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Starvation Mode - fact or fiction???

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  • Starvation Mode - fact or fiction???

    I was just wondering if decreasing calories to bring on "starvation mode" is fact or fiction. Are there actual, conclusive peer reviewed studies that show that significantly decreasing calories for a prolonged period of time will lead to weight gain or weight loss plateau? Lets assume this for a person with 40% bf and not for a trained person struggling to get into the low teens for bf%.

    Lots of members here on this board tout this primal wisdom as FACT but I've never seen any real conclusive science.

    Obviously an extreme case but I've never seen an overweight, anorexic person.....

  • #2
    From a conventional wisdom standpoint it's baloney. But if you go completely without food you will eventually starve.

    If there were studies concluding reducing calories led to weight gain then Colpo (a diet guru) would have paid you 20 grand for showing it to him. Corpses do not eat. They may bloat, but they steadily lose weight. So do long term fasters. I lost 50 pounds fasting one month. 22 days into the fast the weight loss accelerated. My results are not uncommon. You can reduce thermogenic metabolism with less food. That's a big duh, because thermogenic metabolism primarily digests food. Going with less causes less digestion but the calorie deficit grows with less food as does weight loss. Some eaters hit nutrient or hormonal balances that require replenishment to lose weight faster, thus the results of some some refeeds and higher caloric losses.

    That's how I currently understand things.

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    • #3
      I am really starting to believe that the majority of the information on human metabolism is conjecture, wishful thinking, anecdotal, theoretical, test-tube-science hoopla. I have no doubt we know how to make lab rats fat, induce heart disease in rabbits, induce cancer in mice, etc. but I don't think we know squat about human metabolism in a 100% scientific way like we know how a gasoline engine works or that the Earth is not flat.

      For every expert that tells us one thing there is another expert telling us the opposite and four more in between. I find it appalling that in the year 2010 we "know" next to nothing about human metabolism and the debates and theories continue to rage on - making some people a lot of money in the meanwhile. I wonder if instead of spending trillions of dollars finding better ways to blow each other to bits and pieces if we shuffled some of that money towards real, unbiased and proper research into our own species before we cause our own extinction we may find a clear answer.
      My photography:
      http://www.swiftimages.net

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      • #4
        It's well known that your metabolism decreases while on a calorie deficit/no food. That is the whole point in resetting (through refeeds) the hormone called Leptin.
        .`.><((((> .`.><((((>.`.><((((>.`.><(( ((>
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        • #5
          Yep absolutely http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/49/3/409

          "RMR decreased in all groups but there was a significantly smaller decline after 14 wk for the diet-exercise groups."

          Yeah so resting metabolic rate actually does change. Isn't that the definition of starvation mode? They're being starved so their body acts like it. Except what seems to happen when we correct inflammatory disorders, stop exacerbating insulin resistance, and resolve nutritional deficiencies is that people's bodies chew through their fat at a higher rate, because they can see their leptin. Makes sense.
          Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

          Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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          • #6
            Speaking from exprience...

            I have had issues with eating my whole life (eating disorders). When I gained 30 pounds due to a lack of thyroid function, I went back to my old ways hoping I could lose it quickly. Instead of almost completely stopping eating, I would eat about 800 calories a day and exercise. I didnt lose a pound. I actually ended up gaining 30 more. Maybe it was just coincidence. However, when I started hiking, biking, ect and looking at food as fuel instead of the enemy (eating hugh salads for lunch, lots of raw food, healthy dinners, eating whenever I truly felt hungry) I lost 40 pounds. I think this shift was because I wasnt eating enough and "starvation mode" set in. Before, whatever I was eating, my body was holding onto for dear life. Now I am getting enough food and have boundless energy during the day. Hope this helps shed some light on the topic.
            Cheers!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Stabby View Post
              Yep absolutely http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/49/3/409

              "RMR decreased in all groups but there was a significantly smaller decline after 14 wk for the diet-exercise groups."

