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Starvation Mode - Adaptive Thermogenesis and Weight Loss

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  • EvgeniZyntxEvgeniZyntx Member Posts: 24,424 Member Member Posts: 24,424 Member
    A couple more questions:

    1. Is it known if this unpredicted reduction of EE depends on parameters like duration of diet, deficit, years at initial (pre-diet) weight, initial weight & BF, age etc? And if yes, how?

    2. If the recovery of the TDEE takes years to take place, how do diet breaks help? It looks like these are very different time scales.

    Related to this:
    We previously reported persistent reductions in EE—corrected for metabolic mass and age—in subjects maintaining a reduced body weight for periods of >3 mo after cessation of weight loss (3– 6, 37). These reductions in EE could reflect transient carryover of the metabolic consequences of negative energy balance or could be a reflection of physiologic responses to reduced body fat per se (or both). The distinction between these 2 possibilities is critical to an understanding of weight homeostasis in human subjects.

    ^Does that mean that in the latter case the reduction is permanent in the long term, assuming that you stay at the same BF?

    There is evidence that it does depend on a variety of parameters such as the size of the deficit, the duration, even the location and size of body fat as these are not as inert as one might think but have a hormonal function. As to how, I'm going to have to beg off - each would take a long research review to really give it the depth I would want to - I might take one or two at some point, but I have other areas I want to focus my readings rather than refining the causes of AT. I would suggest that even if I spent a lot of time looking at those parameters I'd likely only be confused because the published studies so far still are not clear on the mechansism or exact values seen.

    "Something is happening but it's in the shadows..."

    Question 2 - With regards to diet breaks - the effects of AT seem to be most marked with long, uninterrupted periods of weight loss - or more exactly calorie restriction. While a break might not create a full recovery it creates a space for some recovery (if you ask me how much, I'll have to throw up my hands. I don't know) and, as an aside, it has other value in terms of psychological commitment - you aren't falling off the wagon but are taking a planned break. There are significant studies that it helps with controlling binge behaviour, etc...

    Nothing is permanent as we are biological systems and are buidling or degrading or both at all times.... but the reduction does seem to remain in place from a few months to several years...
  • EvgeniZyntxEvgeniZyntx Member Posts: 24,424 Member Member Posts: 24,424 Member
    If the electronic measure is inaccurate (it is) it doesn't necessarily mean you lost more, necessarily. Just that there is a + or - to each reading that is significant. So your loss might have been 75% fat +- the cummulative error of both readings. I'd hang on to your numbers. It's still a basis to work with.
    No, it doesn't necessarily mean I lost more fat than I computed but my biased observation trends in that direction. :bigsmile: Since most people seem to lose a higher % BF than that and I am happy with the results, I think I did as well or better than average, if that makes any sense. But the flawed data I have doesn't support it. :huh:

    I like this.

    If you giggle the data it will fit.... lol.
  • ndj1979ndj1979 Member Posts: 29,148 Member Member Posts: 29,148 Member
    in....for well, to be in ...
  • 55in1355in13 Member Posts: 1,091 Member Member Posts: 1,091 Member
    Here is something else to throw into the mix:

    Effects of dieting and exercise on resting metabolic rate and implications for weight management
    http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/2/196.full

    That is a pretty major curve ball, as the results of that study are at odds with a lot of the conclusions reached in the article most of this discussion is based one. A couple of excerpts:
    There were also no significant changes in resting metabolic rate (measured in absolute terms or relative to body mass) within groups over time or between groups over time.
    The findings regarding no loss of fat-free mass in the diet-only group are surprising, as some degree of obligatory loss of fat-free mass is expected with significant weight loss.

