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at what point does "starvation mode" kick in?

My instinct is when trying to lose weight, minimize your caloric intake as much as possible....
So when I watch what I eat, I'm comfortable eating around 500 calories but my husband(a nurse) says that if I eat less than 1200 calories my body will lick into "starvation mode" and then my body will store the calories instead of burning them.

I really don't want to start storing my food! But Google couldn't help me figure this out and I'm really confused.

At what point does your body stop using your calories and start storing them??

Tue. Jul 13, 12:06am

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The real answer depends. For real. Starvation mode is not a magical phenomenon...if you don't eat alot, consistently, you *will* lose weight. But your metabolism will slow down...but it will burn both fat and muscle, which is why you'll find that at something like 500 calories, you won't lose weight any faster than you would at a higher calorie intake. Thus, people get frustrated when eating 500 calories a day and not losing any more weight than they did eating 1200 and exercising. On average. Its this frustration that folks interpret as "starvation mode." You will loose weight...but not any faster, and maybe even slower than you would on a normal diet. (But there is genetic variation. Men, for example, with a tendency to hang onto muscle, may not even notice the slowdown. Some women have more efficient metabolisms than others, etc.)

So unless you have a thyroid problem or have some specific health problem that requires a low er than usual calorie diet (although still way above 500!), you might ask yourself, why are you so interested in starving yourself when the results are, at best, no better than a balanced diet?

If you're just looking for a way to maximize weight loss and want to folk in not eating cause, I guess, you like it, you might want to look at the eat-stop-eat diet...basically, you fast one day a week...not enough time for a metabolism shift, but enough time to create a calorie deficit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010, 5:21 PM

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starvation actually works

I 've had the same concerns, but frankly, I do not see results unless I am eating between 500 - 700 calories. Its been my experience that you can prevent starvation mode by doing these things.

1) cycle your calories, to keep your body confused. So when I do a 500 calorie day, I only do it for a couple of days. And then I may go up to 1200 and then back down to 500. I have designated "starvation days"

2) eat superfoods to get more bang for your caloric buck. If your body is not starving for nutrients, and you are good athletic condition, then there is no reason for your body to start eating its own organs. Think about it, gymnasts work out 6 days a week, 5 hours a day, and they live on 500 calories a day. (not all of them, but many of them do. There are some gymnasts that do not have to watch what they eat, but I've read the memoirs of many gymnasts, and they live on 500 calories a day. )

3) Detoxify: I always detoxify before I go on a weight loss regimen. One time, I took diet pills for a week and barely ate anything, and I did not lose any weight. In fact, I bloated up. It was the same bloat feeling I get when I drink too much, and too little water. Well, I di dnot drink any alcohol, but I suspect the over dosing on the diet pills, was not good for my liver. So I did a fast, drank a ton of water, ate seaweed, wheatgrass, and some other cleansing foods, and I've found that the weight does come off.

4) Build Muscle: think about it, if you build muscle, then you burn 70 - 100 more calories per hour. So I make sure I eat good quality proteins after a work out.

Speaking of which, for three days I did the following, and the weight dropped off.

1) became a raw foodist for three days, or at least had 2 raw food meals.
2) Raw Wholefood Shake, or Vega
They are whole food meals, and only 140 calories.

It was easy to stay at 500 calories, I did so effortlessly. I was not hungry because eating a whole food diet, getting healthy exercise, (like a walk or very light jog, not pushing it) drinking a ton of water, the weight came off.

Not only that, but I had a ton of energy, and my skin and eyes glowed.

I think its an over simplication to say that if you do not eat at least 1200 calories, then you will go into starvation mode.

Thats not true. You can skip a few days without eating and not go into starvation mode. Our bodies were built for it. Thats why its healthy to fast every now and then.

Just like you are not supposed to over eat EVERY DAY, you are not supposed to starve yourself, EVERY DAY.. but having a balance of the two, and making every calorie count, the weight will come off. you just have to make sure you stay away from toxins, like alcohol, (my achilles heal) coffee, (my other achilles heal) meat, (meat can be very toxic, especially if its not organic) sugar, other bad carbs, etc.

I think the whole 1200 calorie thing is an over simplication. But then again, if you are on the Standard American Diet, and then you try to lose weight on 500 calories, its probably not going to happen. In fact, you are going to gain weight because all the acid and the toxins will create more fat cells, to keep the toxins away from your vital organs.

I think nutrition is key, not the number of calories.

Friday, November 05, 2010, 6:24 PM

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I always wondered - if Starvation Mode kicked in, sometimes at 1200 calories as some will suggest, then how does anyone become anorexic? And how do those who get bypass surgery and are put on minimal calorie diets manage to have the weight fall off? It makes sense to me - they have an abundance of stored fuel, but according to Starvation Mode, their weight loss should stall. I know there are people who staunchly stand by Starvation Mode, and I can respect that. It doesn't hurt anyone, but it's kind of funny that in a country where MOST people are overweight and/or obese - we're citing undereating as the problem!

I like the article below. I think one of the 'dangers' of eating so few calories is the rebound eating once you come off that.


