy eating 3 healthy meals a day, and 3 healthysnacks a day, but mathematically making certain my calories were lower than what my body burns, by stopping eating junk foods. Its the Laws of Thermodynamics folks, the human body CANNOT violate laws of nature. As stated, if people are really STARVING, then the body might slow down other processes to conserve energy, including making you lethargic, or go to sleep 2 hrs early, etc.

So don't starve yourself! Eat healthy meals, just with fewer calories, but you have to be PRECISE. You have to count those 15 JuJubes, as they could be 250 calories. Count that Starbucks 500 calorie beast.

You have to accurately count the calories, to make  sure you are not eating an extra 200 calories a day, which many people do. Then they wonder why their weight is not changing. Its not changing due to the laws of physics. Its not Magick, its not "starvation mode". People are deceiving themselves as they don't know how efficiently the human body burns energy. Its not rocket science, but its the science of thermodynamics. People are simply deluding themselves into thinking they are eating less, or exercising more  than they are. http://health.howstuffworks.com/diet.htm

(this of course does not apply to those with eating disorders,  who are harming themselves in a serious way, please see a doctor).
The average North American fat Joe-Jane ain't starving. The reason they are not losing weight is due to not being aware of how many calories they are eating, and because they sit on their butts all day and all night

I totally agree.  How can someone possibly claim that they are in "starvation mode" if they don't use a food scale and have no idea what a 4 oz. piece of chicken looks like??? 

Here is the study to back up what's on the weight watcher's site: 

Seems pretty damn cut and dry to me. 

Seventeen subjects lost a mean of 24.2 kg. A mean of 75.5% of the weight loss was adipose tissue as measured by hydrodensitometry. BIA underestimated body fat percentage compared with hydrodensitometry in this obese population. Waist:hip and waist:thigh ratios showed a small but significant decrease, implying a decreased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease after weight loss. Resting metabolic rate, as measured by oxygen consumption, dropped 23.8% during the 12 weeks of the VLCD. The findings indicate that a VLCD can provide a rapid weight loss of more than 75% fat and a concomitant decrease in waist:hip and waist:thigh ratios. The findings also indicate that BIA may not be a useful tool in assessing fat loss in obese subjects. Finally, it appears that the decrease in resting metabolic rate that occurs during treatment with VLCD does not correlate with changes in lean body mass.
tbds
Jul 14 2007 00:06
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Please read this on how efficient the body is with energy.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/diet1.htm

"In motion, the human body also uses energy very efficiently. For example, a person running a marathon (26 miles or 42 km) burns only about 2,600 calories. In other words, you burn only about 100 calories per mile (about 62 calories per km) when you are running.

You can see just how efficient the human body is if you compare your body to a car. A typical car in the United States gets between 15 and 30 miles per gallon of gasoline (6 to 12 km/L). A gallon of gas contains about 31,000 calories. That means that if a human being could drink gasoline instead of eating hamburgers to take in calories, a human being could run 26 miles on about one-twelfth of a gallon of gas (0.3 L). In other words, a human being gets more than 300 miles per gallon (120 km/L)! If you put a human being on a bicycle to increase the efficiency, a human being can get well over 1,000 miles per gallon (more than 500 km/L)! That level of efficiency is the main reason why it is so easy to gain weight..."

ha! i thought there were only "oh, beware of the starvation mode" and "eat, eat, eat more, you will lose" threads here. tagging this.

Original Post by tbds:

People never stop with this "starvation mode" myth. The problem is that they have no idea how EFFICIENT the human body is. Its hard to lose fat, especially when you are lean, as the body is highly efficient. As the article says, the "starvation mode" appears to largely be a myth, and has only a moderate effect when people are literally "starving".

The average North American fat Joe-Jane ain't starving. The reason they are not losing weight is due to not being aware of how many calories they are eating, and because they sit on their butts all day and all night.

I have lost a lot of weight recently, pretty quickly at about 3 lbs a week or so consistently, by simpy eating 3 healthy meals a day, and 3 healthysnacks a day, but mathematically making certain my calories were lower than what my body burns, by stopping eating junk foods. Its the Laws of Thermodynamics folks, the human body CANNOT violate laws of nature. As stated, if people are really STARVING, then the body might slow down other processes to conserve energy, including making you lethargic, or go to sleep 2 hrs early, etc.

So don't starve yourself! Eat healthy meals, just with fewer calories, but you have to be PRECISE. You have to count those 15 JuJubes, as they could be 250 calories. Count that Starbucks 500 calorie beast.

You have to accurately count the calories, to make sure you are not eating an extra 200 calories a day, which many people do. Then they wonder why their weight is not changing. Its not changing due to the laws of physics. Its not Magick, its not "starvation mode". People are deceiving themselves as they don't know how efficiently the human body burns energy. Its not rocket science, but its the science of thermodynamics. People are simply deluding themselves into thinking they are eating less, or exercising more than they are. http://health.howstuffworks.com/diet.htm

(this of course does not apply to those with eating disorders, who are harming themselves in a serious way, please see a doctor).

Umm. No.  Starvation mode is REAL.  Just read the anecdotal evidence on this board. 

 

I think I'd much rather trust the precision measurements of the average american with an average american education than this so called "law of thermodynamics" of yours.

I don't know what to think. I will say this though, I once lost about 80 pounds in about 90 days by severely restricting my calorie intake, and I never once went in to starvation mode. I just kept losing.

tell it to the 3000 cals a day sedentary kind of crowd:)

This is very interesting.  How is it then that people who have gastric bypass surgery lose so much weight and so quickly?  And are they eventually able to eat more calories or what makes it so they just don't continually lose weight and become anorexic?  Just wondering.
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