              Yeah so resting metabolic rate actually does change. Isn't that the definition of starvation mode? They're being starved so their body acts like it. Except what seems to happen when we correct inflammatory disorders, stop exacerbating insulin resistance, and resolve nutritional deficiencies is that people's bodies chew through their fat at a higher rate, because they can see their leptin. Makes sense.
              No. RMR decreasing is a function of thermogenic metabolism decreasing, which means less energy is being expended to digest food because less food is being consumed. Weight loss can accelerate while RMR naturally decreases. Calling this STARVATION MODE, is melodramatic. It's like calling someone who breathes slower while sleeping in SUFFOCATION MODE, or someone who eats carbs like rphslv in OBESITY MODE.

              The last sentence in your cite actually suggests no starvation mode.

              No effects of frequent dieting or exercise on basal and stimulated lipolytic activity were observed.
              So basal metabolism did not change. Nor did metabolism from physical activity. Just a little slower digestion. Like I said in my first response. Duh. If you eat less you will slow your digestive metabolism. Calling that starvation is silly. Looking at the results from calorie restriction studies where people (or animals) all undergo this reduced digestion of food suggests we should be calling it DISEASE RESISTANCE MODE or LONGEVITY MODE, not starvation mode.

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              • #8
                Ah gotcha. I know caloric restriction reduces metabolic output in thin people (that's a duh) but it would make sense that with lots and lots of adipose tissue there would be plenty of energy available as long as they could see leptin. And less food would also make someone more insulin sensitive.

                Whether or not the basic cookie-cutter model of "eat less, fatty" is very healthy or necessary is another issue all together.
                Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

                Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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                • #9
                  Right, and despite my all caps, I am not on solid ground making any claims on this topic. I do have an issue with calling what is working for me starvation. I am full of vim and vigor on a calorie restricted plan; yet, I don't doubt wildema1 or anyone esle's experiences either. I did an accidental refeed (haha) and I sure didn't skip a beat and may have stoked the fat burning. Long term, I maintain my weight at about 1500 calories. I cannot lose with more except for those rare times when the restriction has created some unknown issue. I'm pretty sure we're all different or at least fall into different categories when it comes to this stuff.

                  I'm starting to sound like Kreiger.

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                  • #10
                    I know this is more IF-related than starvation mode, but I think the two get melded in peoples' minds enough that I thought I'd share a story.

                    I recently took my father to a dog-competition event and we went most of the day outside without access to food. I apologized profusely for the inconvenience. He said, "No, really, don't apologize--things like this are a good opportunity to skip a meal or two. Where anybody got the idea we all have to graze like cattle is a total mystery to me." He's no petite flower, but he's the only one in the family that isn't obese.

                    I respect my father's common sense immensely, and was finally converted to the idea--if not the terminology--of intermittent fasting.

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                    • #11
                      lol gottalovalab! I'm not sure what to think about "starvation mode" except for the fact that I've been restricting calories to about 1400 for a couple months now with no weight loss! The only thing that worked, and it worked in a matter of 3 days, was intermittent fasting combined with eating all meat with one serving of veggies (about a cup). Lost an inch in 3 days. I have no idea if going almost all-meat has long term consequences, but it's the only thing working for me right now.
                      && It's not just about living well, it's about dying well.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by m e g a n foxy View Post
                        lol gottalovalab! I'm not sure what to think about "starvation mode" except for the fact that I've been restricting calories to about 1400 for a couple months now with no weight loss! The only thing that worked, and it worked in a matter of 3 days, was intermittent fasting combined with eating all meat with one serving of veggies (about a cup). Lost an inch in 3 days. I have no idea if going almost all-meat has long term consequences, but it's the only thing working for me right now.

                        It's all just words. Just gotta find what works, I guess. If that's you in your avatar, it would appear you've found "it."

                        I don't think we understand much about starvation mode, but I sleep easy when it comes to avoiding actual starvation! I don't have to worry about starving for a long, long (llllooooooonnnnnnnnngggggggggggggg) time. I'd die of scurvy long before I whithered away, I'm sure.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks! (yeah that's me) I think eating is over-exaggerated, we'd need wayyyy less if the population was filling up on nutrient rich foods.
                          && It's not just about living well, it's about dying well.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by m e g a n foxy View Post
                            I've been restricting calories to about 1400 for a couple months now with no weight loss!
                            Have you tried kettlebell weight lifting exercises? I heard these are good for women because it builds strength, but not bulk. I'm starting to get into these myself.

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