Weight Loss
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Minimum Calories: where the body stores fat instead of burning it.


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My doc mentioned that if you dont eat enough per day the body tends to hold on to the fat for energy and burns away muscle instead sense its not needed as much.

before i go on i would like someone to verify my previous statement and give some thoughts on that if you would, thanks.  so sometimes i worry if i happen to eat a relativly small amount of food on a particular day, lets say 700 or so calories (im 21, 202lbs, 5'11") and exercise on that day that my body might try and keep the fat rather than burn it off.

now normally i eat roughly between 1200-1500/day and im not really active at all, i mean i will walk/jog or bike for an hour or so a day, but the rest of the time im just sitting around (unemployed). So here i ask you if you can point me in a direction, or if you yourself know how to find out the calorie intake limit where the body decides to keep the fat for energy rather than burning it off like it should, thank you.

Edited May 11 2013 12:08 by coach_k
Reason: locked to prevent unnecessary zombie bumps
20 Replies (last)
you should read this wonderful thread, it could help
For your height, weight, and age (and I assumed a goal weight of 150lbs) you can eat 2377 calories per day to maintain your current weight.  To lose one pound per week without exercise you can eat 1877. 

You said you exercise for an hour a day.  Your body is using almost 3000 calories to live that day.  If I were you, I would aim for 1800 calories per day and ABSOLUTELY DO NOT go below 1200.  That is the minimum your body can survive on. 

After 3 days of not getting the calories and nutrients your body needs, it will go into starvation mode - meaning that whatever you take in will be immediately stored as fat because your body doesn't know when you are going to feed it again.

Food is fuel.  Feed your body the nutrients it needs to survive.  Eating 1800 calories per day and getting an hour of exercise will help you stay at a healthy loss of about 2lbs per week.  Good luck! 
plume, nice little thread you showed me there... an interesting read, will get a lot of good information on it, but not exactly what im looking for as in regards to the answer of my question.

thank you for the info beth, i forgot to mention im taking a daily supplement cap, twinlab... and from what the label says im good to go as far as vitamins are concerned (thats not to say i neglect vegetables because im taking a supplement).  this leads me into another question, and that is should i always eat something when i feel really hungry? granted the thing im going to eat wouldn't have any fat or sugar in it either way.

I dont know.. i wish i could have worded that question better, 1800 does seem like a lot and to me it doesnt feel right eating that much knowing i can get it lower without too much effort, thus increasing weight loss...  but then again if i avoid a certain number i start to store a higher % of fat, argh! its just really hard to tell, thanks for the comment though.
What signs does you body give you when you feel hungry?  For me, my stomach growls or I feel weak or light headed.  I know I need to eat then so that my blood sugar doesn't go too low.

You shouldn't just not eat for the sake of not eating.  When your body tells you it's hungry, listen to it.  If you aren't eating when you're really hungry, when are you eating? 

If you go below 1200 cal/day (for women or 1500 cal/day for men) then you run the risk of your body going into starvation - which you absolutely want to avoid.
in the beginning you have to learn your body's hunger signals (growling stomach, fatigue). A good way to tell if you are actually hungry is to ask yourself 'am i hungry only for a sandwhich or some particular food, or am i hungry enough to eat anything?' if you are only 'hungry' for a particular food, then it's just a craving

you should listen to the advice about not going below 1600-1800 calories per day, as you lose weight your daily requirement to lose weight will decrease, so stay updated. Definitely do not go below 1200 calories, because then yes your body will use muscle to fuel it's needs instead of stored fat. It will end up storing more fat b/c it thinks it won't get enough calories to maintain functions
Shrapnel,

Yes, what your doctor told you is correct, and is commonly referred to as "starvation mode."  If you do not get enough calories/nutrients from food, your body will hold onto fat and deplete nutrients from your muscles (not good,) and if it runs out of muscle, then it will start taking them from your internal organs (definitely not good.)  This is a holdover from our "caveman" days, when things were much more feast or famine, to try to keep our bodies alive and warm when there was a shortage of food. 

