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How soon does a body switch into starvation mode?


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I hear so much on this forum about the "starvation mode".  I understand that if a person eats less than what their body needs to survive, for a woman 1200 calories, the body will switch into starvation mode and will simply store/retain available calories instead of reducing.  My question is, how long does it take for a woman's body to  switch into starvation mode?  6 hours, a day, a week? 

And, if that happens what does a person have to do to switch out of starvation mode? How long does it take after the 'switch'  to get the body working right again?

26 Replies (last)
Bumpy cus i rly wanna too lol Foot in mouth

what i understand about "starvation mode" it's not only the amount you eat, but when you eat.  i eat something within the first half hour.  i'm not talking about a full on breakfast, but a bar or bowl of cereal.  enough to get you moving.  then eating about 1500 to 1700 calories a day with at least 300 to 600 burned calories(exercise) a day... 

Original Post by dawn_l125:

what i understand about "starvation mode" it's not only the amount you eat, but when you eat.  i eat something within the first half hour.  i'm not talking about a full on breakfast, but a bar or bowl of cereal.  enough to get you moving.  then eating about 1500 to 1700 calories a day with at least 300 to 600 burned calories(exercise) a day... 

 

Actually, that would imply that by oversleeping, we can put ourselves into starvation mode.

Starvation mode (or, as some would rather call it, slowed metabolism mode) doesn't happen at the drop of a hat. Missing one meal isn't going to do it. Nor is being a little under your calories for a day. Starvation is when you consistantly eat too little, your body slows its metabolism to hold on to fat stores. I have never heard a persuasive argument for when it starts, but once in it, it can take months to get out, depending. The safe bet is to consume your calorie target (determined by taking all activity into account already), and if you happen to be low one day, you'll be ok. Just don't make a habit of it.

NIce topic...hopefully we get some knowledgeable answers.
#5  
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*bump*
I think it only takes a few days, like 5 or 6

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

Starvation mode is when your body determines it's not getting enough calories to sustain itself. At that point, it starts trying to save energy. It throttles back your body temperature, for instance, and may start getting rid of unnecessary muscle tissue (which is a luxury as muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain). However, starvation mode does not imply that your body will hold onto all the fat as I've heard it made. What it will do is lower your BMR by up to 40% of what it used to be, so now instead of your body burning say 1400 cals to stay alive, it'll only burn 840. Also, as muscle tissue is consumed by the body, less calories will also be required to sustain life. Once you get to a point where the body fat percentage is around 5%, the body will start consuming organs to get its life sustenance and death will result. However, you can see that real starvation has to go on to get here as the body's starvation mode response will radically slow the process of starvation.
Original Post by im_amy:

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

 

ha!! are you kidding?? i keep it to 280 cals a day if at all possible, but lately its been under 590. i cant eat 1200 cals a day!!!

Original Post by wearingthin:

Original Post by im_amy:

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

 

ha!! are you kidding?? i keep it to 280 cals a day if at all possible, but lately its been under 590. i cant eat 1200 cals a day!!!

You are exactly the kind of person we are referring to.  590 calories is not healthy and i think you know that.  Here at CC, we support HEALTHY eathing habits, and what you are doing is not healthy.  We will never tell you that what you are doing is ok....nobody with a brain should ever tell you that what you are doing is ok.

what about those people that fast for one day during religious holidays?

I know there's a jewish holiday where they do that...I just don't remember what it's called. Can you go into starvation mode after just one day? what if you go back to eating your normal calories the next day?

As someone who spent a long time in starvation mode without even realizing it, let me see if I can answer some of the questions/issues you guys raised.

First--one day of fasting isn't going to do it.  It happens when your body doesn't get enough nutrition consistently over a period of time.  I can't say there's a magic number, but I would guess somewhere between 3-5 days.

Second--the only way to get out of it is to give your body what it needs to live.  When I joined CC, I was at 120 lbs and couldn't for the life of me figure out why I wasn't losing weight when I was eating 700 calories a day.  Everything I'd ever heard made it sounds so simple: calories in v. calories out.  I thought I was doing everything right.  I joined CC, got my body out of starvation mode by upping my calories and I've lost all the weight I wanted to (and then some--at one point I had to actually gain weight!). 

