Starvation mode. Myth or Fact?

I don't understand why I'm not losing weight. I weigh 333 lbs and the scales haven't really moved in 2 weeks. I'm eating healthy but I'm restricting my calories to 1250-1400 per day and having a cheat meal for dinner every other Saturday. Also working out for an hour 3 days per week. I've looked up info on your body going into "starvation mode" and all I could find was information about how it is a myth. Help?
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  • the best diet that I did was a low carb diet...I started out with a protien shake within 15 min of waking up every day to start my metabolism, than I ate a protein meal ( turkey, chicken, steck, eggs) every 3 hours after that and ate a nice salad for supper. I would eat fruits and vegetables as my carb intake cause you cant just eat no cards and I lost 50 lbs in 3 months just doing this. No bread, pasta, rice, sweets, nothing. It is really hard and you have to be really determined but it does work incredibly. I went from a 11-12 to a 5-6 and from a large to a small and I was so happy.
  • juggernaut1974
    juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212 Member
    Starvation mode, as you're describing it - doesn't exist.

    A few things:

    1. First and foremost, 2 weeks isn't a long enough sample time to draw any real conclusions, especially if you've also changed your exercise habits.
    2. What do you mean by "haven't really moved"? Have you lost 1 or 2 lbs? If so, that's a perfectly healthy rate to lose weight (even if it's not as fast as possible or as fast as you'd like)
    3. Are you weighing, logging, tracking, measuring etc EVERYTHING you eat, including your 'cheat' meal?
  • Pandapotato
    Pandapotato Posts: 68 Member
    Here's an example of how starvation mode doesn't exist: Everyone who has ever had weight loss surgery and lost weight. They lose so rapidly because they are so severely restricted to tiny meals. My mother got it and can only eat like a half cup to a cup of food total and then has to wait to digest before she can eat again. She's lost like 60 lbs in 6 months.

    All that said:

    1) Two weeks it not long enough to throw up your hands and say "this doesn't work." Give it more time. Especially if you were not working out before-- after beginning a work out routine your muscles often retain more water.

    2) 1250 calories for a 333 lbs person sounds obscenely low! I peeked at your diary and see your daily goal is 1800. You might find this process much more tolerable, and still lose weight, if you eat closer to your goal.
  • azulvioleta6
    azulvioleta6 Posts: 4,166 Member
    It's a myth...and even if it weren't, you are nowhere near starving yourself.

    Move more and consider trying a lower-carb approach.
  • Pickles175
    Pickles175 Posts: 211 Member
    edited February 2015
    Put your info into this calculator to find out how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis. Your cals sound way too low!

    http://scoobysworkshop.com/accurate-calorie-calculator/
  • aziapatrick
    aziapatrick Posts: 33 Member
    The only thing I don't log is the cheat meal, which is every other Saturday night. I figure I've went over my calories for the day so it doesn't matter. Everything else is on point. I'm also drinking 1-1.5 gallons of water per day. As for not moving, one morning I'll lose a pound the next I'll gain, so overall it is staying the same (I'm OCD and guilty of weighing every day but I know it'll fluctuate daily but the trend should still be downwards). I started my diet on 1/5/15 (exercising 3 days per week) and have lost 20 lbs since then, all of that was lost in the first 2.5 weeks. Now it's just at a stand still. I guess I just got used to seeing it dramatically drop. With my weight being so high I just assumed that being on a 1250-1400 calorie per day diet it would take it a little while to start stalling.
  • terar21
    terar21 Posts: 523 Member
    That's not what is happening to you. You're weight stuck because you're body is retaining water and adjusting to your new exercise routine; or you aren't logging food accurately. If the exercise is a sudden increase and relatively intense for you, it's the first. If you aren't weighing food and just estimating/eyeballing, it's the second.
  • aziapatrick
    aziapatrick Posts: 33 Member
    I'm not having a problem really on the food front. I actually honestly feel like I'm eating all the time, just eating things that are better for me. As for giving up...no way! I'm too determined to get healthy to give up.
  • tmauck4472
    tmauck4472 Posts: 1,783 Member
    Starvation mode is a myth, imo, but some believe in it. Don't let anyone scare you into eating more because of it. Give it more time.
  • juggernaut1974
    juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212 Member
    The only thing I don't log is the cheat meal,

    Start logging it.

