General Diet Plans and Questions - Starvation mode? help?




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kicksziuziu
04-27-2011, 11:58 PM
So I have been eating 731 kcal a day ( as recommended by Livestrong.com )
to lose 1.5-2 lbs a week.
Everyone ( i.e EVERY SINGLE FITNESS WEBSITE I COME ACROSS ) says that a woman must have a minimum of 1200 kcal per day to LOSE WEIGHT.
Well heck.

My BMR is around 1400, so eating a massive 1200kcal will only cause a 200kcal deficit - not even enough to take away 1kg a month.

I do NOT have ANY time whatsoever to exercise apart from Friday ( 1 hr vig. swimming ) and Sunday ( 1 hr badminton ).

It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that my parents won't let me get my bottom out of the house without them... causing major inconveniences.

SO

Will I go into starvation mode at 731 kcal and will my metabolism go down?
If so, how much should I be eating? ( AND WHY! I NEED TO KNOW WHY 1200 CALORIES WILL ACTUALLY HELP =.= )
I'm so scared that I will not be able to eat properly anymore!!!


ready4skinny
04-28-2011, 12:24 AM
Why do you need to loose 1.5-2 lbs a week?? Loosing slower has been shown to be able to keep the weight off longer.

I am not sure why 1200 calories, I have been told that if you don't eat enough then your body will start to digest your muscles, to meet your needs. Just breathing, your heart beating, your temprature (sp?) regulation, digestion, etc. all use calories. So you have to FUEL those basic functions.

Also, its not hard to exercise, put on shoes, open front door, walk out it :D walk around a bit, walk back in the door.....if you have stairs in your house, run up and down them 20 times..... Just a couple of ideas :goodluck:

LLBoldAsLove87
04-28-2011, 12:25 AM
How much do you weigh? How tall are you?

Remember that your BMR is how much you burn if you stayed in bed all day and didn't move. Depending on how active you are, you may actually burn much more each day. My BMR is 1400 but I burn about 400 cals working out every day, plus whatever I burn just walking to class, moving around, taking my dog on a 2 mile walk, etc. I lost about 1lbs a week eating 1200 calories... though I stalled after a while, but I continued to lose on 1200 calories once I focused on eating a low level of carbohydrates.

Remember you dont have to leave the house to work out ... there are a lot of workout DVDs out there ... I have Jillian Micheal's 30 day shred.... all you need is some floor space and some 5lb weights!


JohnP
04-28-2011, 12:56 AM
The idea that one must eat 1,200 calories a day is a real mystery to me. I don't know where that magic number came from. If you think your BMR is 1400 than I assume you're pretty small so you won't be able to lose weight as fast as someone who weighs 250lbs. How much weight you can lose a week without causing yourself hormonal problems and muscle loss really depends on how much fat you have to lose. If you're fat you can lose fat fast. Your body won't mind. If you're skinny your body gets concerned.

"Starvation mode" is for the most part a myth in the context that most people think of it which is slowing down one's metabolism. This is variable but for most people the BMR only slows down 10-15% maximum (usually less) and it happens when you restrict calories over a long period or massively restrict calories over a short period. This is one reason I think diet breaks are a good idea.

The real problem as far as I'm concerned is not the slowing BMR but the hormonal problems that come with massively restricting calories. Loss of one's menstral cycle, hair falling out, loss of sex drive ... these are bad things and examples of what can happen when you're truly starving your body. The other thing that happens when you starve yourself is you set yourself up for epic binges.

In summary - 1,200 calories is not a magic floor below which one should never go. Trying to lose too much weight to fast is a very bad idea. How much is too much depends on how much you have to lose.

Nola Celeste
04-28-2011, 03:29 AM
I'm guessing that you're truly tiny and possibly an older person to have a BMR of 1400. I'm at 1600 according to Discovery Health's calculator (http://health.discovery.com/centers/heart/basal/basal.html) and I'm 5'2" and 41 years of age. That's what I expend to lie quietly in bed doing absolutely nothing--and that's not how I spend my days. About.com's calculator assumes I need 1900 calories a day even with a sedentary lifestyle to maintain my weight.

Remember that BMR is what it takes to do absolutely nothing. It's the energy you expend to blink, breathe, keep your heart beating, make your kidneys work, digest your food, and so forth. Cutting your caloric intake down to half of that is going to affect how well your body functions. The 1200 "rule" is really more of a guideline, but the main reason for it is that it's hard to fit in enough nutrition on a caloric intake significantly smaller than that.

