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Starvation Mode - Adaptive Thermogenesis and Weight Loss

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  • MsPuddingMsPudding Member Posts: 570 Member Member Posts: 570 Member
    Great post! So after reading, am I right in distilling it down to the following key points?

    1. When you reach your goal weight, you will require fewer calories to maintain than someone who's 'naturally' that weight and hasn't dieted to get there.
    2. You can mitigate the above problem by either building muscle whilst dieting or taking breaks from dieting to eat at maintenance for a bit.
  • QuarxsQuarxs Member Posts: 8 Member Posts: 8
    Thanks for a very interesting read, OP! - not too long; read it all :)

    I'm not sure I understand it all, though ... So, the Adaptive Thermogenesis happens to everybody, independent of how large a deficit they have and there's no avoiding it, is that right? And is it a gradual process that starts once I go beyond a loss of 10% bodyweight, or does it start earlier? Once I go beyond 10%, does my TDEE just plummet, or does it go down slowly? If I hit a plateau and reduce my calories, will that damage my metabolism even further, or is it maxed out at that 20/25%? Basically I'm wondering if a diet break just before reaching a 10% reduction in weight would be useful?

    Also, if it takes a minimum of 6 month for the metabolism to adjust upwards after Adaptive Thermogenesis, the eat more to lose movement should be non-existent. So, is there something other than Adaptive Thermogenesis happening when people talk about starvation mode on here, or are we looking at a lot of coincidental evidence, and those people were just temporarily stuck and would've started losing again anyway?
  • SteelySunshineSteelySunshine Member Posts: 1,150 Member Member Posts: 1,150 Member
    Not to throw a monkey wrench into all of this but, what I have found with the eating more to lose weight is that when I eat more I have more energy when I have more energy I move more. So I don't think it's just people eating more that are losing more. I suspect they are moving more and that they might not even be aware of it, they might be fidgeting more (250-500 cals a day worth), they might be exercising slightly longer (5 more mins on the morning run/walk, spending more time cleaning, doing more errands in one shot, etc..), or they just stopped logging exercise(guilty here) and are pretty much unaware of how many calories they are burning in a day except at some vague awareness of what their TDEE is and what their daily calorie goal is.

    This is good info for later when I get closer to goal so I know to reduce my expectations of TDEE calories for maintenance.
  • 55in1355in13 Member Posts: 1,091 Member Member Posts: 1,091 Member
    Also, if it takes a minimum of 6 month for the metabolism to adjust upwards after Adaptive Thermogenesis, the eat more to lose movement should be non-existent. So, is there something other than Adaptive Thermogenesis happening when people talk about starvation mode on here, or are we looking at a lot of coincidental evidence, and those people were just temporarily stuck and would've started losing again anyway?
    I may take some heat for this, but I believe a lot of people who report no loss at low calorie levels are not truly consuming what they say. Many use "net" calories which means they are "eating back" exercise calories which are often over estimated, and the effect of the metabolic rate slowing a bit makes that even worse. Many are just flat out lying. That's the elephant in the room with a lot of discussions on this forum.
  • DragonSquatterDragonSquatter Member Posts: 957 Member Member Posts: 957 Member
    Also, if it takes a minimum of 6 month for the metabolism to adjust upwards after Adaptive Thermogenesis, the eat more to lose movement should be non-existent. So, is there something other than Adaptive Thermogenesis happening when people talk about starvation mode on here, or are we looking at a lot of coincidental evidence, and those people were just temporarily stuck and would've started losing again anyway?
    I may take some heat for this, but I believe a lot of people who report no loss at low calorie levels are not truly consuming what they say. Many use "net" calories which means they are "eating back" exercise calories which are often over estimated, and the effect of the metabolic rate slowing a bit makes that even worse. Many are just flat out lying. That's the elephant in the room with a lot of discussions on this forum.

    Inaccurate logging is an issue also especially those that 'eyeball' their portions.
  • 55in1355in13 Member Posts: 1,091 Member Member Posts: 1,091 Member
    Also, if it takes a minimum of 6 month for the metabolism to adjust upwards after Adaptive Thermogenesis, the eat more to lose movement should be non-existent. So, is there something other than Adaptive Thermogenesis happening when people talk about starvation mode on here, or are we looking at a lot of coincidental evidence, and those people were just temporarily stuck and would've started losing again anyway?
    I may take some heat for this, but I believe a lot of people who report no loss at low calorie levels are not truly consuming what they say. Many use "net" calories which means they are "eating back" exercise calories which are often over estimated, and the effect of the metabolic rate slowing a bit makes that even worse. Many are just flat out lying. That's the elephant in the room with a lot of discussions on this forum.

    Inaccurate logging is an issue also especially those that 'eyeball' their portions.
    Oddly enough, you hit on something that I am guilty of but more often in the other direction. For family dinners at home, I often do eyeball and find listed portions that sound about right but if I think I may have had more I will adjust the servings to 1.5 or 2. I probably record more than I eat more often than under reporting because I am very aware of that possibility.
  • pandorakickpandorakick Member Posts: 959 Member Member Posts: 959 Member
    A very good read!
  • HexahedraHexahedra Member Posts: 894 Member Member Posts: 894 Member
    Great post! Just from my experience alone I can tell that my body becomes more efficient in its energy expenditure, meaning the more I exercise the less calories I spend for the same effort. Heart rate is a good approximation for calorie expenditure, and since my heart rate is getting lower and lower for the same speed & duration of run, it means my body spends less calories doing so.

    I think if you are doing a small deficit (like 200 calories), it's very easy to eclipse that with inaccurate tracking. I don't think calorie counting is that accurate to begin with, even when you eat nothing but barcoded or restaurant food with official calories listed.

