05 Jun 09 03:37
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I am eating 900 calories a day, I don't buy starvation mode.


I have been eating less than 900 calories a day for around three weeks. It began accidentally, I got a bit depressed/stressed out and lost my appetite.

When I regained an appetite, after having lost some 3 or 4 pounds of initial water/etc. weight at first, I decided to continue to do so with a restricted calorie diet and healthy food. I am 23, my weight was around 170 [on the high end, I think]. I am 5'5". I do have rather large breasts and a large butt, and other than that I just store fat in my hips and waist. My doctor was always surprised I weighed as much as I do, he'd weigh me on different scales because he didn't think I looked that heavy. Either way I range between a size 6 and an 11 depending on the line of clothing, but normally it's 8 or 10. I am definitely 30 lbs overweight, and I would be perfectly content at 140 lbs. I have been eating 900 calories a day, and it hasn't been difficult for me really. I cut out all drinks other than water and unsweetened green tea. I eat a big bowl of steel cut oatmeal with dried fruit in the morning, I snack on quaker rice cakes at times and also fruit. For dinner I eat a big serving of spinach or other green/non-starchy veggie and a portion of salmon or similar protein. Every other day I make sure to eat a couple eggs, and I also try to take in a bit of milk each day. The two meals bring me to around 500 calories and the remaining 400 are spaced with frequent small snacks. I have also cut out bread and pasta. I've managed to lose almost all interest in food as a recreation and am good at resisting cravings. I don't feel "cravings" at all really, just the need for food. Like I said, I snack frequently but make sure never to go over 900-1000 calories for the whole day. I walk and exercise a bit, nothing major, as I'm already at a pretty big caloric deficit.
I can already see the caps lock posts that will reply to me that I am eating too little and that I'm actually just going to gain wait due to the dreaded "starvation mode." I've lost around 8 lbs so far and I really don't feel bad. I feel pretty alive to be honest. I drink A LOT of green tea. Like 6 cups a day, home made green tea. I also drink 1 or 2 bottles of water a day.
I would love to hear some insight from you guys about the validity of the claim that a diet like mine will make me gain weight or plateau. I have read so many conflicting reports about this idea, it seems like conjecture on both sides. I've read quite a few posts on other forums about people who lost quite a bit of weight on 900-1000 calories a day over a period of a few months. I am currently losing weight but I must say this "starvation mode" hysteria is getting to my focus. I wouldn't have the will power to truly starve myself, so I honestly don't think I'm being ridiculous with my diet. I feel like for the first time ever I'm actually eating intelligently and responsibly. I don't need so many calories, as little as I do during summer break.
But I will really appreciate hearing your all's take on what I've said with regard to the effectiveness of this diet.
The calculator told me I burn, just by existing, 1,505 calories a day. It says I can lose a pound a week by eating 1,760 calories a day. I'm eating around 760-860 less than that, but I feel perfectly fine. Thoughts? I'd greatly appreciate them, opposing or not :)
And my name is Angel, nice to meet you.
05 Jun 09 11:54
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jinglejangle — Well, at 23 you seem to have it all figured out already! Good for you! Image
05 Jun 09 13:13
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baglady — DD - I wouldn't worry about it too much. As long as you're getting the proper nutrion and vitamins that your body needs to function at 100%... and it sounds like you're happy... so there you go. The fact that this change in diet has happened so effortlessly is great, IMHO. There wouldn't be an obesity epidemic if we all had that kind of will power.

I've heard about the starvation mode... I think one thing that worries some doctors and dieticians is what happens after

the so-called starvation ends. It's believed that b/c your body has been so deprived of food and nutrition, it will at some point overcompensate whatever calories you do consume so it can function normally.

But that's mostly a concern if/when the dieter falls off the wagon into a bingefest, which is very common at some point for people who go on crash diets (meaning not gradually, drastically cutting calories).

You ultimately need to talk to your doc about this in detail, if you haven't already. Above all else - listen to your body. If you start feeling like crap, you'll know it's time for a change. Good luck!
05 Jun 09 13:58
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dollldecay — @jinglejangle: lol I can't tell if I detect sarcasm there or not but I am far from having everything figured out. 