A 700-calorie day is enough to live on if you're three feet tall and eighty years old. Otherwise, you will start to run into problems; JohnP already mentioned quite a few. Read up on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment) (and forgive the Wikipedia link) if you want to know more about what happens when you drop your calories too low for too long. You won't find that "starvation mode" keeps weight on you, but you will find yourself suffering what those volunteers did--and it ain't pretty.

Remember, too, that cutting calories isn't a matter of "if some is good, then more is better." I lose a pound a week on 1500 calories a day, about a 500-calorie deficit from my recommended allotment (it was a bigger deficit when I started, so my weight loss has slowed over time just because it takes less to fuel my smaller body now). If I went to 1000 calories a day, doubling my deficit, I would NOT necessarily lose two pounds a week.

It isn't that linear, and there's a floor below which the negative effects of calorie restriction outweigh the positive effects of weight loss--such as when you go bat-**** crazy from deprivation and inhale entire bags of junk food so quickly that you're picking the plastic wrapper out of your teeth. And yes, I've been there, which is how I know that I'd rather lose a pound a week and keep my sanity. :D

What do you currently eat to "eat properly?" Do you measure and/or weigh your food?

kicksziuziu
04-28-2011, 04:02 AM
Why do you need to loose 1.5-2 lbs a week?? Loosing slower has been shown to be able to keep the weight off longer.

I am not sure why 1200 calories, I have been told that if you don't eat enough then your body will start to digest your muscles, to meet your needs. Just breathing, your heart beating, your temprature (sp?) regulation, digestion, etc. all use calories. So you have to FUEL those basic functions.

Also, its not hard to exercise, put on shoes, open front door, walk out it :D walk around a bit, walk back in the door.....if you have stairs in your house, run up and down them 20 times..... Just a couple of ideas :goodluck:

I don't know haha... 1 pound a week is actually fine with me! But I'm one of those impatient people who want what they want when they want it.
I'm trying to prevent my body from eating my muscles by doing muscle related exercises in the morning... and eating lots of ham :D

I know... I do THAT kind of exercise... but what I meant was cardio that will prevent my metabolism from going too low!
thanks for the info!

kicksziuziu
04-28-2011, 04:05 AM
How much do you weigh? How tall are you?

Remember that your BMR is how much you burn if you stayed in bed all day and didn't move. Depending on how active you are, you may actually burn much more each day. My BMR is 1400 but I burn about 400 cals working out every day, plus whatever I burn just walking to class, moving around, taking my dog on a 2 mile walk, etc. I lost about 1lbs a week eating 1200 calories... though I stalled after a while, but I continued to lose on 1200 calories once I focused on eating a low level of carbohydrates.

Remember you dont have to leave the house to work out ... there are a lot of workout DVDs out there ... I have Jillian Micheal's 30 day shred.... all you need is some floor space and some 5lb weights!

Okay... to answer your first question....
I'm 5'1 and 110lbs... it may seem rather small to be on a weight loss forum but for a younger one like me, it isn't ok. My waist is around 26-27.5 inches and my hips are 35 inches (WHOPPINGLY MASSSIIIVVOOOO )
Besides... I live in Asia where your relatives will murder you if you aren't slim enough.
Anyways... my BMR 1370-1400 ( from different sources ) which is fine with me.

Workout DVDs? Eh. I'm honestly not interested in those kind of things but I guess I do have quite a lot of floor space :) thanks!

kicksziuziu
04-28-2011, 04:14 AM
The idea that one must eat 1,200 calories a day is a real mystery to me. I don't know where that magic number came from. If you think your BMR is 1400 than I assume you're pretty small so you won't be able to lose weight as fast as someone who weighs 250lbs. How much weight you can lose a week without causing yourself hormonal problems and muscle loss really depends on how much fat you have to lose. If you're fat you can lose fat fast. Your body won't mind. If you're skinny your body gets concerned.

"Starvation mode" is for the most part a myth in the context that most people think of it which is slowing down one's metabolism. This is variable but for most people the BMR only slows down 10-15% maximum (usually less) and it happens when you restrict calories over a long period or massively restrict calories over a short period. This is one reason I think diet breaks are a good idea.

The real problem as far as I'm concerned is not the slowing BMR but the hormonal problems that come with massively restricting calories. Loss of one's menstral cycle, hair falling out, loss of sex drive ... these are bad things and examples of what can happen when you're truly starving your body. The other thing that happens when you starve yourself is you set yourself up for epic binges.

