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Old 10-23-2010, 06:32 PM   #1  
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Question What do you think of this advice?

I came across this article, and I have been trying to stick to the recommendations that are being made. But I wonder about the suggestion that a woman can go under 1,200 calories a day. There is a lot of discussion about whether or not this would be the dividing line between eating enough and going into "starvation mode".

I like the thought of being able to go as low as 1,100 or 1,050 calories a day in addition to exercising because this (logically) means more weight loss, but I am wondering what input someone who has been working at weight loss for a while now would say about this.

Does anyone have experience with the effects of calorie cutting this low?
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Old 10-23-2010, 06:38 PM   #2  
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3FC does not support VLCD - very low calorie Diets. You should not be attempting to post links until you have 20 posts and 20 days on board. Please read the terms of use.

I've left your post here so you can get some opinions. Most people will probably say that the calorie limit it too low when you are exercising. Lower calories does not necessarily mean more weightloss.
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:02 PM   #3  
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Hi chubbypanda,

I, personally would not go so low. I want to be on an eating plan that I can do for life. I want to be healthy and keep my metabolism cranking. I don't feel like it would be a healthy or effective solution for me. Also, I think that the slower I lose the weight (within reason) the easier it will be for me to keep it off. My goal is to lose about 5 lbs. a month. That's just what's working for me.
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:08 PM   #4  
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I think that it's difficult to stick to a "healthy" eating plan at a calorie level too far below 1200. I usually hit right around 1100 to 1200 calories in a day and I think I manage to balance everything and I'm not starving or binging because I'm feeling as deprived as I would if I went on a much lower calorie diet.
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:14 PM   #5  
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I figure if you want to lose about 5, 10 pounds then you can try weird possibly unhealthy things to lose it. Yeah, you'll gain it back but you won't be doing the unhealthy things long enough to damage your body.

If, however, you want to lose weight, keep it off, and be healthy while doing it and afterwards - then find a way of eating you can live with. VLCDs are not healthy or long term. Take care of yourself and eat enough food to keep your body healthy!
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:17 PM   #6  
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Any "one size fits all" advice about dieting is pretty much wrong. Under 1200 calories a day would be terrible advice for a 300 lb teenage boy. It might be good advice for a 65 year old woman who weighs at the top of her normal BMI and wants to lose 5-10 lbs total and who is being very careful to get proper nutrition. Most people are somewhere between those extremes.

This is my take on starvation mode. If you eat less/move more, you will lose more weight. However, the amount you lose will be less with every cut--if Suzie cuts her calories by 1000/day and starts losing 2 lbs a week, it does NOT mean that if she cuts them by 2000/day she will lose 4 lbs a week, or if she cuts them by 3000/day, she will lose 6 lbs a week. Burning fat is ONE way your body can make up an energy debt. It can also slow you down, keep you asleep, slow digestion and heart rate, lower your body temp, etc. The lower you go, the more it will start doing these things in addition to burning fat, and so while you will still lose weight, you won't lose that much more weight. It's not that you stop losing. It's that you are adding a ton more suffering and only getting a bit better results.

VLC diets are hard to stick to. For me, I find sticking to a VLC diet like holding my head under water. Yes, I can do it for a while, but eventually my body just takes over, pushing my head up and forcing me to take a breath. When I try VLC, my body sheds fat, but it urges me to eat every second of every day and that wears me out. When something else, something emotional, hits me on top of that hunger, I collapse and eat.

In many cases, people on VLC diets get on VLC/binge cycles that average out to the same daily calories as someone on a higher calorie diet--i.e., two people are both eating the same number of calories in a month, but the VLC person is suffering horrible hunger for 27 of those days and terrible guilt and shame the other three, whereas the moderate calorie eating person feels good about themselves and in control every single day.

But even when VLC diets "work", they aren't worth it: it's like this: you can suffer every minute of every day and look how you want to look in 4 months, or you can eat 300-400 more calories a day, never be more than mildly hungry, and look how you want to look in six months. Either way, you're wearing a bikini in June.
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:19 PM   #7  
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:20 PM   #8  
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I think "starvation mode" is an often misused and misleading term, but even so, it's not the only, or even the most compelling argument against vlcd's. Just a few:

Nutrition - the fewer calories you eat, the harder it is to get all the nutrition you need. A multi-vitamin can help, but is no replacement for the nutrients available in a diverse diet of real foods.

Health risks - Vlcd's are associated with a variety of health issues (from the annoying to the deadly). The less you eat, the higher the risk - risks such as
fatigue, irritability, dizziness, diarrhea, constipation, menstral and fertility problems, hair loss, difficulty concentrating, fainting, reduced resistance to infection, and other immunity-related issues (such as worsening of autoimmune disease), muscle loss (particularly bad if the muscle lost is from the heart), heart problems and damage (such as mitrovalve prolapse), kidney and gallbladder issues, osteoporosis, blood pressure and blood sugar problems. On diets low in protein and fat, the potentially deadly "rabbit starvation" (sometimes called protein poisoning)....

None of the risks are inevitable, but in most cases, you can't know before hand which you might be susceptible to. Most people will not experience the worst side effects (including death), but your odds of dying from a vlcd are actually much higher than for some of the drugs that have been taken off the market because of that danger.

Hunger as a binge-trigger. The less you eat, the more likely dieting is to be miserable. Hunger can make staying on plan virtually impossible. You can end up eating more in the long run because of the binges, hunger can trigger.

