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The Starvation Mode Myth...again.



  • _Terrapin__Terrapin_ Member Posts: 4,317 Member Member Posts: 4,317 Member

    bumpity bump bump
  • jinimittaljinimittal Member Posts: 1 Member Member Posts: 1 Member
    So going along with all this, I'm curious about diets such as the Venus Factor. The premise of the diet says 1. We all have been made to learn and think that we need more calories than we really do, and in order to lose body fat we must have a calorie deficit. 2. This calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time (6 days) can start to dramatically reduce metabolism, so after 6 days there should be an eat up day, in which you eat the amount of calories you would normally need to maintain your body weight. And last of all, the diet says that most people do not diet properly and they do it backwards, in fact though there should be a larger deficit in the beginning, once you begin to get closer to your target you should be adding more calories as your body has less fat to continue using for stores.

    Would you say that this is accurate? I have been having mixed feelings about this diet after a couple of people asked me what I thought.
  • geebusukgeebusuk Member Posts: 3,389 Member Member Posts: 3,389 Member
    Doing alternate high and low calorie days works nicely for me.
    That doesn't mean 'starvation mode' as described by most on here is the way it works.
    It's generally accepted that it's an idea to taper your diet as you get leaner - the less fat the body has, the less it wants to give up.
    One way you can do this is keep your calories constant - not just from having to shift less weight around daily, you'll burn less calories.

    However, I'd be sceptical of anything that tries to sell it's self as a "diet". Rather, I'd like well researched 'scientific' facts presented to me about the differences your choices make, so you can choose the best ones for you.
  • krawhithamkrawhitham Member Posts: 832 Member Member Posts: 832 Member
    So what if those numbers say BMR is 822 and TDEE is 1350 - 515 calories per day decfict for 1 pound per week loss = 835

    Very low calorie in the scheme of things - correct?

    What does this person do? eat 1200 only 150 deficit it would take them 24 days to lose a pound and be on the edge of 'maintenance' or eat 1,100 and lose about .5 lb a week?

    So what is your advise in this case?

    I gained 50 lbs by eating only 140 calories OVER my TDEE per day for 3.5 years.

    I will lose my 50 lbs by eating only 150-200 UNDER my TDEE until the weight is all gone.

    So, in the case you propose, this person will eat at a 150 cal a day deficit and take 24 days to lose a pound. I don't see what's wrong with this at all, personally.

    When losing weight, the time it takes to lose it should not matter. Formulating a healthier way to live and eat is paramount.
  • drwtndrwtn Member Posts: 2 Member Posts: 2
    Calorie Cycling is one of the best ways to keep your body guessing. Take the total number of calories you should consume for the entire week and then divide that number into seven days. This method will give you a few very low calorie days cycled with higher calorie days so you don't go crazy. Here is a link: Good Luck!
  • Joyhall13Joyhall13 Member Posts: 2 Member Posts: 2
    This topic confuses me so much. Like literally my brain hurts from studying about starvation mode.
  • deksgrldeksgrl Member Posts: 7,352 Member Member Posts: 7,352 Member
    This topic confuses me so much. Like literally my brain hurts from studying about starvation mode.

    Think of it this way, eat enough and then you'll never have to worry about it.
  • jmemedinajmemedina Member Posts: 1 Member Member Posts: 1 Member
    That's awesome :o) I was wondering about that and you answered my question.
    How long did it take you to lose that weight?
  • LunaGreenLunaGreen Member Posts: 118 Member Member Posts: 118 Member
    bump, to read later
  • BecomingShaneBecomingShane Member Posts: 29 Member Member Posts: 29 Member
    Random curiosity... how few calories is considered semi-starvation? My "goal" is 1430... so far ive only taken in 723 for the day. I know this wont make muxh difference if I only eat so little just today, but if I were to do this most days or every day is that low enough to be considered semi-starvation, or is any amount below what youd normally burn considered semi-starvation?