So therefore, if you don't eat enough, then you will actually stop losing weight in your body's attempt to reserve energy.  The general recommendation for men is not to go below 1500 calories per day.  The tools for calorie expenditure and allowance that you'll find here are fairly good ones to use as a guideline.
Thanks again for the comments... in regards to beth's question of when i feel hungry: actually i probably eat out of boredom most of the time or i just simply feel like eating without any real signs attached.  However i make sure the food i do consume is generally good for you in the first place.  I suppose i gave a bad example when i mentioned i didnt eat when i felt really hungry, i suppose its because i wanted to avoid being upstairs to get something to eat for personal reasons and even though my stomach was hurting slightly from hunger, i didnt really feel the need, mentally speaking, to eat.

I seen that 1600-1800 is the recommended amount to lose weight while doing light exercises,  but the odd thing is that when i talked to my doc, i showed him on a piece of paper everything i ate the previous day and i added up all the calories and cal from fat. The total was 1367/(198 from fat).  he said that was great/good your fine and is pretty much all he said about it.  I dont know i guess i wish he would have went into it with more detail, thats just why i think 1600-1800 seems a bit much based on what he said, but then again maybe i didnt give him enough information he needed to give an accurate judgement.

in regards to "starvation mode" would it make a difference on where the calories come from? for example, as you mentioned 1200 is roughly the breaking point where the body starts to keep the fat but lets say a decent portion of that is from protein and fat wouldnt that make a significant difference than if the 1200 was primarily from vegetables and such?  I dont know maybe i got the whole concept wrong, either way i really appreciate any and all advice given so far.
I did that too, ate when I was bored or tired.  It's so bad for you because it turns off your bodies natural signals of hunger and you kind of lose touch with yourself.  I'm only just (these past few weeks) getting back on track with listening to my body and responding when it tells me something.

1200 calories as a minimum is pretty standard knowledge.  But it's good that you are thinking about where those calories are coming from.  What types of food you eat does matter.  Having a balance of roughly 60% carbs, 25% protein & 15% fat is pretty good for most people.  Use the analysis section to determine how your daily balance looks.  Make sure to keep an eye on sodium (1500-2400 mg) and fiber (25-35 g).
hi again :)

First, I will say that if you are attempting to lose weight AND you are under your doctor's supervision, then whatever the Doc tells you should be fine, even if it contradicts some of what might be said here.  Just use your judgement and try different combinations of what the doctor says and what you find from your own research until you find something that works for you and is healthy. 

As for where the calories come from - again the *general* recommendation is that you want to shoot for around 50% carb, 25%-30% protein, and the rest in fat.  The fat should be mainly the "good" fats, unsaturated ones like you'll find in nuts, olive oil, fish, etc, as little saturated fat as possible.  Try to eat "good" carbs too, such as whole grains and fruits/veggies, and not processed things like chips, cookies, white bread, etc.  But again, if you are under medical supervision then you may have specific needs that your doctor can help you with in that area.

If you are trying to lose weight, the basic philosophy of this website is that if you burn more calories than you eat, then you will lose weight.  3500 calories = one pound.  So, just as an example, say you burn 2000 calories on an average day.  If you ate 1500 calories per day, you'd have a deficit of 500 calories per day.  500 per day x 7 days in a week = 3500 calorie deficit for the week = one pound lost per week.

Generally, it is not recommended to routinely have a deficit of greater than 800-1000 calories per day, but once again, if you are under medical supervision, then this may not apply.  Routinely having too much of a calorie deficit is one of the things that will trigger the ol' starvation mode.

Hopefully this helps a little.  Good luck!
#10  
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Hey all, i'm new to this website, but for many years I have kept a strict eye on my calories and vitamins and minerals. And some of the advice here given is pretty bad to be honest. Someone mentioned 3,000 calories per day? When i exercise for an hour at the gym, using the heart rate monitor, i can burn 800 calories, going pretty much full on. I really don't see anyones body actually needing 3,000 calories on any day.

Take your BMR and factor in how much exercise you do. Anything below your BMR, and you will start to lose weight. There is no magic number to fit everyone. I have been eating 500 cals, sometimes 750, under my BMR of 1853, and have steady lost 1 lb - 2 lbs per week. Combine that with a high protein diet, i have maintained my muscle mass, whilst losing the weight.

Tbh, i think alot of people need to take this advice very generally, and work out what works for them. Take a look at body building websites and diets. These people have there diets down to a tee, as they feed themselves with all the nutrients they need. Putting on muscle will help you lose weight, in combination with cardio too.

