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Old 08-14-2013, 02:04 AM   #1
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Hi all.
I have a friend who eats about 600 calories a day. She's afraid of gaining weight. I suspect she's in starvation mode. From everything I've read that's not enough calories. I think if she eats more like 1500 calories she will probably gain weight but then once out of starvation mode she will lose weight.
I realize no one here is a dietitian, but what do you guys think or have experience with that?
Thanks
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:48 AM   #2
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Hi all.
I have a friend who eats about 600 calories a day. She's afraid of gaining weight. I suspect she's in starvation mode. From everything I've read that's not enough calories. I think if she eats more like 1500 calories she will probably gain weight but then once out of starvation mode she will lose weight.
I realize no one here is a dietitian, but what do you guys think or have experience with that?
Thanks
Of course it's not enough calories. I'm surprised she's not losing weight. I suspect she's actually taking in more than 600 (perhaps drinking some of her calories?) or that she's extremely thin to begin with.

Starvation mode is partly a myth. People who have weight loss surgery generally eat 600 to 800 calories a day for the first year or so, and they lose massive amounts of weight. People with anorexia also eat very little and they become skeletal. It's true that metabolism does slow down when you restrict calories, but generally never to the point that you can't lose any weight. The body needs a minimum number of calories to carry out its daily functions, even when conserving energy, and for the overwhelming majority of people it's more than 600.

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Old 08-14-2013, 08:19 AM   #3
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Starvation mode is partly a myth.

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Yep! But I read that starvation mode was a myth entirely. Either way, I agree with your entire post!
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:48 AM   #4
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Yep! But I read that starvation mode was a myth entirely. Either way, I agree with your entire post!
It's entirely a myth that metabolism stops dead in it's tracks (preventing starvation and weight loss entirely) but it's entirely true that metabolism can (not necessarily will, but can) slow down significantly.

Many of the studies that found no evidence of metabolic slowing whatsoever used young, healthy, and average weight subjects and/or used subjects who had little or no dieting experience.

Personally, from my experience (42 years of dieting) I suspect that for many of us, metabolic slowing or "conservation mode" (a better description I think) is a very gradual process that takes years of chronic dieting to become noticeable. Rather than our metabolism stopping dead, or rapidly declining, it instead chips away very slowly over time, like a mountain being eroded by wind.

I know for myself, when I was young metabolism calculators (the ones that estimate calorie needs) were accurate or even underestimated my calorie needs. I lost as much or more than what they predicted I would. Then in my early 20's I would guess, they gradually became less and less helpful in predicting my calorie needs and weight loss, and I'd lose more slowly than the calculator predicted. Over time, the discrepancy became larger and larger as I lost more and more slowly.

That leaves essentially indicates one of two possibilities - conservation mode eroding my metabolism over time due to yoyo dieting or unknown factors causing my metabolism to slow faster than average (as the calculations are based on average populations) for unknown reasons.

In my youth, I actually found that I had an above average metabolism. Even though I was only moderately active, I often lost significantly faster than the calculators predicted. Metabolism wasn't my problem then, uncontrollable, constant hunger was.

Ironically, by the time I learned how to control hunger, my metabolism had slowed considerably.

At any rate, starvation mode, as most people think of it, is a complete myth, but there are elements of truth that contributed to the creation of the myth (like most myths, a small truth is bent and twisted into a big lie).
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:58 AM   #5
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Actually, once you reach 40 you have to cut 100 calories a day just to maintain, and then for every 10 years, another 100. Our metabolism naturally slows with aging.
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:21 AM   #6
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Actually, once you reach 40 you have to cut 100 calories a day just to maintain, and then for every 10 years, another 100. Our metabolism naturally slows with aging.
Yes, I know, but the calculators I'm talking about account for this and adjust for age and activity level. I've lost a lot more than a couple hundred calories of daily metabolism. At my youngest, I burned as much as 20 calories per pound (the average for a very active athlete was supposedly 17. I was active, but not an athlete). Now, I am sedentary and 30 years older, but on high carb, I'm not even burning anywhere near the 10+ calories per pound which is the lowest calculation estimate I've found even for women in their 90's.

Luckily, low carb boosts my metabolism up to a bit over 10 calories per pound, but it's still lower than any of the calculators estimate that my metabolism "should" be, and less than half the food I was eating as a young person to maintain the same weight.
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Old 08-21-2013, 04:31 AM   #7
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Thanks for your posts.
I got my friend to eat more than 600 calories a day. She looks and feels much better. She's eating about 1600 a day now, which is still within the dieting range. We'll see if she gains weight then starts to lose it.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:58 AM   #8
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She's GOT to feel so much better on 1600/day than 600! I hope she gives her new plan a chance!
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:00 AM   #9
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Actually, once you reach 40 you have to cut 100 calories a day just to maintain, and then for every 10 years, another 100. Our metabolism naturally slows with aging.

Our metabolism does slow down as we age, however, if we lived long enough, are we not supposed to eat anything?
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Old 08-22-2013, 01:04 PM   #10
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If we live long enough, we'd be eating about 1000 calories a day to maintain at age 90-100. Most older people don't feel the need to each much. Look around, how many obese people do you see well into their 80s and beyond?
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:22 PM   #11
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Well, the whole subject is relative.

My mother who is 75, is still grossly overweight, diabetic, high blood pressure, 3 stints in her heart, nasty, stinky rash in her fat folds. This is not good for diabetics!

She is totally against showering more than once a week. She sees no point in hygiene!? She makes no effort, although she knows better to change any of her habits. Plus she is hooked on Vicadin for her back pain. It's a dang train wreck.

Then there is her mother, 95 years old, curvature of the spine and now, no matter how much she eats, and she does eat, she's getting thinner and thinner. If she does not die of being old, her curvature of the spine will eventually kill her, due to squashing her internal organs.

It's like I said, relative, Mom does not care, even though she knows better, and she's hanging on, even when medical stats, say she should be gone. Gramma, all 95 years old and 90 pounds of her, is still trying every day, to do all the right things, and get one more day!

My grandmother(all 95 years old of her) still showers 3 times a week, still goes to get her hair done once a week, still colors it, still puts on her makeup everyday!

Crap, she is still hosting bible study once a month and fixing snacks! She still has 2 tomato plants and 2 cucumber plants each summer!

I hope I live that long and I'm that dang tough!
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