    The way I see it there's at least a 10% margin of error in the count, so if MFP says you ate 2000 calories it's entirely possible that you actually ate 2200. MFP is also notorious for overstating exercise calories, it could be higher by 30%. Let's say your goal is 1800, when MFP says you ate 2000 calories and worked out 300 (1700 total, 100 deficit) you could actually ate 2200 and exercised 200 (2000 total, 200 surplus).
  • frizbeemomfrizbeemom Member Posts: 140 Member Member Posts: 140 Member
    bump. love articles well researched
  • magerummagerum Member Posts: 12,620 Member Member Posts: 12,620 Member
    In for later reading.
  • lzvbeantownlzvbeantown Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    the only thing I don't understand is - if my BMR is 1488 as the calculations point out, and everyone says I need to eat at least at my BMR then why do MFP puts me at a 1200 calories?

    My TDEE is 1786 (sedentary and then I add manually the exercise I do) so my goal would be 1429 (TDEE - 20%), correct?
  • HexahedraHexahedra Member Posts: 894 Member Member Posts: 894 Member
    the only thing I don't understand is - if my BMR is 1488 as the calculations point out, and everyone says I need to eat at least at my BMR then why do MFP puts me at a 1200 calories?

    My TDEE is 1786 (sedentary and then I add manually the exercise I do) so my goal would be 1429 (TDEE - 20%), correct?

    I'm not sure what calculation MFP uses, it tends to prescribe 1200 calories daily max for most women wanting to lose 2lbs or more a week.
  • marciebrianmarciebrian Member Posts: 853 Member Member Posts: 853 Member
    Wowee!!!! You should be on the MFP team with all this amazing information. Thanks a bunch for going through all the trouble of sharing this and its very valuable! You da BOMB!!!!:heart::flowerforyou:
  • kathleenbrittingkathleenbritting Member Posts: 16 Member Posts: 16
    This was an excellent read. I personally had gained 30 pounds this winter and on review of eating habits I discovered that I was eating 1 to 2 meals a day and somewhere between 900 to 1000 cal a day most days. (retrospective I know) I have been eating several small meals a day with a higher protein component, ranging from 200-400 calories a meal for a total of 1300-1400 cal a day. I am loosing weight. Initially it was a slow loss but has started to pick up. Drinking more water and cutting out the soda has also seemed to make a difference. My activities are no different. (I am moderately active as a baseline.) Not entirely sure why this is working but it is. I am planning to have "Cheat" days once a month. I have found this to work for me in the past.
  • happycauseIridehappycauseIride Member Posts: 536 Member Member Posts: 536 Member
    Bumping to read when I have more time and a clear head. Thanks for sharing.
  • chezjuanchezjuan Member, Premium Posts: 747 Member Member, Premium Posts: 747 Member
    the only thing I don't understand is - if my BMR is 1488 as the calculations point out, and everyone says I need to eat at least at my BMR then why do MFP puts me at a 1200 calories?

    My TDEE is 1786 (sedentary and then I add manually the exercise I do) so my goal would be 1429 (TDEE - 20%), correct?

    If you say you want to lose 2 lbs. a week, that would be a deficit of 1,000 calories (based on 1 lb of fat being 3,500 calories). Since it is generally not recommended for a woman to eat less than 1,200 calories a day, MFP will not assign a lower number. MFP doesn't take BMR into the consideration (other than to multiply it by 1.2 to get your TDEE based on sedentary).

    I have read that it is not advisable to eat below your BMR (or to try to lose 2 lbs a week) unless you have a large amount of weight to lose (100+ lbs).
  • lzvbeantownlzvbeantown Member Posts: 23 Member Member Posts: 23 Member
    Thank you so much for the info!!! I have around 15 lbs to lose so I have changed my goal to 1400 calories a day since it's the sedentary TDEE -20% and then I will input and eat my exercise calories. that should do the trick!
    the only thing I don't understand is - if my BMR is 1488 as the calculations point out, and everyone says I need to eat at least at my BMR then why do MFP puts me at a 1200 calories?

    My TDEE is 1786 (sedentary and then I add manually the exercise I do) so my goal would be 1429 (TDEE - 20%), correct?

    If you say you want to lose 2 lbs. a week, that would be a deficit of 1,000 calories (based on 1 lb of fat being 3,500 calories). Since it is generally not recommended for a woman to eat less than 1,200 calories a day, MFP will not assign a lower number. MFP doesn't take BMR into the consideration (other than to multiply it by 1.2 to get your TDEE based on sedentary).

    I have read that it is not advisable to eat below your BMR (or to try to lose 2 lbs a week) unless you have a large amount of weight to lose (100+ lbs).
  • 55in1355in13 Member Posts: 1,091 Member Member Posts: 1,091 Member
    I personally had gained 30 pounds this winter and on review of eating habits I discovered that I was eating 1 to 2 meals a day and somewhere between 900 to 1000 cal a day most days.
    OK, so 3500 x 30 = 105,000. To make the math easy, lets say "winter" was 105 days. So what you are saying is that while eating between 900 and 1000 calories per day, you had a surplus of 1000 calories per day. Something is not right...

    ETA - this is the sort of post that I think contributes to the idea of metabolic meltdown. I think it is inaccurate.
  • brandynotbrandynot Member Posts: 88 Member Posts: 88
    Thanks for such a thorough post! Lots of great information!!! :smile:
  • chatogalchatogal Member Posts: 438 Member Member Posts: 438 Member
    bumping for reading when I have time :-)
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