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'Starvation mode' question

Mummoth

Silver Member
S: 19st3lb C: 16st11.5lb G: 12st0lb BMI: 35.8 Loss: 2st5.5lb(12.45%)
#1
Not strictly a SW question, but it's come up nevertheless. I've heard that if you have too few calories your body goes into starvation mode, making it harder for you to lose weight. Makes sense, but what about anorexics? Surely they're in starvation mode, yet they obviously lose weight.

How does it all work?
 
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x Nee x

Gold Member
S: 20st10lb C: 20st5lb G: 8st0lb BMI: 50.5 Loss: 0st5lb(1.72%)
#2
Not strictly a SW question, but it's come up nevertheless. I've heard that if you have too few calories your body goes into starvation mode, making it harder for you to lose weight. Makes sense, but what about anorexics? Surely they're in starvation mode, yet they obviously lose weight.

How does it all work?
I think its basically saying if you eat less that 1200 cal's or whatever you should be having, your body hits 'starvation mode' where it stores the food for fat as its not getting it from what you are eating, if this continued your body would start to feed of the muscles and you become weaker etc....

You can still lose weight, but when you up your calories again you will see a bigger weight gain, also whilst in starvation mode your metabolism drops meaning your system slows down.

Its far more technical than that but thats my view on it, however I do eat less that I should for numerous reasons and I am losing :) and not feeling ill :)
 

Mummoth

Silver Member
S: 19st3lb C: 16st11.5lb G: 12st0lb BMI: 35.8 Loss: 2st5.5lb(12.45%)
#3
Thanks for that.

I also wonder, who do people on VLCDs manage? If their body goes into starvation mode at less than 1,200 cals, how can they lose so much weight if they are existing on, say, 500 cals a day?

Basically I guess I'm wondering if this 'starvation mode' thing is hyped up a bit, to put people off eating too little.
 

x Nee x

Gold Member
S: 20st10lb C: 20st5lb G: 8st0lb BMI: 50.5 Loss: 0st5lb(1.72%)
#4
Thanks for that.

I also wonder, who do people on VLCDs manage? If their body goes into starvation mode at less than 1,200 cals, how can they lose so much weight if they are existing on, say, 500 cals a day?

Basically I guess I'm wondering if this 'starvation mode' thing is hyped up a bit, to put people off eating too little.
just found this......

The idea that 'not eating enough' causes the body to stop losing weight because it goes into 'starvation mode' is a popular myth among dieters.
Metabolism Slows During Calorie Restriction
Restricting calories during weight loss lowers metabolism1 because the body becomes more efficient, requiring fewer calories to perform the necessary daily functions for survival. Consequently, this can slow (but not stop) the anticipated rate of weight loss.

For example, if an individual needs 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight, reducing intake to 1,500 calories, assuming exercise stays the same, should provide a 1lb per week weight loss (Note: 1lb of weight is equivalent to about 3,500 calories). Furthermore, reducing to 1,000 calories should result in a weight loss of 2lb per week and going down to 500 calories a day should result in a weight loss of 3lb per week. However, if an individual actually reduces their intake to 500 calories, the weight loss would not likely be a steady 3lb per week because of the reduced metabolic rate. It would likely be around 2¼ to 2½lb. This 'lower than expected' rate of weight loss is a lot different to 'no' weight loss as the 'starvation mode' notion proposes.

It is unclear as to whether the relationship between reduced caloric intake and a lower metabolism follows a straight path or becomes more pronounced the greater the caloric reduction. Some studies have found no significant reduction in metabolism until the caloric restriction is quite large (e.g. 800 calories or less per day).2 Others suggest a linear relationship with small reductions in metabolism accompanying small reductions in caloric restriction, with the gap increasing as the caloric deficit is enlarged.

