7

votes

What actually IS "starvation mode" and why is it so bad?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 29, 2011 at 11:04 PM

I feel like I've heard it so many times--about how we don't want to eat too little or we'll go into "starvation mode" yet I don't think I've heard a good explanation of what is happening biochemically in our bodies and in relation to hormones (and other important factors I might now be aware of).

How exactly does one wind up in this state? By that I mean, if one doesn't eat much for a few days we don't tend to worry about it, yet for prolonged periods people say it's a concern. Obviously, I want to avoid this state while I'm doing some calorie restriction for fat loss (the CR is working. Finally!).

Anyone have some science on this?

Many many thanks!

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 04:02 PM

Great, I just friend-ed you on LS. I look forward to pilfering your meals for ideas!

8b982d4beccca9fcb85affe8d4bd4ff2

(1585)

on May 30, 2011
at 06:04 AM

I lost a lot of my 85 lbs through IFing and calorie restriction with a pretty safe and effective regime. I have no problems with extra weight gain or a damaged/slow metabolism. In fact I am healthier and have more energy than I did before the weightloss. I think the key factor in this is activity and good food choices.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 30, 2011
at 02:34 AM

Ooh, if you are on Livestrong, please friend me, if you don't mind someone else looking at your food. :D I can't always comment, but when I can I do look at it. I did approx. 1200 for 6 years and continued to lose and/or maintain. I had some low and high days too. I know not everyone agrees with calorie restriction, but it does work. How much do you have to lose?

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 02:22 AM

A very interesting post. Thanks!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 30, 2011
at 01:35 AM

I think you're on to something; when I eat after lifting my digestion is far and away the best it ever is. It's never bad per se but after lifting I feel like how you describe eating after IFing. I don't IF anymore but I think the long breaks from dealing with food is indeed good for the digestive system.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:48 AM

Fewer calories help keeps you in Ketosis too, right? I feel like my stomach acid is higher when I'm doing CR. Like when I finally eat something (I'm IF'ing many days a week) my stomach just CRUSHES the food so fast as opposed to when I eat more quantity and more frequently.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:46 AM

I'm eating around 1200 a day--sometimes as low as 1000 and occasionally as much as 1600 (if I'm really hungry and had heavy workouts the day before). So I guess I'm sorta cycling unintentionally. I also am eating around 50 net carbs a day. I FINALLY got my ducks in a row and am tracking on Daily Plate so I really know my ratios (about F/P/C 60/26/14). I think it may have been you that recommended that b4--so thanks

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:43 AM

I'm eating around 1200 a day--sometimes as low as 1000 and occasionally as much as 1600 (if I'm really hungry and had heavy workouts the day before). So I guess I'm sorta cycling unintentionally. I also am eating around 50 net carbs a day FINALLY got my ducks in a row and am tracking on Daily Plate. I think it may have been you that recommended that b4--so thanks!

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:42 AM

I'm eating around 1200 a day--sometimes as low as 1000 and occasionally as much as 1600 (if I'm really hungry and had heavy workouts the day before). So I guess I'm sorta cycling unintentionally. I also am eating around 50 net carbs a day.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:16 AM

How low are you going? I lost all my weight via calorie restriction and cardio/strength training. One thing I found is that cycling my calories, helped keep my metabolism going. It also gave me a reason to up my calories a little on the weekend when it was tougher for me to be super strict too.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:05 AM

Awesome. It's nice to hear plain old CR working. So many people get so caught up in anti-conventional thinking with low this low that and all that they throw the baby out with the bathwater yknow. People need to realize that if you take in less calories and keep expending energy in the old manner you will indeed lose fat.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 29, 2011
at 11:36 PM

Thanks, I've been lifting heavy weights since 9/2010. Been sprinting a couple months. But even those and giving up nuts didn't get the fat departing--only the CR has really given the QUICKSILVER effect. My middle is melting off so I'm pretty sure it's fatty fat, not muscle! :)

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2 Answers

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6
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 29, 2011
at 11:27 PM

What I've read is that chronically lowering your calories sends signals to your body that there isn't much food around, or at least not as much as what's been around up till that point. The body then slows your metabolism down, you simply expend less energy doing your normal activities. If your body didn't do this and you kept burning the exact same amount of calories it did up till the point when the caloric intake dropped you'd slowly disappear, right?;)

This is all a matter of degree of course. A bit of CR wil indeed make you lose weight as you are experiencing. The issue comes in determining that point where the returns bece diminishing, the point at which your body just slows down. At that point then it'll be even harder to purposely burn more calories through activity. Because your system is running in a lower gear if you will.

As many will no doubt tell you, while knowing your caloric intake is wise, perhaps a better way to lose unwanted weight is to engage in strenuous activity that will have positive effects on your hormones. This is usually said to ramp up fat burning, use the calories you do eat in a better way (repair, rebuilding, refueling for more activity, etc).

Lifting things heavier than you've lifted up until now is a great way for women and men to set their hormones rocking, fat burning, muscles rebuilding etc. The single best way to get some degree of body recomp.

All other things being equal though, if you are fit and healthy and exercising well regularly, CR will indeed make you lose some weight, you just want to make sure it's body fat and not muscle.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:05 AM

Awesome. It's nice to hear plain old CR working. So many people get so caught up in anti-conventional thinking with low this low that and all that they throw the baby out with the bathwater yknow. People need to realize that if you take in less calories and keep expending energy in the old manner you will indeed lose fat.

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 29, 2011
at 11:36 PM

Thanks, I've been lifting heavy weights since 9/2010. Been sprinting a couple months. But even those and giving up nuts didn't get the fat departing--only the CR has really given the QUICKSILVER effect. My middle is melting off so I'm pretty sure it's fatty fat, not muscle! :)

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 12:48 AM

Fewer calories help keeps you in Ketosis too, right? I feel like my stomach acid is higher when I'm doing CR. Like when I finally eat something (I'm IF'ing many days a week) my stomach just CRUSHES the food so fast as opposed to when I eat more quantity and more frequently.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on May 30, 2011
at 01:35 AM

I think you're on to something; when I eat after lifting my digestion is far and away the best it ever is. It's never bad per se but after lifting I feel like how you describe eating after IFing. I don't IF anymore but I think the long breaks from dealing with food is indeed good for the digestive system.

3
D5096ff5baffc0ba5d20b21346414a7a

(1112)

on May 30, 2011
at 02:13 AM

According to some you cannot go into starvation mode until you are actually starving. Look at the pictures of the men in the Minnesota experiment on starvation...you can see that they are wasting away.

Google "starvation myth" or try this link: http://fattyfightsback.blogspot.com/2009/03/mtyhbusters-starvation-mode.html

3fc07ff31006b1860083f0cfe4472ae4

(561)

on May 30, 2011
at 02:22 AM

A very interesting post. Thanks!

8b982d4beccca9fcb85affe8d4bd4ff2

(1585)

on May 30, 2011
at 06:04 AM

I lost a lot of my 85 lbs through IFing and calorie restriction with a pretty safe and effective regime. I have no problems with extra weight gain or a damaged/slow metabolism. In fact I am healthier and have more energy than I did before the weightloss. I think the key factor in this is activity and good food choices.

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