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Does metabolism chase intake?

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Old 02-13-2008, 02:35 PM   #1
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Question Does metabolism chase intake?

Ladies, I am so confused! My goal is to lose about 10 pounds. I have been reading a lot lately about "starvation mode" and have been getting all kinds of advice like:
  • Don't go below 1800 cals a day
  • If you eat a low calorie diet your body will switch to "storage mode" and you can actually gain fat in a calorie deficit
  • the more you diet the more you train the body to store calories as fat

I am freaked out and confused. I don't see how I am supposed to lose fat if I don't cut calories but i also don't want to set off a starvation response or "train" my body to store instead of burn. Does this make any sense? I am so sorry if I sound dumb but there is so much information out there and there are a lot of articles and people on the internet that talk about "starvation mode" and how every time you cut calories you teach your body to hold onto everything and you can never eat normally again without gaining weight. So, if anyone has any input, advice, experience, anything, I am all ears! I really want to lose some fat but I don't want to mess up my body or metabolism.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-13-2008, 03:51 PM   #2
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I am certainly no Dr. but I do read too much... I have read not to go below 1200 calories b/c that is what your body needs to maintain functions - heart, breathing, etc. It depends on how tall you are, and how active you are. If you are a 5'0" secratary - 1800 calories would be too much.
I would suggest jotting down what you currently eat and do for exercise. Then see if you can swap a high calorie snack out for a serving of veggies. Or cut out soda.
Also, I have read that exercise really helps to prevent your body from thinking it is being starved - if you don't exercise, you may want to try something like walking.
I find it's the little changes that are most effective and easiest to stick with.
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Old 02-14-2008, 08:06 AM   #3
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I think the 1800 level that you picked up somewhere is a mistake. Most places say below 1200, as the above poster has stated.

Also, starvation mode tends to be thrown around a little too much. Occasionally having a too low calorie day (say your child was in the ER and you were there all day, or you had a car breakdown, or were ill yourself...) won't make it happen. When people say starvation mode, it is usually from weeks of a too low calorie level.

You want to create a calorie defecit to lose weight (by eating less calories and burning more through activity) but the key is, not to create TOO much of one.

The way to do this, is through trial and error. Start at 1800 calories for a week. Weigh in after a couple weeks. If you lose a couple pounds, then at this time, 1800 calories a day is the correct level for you. If you lose nothing, drop down to 1700 for the next week or two, and check. You want to aim for a 1-2 pound a week weight loss.
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Old 02-14-2008, 11:13 AM   #4
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Starvation mode mostly applies to those people who say that they have a goal of eating fewer than 1000 calories per day or something like that. Or who plan to eat only one meal a day. Or who are going to do soemthing like a 10 day juice fast. Anything that puts your body below the number of calories it needs to survive for a lengthy amount of time is going to put you in "starvation mode" (or what I prefer to refer to as "survival mode").

OTOH, you can have an occassional day of extremely low calories and it's not going to make your body freak out. For example, last week I was ill with a tummy virus. I guarantee you that on Tues and Wed of last week I consumed 400 calories at the MOST. And those calories I did consume, I promptly threw up again (yuck)!

I don't think that 2 days of being ill and eating absolutely nothing put me into survival mode. I do think if I ate only 700 calories a day for 2 weeks, that my body would rebel and start hanging on to anything and everything I gave it.

FWIW, in my journey, I've set myself a range of 1300 - 1500 calories a day. I aim for the 1300 number and that gives me some padding if I underestimate or find myself in a situation where I want a snack or a drink. It allows me a glass of wine on a stressful day or a couple of squares of chocolate as a treat, if I want!

And I've lost 60+ lbs over a period of about a year, with 30 more to go.

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Old 02-14-2008, 01:24 PM   #5
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Thank you so much for the replies ladies! I know a lot about nutrition and have done a lot of reading but lately I have seen so much info on the internet about how dangerous a low calorie intake is (anything under 1600 cals a day). I was under the impression that 1200 was minimum but then I was reading all of this information that basically said the more you cut calories the more you teach your body to hold onto fat. So, I was perplexed. I know you need a deficit to lose weight but I wasn't sure how much to cut.

I think I am going to start out around 1500 calories a day. I don't know if I can go lower than that because I get so hungry. I only want to lose about 10 pounds.

Thanks again! Any tips or advice? I'm all ears
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Old 02-14-2008, 01:59 PM   #6
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If you only have about 10 pounds to lose, then 1500 sounds about right to me.
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