While there is no biologic evidence to support the 'starvation mode' myth, there may be behavioural reasons why weight loss stops when calories are severely reduced. Over-restriction of calorie intake, known as high dietary restraint is linked to periods of overeating, hindering successful weight loss.3 (For more information on dietary restraint, read the Science Centre article, The Skill of Flexible Restraint)

Metabolism after Weight Loss
The good news is that after the weight loss goal is achieved and weight has stabilised, it does not appear that the dip in metabolism is permanent. Several rigorous studies done at the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that metabolism goes back to expected levels with sustained weight loss,4 discounting the theory that a lowered metabolism helps to explain the common phenomenon of weight regain following weight loss.
 

millux

Slim for Summer!
S: 15st5lb G: 9st7lb
#5
As far as I know, people with Anorexia lose weight because their body doesn't have a choice not to. People with Anorexia often eat under 300kcal a day & exercise to a defecit of hundreds of kcals (sometimes even thousands in extreme cases). This means that the body eats up muscle, water & some fat because it has no other choice. Starvation mode is the body's last attempt at keeping you going, people with eating disorders often find ways of getting past starvation mode, which is extremely damaging & can cause death due to deterioration of the heart chambers & muscles. "Normal" people's bodies react differently in these cases that eating disordered people's bodies do, your body will go into starvation mode usually because it's just holding off until you eat again, an eating disordered body will be so desperate for any energy that it will eat up anything and everything that it can, hence the weightloss.
 

squiddie

Getting fit for 30!
S: 25st5lb C: 25st5lb G: 11st1lb BMI: 54 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
#6
I'm not an expert but with anorexia, people cut down their eating massively and actually gain because the body holds on to anything it gets, therefore spurring them to eat even less. Like I said I'm not an expert but thats what I've been told in the past.
 
#7
It is not so much the body going into starvation mode that is the problem, that doesn't really happen.

But, if you reduce your calories below what is recommended, eventually your body does adjust to that and while you would more than likely still lose weight, no one could really manage to continue like that for life. So, If you all of a sudden upped you calorie intake again, then you would start to gain weight a lot more quicker than what you might if you was eating a well balanced diet, because you body has got used to the very low calories.

Hence why it is far healthier to eat a well balanced diet, where you are getting all the sources of nutrition that you need and obviously far more manageable in the long run.
 
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Circes

Strutting her stuff
S: 17st12lb C: 10st7lb BMI: 22.3 Loss: 7st5lb(41.2%)
#8
With anorexia when there is no more fat to burn the body starts turning to muscle for its energy and that is a bad thing as this includes vital organs such as heart muscle. This is why end-stage anorexics often suffer from organ failure.
 

Donnie46

Slow but sure....
S: 22st0lb C: 19st7lb G: 10st0lb BMI: 55.1 Loss: 2st7lb(11.36%)
#9
Good advice there from everyone, please don't go down the path of a starvation diet, follow SW and lose weight by eating healthily.
 

Purple_Star

Silver Member
S: 20st0lb C: 12st11lb G: 11st7lb Loss: 7st3lb(36.07%)
#10
I agree that starvation mode is a bit of a myth. But rather than compare it to anorexia, I compare it to being ill. After a particularly nasty flu last year, I dropped 8lbs, and dropped from a size 12 to a 10. I could see my bum and tum were smaller so it wasn't down to losing water. Plus I didn't have vomitting or diarhoea - just no appetite for a couple of weeks. I maintained that weight loss for a few months, tho its back on now - and I am trying to shift it again!!!

Anyway, my point is, its normal to lose weight when fasting, but I don't doubt that your body is bound to panic and drop your metaboloism Also as others have said, eventually your muscles will waste - apparently your body tries to hold on to the fat as its necessary for survival whereas muscle isn't. Tho eventually if the fat runs out, organs will be affected, as mentioned above - scarey stuff.
 

Eternalflame

Excited about the new me!
S: 16st6.5lb C: 15st9lb G: 9st10lb BMI: 34.3 Loss: 0st11.5lb(4.99%)
#11
I was on CD, 3 shakes a day only.. and lost almost 2 stone in 2 months last year, went away for a long weekend and gained nearly a stone. It was so disheartening. Its a good plan to do, if you need to shift weight very quickly, but unless you go gradually up the plans to 1500, you gain all what you loose.

I've changed from CD to SW, due to money this month and not sure that CD, with how much limitations there are, that I want to go back to it.
 
S: 12st12lb C: 10st10lb G: 9st0lb BMI: 27.4 Loss: 2st2lb(16.67%)
#12
SW works because your body becomes used to you eating a lot. Therefore it doesn't need to panic and hold on to any extra food as storage, as it knows it will be getting a regular supply of energy.

As has already been said, starving yourself either on purpose or from being ill results in a gain when you do eat as your body takes stores just incase it happens again.

If people ate regularly, they would find they'd actually lose weight. Sure it'll be slower, but a lot healthier in the end.
 


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