Physical/mental functioning - On vlcd's strength and stamina can be affected - as can mental functioning. People on vlcd's perform less well on physical and mental tasks. Many studies have found vlcd's to be as imparing as being legally intoxicated. It can be difficult or impossible to exercise on vlcd's, reducing your burning power. Extra calories may allow you the energy to burn far more calories with daily activities and exercise So by eating just a little more, you may have the energy to burn a lot more, allowing you to eat more calories to lose the same amount of weight.

Many people find they can eat more food AND lose more weight when they adjust where the calories come from. In my case, for example I lose a lot more weight, much more rapidly on low-carb eating. To lose weight, I can eat 1200 calories of high-carb food, or 1800 calories of low-carb food (and I'll still lose less reliably on the high-carb). Also on 4,000 calories of high-carb I'm hungrier than on 2,000 calories of low-carb.

Vlcd's are extremely tempting, because they do tend to result in extremely rapid results (at least in the beginning), but the risks and all the other ways in which they are counterproductive in the long run, make them unsustainable for the majority of people. There are exceptions, but even under close medical supervision, you're facing a much higher risk. For most of the risks, medical supervision doesn't prevent the risks, it just hopes to catch them before irreversible damage is done. Doing a vlcd without medical supervision is a game of russian roulette.

My main issue with vlcd's is that they don't tend to be effective. In a very real way, I dieted my way to nearly 400 lbs using vlcd's. I always had so much weight to lose that I thought fast was the only way to go. The probem was that vlcd's suck, and eventually they get to be more trouble than they're worth (and the normal response is not to fall back to slower weight loss - it's giving up on weight loss altogether).
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:20 PM   #9  
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My maintenance right now is about 1400 cal/day from what I experience. What I SHOULD be doing, I think, is eating 1200 calories and exercising. But... well... That's now how it's going.

I'm eating at 1,000 calories a day roughly, and lose about a pound every ten days. I justify my calorie level by saying that I'm short, but that could just be an excuse.

I STRONGLY believe "starvation mode" is vastly over rated, and I can't possibly accept that 1,200 cal/day is the end-all, be-all calorie limit for women (just as others on this board believe that the BMI couldn't possibly determine every single person's individual healthy weights).

All I know is that it works for me.
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:34 PM   #10  
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I wouldn't go so low. Personally, I've gone into the 1200s recently to lose some extra weight, but it wasn't fun. It took a lot of effort to make sure I was eating the right amount, and more often than not my blood sugar was actually very low and I was seeing spots, or retching, between meals. It was dumb of me to try, and I realised after only a week and a few days that I couldn't function on it, so I upped my calories into the 1700s.

Even after one DAY I can feel the difference. The numbers on the scale might come off slower, but I'd rather that happen than me pass out from low blood sugar/other.

Last edited by yhahmd; 10-23-2010 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 10-23-2010, 07:40 PM   #11  
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While not advocating it, I don't have any medical expertise, "in the olden days", when I first lost a lot of weight, 1,000 calorie diets were just the norm. They were advocated by slimming clubs, they were just what we did.
I lost about 60lbs, and I don't remember having great long stalls in it. And the fact that I've still got 2lbs to go this year to even get to that startweight isn't the fault of that 30 year-old diet, it's the fault of having eaten like a famished garbage-disposal since.

I don't consider 1,000 calories to be vlcd; on the other hand, if I can lose at a goodly rate on 1,400, why put myself to the extra effort?
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Old 10-23-2010, 08:09 PM   #12  
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Originally Posted by chubbypanda View Post
I hope you don't get scared off! This is truly a great place! You just happened to walk into the lion's den on one of your very first posts. No one will bite your head off. Really!

As for me, I am of the opinion that you should eat as many calories you can and still lose 4-8 pounds per month. The less you have to lose, the harder it is going to be.

You're among the shorter of us. You will find a few of us who do dip below 1200. I'm at a point where I was maintaining at 1200. I just don't require that many calories. However, when we talk about that (and we don't often) we talk about making sure we have nutrient rich calories. There's no room for treats and sweets and junk when you're eating below 1200.

In short, I'd say don't start out below 1200. I think at your height and weight 1200 is just fine. Try it and see what you think. Listen to your body. If you're feeling weak and light headed or ill, increase your calories. You'll know what to do.

Last edited by Eliana; 10-23-2010 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:02 PM   #13  
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I just read today that low cal diets distort your metabolism and that someone who eats good clean whole foods could potentially lose weight at 2000 cals while someone who eats junk could gain on 1600. So it's a pretty complex thing IMO.
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:00 AM   #14  
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I had a weightloss doctor put me on a very low calorie diet. I didn't do well and didn't lose weight. She then tried medication and the last straw was when she tried to put me on a migraine medication, thyroid medication, a diauretic, and something else. I don't have migraines or a thyroid problem either. I never went back, but instead went to a nutritionist and a personal trainer. They have never advocated eating less than 1200 calories and I work out 6 days a week at 1 1/2 hours at least, if not more. On the 1000 calorie diet, I felt desperate and couldn't work out. Actually lost muscle mass. On the 1200, I feel like I can maintain an active lifestyle and not just diet.
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:16 PM   #15  
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I was eating 1,200 calories for a year and lost nothing.

My endo recently put me on 1,000 calories and it is SO hard.
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