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What on earth is all this I keep reading about starvation mode?!

(12 Posts)
UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 15:03:21

I have a feeling that a good few people won't agree with me, But I just don't really buy into this whole 'eat more to lose weight' thing that i keep hearing about.

I do agree that you shouldn't actualy properly starve yourself in order to lose weight, but eating not very much will make you lose weight, not put it on.

Surely it's fact that if you eat less than you rbody requires you will lose weight. And if you eat a lot less, say 500 calories a day you will lose weight still.

It obviousy won't work in the long term because it's very hard to sustain that, but once you lose weight if you eat the amount you should to maintain your new weight then you'll keep it off.

I just haven't come across any proper scientific research that says if you don't eat you will not lose weight, (not to say it doesn't exist, just that I've never seen it!)

bibbitybobbitycat Fri 23-Oct-09 15:08:43

Yes, of course you will lose weight.

But when your body goes into starvation mode, it makes the most of every single calorie it takes in. The metabolism slows right down.

As soon as you start eating more again you gain weight. But the efficiency of your metabolism will have been permanently damaged by this period of starvation and therefore will require fewer calories to maintain an ideal weight than it did before.

So goes the theory, I believe.

UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 15:36:19

Yes, but surely if after you've lost weight you eat to maintain your new weight you'll not put the weight back on.
If you overeat (more than your body needs) you'll put weight on.
Some water weight will go back on but that wouldn't be sttones.

Yes, it will take fewer calorie sthan before to maintain the weight but because you now weigh less, your body needs less calories to function. (the less you weigh the less food you need to eat to maintain).

And I'm sure it would take more to permanently damage the metabolism than a brief bout of dieting.

But it's people who say I need to eat more or eat all my points etc or I won't lose weight that are wrong, if they eat less they will lose weight. The only thing would be that it's not sustainable and you are then more likely to overeat if you are depriving yourself.

IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Fri 23-Oct-09 15:46:27

Your body uses approx 1300 calories a day for basic functions - it will use this amount even if you lie in bed for the whole day.

Going below this puts your body into starvation mode and yes, you will still lose weight, but it's much harder. It can also bugger up your metabolism.

The theory is that you should lose more weight if you eat between 1300-1400 calories a day than, for example, 500.

But I am no expert on the matter, so I am googling for more info, as I am interested in this. (am on Atkins and def go below 1300 cals a day sometimes)

IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Fri 23-Oct-09 15:49:17


UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 15:55:28

I think every body uses up different amounts of calories per day depending on you r weight height etc, its the basal metabolic rate.
The heavier you are the more calories your bodies use up just to be alive so to maintain that weight you need to eat a lot of calories.
If you then lose weight your body would need less calories to exist so you have to eat less food in a day just to maintain that weight.

I have lost 2 1/2 stone recently and worked out my bmr and ate around 500 cals under that and lost weight.
I recalculated my bmr at my new weight and that's the amount of calories i have to eat to maintain my new weight, if I go back to eating the same amount as I did before I lost weight well then of course I'd put it back on again.

If you eat 500 cals a day you lose lose weight faster than if you ate 1400.

Something like that anyway smile

UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 16:05:01

Just thought I'd mention that I'm in no way in favour of starving yourself or very low cal diets, I lost weight by eating enough so I wasn't hungry but not really going over what I needed to eat in order to lose weight. I didn't starve nor would I have wanted to!!

Joolsiam Fri 23-Oct-09 16:14:26

I tried the Cambridge Diet recently and confounded my diet counsellor by never ever managing a loss of more than 1.5lbs in a week - the average is 4 lbs apparently. I stayed on it for ten weeks and lost 15lbs - was very happy with that.

Got pregnant, so stopped. Miscarried quite early, so restarted and in 4 weeks, I lost just one poxy pound ! I then worked out my BMR and started calorie counting to eat around 500 calories under what I needed - still very little progress - maybe 1/2 lb per week (and I'm 2.5 stone overweight). I got fed up, needed a break and upped my calories from 1200 to 1500, then my weight loss started approaching what most people would expect.