    Sorry, ill admit I'm new to this. Im only trying to lose 20-30lbs but I want to do it in a way that is a good balance of healthy and timely.
  • CathaliciosCathalicios Member Posts: 12 Member Member Posts: 12 Member
    Great post. Having done my own research into so called starvation mode being touted as a reason for not loosing weight, I had already concluded that it was a myth. It's fairly simple mathematics: If you consume less calories then you expend you will loose weight; if you consume more than you need, your weight will increase. The real dangers of under eating are not that your metabolism will shut down or that you will hold onto excess fat, but as you say, that you will develop long term unhealthy physical and mental patterns.
  • lolgal18lolgal18 Member Posts: 3 Member Member Posts: 3 Member
    the thing is, even the MFP calorie counter mentions starvation mode if you eat too few calories that day. there are some days where I'll eat 1150 calories instead of 1200. will my body know the difference over 50 calories? probably not. but MFP still warns me (in red, even), that if I eat too far below my daily calorie goals my body will go into starvation mode.
  • shaybagley31shaybagley31 Member Posts: 1 Member Posts: 1
    O for goodness sake you wanna lose wit it's this simple eat less work out more. You don't need to pay someone to tell you that. If you calm you're eating less and working out more but, aren't losing any weight than that's BS. PUT DOWN THE TURKEY LEG AND GET IN THE GYM .
  • OperationIvyLeagueOperationIvyLeague Member Posts: 2 Member Posts: 2
    No such thing as shortcuts. Just eat healthier, and balance your cardio and workouts. Jeez.
  • oksanatkachukoksanatkachuk Member Posts: 149 Member Member Posts: 149 Member
    Nice one!
  • nomorebingesgirl2014nomorebingesgirl2014 Member Posts: 380 Member Posts: 380
  • joshcb15njoshcb15n Member Posts: 17 Member Posts: 17
    It really depends on what a persons definition of starvation mode is. Some people claim your metabolism will either stop completely which is complete BS, some claim it will slow down greatly like more than 60% which is not true either. Now if you define starvation mode as your body readjusting and doing things like less metabolism for things like building muscle, generating less heat and other things that are completely essential to living then it is true. There is an old study done with people that showed with a really low calorie diet can slow metabolism up to 40% and their have been some studies done with mice that showed 50% or so.

    So it is really hard to call completely true or completely false, because it falls somewhere between. I personally am using starvation as a form of dieting but I cycle my calories. Some days I have net calorie intake around 200 or so and then some days I jump up to 1000 or so. This has helped me lose a ton of weight very quickly. It also makes me feel like crap and building muscle is harder. I also know it will be hard at first to maintain my target weight because my metabolism is going to be slower. I will just have to attempt to kick start it back carefully.
  • axarionaxarion Member Posts: 8 Member Posts: 8
    Please dont judge me, But i think i put my body in starvation mode. How do I get out and continue to lose weight?
  • andreakuryloandreakurylo Member Posts: 15 Member Member Posts: 15 Member
    Read this awhile back and it's brilliant.

    So sick of reading responses of people regarding diet and weight loss with everyone throwing around purported "facts" about starvation mode. So, here is a little research on the topic. Feel free to chime in with other studies, but lets keep it based on actual research, not personal anecdotes and not "my trainer says."

    Starvation mode does not happen overnight or even in just a few days! Calories in, calories out. Simple, right? Short term, yes, it’s simple, long term, not so much. Let’s add some real science to the discussion:

    First, a definition. Starvation mode does not mean going without food. It means that you cut your caloric intake to less than what the body would normally burn in the course of a day. I have seen so many posts where people offer advice and tell people they need to eat more to lose weight because they are starving their bodies. The idea postulated is that eating too few calories will reduce a person’s metabolism to such an extent that the person will gain weight instead of losing.

    Now, a look at one of the classic scientific studies on starvation. Probably the most famous study done was conducted after WWII by researchers at the University of Minnesota. Starvation was widespread throughout Europe during the war and scientists were trying to figure out how to re-feed people suffering from starvation and determine the long-term effects. (Remember, tens of thousands of people died after liberation from concentration camps not only from disease but from the reintroduction of food that their bodies were no longer capable of digesting.) Scientists recruited 36 young healthy men to participate in a yearlong study divided into several phases: a 12-week normal control period, a 24-week starvation phase where calories were so dramatically reduced that participants lost approximately 25% of body weight; and, finally, a recovery phase to renourish participants. Results of the study were published in the two-volume, Biology of Human Starvation (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 1950). See more information here:

    So, what did the results of the study find? First, all participants lost weight. Starvation mode does not result in your body hanging onto extra fat or calories in an effort to “preserve” your body. But, it’s more complicated than just losing weight. All of the participants also experienced a drop in their metabolic rates – approximately 40% below baseline. Now, you will see many posters here that will argue that you will start losing muscle and not fat within a few days of going into so-called “starvation mode.” Yet, the research shows that participants lost both. In fact, at no point did they stop losing fat until they hit a rate of approximately 5% body fat near the end of the study.

    Lyle McDonald explains it this way:

    In general, it's true that metabolic rate tends to drop more with more excessive caloric deficits… But here's the thing: in no study I've ever seen has the drop in metabolic rate been sufficient to completely offset the caloric deficit. That is, say that cutting your calories by 50% per day leads to a reduction in the metabolic rate of 10%. Starvation mode you say. Well, yes. But you still have a 40% daily deficit.