Third--I think the hardest part of starvation mode is that you lose your natural hunger signals so you never actually FEEL hungry.  Maybe that's why it never even occurred to me that what I was doing was bad for me.  I was eating (albeit not enough) and I wasn't hungry, so how could it be wrong?  Hah.  While not hungry, I was however, incredibly moody (I could go from crying to pure anger in seconds), light headed and floaty, and, to put it bluntly, a total b***h.

Lastly--getting yourself out of starvation mode is not as hard as you think and it's totally worth it.  I upped my calories by 50/day until I reached a normal amount.  Yes, I gained a few lbs at first--it was natural because my body was self-regulating.  I had trained it to not know when or if it would ever get enough, so it retained EVERYTHING.  Once I had it convinced that I planned on feeding it consistently, the weight started falling off.  It made no sense to me.  At 700 calories I was maintaining at 120--at 1500 calories, I was losing rapidly.  I also felt better, looked better, and was a far more pleasant person to be around

Message me if you want details, support or have any questions!

Original Post by wearingthin:

Original Post by im_amy:

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

 

ha!! are you kidding?? i keep it to 280 cals a day if at all possible, but lately its been under 590. i cant eat 1200 cals a day!!!

wearingthin: please hun, its extremely possible to eat 1200 calories a day, and eating at least 590 isnt hard

this site doesn't need wannabe anorexics posting crud like this, it only brings down the whole healthy vibe

i suggest you go to a doctor and get help for your ED, its nothing to be boasting about.

#14  
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Original Post by peaches0405:

Original Post by wearingthin:

Original Post by im_amy:

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

 

ha!! are you kidding?? i keep it to 280 cals a day if at all possible, but lately its been under 590. i cant eat 1200 cals a day!!!

You are exactly the kind of person we are referring to.  590 calories is not healthy and i think you know that.  Here at CC, we support HEALTHY eathing habits, and what you are doing is not healthy.  We will never tell you that what you are doing is ok....nobody with a brain should ever tell you that what you are doing is ok.

 That is the most ridiculous statement that I have ever read in my life. How do you know it's unhealthy? Have you ever had a Biochemistry class? From the looks of your answer, no you haven't. Also, I think what she is doing is okay. Are you saying that a medical student doesn't have a brain? Watch "The Human Body" Brain Power episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUsjkTz_-M4

Did a researcher just say that there are studies leading to the fact that starvation mode increases the lifespan? Yes, yes he did.

 

By the way, why are you telling her what she's doing isn't ok. Did that person even ask if you for your opinion? NO.

But please, tell me why fasting is unhealthy. Tell me why, not why you THINK it's unhealthy. I love being right, and a chance to exercise my knowledge in Biochemistry would just make my day :)

Original Post by medstud:

Original Post by peaches0405:

Original Post by wearingthin:

Original Post by im_amy:

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

 

ha!! are you kidding?? i keep it to 280 cals a day if at all possible, but lately its been under 590. i cant eat 1200 cals a day!!!

You are exactly the kind of person we are referring to.  590 calories is not healthy and i think you know that.  Here at CC, we support HEALTHY eathing habits, and what you are doing is not healthy.  We will never tell you that what you are doing is ok....nobody with a brain should ever tell you that what you are doing is ok.

 That is the most ridiculous statement that I have ever read in my life. How do you know it's unhealthy? Have you ever had a Biochemistry class? From the looks of your answer, no you haven't. Also, I think what she is doing is okay. Are you saying that a medical student doesn't have a brain? Watch "The Human Body" Brain Power episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUsjkTz_-M4

Did a researcher just say that there are studies leading to the fact that starvation mode increases the lifespan? Yes, yes he did.

 

By the way, why are you telling her what she's doing isn't ok. Did that person even ask if you for your opinion? NO.

But please, tell me why fasting is unhealthy. Tell me why, not why you THINK it's unhealthy. I love being right, and a chance to exercise my knowledge in Biochemistry would just make my day :)

 I know plenty of medical students without brains. I wish some of them would stick to their biochemistry and not go anywhere near the general public...

