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what is starvation mode?

I calculated my rmr and it is 1450, I was just asking how many calories put u into starvation mode? I try to eat as close to my rmr as possible but sometimes come up short:) thanks

4 answers

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Please understand, if you are eating at or below what has been established by your bmr/rmr, you are probably doing more harm than good. Remember those numbers are the bare minimum for survival.

Starvayion mode theory looks at it like this: If you deny yourself food, superficial metabolic processes shut down and you conserve energy, allowing more to be stored or remain in storage. Any prolonged period under your bmr intake could qualify.
However, it goes deeper than that.

If we look at evolutionary man, often he would have to go days without food. At this point it was necessary to use stored energy, like any accumulated body fat, but FIRST, the body sought preferred sources of fuel...blood sugar or glycogen, then protein. Sugar is the easiest form of energy to use. And we can get through most blood sugar in about an hour of moderate activity. Well, most of us know where we find blood sugar (its in the name) but... protein is stored in the MUSCLE.

We know that muscle burns calories even at rest (50/day) so magnificent machines that we are...we kill two birds by catabolizing (breaking down) muscle for energy. And for "evo" man, that meant survival of the species. But for us... A loss of overall muscle means a decline in rmr. Its a vicious cycle.

Additonally leptin (your hunger hormone) levels are affected by undereating. There is a tremendous amount of research these days about leptin/leptin resistance and how it relates to weight loss.

I say all that to say this....if you are eating below what it takes for your body to potentially sacrifice the best ally you have in weight loss...your muscle. To still get great weight loss, without danger of losing muscle, aim for 10% ABOVE what your bmr says (especially if you are actively exercising), and also have at least one day a week where you are at or above a maintenance level of calories.

5 years ago

You also need to account for the amount of calories you're burning in your workouts or daily activity. If you are eating 1450 calories and burning 300 in your workouts/daily activity you will potentially go into starvation mode since your net calories for the day would then be 1150, not enough to keep up with your activity and basic functions.

5 years ago

Starvation mode is when your body 'signals' that there is a lack of energy coming in and it causes muscle breakdown (atrophy). The signals come in the form of hormones and the muscle breakdown comes from skeletal and cardiac muscle (the latter being very dangerous). I don't have an exact number or percentage for you, but it comes about when you are consuming too few calories (typically, under your BMR) and when you are exercising 'too' much.


5 years ago

So than as long as I try to eat up to my RMR I should be done right? Not go into starvation mode?

eschroeckenthaler 4.3k
5 years ago

add your answer!

eschroeckenthaler member since Aug '11


MemberMadison, WI
5/8/2012 at 2:57 PM
Caloric Intake