 

Anyway, halfway through writing this i realised i have just reanimated a 3 year old thread :D sorry!

If you are obese like I am, your body will not go into starvation mode if you slip below 1200 calories per day. Your body knows how much stored fat it has, and will adjust accordingly. I weighed 417 when I started dieting on April 23rd, and this morning I weighed 401. That's 16 lbs lost in 17 days. And I had lost only 5 lbs in the first 7 days, so that's 11 lbs in the last 10 days. The first week I was trying to see what I could eat and lose weight without raising my blood sugar or forcing my body into ketosis. You see, I am a type 2 diabetic w/insulin, so ketosis is not good for me. The Atkins diet uses ketosis to force your body to lose stored fat, but it is very dramatic. I have found that 150 grams of carbs and 150 grams of protein is a good balance for me, but everyone is different, so take a week and check out different foods and when you find what works for you, stick to it. This is for people that are 100 lbs overweight or more. I would say if you are less than 50 lbs overweight you should not let your daily caloric intake get below 1200, or you run the risk of losing muscle. One more thing, the U.S. Army lowest calorie/food rationing limit is 900 calories. This is what the human body absolutely needs to function PROPERLY.

i hate posting on reanimated threads but being obese does not mean you won't eventually hit starvation mode.1200 calories has nothing to do with starvation mode, it's a number that makes it difficult to get adequate nutrients below. your body can decide it needs to slow down it's metabolism and conserve usually if you are eating under your BMR - for most people that number is above 1200.

course most people are so darn hungry they start overeating way before they stop losing.

One more thing, the U.S. Army lowest calorie/food rationing limit is 900 calories. This is what the human body absolutely needs to function PROPERLY.

i don't even know where you got that information but i can almost guarantee  that is taken way out of context. food rationing of that kind has to do with conserving resources and keeping someone alive as necessary, not a lifestyle of eating and not for weight loss. here are the rules for normal food rations. it explicitly states that their "diet" menu is 1500-1600 cals a day. 

implying its okay for someone to consume 900 cals is irresponsible and dangerous.

 

 

 

 

#13  
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Original Post by shrapnel:

thank you for the info beth, i forgot to mention im taking a daily supplement cap, twinlab... and from what the label says im good to go as far as vitamins are concerned (thats not to say i neglect vegetables because im taking a supplement).  this leads me into another question, and that is should i always eat something when i feel really hungry? granted the thing im going to eat wouldn't have any fat or sugar in it either way.

I dont know.. i wish i could have worded that question better, 1800 does seem like a lot and to me it doesnt feel right eating that much knowing i can get it lower without too much effort, thus increasing weight loss...  but then again if i avoid a certain number i start to store a higher % of fat, argh! its just really hard to tell, thanks for the comment though.

Two quick comments: supplements are useful, but not as useful as actually getting the vitamins/minerals with food. Nutrients often need other nutrients to be absorbed properly. Make sure you are taking the supplements with food, to help with that (especially if you are only eating 1300-odd calories!)

The other comment is that obviously, your doctor's advice trumps anything we say. I do want to point out that you may find slightly higher calories more conducive to weight loss, simply because it makes life easier. Unless you need urgent weight loss for health reasons, you shouldn't look at this process as a temporary measure. You need to eat in a way you can keep up all you life.

As an analogy, a runner might be able to run a 5k race and a marathon. But she won't be able to run the marathon at her 5k pace: she needs to go slower. Giving it your all will differ if you have 5lbs to lose than if you have 50lbs.

 

But it is all hard work. :-(

Original Post by jric671362057:

One more thing, the U.S. Army lowest calorie/food rationing limit is 900 calories. This is what the human body absolutely needs to function PROPERLY.

That's not universally true. In fact, I'm not sure that's true at all.

Besides, just because it's possibly the lowest suggested intake doesn't mean that it's optimal to eat that little for weight loss. It's far too little for, well, anyone.

Alright so Im gonna chime in as uneducated as I am with what I believe from what I have read.

Men need a min of 1500 cals per day, my recommended daily requirement from this site is 2300 cals per day to lose a pound a week, 2800 to maintain. I regularly consume approx 1800 cals per day.

I find it difficult to eat more than that of healthy food and still avoid the high glycemic carbs.