In summary - 1,200 calories is not a magic floor below which one should never go. Trying to lose too much weight to fast is a very bad idea. How much is too much depends on how much you have to lose.

Yes, I do understand that I won't be able to lose as much as a person with a larger frame... which annoys me slightly but luckily it doesn't make weight loss impossible.

My BMR will only go down by 10-15%?? I thought it would go STRAIGHT down to 500 or 700!

What are diet breaks? I'm interested :D

Lack of menstruation is truly not my concern ( I haven't even started yet...) and I don't even have enough binge-able food at home to binge on! However, once I reach my goal weight, I will need a way to raise my BMR again without binging my way to the underworld... Will gradually adding more calories to my diet work? Hmm... I need to read more books..

Thank you for your advice! I'll make sure I won't go too low!

JohnP
04-28-2011, 04:30 AM
Lack of menstruation is truly not my concern ( I haven't even started yet...)

I didn't realize you were that young. I'm not going to give anyone who hasn't experienced puberty any weight loss advice but I can tell you that the one way to permanently screw up your metabolism is to mess with it around puberty as has been demonstrated with some wrestlers and gymnasts. Very bad idea

I'd suggest you simply try to determine what your maintinence calorie needs are and eat there. You're not even done growing yet. Learn to eat healthy foods and avoid processed sugar.

kicksziuziu
04-28-2011, 04:36 AM
I'm guessing that you're truly tiny and possibly an older person to have a BMR of 1400. I'm at 1600 according to [link removed because I can't post links] and I'm 5'2" and 41 years of age. That's what I expend to lie quietly in bed doing absolutely nothing--and that's not how I spend my days. About.com's calculator assumes I need 1900 calories a day even with a sedentary lifestyle to maintain my weight.

Remember that BMR is what it takes to do absolutely nothing. It's the energy you expend to blink, breathe, keep your heart beating, make your kidneys work, digest your food, and so forth. Cutting your caloric intake down to half of that is going to affect how well your body functions. The 1200 "rule" is really more of a guideline, but the main reason for it is that it's hard to fit in enough nutrition on a caloric intake significantly smaller than that.

A 700-calorie day is enough to live on if you're three feet tall and eighty years old. Otherwise, you will start to run into problems; JohnP already mentioned quite a few. Read up on the [link removed because I can't post links] if you want to know more about what happens when you drop your calories too low for too long. You won't find that "starvation mode" keeps weight on you, but you will find yourself suffering what those volunteers did--and it ain't pretty.

Remember, too, that cutting calories isn't a matter of "if some is good, then more is better." I lose a pound a week on 1500 calories a day, about a 500-calorie deficit from my recommended allotment (it was a bigger deficit when I started, so my weight loss has slowed over time just because it takes less to fuel my smaller body now). If I went to 1000 calories a day, doubling my deficit, I would NOT necessarily lose two pounds a week.

It isn't that linear, and there's a floor below which the negative effects of calorie restriction outweigh the positive effects of weight loss--such as when you go bat-**** crazy from deprivation and inhale entire bags of junk food so quickly that you're picking the plastic wrapper out of your teeth. And yes, I've been there, which is how I know that I'd rather lose a pound a week and keep my sanity. :D

What do you currently eat to "eat properly?" Do you measure and/or weigh your food?

Well not necessarily :( ... as I pointed out in my reply to JohnP, I haven't begun my period yet. I couldn't possibly be elderly!
A diet of less than 1200 calories is actually quite simple!
every meal may consist of 200-300! simple dimples! You just need to eat the right things to ensure that you won't go hungry.

Thanks for the link... I looked over the results and nearly fainted! SELF-HARM? That's unbelievable! EW! The rest creeped me out just as much. I'm afraid that I won't be able to do our school's fitness test very well if I get a shortness of breath. Actually, one of the skinniest girls in my year (severe: BMI of 14) is horrible at sports. Not just because she's weak, but because she has no motivation whatsoever :( it's sad...

I understand that... but regardless of whether you lost exactly 2 pounds or not you would still lose more than you would on a diet of a smaller deficit.
Right? (Or wrong...?)

Lose your sanity? Eek. But no I don't think I'll lose my precious brain. I've gone under 600 kcal and I still managed to keep my temper with tons of annoying teachers. Believe me, that requires a truly healthy brain.