Saturday, November 06, 2010, 9:41 AM

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I think it depends on the person and how much the weigh when starvation mode kicks. As for the anorexic question I think that is way different. Our bodies store fat when it gets nothing it starts using muscle to keep it going and store the fat for the last option. Once the fat stores are gone what left?

Saturday, November 06, 2010, 5:31 PM

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I think someone who would eat 500 calories a day is on their way to falling off the wagon or becoming anorexic, Not good!

Saturday, November 06, 2010, 11:11 PM

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I agree that the 500 calorie diet is setting up for a huge fall, because it does take practice. If you are used to eating 2000 calories, and then all of a sudden, drop down to 500, that is just not smart, and shocking for your body. I would not start a 500 calorie diet without the aid of HCG or something.

Starvation Mode I beleive does exist, and like many said here, it depends on the person.

Anorexics, and really skinny people, are what you would call "skinny fat". They have the resolve to not binge during starvation mode, where the body starts eating their own organs. Anorexics, and very skinny people, are actually not very fit at all, and their organs carry fat, (as proteins are too expensive for the body to keep around, and fat is stored as muscle is eaten)

Because its a life long way of life, anorexics can eventually look sketical, but they also have heart problems, and a host of other problems as their organs stop working.

Its all about balance.. But more important, its about nutrition. You can nutritionally "starve" yourself at 2000 calories too.

A limited caloric diet works, if your body is conditioned, and healthy. as a protocal, occassional fasting, and restricted caloric diets will extend your life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010, 8:08 PM

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I just wanted to add, here is what worked for me. I gained 80 pounds with each of my children, and lost it all, and got my body back each time. It was difficult for me to exercise after the birth of each child, and it was a lot easier for me to go on diets. This worked to get me started, but eventually I had to exercise as well as watch what I ate. Basically, it boiled down to two cycles, body building mode, and restricted dieting mode. By doing this, I lost 80 pounds within 12 months with each kid.

Body building mode, I am lifting weights, as my main method of exercise, with cardio, if any, being secondary. When I lift weights, its nearly impossible for me to stay on a low calorie regimen, so I do not even try, and dont count calories much, but I remember eating 1500, 2000, and some days, even 3000 caloried a day, without a change in weight.

Thats thet thing. During weight building mode, its hard to see results. I know my body is buildiing muscle, and I can feel myself getting stronger. Like each time I return to do a bicep curl, I am able to lift more than the previous session.

After a time of doing this, I noticed that my weight and inches, crept up a little bit, (about 10 pounds, and about one inch). My guess is that I built muscle, and kept the fat.

I did this for two or three months.

Then, I started a healthy diet of abouy 500 - 750 calories, while lightly walking/jogging. This is when the significant weight loss and inch loss occurred. I would drop about 10 pounds in every two weeks. so now I am losing fat and muscle, but thankfully, because of the muscle building phase, my metabolism is slower, but it does not come to crawl, at least not yet.

When I start to notice I am no longer getting results, I then start building my body again, until I am back to where I was before the baby was born.

People ask me why I just dont stay on a balanced diet and exercise regimen, and frankly, I just dont get results, until I go on a restricted caloric diet. During the body building phase, its useless to go on a restricted caloric diet, since your body does not have enough "building material" to build muscle, and your muscle building efforts are for nothing.

Another thing I noticed, is that I have a watch that tells me how many calories I am burning. During weight training mode, I burn like 6000 calories, during starvation mode, I will be lucky if I burn 1800 calories a day. If I eat normal, and dont lift weights, just do cardio, then I burn like 3500 calories a day.

It so hard to balance. Weight training mode, you gain muscle and fat. Starvation and restricted calorie mode, you lose muscle and fat.

Saturday, November 13, 2010, 11:57 AM

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Utter Frustration

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!! After 10 pound weightloss, I have plateaued, and I think I hit starvation mode! I went a day only ate 200 calories, while I ran. I over did it on the calorie burning diet pills I think. I totally forgot to eat, and I did not drink water either, I just forgot. Next day, I was up two pounds, despite eating only 200 calories. Next day after that, had one meal, up another five pounds..

So I started to lift weights again, and slowly upped my calories to a respectible 1000 - 1500 calorie diet. Boobs came back, and the inches came back down. I stopped taking the diet pills, and started drinking a ton of water to detox the stuff out of my system. The day that I woke up after the 200 calorie day, vaguely reminded me of the bloat after drinking too much salt or alcohol, so that was a clue for me be careful about what I ate, (I stuck to organics, etc. )

Now, that I am back to my normal inches, but 8 pounds heavier, I want to get ripped.

I went Vegan six months ago, and discovered that I am protein deficient, and by all the calculations they say I need 100 - 150 grams of protein a day!!!

I upped my protein intake, and I am bloated like hell!

I have to tell you, dieting and exercising are really really hard. Body building mode is actually more frustrating then just limiting your calories, that is for sure.

I hate it when I hit starvation mode. I can tell too, because I had no appetite.

I am just frustrated. Cant wait to lose the last 10 pounds and get back to what I was in High School, (I am 40)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 3:47 PM

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