    ETA - I am not sure I believe this study is valid, but it is an example of how you can cherry pick between studies with conflicting results to support different conclusions.
  • Yanicka1Yanicka1 Member Posts: 4,634 Member Member Posts: 4,634 Member
    Thank you. Interesting
  • bluestarlight19bluestarlight19 Member Posts: 443 Member Member Posts: 443 Member
    OOOOooooo Science!! I heart science. *hugs the science*

    Excellent info and well written
  • steffij100steffij100 Member Posts: 85 Member Member Posts: 85 Member
    Thanks for all the work put into this- saving to read again!
  • TheVimFuegoTheVimFuego Member Posts: 2,412 Member Member Posts: 2,412 Member
    Thanks, a nice summary, I love the sciencey stuff around the subject of fat loss.

    I especially like the discussions around what is the absolute limit of how much fat we can burn before we have to tap into lean muscle mass. This seems to be the crux of it.

    I get as frustrated as anyone else trying to lose the unwanted jiggly bits but my geeky brain likes to run experiments so I wish everyone luck finding their 'sweet' spot.

    Food is fuel, we need it, calories are not to be feared.
  • pcastagnerpcastagner Member Posts: 1,606 Member Member Posts: 1,606 Member
    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks!
  • awlosing30awlosing30 Member Posts: 38 Member Posts: 38
    Guess I'm confused. Oh well
  • Rarity2013Rarity2013 Member Posts: 196 Member Member Posts: 196 Member
    Le Bump. I'm sat miles away from the screen and am too tired to read it right now.
  • EvgeniZyntxEvgeniZyntx Member Posts: 24,424 Member Member Posts: 24,424 Member
    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?

    It's uncertain that it happens to everyone or all the time, there are sudies that do not report it - however it is highly likely that it does happen with large deficits and long diets - it is consistently reported in those conditions.

    Most biological functions are rate limited and are rarely just a switch that goes on - especially when the function is complex and has many feedback mechanisms. So this *likely* occurs over time and is a slow process of weight restriction. Also recovery seems to vary from reported 3 months to 7 years (for strict diets of several years) --- so it isn't unlikely that recovery could be shorter just not statistically significant to be observed. Remember - these studies were looking out for AT not for clear time periods of recovery, unfortunately.

    I'm not going to go beyond conjecture about eat more to lose movement because I really don't know. Does eating more allow for different substrate use, LBM build up, metabolism changes/rebalance, energy to increase activity which then leads to weight loss? I don't know - what I can say is that maximizing calories at which weight loss occurs does have the benefit of reducing LBM loss and assuring micronutrient diversity - you need to weigh (no pun) if that makes sense in your own loss strategy.

    Personally I'm for slow and steady. My brother and many others aren't. But starting points and results vary.
  • EvgeniZyntxEvgeniZyntx Member Posts: 24,424 Member Member Posts: 24,424 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.

    There is no monkey wrench there. Yes, part of the study reviews shows that "moving more" or non-exercise activity is part of it. The nervous system "tone" or threshold activity is maintained higher at pre-loss leaves or for the lean individual. All that non-exercise activity can account for 30% to well above100% above BMR energy expenditure, if you follow the usual equations.
  • 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?

    It's uncertain that it happens to everyone or all the time, there are sudies that do not report it - however it is highly likely that it does happen with large deficits and long diets - it is consistently reported in those conditions.

    Most biological functions are rate limited and are rarely just a switch that goes on - especially when the function is complex and has many feedback mechanisms. So this *likely* occurs over time and is a slow process of weight restriction. Also recovery seems to vary from reported 3 months to 7 years (for strict diets of several years) --- so it isn't unlikely that recovery could be shorter just not statistically significant to be observed. Remember - these studies were looking out for AT not for clear time periods of recovery, unfortunately.

    I'm not going to go beyond conjecture about eat more to lose movement because I really don't know. Does eating more allow for different substrate use, LBM build up, metabolism changes/rebalance, energy to increase activity which then leads to weight loss? I don't know - what I can say is that maximizing calories at which weight loss occurs does have the benefit of reducing LBM loss and assuring micronutrient diversity - you need to weigh (no pun) if that makes sense in your own loss strategy.

    Personally I'm for slow and steady. My brother and many others aren't. But starting points and results vary.

    Thanks a lot for your answer, much clearer now!

