Lately I have been stuck on this plateau in my weight loss. I have asked others and heard over and over the common standard answers “did you get your 1200 calories” and “are you in starvation mode”. Well the more I thought about these statements the more I thought something seems wrong with this. We have all been so programmed for so long to think 1200 is some magical number that will absolutely allow us to lose weight, maintain weight blah blah blah. The three most popular answers I get are (1) are you drinking enough water (2) muscle weighs more than fat and (3) your not eating enough and you are in starvation mode.
So this weekend I started looking at various apps and things for my phone and doing some research on foods to eat to help . One thing I found was 1200 was NOT coming up as “my number” – in both the Fitbit app and the LoseIt! app my calories for the day based on my current age, height, weight and activity level is 1050 —- GASP! That’s not 1200!!! What? how could this be? Everyone says it HAS to be 1200…. well I am here to tell you THEY ARE ALL WRONG, and so was I – not that anyone meant to give out wrong information but because we have all been programmed that we should fit into this “1200 calorie box” no matter what – well not all of us can fit in that box (right now I am thinking that “round peg square hole” theory). Oh and guess what 1200 is not even the mythical number for men but yet people still throw out that 1200 figure.
But, anyway, your here to learn about “starvation mode” and if your like me and a majority of others you are not losing weight! You are doing it all “right” and following everything you ever knew and drinking all your water and still no progress. Sound about right?
Most people think of starvation mode as “To lose weight, you need to consume less calories. BUT, if you consume TOO few calories, your metabolism slows down so much so that your body enters a state where weight loss stops completely”. Some people also believe being in this state of not eating enough calories not only prevents weight loss from happening, but it can also cause weight gain – so basically, eating too little prevents your body from losing weight. In some cases, it might even cause it to gain weight. To get “out” of this state and start losing, you must eat more calories, not less
So what is “starvation mode” really? According to netwellness.org “A starvation diet does not mean the absence of food. It means cutting the caloric intake to less than 50% of what the body requires.”
So, if an individual needs 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight, reducing intake to 1,500 calories, assuming exercise stays the same, should provide a 1 pound per week weight loss (Note: 1 pound of weight is equivalent to about 3,500 calories). Furthermore, reducing to 1,000 calories should result in a weight loss of 2 pounds per week. By creating this deficit which will gets you to lose weight is a lot different of a notion than the “starvation mode” notion proposes.
Even when you read The Biggest Loser materials they discuss creating a deficit and remind everyone your calorie intake is a MOVING TARGET not a set in stone number. They say to take your present weight x 7 = your daily caloric intake to lose weight and they go on to say “your caloric intake should never be static” which means as you lose weight you need to adjust your daily calories DOWN — not sit there at some magical number known as 1200.
Plain and simple there is no such thing as “I am not losing weight because I don’t eat enough” or “I am gaining weight because I eat too little”. THAT IS FALSE. Even if your calorie intake is dangerously low (not recommended at all, just making a point), you will still lose weight. Simply put, what most people think of starvation mode to be is complete and utter nonsense.
So of course, why am I not losing weight then? Simple – you are eating more calories than you think you are, burning less calories than you think you are, or both… and no deficit is present.
How do I know this? How can I be so sure?
Because if you WERE doing everything right and you WERE in a deficit, you’d currently be losing weight and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Many fear that going into starvation mode will drastically reduce their metabolic rate and cause them to hoard calories and gain weight instead of losing. NOT TRUE!
Bottom line: 1200 is a very arbitrary number and it is absolutely NOT the right number for everyone so FORGET that number. You need to do adequate research calculations to ensure you are at the number that is right for YOU.
- Weight Watchers
- The Biggest Loser: The Weight Loss Program to Transform Your Body Health and Life
My name is Sue and I am an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Ketogenic Living Specialist and Amare Global Wellness Partner. Coaching others is my passion. I want to be the change and help others take back control of their health and happiness!