    But, keep in mind that apart from weight loss, semi-starvation has other not-so-cool effects on your mind and body. The other physical effects from the Minnesota study on semi-starvation included a significant drop in physical endurance, reduction in strength of about 10%, and sluggish reflexes. Those that were the most fit initially showed the greatest deterioration. In addition, heart volume shrank about 20%, pulses slowed and their body temperatures dropped. Concentration and judgment became impaired. Sexual function was reduced and all lost interest in sex. They had every physical indication of accelerated aging. But keep in mind, this was a year-long study, not something that happened in a just a few days or two weeks of eating restricted calories.

    The more dramatic effects of semi-starvation from the Minnesota study were psychological, similar to what can be observed in anorexic patients. The men became nervous, anxious, apathetic, withdrawn, impatient, self-critical, emotional and depressed. A few even mutilated themselves, one chopping off three fingers in stress. They became obsessed with food, thinking, talking and reading about it constantly; developed weird eating rituals; hoarding, etc.

    Now, let’s look at another aspect. The folks at Cambridge University in England did a study to determine the different effects starvation had on lean people versus obese people. The study can be found here: 7e11.htm. Let’s just cut to the chase with this study.

    Does starvation mode slow down the metabolism? No and Yes.

    In the first 2 days of starvation, there is a small absolute increase in basic metabolic rate relative to values obtained from overnight fasting. Overnight fasting is what every one of us does during our sleeping hours. So it is not true that going below recommended calories for one day is going to slow down your metabolism -- quite the contrary, it may speed it up just a little. Of course, this is just limited to the first few days. After that, studies in fact support that “starvation mode” slows down metabolism.

    Does Starvation mode cause our bodies to catabilize (devour our muscles and other lean mass)? Yes and No.

    Lean individuals lost great amounts of fat-free, lean tissue during starvation, but obese individuals lost much more fat tissue. The loss of lean mass is not as critical to the obese person simply because an obese person has more lean mass than a person of the same age and height but normal weight. Here we get to a basic idea that makes sense – fat storage – the same way animals build up bulk to rely on during the winter, obese people have fat stores they can use (to a limited extent) in times of need. This means that the effects of a semi-starvation diet upon a normal weight individual are of course much more devastating than the effects on someone who is obese.

    Finally, some conclusions. Does all this mean I should reduce my caloric intake below the minimum recommended as an effective way to lose weight? If you think the answer is yes, then you haven’t carefully read everything here, so I will spell it out:

    Let’s start by clearing up that major myth I see repeated over and over again in the forums: that a single day or even a few days of extreme caloric restrictions forces your body into starvation mode, significantly reducing your metabolism and causing you to lose muscles. Not true. You may, in fact, lose weight in the short term. Your body does not go into starvation mode after a few days of extreme calorie restricted eating.

    However, let’s look again at the Minnesota study for further compelling evidence why semi-starvation is not a good idea for long-term weight loss. In the latter half of the Minnesota Starvation Study the men were allowed to eat ad libitum again. Researchers found they had insatiable appetites, yet never felt full, these effects continued for months afterwards. Semi-starvation diets don’t work long-term for this simple reason – under ordinary pressures, when eating resumes, people put the weight back on and oftentimes, gain more.

    And let’s not forget the other physical and psychological effects mentioned earlier. Any of those sound appealing to you? Reduced concentration or sexual function anyone? The Cambridge study also looked at several deaths from people who undertook extreme starvation diets, particularly those that did not create a good nutritional balance in the calories that were consumed.

    Bottom line, you should do adequate research and dietary analysis to ensure you are getting the best nutrition you can for your calories.

    LOL I've been telling ppl this forever!!