    Just thought I'd mention that I'm not looking for a way to optimise my crash diet, I was just curious. Me, I'm on the slow-to-nonexistent side of the weight loss curve (with nothing but myself to blame for the nonexistent bit). But I'm not trying to lose a lot, so I guess the "pressure of suffering" (not sure that expression exists in English) isn't there enough ...
  • JewelsinBigDJewelsinBigD Member Posts: 661 Member Member Posts: 661 Member
    This is sooo true. I workout and burn far less than my always thin counterparts. I am more efficient than my thin counterparts. This is awesome from an evolutionary perspective- it is exactly what evolution wants. If I were a car burning so little fuel to do the same work I would be the best car ever (heck the government might even give me a tax credit!). But I am a person trying to get thinner and it is a LONG and seemingly endless process. SO I may never make it to a normal body weight - but I will be healthy regardless of how long it takes me to get there!
  • CoderGalCoderGal Member Posts: 6,950 Member Member Posts: 6,950 Member
    Can't believe I didn't get to this until 6 pages in! Recommend reading!
  • holly2611holly2611 Member Posts: 9 Member Member Posts: 9 Member
    Wow, I often read posts on here, but have never replied. However this information was probably one of the best articles I have read on weight loss/gain,

    Thank you so much, I am sure I will re-read many times along my journey,
  • pcastagnerpcastagner Member Posts: 1,606 Member Member Posts: 1,606 Member
    This is sooo true. I workout and burn far less than my always thin counterparts. I am more efficient than my thin counterparts. This is awesome from an evolutionary perspective- it is exactly what evolution wants. If I were a car burning so little fuel to do the same work I would be the best car ever (heck the government might even give me a tax credit!). But I am a person trying to get thinner and it is a LONG and seemingly endless process. SO I may never make it to a normal body weight - but I will be healthy regardless of how long it takes me to get there!

    I was just watching a bbc show where they took someone like you and her "high metabolism" friend and gave them doubly labeled water so they could track actual intake of calories via urinalysis. They also measured metabolism.


    Result, as expected: the thin girl had a SLOWER metabolism, but eats about half as much as her curvy friend.


    Check your assumptions. Do you log your friends' intake?
  • EvgeniZyntxEvgeniZyntx Member Posts: 24,424 Member Member Posts: 24,424 Member
    One important point. Most of the discussion hinges around this:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673773/

    which is an article that pulls together data from a lot of sources. If you look through the references in that study you will find studies that are of various sizes and articles and text books. Some of the assumptions made are based on theories. There seems to be some pretty good basis for the theories and I am not trying to discredit the article, but I did want to point out that this is not a stone tablet of undeniable information. It is a theory that has a lot of evidence behind it.

    As I mention in the OP I am primarily covering that article, which is a review and well referenced at that. There are no stone tablets of undeniable information but the process is simple - here are an assembled number of observations and the scientific theories that they support built upon other theories and we use them until something better comes along. Or we believe in magical thinking. Or we use our own contradictory observations and guesses.

    But, even in the absence of that article there are a lot of other quality articles that cover adaptive thermogenesis. I'll just cite one other, that I considered in my reading but left aside because, well the OP is already long enough.

    Here is a different starting point, from Nature.

    http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v31/n2/full/0803523a.html
  • mamacoatesmamacoates Member Posts: 434 Member Member Posts: 434 Member
    Sounds like good arguments for changing up your exercise routine regularly so your muscles cannot easily "adapt", as well as the idea that many people on MFP advocate, and that is, eat whatever you want ... within moderation ... as long as it fits into your macros. Again, not allowing your body to easily adjust down to a more efficient expenditure of caloric needs, because of a strict calorie restriction approach.

    Also seems to support the continued need for increasing muscle mass through weight bearing exercise of some sort, while combining calorie burning activities through cardiovascular exercise - so that you can offset any muscle mass loss during weight loss periods, while helping your metabolism to continue effective performance.

    ... And reinforces the need to take reasonable breaks (rest days) in your exercise and diet regimen so your body feels well taken care of.

    Thanks for putting all this info in easy to understand language!
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