    Given the opportunity, I could EASILY scarf down 2,000-3,000 calories in one 'cheat' meal, thus negating my entire calorie deficit for the week.

    Until you get a handle on exactly what you're eating, you're not going to get good data from which to draw conclusions.

  • Roxiegirl2008
    Roxiegirl2008 Posts: 756 Member
    I think it is a myth.

    I would suggest staying off the scale each day. Easier said then done I know. For me picking a day (the same day & time) each week to weigh worked fine. My weight could go up or down on any given day. For example after a long run (10+ miles) I will typically weigh more the next day. If my trainer changes up the workout I typically will see a little weight gain but it is gone. I used to weigh myself every day which is why I know my weight does this and it was madding. I will not weigh myself at all during the week of that time of the month. I would also suggest taking progression pictures. I look at those a lot to see what progress I have made when I am having one of those days. My trainer also took measurements which was helpful since many times the scales got stuck but my measurements changed.

    Good luck!
  • My_Butt
    My_Butt Posts: 2,300 Member
    I've had an eating disorder for 17 years and starvation mode is mainly with that. When you get to a really low weight, you aren't eating, and your body no longer knows when food will show up, it goes into 'starvation mode'. It's where your body will slow down everything to feed the internal organs. The myth stems from caveman days when food was scarce and they didn't know how long of a wait for the next meal. As long as you eat above 1200 calories, it may feel like you're starving, but your body is not.
  • dramaqueen45
    dramaqueen45 Posts: 1,010 Member
    You may have heard or seen this question before: do you weigh everything you eat (except liquids)? If not, get a good food scale. You may be eating more than you realize. Log every bite that goes into your mouth, including the snacking that you may do while you're cooking. It's true that one cheat meal per week shouldn't have a huge effect on the overall picture, but still weigh and measure that and log it. Log all of it. Twenty pounds in 2.5 weeks is a huge amount and you should be proud of that. You will most likely see a large slow down to 1 - 1.5 pounds lost per week until you get close to your goal. Just don't give up, weight loss sometimes stalls and sometimes is not linear. Avoid a lot of sodium as it can mask weight loss. Also, try to not weigh every day. Another thing- use other things to measure your losses- photos and measurements. If you're not lifting weights, consider that as well as it will help with muscle tone and also raise your metabolism as muscle burns calories faster. And I agree with the post above- you probably should be a bit higher on your overall calories for the day. As for starvation mode- no it does not exist (if you don't believe me talk to someone who has actually been in a situation where they can't get enough to eat- you lose weight). What people are confusing is that when you eat too little your metabolism can slow down and then if you go back to eating normally you will gain weight back plus more because your overall metabolism is lower.
  • aziapatrick
    aziapatrick Posts: 33 Member
    terar21 wrote: »
    That's not what is happening to you. You're weight stuck because you're body is retaining water and adjusting to your new exercise routine; or you aren't logging food accurately. If the exercise is a sudden increase and relatively intense for you, it's the first. If you aren't weighing food and just estimating/eyeballing, it's the second.

    Exercising: You could be right on that part. Prior to me starting this diet on 1/5 I literally did nothing. I was definitely heading in the "My 600 lb life" direction. I now work out 3 days a week and go up on weights and extend time on the elliptical each Saturday morning. I am now up to 16 minutes on the elliptical and 45 minutes weight training.

    Food: I don't weigh my food. I guess my thoughts on that were most of my meals already have the calories on them (Healthy Choice lunch, Naked Juice, Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwich, etc.) mainly the grilled chicken, broccoli, and hummus are eye balled. I suppose I assumed that since I was eating so far below my recommended that I gave myself room for a little error. I feel like there's no way I'm off by more than 200 calories.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,177 Member
    Many people have discovered that their bodies go through a water loss, gain, stabilize cycle when first starting to lose weight and this can last up to a month to six weeks. First, you lose a lot of water weight (pounds lost), then your body goes "oopsie, I need some of that stuff back" so it starts to retain more than it needs (weight loss stops or even regain a little), then it decides on how much is the proper amount to keep and you stabilize and the losses start up again. This whole time you will be burning fat, as long as you are in a deficit. Starting exercise can also cause your body to hold on to more water in order to repair muscles.

    It sounds as though you might be in the "retain extra water so my body has enough" stage. What is your weekly weight loss goal? What is your average weekly loss so far? If those two numbers are really close (or the loss is more than goal), don't worry about it, the losses will start up again soon. Just make sure you are logging accurately.