    Please read this article. I'm so sick of people talking about this "Starvation Mode" thing and how you need to increase calories to lose's all complete b/s!!! U need protein to burn fat, and lean proteins make u feel A LOT fuller than carbs. So limiting carbs isn't necessarily a bad thing if you aren't feeling "full." I've been eating under 1200 calories everyday, but I also exercise 5-7 days/week. 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of different weight training techniques. You would be surprised at how full you can get by increasing your protein intake to about 30-35% of your daily intake of calories. PROTEIN burns fat and builds muscle, and is a healthy and essential way to lose weight and feel full. I'm usually under 50 carb/day...not per meal...per day! Chicken and Ground Turkey have NO CARBS and make u feel full for a longer amount of time than just eating veggies and fruits. I eat a ton of fruits, make smoothies out of strawberries, bananas and blueberries (blueberries have enormous amounts of antioxidants and aid in weight loss) with a little Organic Strawberry Banana juice. I cut up all my fruits as soon as I buy them and freeze them, so when I'm actually drinking a smoothie, it's 100% fruits and antioxidants...not watered down with ice. That's usually my way of snacking and what I give my 4 year old son instead of ice cream. I LOVE TACOS!!! So I've found some pretty amazing whole grain carb smart only has 11 carbs/wrap and one is 14 carbs/wrap and the one that's 14 carbs is only 50 calories too!!! So I'm getting whole grains, which help control insulin levels, ground turkey is the meat that I use...and it has no carbs at all and just a little serving or 2 of cheese. It doesn't matter if the cheese is 100-110 calories/serving because this meal is way under 500 calories!!! And what's more is that it's super filling!!! A mistake that people often make when it comes to tacos, is buying pre-packaged seasoning, and unfortunately, a mistake that I've made most of my life! I LOVE Old El Paso's Taco it. And when my son's father was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease 3 years ago, I started using the one labled "25% less sodium." With Meniere's Disease, you have to cut your sodium intake immensely and this helped. However, from a diet stand point it breaks down to this: 1 package is 6 servings (and u use that whole thing in 1lb of ground meat) 15 calories per serving, 270mg of sodium, and 3 carbs. Doesn't sound like much right? Until you multiply those numbers by 6!!! So I opt'd to make the seasoning myself (which is waaayyy better tasting and healthier!) using chili powder, red pepper, garlic powder (not garlic salt!) and onion powder. You can put in as little or as much as you'd like for flavor and there's no added calories, sodium or carbs! Top w/some organic salsa or even some bottled taco sauce (but watch how much u use of the bottled stuff cause it does contain carbs, but being that this is an extremely low carb containing meal, 2 servings is no big deal) I also chop up tomatos and dice green chilies and add them to the meat for even more flavor and nutrients!!! The only thing I look for with cheese is the reduced fat kind. And here's a direct quote of why u need some fat....

    "Triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids—the scientific term for fats the body can't make on its own—store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.
    The cycle of making, breaking, storing and mobilizing fats is at the core of how humans and all animals regulate their energy. An imbalance in any step can result in disease, including heart disease and diabetes. For instance, having too many triglycerides in our bloodstream raises our risk of clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
    Fats help the body stockpile certain nutrients as well. The so-called "fat-soluble" vitamins—A, D, E and K—are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues.
    Knowing that fats play such an important role in many basic functions in the body, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health study them in humans and other organisms to learn more about normal and abnormal biology.
    Despite fat's importance, no one yet understands exactly how humans store it and call it into action. In search of insight, Oklahoma State University biochemist Estela Arrese studies triglyceride metabolism in unexpected places: silkworms, fruit flies, and mosquitoes.
    The main type of fat we consume, triglycerides are especially suited for energy storage because they pack more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates or proteins.
    Once triglycerides have been broken down during digestion, they are shipped out to cells through the bloodstream. Some of the fat gets used for energy right away. The rest is stored inside cells in blobs called lipid droplets. When we need extra energy—for instance, when we run a marathon—our bodies use enzymes called lipases to break down the stored triglycerides. The cell's power plants, mitochondria, can then create more of the body's main energy source: adenosine triphosphate, or ATP."

    Eating leafy green veggies and fruits lower on the glycemic index is also SUPER important for weight loss and overall health benefits. Here's some essential info about the glycemic index...which was brought to my attention by my Endocrinologist.

    The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

    Recent studies from Harvard School of Public Health indicate that the risks of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease are strongly related to the GI of the overall diet. In 1999, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommended that people in industrialised countries base their diets on low-GI foods in order to prevent the most common diseases of affluence, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

    This link will tell you all about the glycemic index of carb containing foods:

    Berries and Strawberries are really low on the glycemic index...making u feel fuller longer and more satisfied, while bananas are on the moderate side, slightly spiking your glucose levels...but not enough to be super concerned. They are to be eaten in moderation, while watermelon's GI ranges from 72-80 and cantaloupe's GI ranges between 65-70!!! Those should be avoided or eaten in moderation along with lower GI foods.

    I was diagnosed with Insulin Resistance 2 months ago and have a best friend who is a Team Beach Body Coach and I'm full of helpful information!!! If u have any questions or concerns feel free to message me and I'll hook u up with all types of info. Believe me, you can easily get filled on 1200 calories/day as long as u eat the right ones!!! The link above for will also allow u to search for your fav foods and see how they are rated on the GI scale. It's not just a blog talking about the benefits of eating low GI has all sorts of tools to help you!!! Good Luck w/everything!!!
  • cs3308cs3308 Member Posts: 1 Member Posts: 1
    Great post, thanks for sharing!
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