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Question about "survival mode".

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Old 09-21-2004, 11:53 AM   #1
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Question Question about "survival mode".

Okay, so we've all heard that, if you do not consume enough calories, your body will go into survival mode: conserving fat stores and frustrating the dieter with no weight loss. I've even said it myself.

Now assuming this is true (and I'm sure it is), let's say I'm not hungry. Not hungry, but I'm coming in at well under a "healthy" amount of calories per day. Not every day, just some days. I don't feel weak, no hunger pangs, I just don't feel I need the food. For instance, calculating all my stats, I supposedly need around 1700cal a day in order to maintain a 1lb a week weight loss. Normally, I reach around 1500. But yesterday, I barely reached 1100. And that's with doing aerobics first thing in the AM.

So the question is, do I force myself to eat to at LEAST a "healthy" amount of calories, or do I just listen to my body and eat when I'm hungry? Some days I am ravenous and can barely keep it under my limit. Other days I am fine way below that limit.

I am asking this because my weight loss (on the scale) is very slow, more like a pound every 2 weeks. But I am unsure if this is because I don't eat enough, or because I am replacing fat with muscle. I have lost about an inch off my hips, waist, etc. and I feel better than ever.

So what say you, chicks? Go with the flow, or go with the numbers?
Thanks!
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Old 09-21-2004, 12:19 PM   #2
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This probably depends more on how your own body reacts. I personally found that I have done best when I went by the numbers. If I set a goal of 1600 to 2000 calories per day, then at 6 or 7pm I would see if met my goal. If I didn't get my minimum amount, then I would have a snack to round it out. This worked best for me probably because I would never eat enough otherwise. I also don't get hungry much, and if I don't force myself to think about it, I can skip an entire meal without realizing it. (I live alone, work from home office, and keep odd hours so I don't have a traditional meal schedule).

A pound a week is a normal amount to lose, so don't worry about it. One to two pounds per week is the goal. You feel great, so you must be doing something right! Congratulations on your loss so far

If you want to investigate it further, though, you might see if your doctor can arrange to have your resting metabolic rate checked. Two people at the same age, weight, and activity level can still have very different metabolisms. One might need 1500 calories to survive while another needs 2500. This is another reason why one diet doesn't fit all.
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Old 09-23-2004, 04:19 PM   #3
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One thing I do is look at food intake on a weekly basis rather than a daily one. Sometimes I'm not hungry, don't have time to make something appealling, etc., but other days I'm ravenous. So I try for a calorie range with a weekly average rather than a daily limit.

Caloric needs are fairly individual though, and online calculators can only give you an estimate of what an average person on your size would need to eat to maintain, lose 1 lb per week, etc. What was your calorie consumption like before you started dieting? Were you gaining or maintaining then? You might not have been eating the supposed 2200 calories a day your body needed then to maintain.
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Old 09-23-2004, 05:51 PM   #4
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One thing that also helps keep your metabolism revved is eating frequently. You should go no more than 4 waking hours without food, even if it is just 100-calorie snack. So if you spread out that food, you may find it easier to get in. Also, after eating this way for a while, if you pay attention you may find that you have a better understanding of "hungry." Our bodies typically need fuel before we feel our stomach rumbling. After you eat on this type of schedule for a while, your body will start to expect that regularly-scheduled food, and start sending you subtle signals that it's time to eat. So start paying really close attention to how you feel before you eat -- even if you don't think you feel hungry, how you feel right after you eat, and how you feel 15 or 20 minutes later. By doing this you'll be getting back in touch with your body, understanding better how to feed it, getting all your calories in, AND give your engines sufficient, steady fuel to keep the engines humming.

But, as previously mentioned, if you eat a little less one day and a little more the next, that's no big deal -- in fact, it's probably a good thing. That is, as long as you don't dip TOO far below your minimum. Try to never go below your basal metablic needs.
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Old 09-30-2004, 05:20 PM   #5
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It just goes back to not being so extreme... If you have a few extra calories one day, there is no need to starve yourself for the next day. If you eat a higer fat food, just have a little, and do not worry... No extremes is how I try to eat. It seems to be worlking. Plus, I think you really have to starve yourself for a while for this to happen.
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