"Do you eat properly?"
well that depends on your definition of "properly".
I try to eat a variety of foods, all in moderation (but eating a bit more vegetables) and I usually only weigh my DRY food. If they are wet, I count visually. (e.g 1/2 cup of rice, 2 inch asparagus stick). I usually count the amount of calories and then log it down with a greater value than websites say it is. For example, if I have an 100g apple (measured) and it is 60kcal, I would log it down as 80kcal. It's better to be safe rather than sorry !

Thank you for your advice and links! :)

kicksziuziu
04-28-2011, 04:42 AM
I didn't realize you were that young. I'm not going to give anyone who hasn't experienced puberty any weight loss advice but I can tell you that the one way to permanently screw up your metabolism is to mess with it around puberty as has been demonstrated with some wrestlers and gymnasts. Very bad idea

I'd suggest you simply try to determine what your maintinence calorie needs are and eat there. You're not even done growing yet. Learn to eat healthy foods and avoid processed sugar.

What do you mean "that young"?!? I'm just a late bloomer!
I've experienced pretty much everything a girl would have in puberty EXCEPT for a period =.=

Hmm... I'll try not to go so hardcore, seeing as I would like to be as tall as my brother when I grow up! :)

Thanks! I'll enjoy my teens!

Nola Celeste
04-28-2011, 05:15 AM
Your brain is especially precious at your young age as it's still growing--so you're absolutely right not to want to mess with it! :D

Like John, I didn't realize you were as young as you are. A lot--a WHOLE lot--of the diet advice goes out the window when someone still has growing to do. No basal metabolic rate calculator is likely to give you a realistic answer because someone's metabolic needs are WAY bigger when her body is still being built.

If the body is a temple, yours is still under construction to some degree. That alone burns more calories. :)

As for whether you'd lose more on a bigger deficit, the answer is...maybe. Think of it like riding a bike. You can only make it move so fast, no matter how much effort you put into moving the pedals, right? Past a certain point, you run up against the law of diminishing returns--you're putting a lot more effort in, but getting virtually no more speed out.

Your body only processes your food and draws additional energy from stored body tissues so fast, and although you can put in extra dieting effort by eating very little, you won't notice an appreciable speed-up in weight loss. You might notice a small increase, but it isn't worth the awful side-effects of prolonged hunger as in that Minnesota study.

I agree with you about that study, by the way--I found it really eye-opening. I feel a lot more clued in to the subtler signs of hunger.

Your height and weight sound very healthy to me. You're on the lean side of every BMI calculator I could find online. Being conscious of your food intake and exercise is a healthy habit to have, but maybe you could try re-framing your diet and exercise as a means to become your healthiest instead of as a way to lose weight.

Focusing on the positives--ways to add nutritious food, improve my flexibility, increase my stamina, grow stronger--has kept me a lot healthier, happier, and less hungry than looking for ways to restrict foods could ever be. :)

kicksziuziu
04-28-2011, 10:59 PM
Your brain is especially precious at your young age as it's still growing--so you're absolutely right not to want to mess with it! :D

Like John, I didn't realize you were as young as you are. A lot--a WHOLE lot--of the diet advice goes out the window when someone still has growing to do. No basal metabolic rate calculator is likely to give you a realistic answer because someone's metabolic needs are WAY bigger when her body is still being built.

If the body is a temple, yours is still under construction to some degree. That alone burns more calories. :)

As for whether you'd lose more on a bigger deficit, the answer is...maybe. Think of it like riding a bike. You can only make it move so fast, no matter how much effort you put into moving the pedals, right? Past a certain point, you run up against the law of diminishing returns--you're putting a lot more effort in, but getting virtually no more speed out.

Your body only processes your food and draws additional energy from stored body tissues so fast, and although you can put in extra dieting effort by eating very little, you won't notice an appreciable speed-up in weight loss. You might notice a small increase, but it isn't worth the awful side-effects of prolonged hunger as in that Minnesota study.

I agree with you about that study, by the way--I found it really eye-opening. I feel a lot more clued in to the subtler signs of hunger.

Your height and weight sound very healthy to me. You're on the lean side of every BMI calculator I could find online. Being conscious of your food intake and exercise is a healthy habit to have, but maybe you could try re-framing your diet and exercise as a means to become your healthiest instead of as a way to lose weight.

Focusing on the positives--ways to add nutritious food, improve my flexibility, increase my stamina, grow stronger--has kept me a lot healthier, happier, and less hungry than looking for ways to restrict foods could ever be. :)

Good point... I realize that the advice I get in (teenage) magazines to lose weight are much different than the ones in my mom's magazines. (haha?)

