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Old 02-18-2006, 03:02 AM   #1
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Default Starvation Mode

The starvation mode is definately starting to mean something to me now. I was used to eating about 1000 calories a day, I was exercising for an hour a day and quite often at the end of the week I would have maintained my weight and not lost any.

I upped my calorie intake to 1200, along with the hour of exercise most nights and have really noticed a difference. In the last week I have lost about three pounds! The difference is remarkable.
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Old 02-18-2006, 08:14 AM   #2
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I agree loopy. I think I was in starvation mode for the best part of last year, most days I didn't eat more than 1000 cals. I upped my cals considerably this year, 1600 some days and I'm seeing weight loss again.
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Old 02-18-2006, 12:29 PM   #3
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1000 calories is way too low

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art2797.asp

Why starving yourself is so scary:

* The body slows the metabolism down
* The body eats muscle (since muscle uses more calories on a daily basis, the body gets rid of muscle so it needs fewer calories a day to live)
* When an individual stops starving and starts eating again, weight is regained but it is FAT not muscle. Once this happens, you've set yourself up for an ugly cycle, since your body after the restrictive diet gains weight more easily than your body before restriction (since it has less muscle to burn fat during the day).

1 lb of muscle burns 50 calories and muscle in general helps you burn more calories all day (even while you sleep) while fat is metabolically dead weight.
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Old 02-18-2006, 12:53 PM   #4
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I am very heavy, and often don't eat when I should because I'm not always as hungry as you would expect, especially when dieting. Sometimes my calories get very low, and sometimes that helps me lose weight, but other times it seems to do the opposite.

Once when I was in a serious stall I increased my calories to like 2300 or so and started losing again. I was scared to do it for very long because it seemed like so much food, so it wasn't really a very conclusive test. It was hard for me to eat that much. There was fear in even trying it. I believe I was working out really seriously hard then too, so it probably wasn't a bad thing for me to do, but it wasn't something I could continue to do.

So I believe in the idea that increasing calories is necessary sometimes to get out of a stall, but I also believe in shifting things around. Keeping the body guessing with regard to exercise and to dietary intake. I think in a natural environment the body isn't really expecting to have to do any long term adaptation. It adapts, on a day to day basis. Trying to use more calories this day or store more, trying to keep an equilibrium. When we want to lose weight, it doesn't know it and allows it for awhile, and then rebels if it thinks we aren't getting enough to stay alive. Constantly changing keeps it from panic mode.
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Old 02-18-2006, 05:34 PM   #5
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Before you formulate your opinions on starvation mode, read this thread in the Maintainer's Forum.
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Old 02-18-2006, 08:09 PM   #6
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My opinion is that everyone is different. And contrary to another opinion in that thread, plateaus are not an excuse. They are real. And your body does it for a reason. It's the time in which your body is adjusting to calorie levels, exercise levels, etc. Your body literally stops weight loss for a period because it knows what its doing. Now, of course I can't back this up with scientific proof. Nobody can back ANY of this stuff up without proof. Because we have no choice but to believe what's told to us. But I believe in the plateau theory. And just because your body halts the weight loss for a while, it doesn't mean it's permanent.

I've broken through plateaus by doing one of two things - upping my calories and/or increasing my activity. However, I've ALSO broken through plateaus by severely restricting my calories. We're talking below 1000 a day. I use a pc tool called Weight Commander. You enter in your weight and it keeps track of your progress. When I dropped my calories down pretty low, I dropped weight quick and my Weight Commander program literally told me to "slow down!" Once I resumed my normal calorie level, I didn't put anything back on. I lost about 3 or 4 pounds in a short amount of time and went from there, I stayed at that weight.

So I honestly can't say if I believe in the starvation mode theory or not. Because I don't have concrete proof as to whether or not it's fact. I've lost weight, through my journey, by going down both paths - upping my calories when I'm stuck and decreasing my calories when I'm stuck.