I havent been lifting weights at all but plan to start monday when I join the gym and do the circuit training.

From my previous experience as a "personal trainer" (unqualified back in the 80's and 90's) the prevailing truth or myth at the time was; Muscle mass burns more energy and therefore is calorically higher than stored fat. So, if you quit working out then after an unspecified amount of time you body would switch over from muscle building/ maintaining mode to muscle scavenging mode. Otherwise known as atrophe.

Personally I dont think the body itself robs the muscle to feed itself, but I am uneducated. I think the muscle is in a constant state of breakdown and repair and to the extent you exercise or use the muscles determines this cycle. IF you stop using the muscle the body figures it doesnt need the calories to rebuild and those get stored as fat. Since the muscle isnt being replaced it shrinks for lack of a better term.

I havent worked out for 20 years so this will be interesting in the least. I am also beginning studies in Alexander Technique.

So if my thinking is wrong sorry but I dont think any harm is done.

Original Post by kelrantymus:

And seriously, what is with all the zombie threads lately?!?!

must be tuesday

Original Post by kelrantymus:

Original Post by linden:

Original Post by shrapnel:

thank you for the info beth, i forgot to mention im taking a daily supplement cap, twinlab... and from what the label says im good to go as far as vitamins are concerned (thats not to say i neglect vegetables because im taking a supplement).  this leads me into another question, and that is should i always eat something when i feel really hungry? granted the thing im going to eat wouldn't have any fat or sugar in it either way.

I dont know.. i wish i could have worded that question better, 1800 does seem like a lot and to me it doesnt feel right eating that much knowing i can get it lower without too much effort, thus increasing weight loss...  but then again if i avoid a certain number i start to store a higher % of fat, argh! its just really hard to tell, thanks for the comment though.

Two quick comments: supplements are useful, but not as useful as actually getting the vitamins/minerals with food. Nutrients often need other nutrients to be absorbed properly. Make sure you are taking the supplements with food, to help with that (especially if you are only eating 1300-odd calories!)

The other comment is that obviously, your doctor's advice trumps anything we say. I do want to point out that you may find slightly higher calories more conducive to weight loss, simply because it makes life easier. Unless you need urgent weight loss for health reasons, you shouldn't look at this process as a temporary measure. You need to eat in a way you can keep up all you life.

As an analogy, a runner might be able to run a 5k race and a marathon. But she won't be able to run the marathon at her 5k pace: she needs to go slower. Giving it your all will differ if you have 5lbs to lose than if you have 50lbs.

 

But it is all hard work. :-(

Shrapnel hasn't been around for 4 years............

And seriously, what is with all the zombie threads lately?!?!

you'd think they could archive them after 6 months or so - searchable but not postable

the only reason i had to post was because of the infinite wisdom of the army says 900 cals is ok dude. i tried to fight it but in the end it was too misguided not to counter-post.

Original Post by chickey_soup:

you'd think they could archive them after 6 months or so - searchable but not postable

There has been talk of doing that. But some threads continue on (or deserve to get bumped from time to time). Like dbacker's pink dumbbell thread in Fitness. Or the "I slept with my best friend's girlfriend" thread in the Lounge.

#19  
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Original Post by kelrantymus:

Original Post by linden:

Original Post by shrapnel:

...{Blah blah, brainzzz}

 

...{Blah blah, have some more brainzz,  thread!}

 

Shrapnel hasn't been around for 4 years............

And seriously, what is with all the zombie threads lately?!?!

Guilty as charged. I haven't been checking the dates!

Original Post by bierorama:

Original Post by jric671362057:

One more thing, the U.S. Army lowest calorie/food rationing limit is 900 calories. This is what the human body absolutely needs to function PROPERLY.

That's not universally true. In fact, I'm not sure that's true at all.

Besides, just because it's possibly the lowest suggested intake doesn't mean that it's optimal to eat that little for weight loss. It's far too little for, well, anyone.

Yes, a zombie thread -- however... WTF? what is this from 1900, when punishment was still bread and water for a couple of days??  Army field rations are generally 2500-3000 calories.

by the by -- when users are using the mobile apps, apparently the thread dates (or at least start date) aren't visible -- that's why so many zombies.  People search for something (usually on google), find it and don't know it's a dead thread and so they reply...

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