    I agree that your calories seem way too low. I was eating 1900 calories at 290 lb and lost an average of 1.5 lb a week. I am currently at 224 lb and still eat 1800 calories and am still losing.
  • Pandapotato
    Pandapotato Posts: 68 Member
    Is your cheat meal a "go to TGI Fridays and get appetizers, dinner, and drinks?" because that could be A LOT of calories. 3500 cals = 1 lb.

    But other than that, just stick with it. If you lost 20 lbs in 2.5 weeks and then it's been a 2 week plateau, yeah that's frustrating but you could turn around and lose 5 lbs the next week as your body readjusts.

    It's like on biggest loser when someone loses a single lb after working out intensely all week... and then they lose 10 the following week. 2 weeks is too short to hit the panic switch!
  • joneallen
    joneallen Posts: 217 Member
    Logging your cheat meal DOES matter. Whether or not you're over your calories or not, log everything. Being honest and accurate with your lifestyle will really show what you can tweak (or work on) to keep a steady weight loss.
  • aziapatrick
    aziapatrick Posts: 33 Member
    herrspoons wrote: »
    You're consuming more calories than you think and burning less. Log everything, ditch the cheat meal and half the exercise calories you claim.

    I don't log exercise because I don't want to be tempted to eat back the calories. I honestly have no idea how many calories I'm burning while exercising.
  • acorsaut89
    acorsaut89 Posts: 1,147 Member
    edited February 2015
    I don't understand why I'm not losing weight. I weigh 333 lbs and the scales haven't really moved in 2 weeks. I'm eating healthy but I'm restricting my calories to 1250-1400 per day and having a cheat meal for dinner every other Saturday. Also working out for an hour 3 days per week. I've looked up info on your body going into "starvation mode" and all I could find was information about how it is a myth. Help?

    As many have said, what you're describing is just not starvation mode. What can happen is if you greatly reduce your calories all of a sudden then your body can learn to run more efficiently on less calories, slowing weight loss but not stopping it all together. This also makes it harder to create the deficit needed to actually lose weight . . . but that's another issue.

    There's one of two things, or possibly two things, happening here:

    a) you're eating/consuming more calories than you think

    b) you're not burning as many calories as you think, leading you to net a higher amount of calories

    Or both.

    Simply put - you need to consume less calories than you burn to lose weight. It's really that simple. There may be - and I stress may be - underlying conditions which causes your body to metabolize or burn calories slower but at the end of the day, you have to simply consume less calories than you've burned to lose weight.

    Further - your calorie goal is way too low for your weight, how tall are you? With your "cheat" meal - what do you eat? Honestly? Because if you eat a huge cheat meal, you can undo all the "savings" of calories you've done over the week and you're basically zeroed out. One cheat meal can really mess with progress.

    What I do - and you don't have to follow this, it's not gospel or anything - but I don't deny myself ANYTHING! If I want something, I usually eat it - just much smaller portions and so much more control. What's more is I have found alternatives to my previously enjoyed foods. For example, in the afternoon at work I used to get a massive sugar craving and I would go to Tim Hortons for an apple fritter. I have since discovered Quest Protein bars - they're double chocolate chunk and chocolate fudge brownie versions are amazing! I love them - put them in the microwave for like 30 secs and I'm just as happy as I would've been with that donut. And it solves my sugar craving too - with only about 150 cals/bar.

    Also, I'm 5'9 at 250 lbs and I eat about 2,000 cals/day. I think you need to up your calories and slowly reduce as you lose. Here's why: if you're eating 12 - 1400 cals at 333 lbs - what will you eat when you hit 200 lbs? You cannot, in a healthy way, reduce the amount of calories you eat as you do. Also if you're used to eating 3500 cals a day and you shock your body into eating half and trying to be as satiated with that amount, you may find yourself cranky and hangry all the time.

    Best of luck, though! I started at about where you're at (340lbs) and I'm at 250 now :)

    Feel free to add me or reach out if you need anything :)
  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,534 Member
    edited February 2015
    Nobody is in meaningful "starvation mode" until they actually look like someone who is starving.

    If you're not losing weight over an extended period of time, you're eating more than you think. You're not running a giant deficit to begin with, so it is *very* easy to have a regular cheat meal completely wipe that deficit out.

    Log. It. All.