That's a very interesting way to describe it... riding a bicycle.

The reason why I'm on the "lean" side on every BMI calculator you could find is because those are most effective for people who are 18 and older. As I'm not quite 18 yet, the minimum BMI for my age is 14 while the maximum is 21. I'm not really sure why 14 is a "healthy" BMI... but I think the absolute smallest BMI I've ever seen is 10. ( Isabelle Caro - a deceased model )
According to my body fat percentage, I'm overweight-obese. Regardless of whether I measured it correctly or not, I'm not satisfied with my visual appearance. And my eyes are pretty sharp! >:(

Thank you for the advice ( and the awesome bicycle comparison ).

mca10
05-12-2011, 06:25 PM
This was a very informative post for me. I realized this past week that I've been living in starvation mode for quite some time and didn't realize it until I bought my bodybugg. I honestly thought I was hitting 1200 calories a day tracking them on calorie king. Well come to find out I've been eating about 800-900 on a good day. I work out 30 min hard (HITT) on the elliptical 4 days a week, walk an hour every single day (3miles) with 40 flights of stairs (intervals, about 7 at a time) and 3 weeks ago I started Chaelen extreme videos (weight resistance/training). I also drink a gallon of water a day and don't eat past 630pm and dont eat until about 1-2pm the next day.

As soon as I started weight training my weight started to fluctuate, I would gain out of nowhere and I've only lost 3-4lb this month. I usually lose about 10-12 lb a month. I chalked it up to my muscles retaining water, but then I missed my period and I just missed another (not pregnant, went to the doctor).

John is right on the money when it comes to symptoms. I missed my period for the first time life (I was an athlete until 19). I have black out sensations almost like vertigo and no sex drive. I'm lucky nothing else serious has happened.

Realizing I've been in starvation mode has been a wake up call. I feel like I cheated myself to this weight and I'm doing everything I can to not do it again.

I've bumped my carbs and calories up and now eat 1200 a day. My body bugg says I'm burning 2300-2400 calories a day and my deficit has been around 1300-1400.

Now that I know I'm back on the right track (not doing IF and eating 5 times a day) I want to know if someone can give me some advice on why my weight loss has slowed down so much. Can it really be water retention from weights and missed periods? I've taken my measurements and body fat % (23%) and I just want to know if the weight will keep coming off. I'm really scared and sad and don't know what else I can do.

Stats: 29 year old
132lbs (down from 242 in 9.5 months)
5'3"
Thanks everyone for reading.

kaplods
05-12-2011, 07:32 PM
If you haven't had your period yet, odds are your body and brain are still growing and developing. Crash dieting or too little body fat could also be preventing your period. I think you should see a doctor or dietitian to make sure you understand what nutrition your body needs (Nutrition needs to be more important than weight loss. This is true for everyone, but especially for someone whose body and brain are still developing).


It's going to be virtually impossible to get the nutrition you need on so few calories. A dietitian would help you learn how to get the most nutrition for the least calories.

Getting in enough protein and calcium are probably going to be big prioritites. Ham isn't the best choice of protein because of the salt, nitrates, and sometimes fat. There are high protein foods that are higher in protein and lower in calories and preservatives. A dietitian would be able to help you design a plan that meets your nutritional needs and allows you to lose weight safely.

JohnP
05-13-2011, 12:04 AM
Can it really be water retention from weights and missed periods? I've taken my measurements and body fat % (23%) and I just want to know if the weight will keep coming off. I'm really scared and sad and don't know what else I can do.

Stats: 29 year old
132lbs (down from 242 in 9.5 months)
5'3"
Thanks everyone for reading.

First - bodybugs are totally unreliable as to your true caloric burn dispite their marketing claims.

Second, you're losing 3-4 lbs a month and you think that this is slow? You are closing in on your goal weight and you are a very small person. Clearly your body has slown your metabolism down as much as it can. Your cortisol levels are undoubtably through the roof with the exercise and low caloric intake. Plus you're stressing yourself out big time. (see bold part above)

You're obviously extremely motivated and dedicated but dieting is a marathon, not a sprint. I would highly advise you to take care of your body and chill out. There is no bonus points for racing to your goal weight. In fact, the only people who can get lean and maintain it are those who get there slowly.

I would highly advise you to take a break from dieting until you stabilize your hormones a bit and then resume dieting. I already know you're not going to do this but at least I tried.

Also, I'd suggest going to Lyle McDonald's board and posting there because some people there are much smarter and wiser than me.

You only get one body. Take care of it.