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Starvation Mode - Is it something to worry about?


Full Member
I've been reading alot about Starvation Mode these past days after a friend of mine told me that I'd end up in Starvation Mode while doing CD.
I couldn't say that she was wrong because I actually don't know.
It really shouldn't be something to worry about considering we have people here on this forum who have kept their weight after vlcd.
But I am still very worried, can this happen to us or does it only happen to those who do not get enough vitamins/minerals during vlcd?
Thank you!
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You won't go into stavation mode on this diet. There is a lot of information on here from people who know much more than me!

Try searching using the search menu at the top, but just searching this site. I bet it will come up with enough info to keep you going all day.

I don't think you go into starvation when you're in ketosis, which is fat burning.
Have a read its safe the diet

The Cambridge Diet was devised by Dr Alan Howard at Cambridge University in 1970. It's a diet that uses meal-replacement food packs that have all the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. There are 5 steps to the diet, ranging from step 1, called Sole Source (around 500 calories per day) to step 5 (1,500 calories per day). Each step includes at least one meal-replacement food pack, which could be a nutrition bar, soup, mousse or shake.

The principle of the diet is that with the right amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, very few calories and the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals, your body gets all the nutrients it needs and uses its fat stores for energy, therefore burning fat. And because the diet is high protein you don't lose muscle mass or have cravings, like on other diets.

What happens on the Cambridge Diet?

You meet with a Cambridge Diet counselor every week to buy food packs - you can only buy these from a registered and trained counselor. You also meet to discuss your progress with the diet and talk about your issues and difficulties, if you have them. Some people talk to their counselor about their emotional issues with food, weight and body image, other people just appreciate a few encouraging words - it's like having a diet coach.

Depending on what step you follow, you eat between three food packs per day (step 1, Sole Source) or one food pack with three meals and snacks per day (step 5), but this is still a balanced low-fat, low-calorie, lower carb diet. The step you start on depends on how much weight you have to lose and how quickly you want to lose it. All the steps involve eating less calories than usual, but step 1 and step 2 involve hardly any carbohydrates, which puts your body into a process called ketosis. Ketosis is when your body uses its fat stores for energy.

Who is the Cambridge Diet good for?

Anyone who has a BMI of 26 or more and if you have a difficult emotional relationship with food or/and a large amount of weight to lose. It's a good diet to do because you have support from a counsellor.

Like any diet, you need willpower and it can be hard to stick to if you're just doing the 1st step, Sole Source, but you will lose weight quickly, which normally gives people the incentive to stick to it.

Some people find it hard to drink 8 large glasses of water a day. And you are not allowed to have chewing gum, diet drinks or tea and coffee with milk on the 1st and 2nd step of the programme.

Even though there's a large variety of food packs, some people still don't like any of the flavours.

It's very safe although there are a small minority of people who can't do the diet for health reasons. The side-effects of ketosis are bad breath, lethargy for the first three days and headaches, but not everyone experiences this.

Some people think it's expensive but you are replacing food with Cambridge Diet food packs and buying less food - so you may even save money on your weekly food bill. The price of a set of weekly food packs varies between

What can I eat on the Cambridge Diet?

For step 1 (Sole Source) you only have 3 Cambridge Diet food packs, water, tea/coffee without milk, herb tea. You cannot have any other food, milk, alcohol, diet drinks or chewing gum.

For step 2 you will have 3 Cambridge Diet food packs plus one low-fat, low-carbohydrate meal, such as cottage cheese salad or grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. You are allowed 1/5 pint of milk but you still have to have 8 large glasses of water and cut out alcohol.

For steps 3 and 4 you have just two food packs, as well as a breakfast of 150 calories and main meal such as lunch or dinner.
Sample breakfast: fruit smoothie (pictured above) and 3 rye crispbread with low-fat cream or cottage cheese
Sample main meal: prawn stir-fry and a small piece of fruit

For step 5 you have one food pack, three regular meals and one 100 calorie snack.
Sample breakfast: 50g sugar-free muesli, a small orange and a small pot of low-fat fruit yogurt
Sample lunch: tomato and basil soup, a small granary roll filled with cottage cheese. A 100g pot of low-fat fromage frais
Sample dinner: paella with one portion of vegetables
Sample snacks: Two chocolate chip cookies
In a sentence, providing you eat all your meals and move up the plans when your bmi gets low you wont go into starvation.
Absolutely, when someone is starving themselves in cases of total food abstinence or severe anorexia for instance, they deprive their body not only of energy, but of vital nutrients to which end the body can not function.
CD has been very carefully balanced so as long as you follow the rules, your body will indeed gets it's fill of the vital nutrients.. and it gets it's energy fromt he fat that most of have copious amounts of...
Like Badger say's as long as you go up the steps as you near your target, your body will get all it needs to function well.



Silver Member
It's also important to have an extra shake if you decide to do some strenuous (s.p?) exercise. I haven't found this in the books but I'm sure I remember the wonderful K.D saying this in a post about exercise & CD as high levels of exercise aren't recommended while in ketosis, better for once you're at 1000 cal step.


Gone fishing
I've been reading alot about Starvation Mode these past days after a friend of mine told me that I'd end up in Starvation Mode while doing CD.
You can end up in starvation mode eating loads more calories ;) It's a very grey area. No 'cut off' point from a calorie viewpoint. Much depends on how overweight you are.

Starvation mode happens when you cut your body's requirement by 50% of its calorific needs.

So, if you are very overweight, and you cut your calories down to 1200 a day, you could go into starvation mode.

Much of the fear of starvation mode comes from a misunderstanding of what it is.

All diets reduce calories, and by reducing calories your metabolic rate will slow. Reduce them a lot, and the metabolic rate will reduce even more. Don't add enough protein, and you'll lose lean mass.

So what does that mean for CDers? You will probably go into a starvation mode of sorts ie the metabolic rate will reduce that much more, but it stops reducing when it gets to a certain level and it will never reduce enough for a VLCD not to work :clap:

Raising of metabolic rate at the end of the diet? Sorted in the 'refeed' plans up :clap:

Lean mass loss? The higher levels of protein mean that it's safe from that angle. This side of starvation mode is less likely the bigger you are. It's when you get leaner that there is more chance that you lose lean mass rather than fat (though fat will still go). Hence the 810 plan at BMI25 to add more protein.

All vits and minerals in the shakes, so safe for that too. It's darn hard to get them all in any other way with so few calories unless it's a formulated plan such as CD.

It's safe. Actually, probably much safer than many diets that have a higher calorie level, but where the dieter can chose the foods.


Silver Member
I also have a friend who's mentioned this to me. The above info has been really helpful if she mentions it again.

The other thing she mentioned was to ask if, as well as vits and minerals, do the packs include things like the good fats we should eat eg fish oil etc. I said I didn't know but when chatting with another friend who's also on CD, she said "but did you get all of those before anyway??" Very good point, I though! Only wish I'd thought of it when speaking to my friend as the answer would definitely be no! lol
It's also important to have an extra shake if you decide to do some strenuous (s.p?) exercise. I haven't found this in the books but I'm sure I remember the wonderful K.D saying this in a post about exercise & CD as high levels of exercise aren't recommended while in ketosis, better for once you're at 1000 cal step.
Wow didn't know that I do 400 cal's of exercise daily and have never increased my shakes. can I ask why you have to? My CDC has never mentioned it and we have discussed my exercise program.

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