Had a bad few weeks, but got back on the wagon 5 weeks ago - have managed to lose 4 of the 8 lbs I put on but now everything has stalled.

I am certain that there is something in the starvation mode / slow metabolism theory and wish I knew the answer I'm back in the gym now my back is sorted and have started putting ON weight (hopefully muscle) - I haven't cheated in 5 weeks. Am absolutely determind to do this, but it really is bloody hard for some of us.

ShinyAndNew Fri 23-Oct-09 16:15:28

In starvation mode, the body will use muscle instead of fat, for energy, wherever possible.

So yes, you will lose weight, but because you are losing mainly muscle, you will still look flabby and untoned.

Also the metabolism works very much like a fire. When you add fuel, i.e. food to it it burns harder. That is why many dieticians and nutrionists recommend eating 6 small healthy meals a day instead of 3 larger ones.

Another thing to consider is the heart. Which is the biggest muscle the body has. Your body will start eating your organs for energy if a starvation diet goes on too long.

Pyschological side effects and chemical changes in the brain mean that the 'dieter' can get a 'high' from feeling empty, and could become addicted to starvation diets.

Because the body loses mainly muscle, the metabolic rate of the individual drops dramatically. This is because a pound of muscle uses twice as much energy <or calories> to maintain as a pound of fat. So the dieter puts on weight more easily after stopping the diet because the metabolic rate has dropped.

The fastest, easiest and healthiest way to lose weight is the old fashioned way, combine healthy eating with regular exercise and drink plenty of water.

JiminyCricket Fri 23-Oct-09 16:39:19

When people in experiments were starved and then allowed to eat normally (whatever they wanted), their weight went back to normal and then plus 10%...after six months of eating as they wished, they returned to their pre-experiment weight. Interestingly, even the ones who really binged after the starvation phase only put on about 10%, they didn't skyrocket into obesity. So, your body tries to defend its preferred weight range, but puts a bit more on in case its starved again. So, most people diet, lose weight, but can't maintain the strict control (your body fights it by being obsessed with food), then go back to normal plus 10%, diet, back to before plus 10%, hence dieting makes you fat. However, of course there are cultural factors of processed foods etc and easy availability of food that are making us fat even without dieting, and some people presumably do get bigger and bigger without dieting..other mechanisms at work. The thing that drives me mad is people saying 'energy in should equal energy out' - its not true, your body uses lots of energy just to keep you alive (and if you weigh more you will need more calories), and high rates of exercise plus restricting your food is unsustainable for most and undesirable for those that do (the cost in terms of control is too high). My personal view is: aim for a modest weight loss if you're overweight - within the range that suits your body rather than within the range that suits your desired image of your body. Eat more homecooked food. Exercise for fun so you're more likely to carry on as you feel the benefits. The most prolific dieter I know is loads bigger than she was in her twenties, when she was unhappy with her size sixteen figure.

UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 17:03:29

I get all this, and I'm not disputing that your body won't go into something if it has been starved properly starved for a long period of time.
But when you have lost weight if you then eat whatever you want when you want of course you'll put all that weight back on regardless of how you lost that weight.

That's why starving doesn't work in the long term because you cannot sustain it and after that starving you overeat - hence the weight gain.
If you carried on starving you would continue to lose weight until you died.

But this is proper proper starving we're talking about, a very low calories intake for a long time. This is not what I'm talking about.

I was talking about the people who say 'I'm not eating enough that's why I'm not losing weight'.
No, they're not losing weight because they are taking too much in regardless of what they say.

And I'm not getting at anyone, I was overweight for ages it was simply because I ate too much.
When I started really looking at the calories then i realsied what I thought I was eating was not what I was actually eating.
But even when I was overweight I never thought I was because I ate too little!

IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Fri 23-Oct-09 19:33:30

Sorry UH - I disagree.

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