Both worked.
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Old 02-19-2006, 12:58 AM   #7
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Linda -- Or, it could be neither approach worked and your body just broke through on its own! In the absence of a good, true experiment it's really hard to determine cause and effect. I think whatever we do to keep ourselves from quitting is the real winning approach!!
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Old 02-19-2006, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyllenn
Linda -- Or, it could be neither approach worked and your body just broke through on its own!
That's very possible too

I know my body does things for a reason, but until I can crawl around in there and find out exactly WHAT and WHY, I can't really argue with statistics. I think it all boils down to finding your own balance.
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Old 02-19-2006, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blues4miles
Before you formulate your opinions on starvation mode, read this thread in the Maintainer's Forum.
Very nice thread, thanks!

Starvation Mode is a very real thing...but I highly doubt you can get there without first seeing the tell-tale signs you're starving your body - hair loss, lethargy, excessive bruising and brown urine. Your body will hurt all the easily reparables first before it attacks the metabolism. I strongly believe the only reason upping calories works is that it takes calories to burn calories. Your body needs energy to burn that fat off. If you're only giving it enough to survive, then it won't have the extra oomf to start converting fat to energy.
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Old 02-19-2006, 01:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LLV
I know my body does things for a reason, but until I can crawl around in there and find out exactly WHAT and WHY, I can't really argue with statistics. I think it all boils down to finding your own balance.
I agree. I wish we COULD get to the why more easily, certainly would help reduce some of the flailing around we do to keep ourselves losing weight, wouldn't it!
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Old 02-19-2006, 01:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyllenn
I think whatever we do to keep ourselves from quitting is the real winning approach!!
Yes!
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Old 02-19-2006, 03:29 PM   #12
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In my opinion, the term starvation mode get thrown around rather liberally. I believe wholeheartedly that there are lots and lots of people who could lose weight on higher calorie plans and I think it is important to begin losing weight at the highest possible level so that you have room to reduce your intake as necessary. But, that doesn't necessarily mean you are "starving" at the lower level. I think we all have an optimal level of calorie intake that maximizes our weight loss efforts and I believe that optimal level moves up and down as we make our journeys. There are so many variables besides diet that play into weight loss. The amount of activity we engage in, the intensity of that activity, the types of food our calories come from etc. I've been working to lose weight for a little more than a year now and have found it necessary to tweak things all along.

I don't doubt plateaus are real and I don't doubt that increasing or decreasing calories can help get things moving again (or adding extra exercise, changing diet, etc.). But, I also think that with a little patience a plateau would end on its own even if we changed nothing (but where's the fun in that? LOL).

I've found that what works for me is altering my caloric intake from day to day while still aiming for the same level on average. And I think that is what is key - finding what works for you as an individual. It takes a lot of experimentation sometimes. Live and learn, I suppose.
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Old 02-20-2006, 07:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucky
In my opinion, the term starvation mode get thrown around rather liberally.
Lucky, that's EXACTLY what I was going to say! I was thinking many of the other things you already pointed out as well, so I will try not to make this too repetitive...

Just because you are eating fewer than 1200 calories a day does not automatically mean you are in "starvation mode." I hit a plateau for about 3 months when I was eating about 1200 calories a day (or less), but I would never say I was in "starvation mode." I increased my calories and began losing weight.

The thing is, increasing your calories should help to break through a plateau no matter how many calories you'd been eating (no "starvation mode" required) simply because it is a change from the usual routine into which your body has settled.

Also, like lucky said, I don't understand why people feel the need to start out at such a LOW calorie amount. Think about it--as you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories (since it takes less energy to, say, climb a flight of stairs carrying 120 pounds than it does carrying 220 pounds), so as your weight decreases, so must your caloric intake. Therefore, if you start out at 1200 calories a day and then settle into that amount as your normal amount, how could you decrease it to continue the weight loss? By starting higher, you'll have room to SAFELY decrease your calories as needed as you progress. I'm currently trying to average 1800 calories a day each week (calorie cycling), and I am losing just fine (1-2 pounds per week, which is generally accepted as safe and more likely to STAY off). I know that as I lose weight, I'll have to decrease this number in order to see the same results (or add exercise to burn more, since my lazy butt isn't doing ANY regular exercise right now ).

Anyway, congrats on breaking the plateau, and I hope you see continued (safe) success
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Old 02-20-2006, 06:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyllenn
I agree. I wish we COULD get to the why more easily, certainly would help reduce some of the flailing around we do to keep ourselves losing weight, wouldn't it!
Sure would
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