Original Post by medstud:

Original Post by peaches0405:

Original Post by wearingthin:

Original Post by im_amy:

Wika- said it takes two days to feel the effects of starvation mode-  Faintness, dizziness.

I can think of million fixes for those symptoms! ex. brownies, cookies, subway... Anytime I hear about starvation mode I feel someone needs to just say a person should NEVER go below 1200 cal.  a day.

It's so upsetting to here people who are cheering each other for trying or achiveing starvation cal. intake. 

I really like web md for a source for a health related info. you might consider searching it there. 

 

ha!! are you kidding?? i keep it to 280 cals a day if at all possible, but lately its been under 590. i cant eat 1200 cals a day!!!

You are exactly the kind of person we are referring to.  590 calories is not healthy and i think you know that.  Here at CC, we support HEALTHY eathing habits, and what you are doing is not healthy.  We will never tell you that what you are doing is ok....nobody with a brain should ever tell you that what you are doing is ok.

 That is the most ridiculous statement that I have ever read in my life. How do you know it's unhealthy? Have you ever had a Biochemistry class? From the looks of your answer, no you haven't. Also, I think what she is doing is okay. Are you saying that a medical student doesn't have a brain? Watch "The Human Body" Brain Power episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUsjkTz_-M4

Did a researcher just say that there are studies leading to the fact that starvation mode increases the lifespan? Yes, yes he did.

 

By the way, why are you telling her what she's doing isn't ok. Did that person even ask if you for your opinion? NO.

But please, tell me why fasting is unhealthy. Tell me why, not why you THINK it's unhealthy. I love being right, and a chance to exercise my knowledge in Biochemistry would just make my day :)

It is unhealthy because it is physiologically impossible to acquire all of the necessary nutrients on such a calorically restricted diet. Even though it has been proven that caloric restriction increases life span, it is not substantial and the quality of life is lesser. Here, you go: 

"Do you want to spend decades severely limiting what you eat to live a few more years? You will be unhappy and then your life will end shortly after mine ends," Phelan jokes.

Scientists have known for six decades that cutting the caloric intake of rodents by 40 percent or 50 percent results in dramatically longer lives for them.

"You can practically double their life span," Phelan said. "The same result has been found in fish, spiders and many other species. If it works for them, some thought, it should work for us; I'm here to tell you it doesn't."

 

From a prominent professor at UCLA and a reputable source

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/ 050830065729.htm

Given the facts, if even a knowledgeable researcher does not condone extreme calorie restriction, i think it is safe to say that it is probably not the best choice. it sounds like you want to be RIGHT and not give others good advice. Weight is not the key to happiness and condoning behaviors like these is not what CC is about, well at least from my understanding. Anyway, I thought I would stick up for those who are supporting a nutritious and satisfying way to achieve one's weight and fitness goals. =] (don't mean to be harsh but just provide another perspective)

#17  
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I'm sure you do. The fact is, MDs are the most knowledgeable people when it comes to the human body. Being petty about it isn't going to get you any where ;)

How soon do you graduate? I have just over a year left and I have had about two hours formal teaching on nutrition. On that grounds, while doctors are pretty good generalists on health, they are not by any stretch of the imagination experts on nutrition, unless they go on to train in that field.

Given you like nothing more than "proving you're right", hopefully you're a first year or something and will grow up at some point before anyone turns up needing your help.

#19  
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Uhhh, your "reputable source" is broken.

 

This is hilarious. You say that it is proven that remaining in "starvation mode" increases your lifespan by a few years, then at the bottom of your post you say that it's not true?

 

LOL. I love these forums that are full of people who think they're specialists after reading wikipedia.

#20  
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Original Post by bairn:

How soon do you graduate? I have just over a year left and I have had about two hours formal teaching on nutrition. On that grounds, while doctors are pretty good generalists on health, they are not by any stretch of the imagination experts on nutrition, unless they go on to train in that field.

Given you like nothing more than "proving you're right", hopefully you're a first year or something and will grow up at some point before anyone turns up needing your help.

 Are you kidding? People like me make the best doctors. Why take the easy route to prescribe something to treat the symptom(s) when finding the cause of the symptom(s) would allow me to stroke my ego ;)

 

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