Thanks so much for the response. It's really difficult to make sense of all the conflicting info on the internet, but the majority of it seems to say that a 900 calorie diet is counterproductive. I happen to believe that has a lot to do with people wanting to discourage wreckless individuals and teens from doing anything drastic, but I honestly don't know much about nutrition. All I know is that I have spent summers doing very little and eating what I now calculate to have been at least 500 cals over what I needed especially at light activity level and that made me gain this weight to begin with so no part of my brain is able to wrap around the concept that eating 900 calories of healthy food a day, doing basically nothing except for a walk and some light exercise several times a week, is going to make me gain weight or stall out. 
As for willpower, honestly I think it's all about FREQUENCY of eating rather than quantity. I don't even realize I'm eating so little because I pick really low cal snack items and eat little bits of them at a time. Once you really think about the calories each bite has in it it seems like less of an imposition to eat less bites. I have crappy willpower normally, I have no self-discipline. I just decided to take advantage of my natural tendency to "fast" when I'm depressed and anxious over something in particular. I've read that in order to really jumpstart weight loss, a sudden drastic decrease in calories or "fasting" for a few days can be really effective [or a sudden drastic increase in exercise] but of course never something that can continue for long without eventual binging. I knew I was getting to that point where I'd begin eating again, and I'd gain all that stress weight back, so I just decided to control what I ate. 
What's strangest to me is that I don't feel hunger pangs, even in the morning. And it's even stranger that I can resist chocolate chip cookies being baked in my kitchen and opt for boring, tiresome oatmeal. lol. I think it has to do with deprogramming your body, hitting the reset button, once you eat the right stuff for a bit of time it seems like the over processed hydrogenated sugar stuff genuinely doesn't taste good. Just like if you haven't eaten McDOnalds in a long time and then you eat it, you taste all that waxy crap in their food. 
05 Jun 09 14:04
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iiseo — I think some of what you are doing is good, like cutting out binging and it sounds like what you do eat is in general healthy food.
But I don't see much protein in your diet.  My understanding is that your body will take muscle mass to make up for the lack of protein in your diet. So although you may be losing weight, you might be losing muscle mass.  Muscle burns calories, so your base metabolism will decrease and your overall % bodyfat will increase.
Do you have any access to a nutritionist?
Check this site wher you can get a bestwaytoloseweight.ehowtoguides.com/why-you-need-to-lose-belly-fat - free nutrition guide
to give you some ideas on what you should be eating.  I got mine from the link on the image at the right.

Good Luck, you sure sound motivated.
05 Jun 09 14:29
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dollldecay — @iiseo:
That is a good point. I probably should take in a greater amount of protein, aside from basically just one or two servings a day. Maybe a diet like this requires one to "snack" on protein in order to counter muscle loss. I have been doing a bit of weight training but that probably doesn't help anything unless I am actually providing protein stores for my body. I will definitely check the website out. 
05 Jun 09 17:59
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jinglejangle — DD...for the record, I was teasing...
I wish I had this all figured out. What you would think to be simple to figure out, i.e burn or reduce caloric intake by 3500 calories to lose one pound, doesn't always work. That is exactly why I tried Phen...
05 Jun 09 18:14
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dollldecay — @jinglejangle: My dad and aunt took Phen Phen years ago, Dad has heart valve problems now. 
My weight has always been subject to fluctuation, even if I wasn't trying just a slight change like a bit more activity or less food one week would result in the "you look like you're losing weight" comments that would take me by surprise. I'm hoping that this means my body is sensitive enough to respond well to a restricted calorie diet. My family isn't obese, I'm part Native American and my mother is TINY and my father is big and tall and slightly overweight but I don't have any obese immediate relatives. I've just been lazy since adolescence and I've been too stubborn to watch what I eat consistently. I've learned that if my weight loss strategy relies too heavily on consistent exercise, it fails, because I am very inconsisten with exercise. Diet and occasional exercise seems to be the only way for me to really make a difference. I just went to caloriecount.com and it tells me if I eat 1300 calories/day I'll lose 1-2 lbs a week, and that that amount is ideal for me. I'm eating 400 less than that, which doesn't seem so drastic. We'll see I guess. My skin is feeling scaly though, that's the only thing. 
05 Jun 09 21:07
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jinglejangle — That is why they do not prescrine phen fen anymore. I think it was the fen that was causing issues...
06 Jun 09 12:20
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bagladyjinglejangle - you're right. the fenfluoramine (sp?) was pulled from the market. phentermine is fine.
17 Jun 09 14:39
luchhh — Losing weight is simply burning more calories then you consume in a day...which you are doing.
26 Jun 09 23:06
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imperfected — ...
29 Jun 09 14:36
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Hi Angel.  How are you doing with your diet plan?  I'd love to know.  You sound very determined to lose weight, and I hope it is all going well for you.  Please let us know how your weight loss is going.
03 Jul 09 11:02
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juliekristine — What you are doing is actually fine. Recent studies have shown that sedentary people don't need near as much food as you eat.
But this will only work if you maintain this habit the rest of your life. If you go back to eating normal you WILL gain weight. This is because your metabolism has adjusted to your new diet.
Some really cutting edge studies have shown that eating less (if you are not an athlete) makes you live longer. This is probably because of all the hormones, pesticides, preservatives and other crap found in our food. 
03 Jul 09 19:34
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ultimatehlth — I've seen the long term results from this time and time again in my practice. IISEO is correct. Your first weight loss is water followed by protein break down. You can lose weight without losing significant body fat. Also the loss of lean body mass decreases metabolism significantly.

First thing I would do is throw out the rice cakes, they are empty calories and cause an insulin response (fat storage) unless post workout. You need to increase your protein by at 25 -30 grams per day, add either beans, sweet potato, or 3-4 oz of whole grain and preferably all the above till you get your calories up to an average of at least 1200-1300 a day. Vary some days up and some days down to keep your metabolism from adapting any set amount. Add as much color to your diet with fruits and vegetables as you can.

Lastly, to lose fat you have to eat fats (healthy fats about 25-30% of cals) I promise you will still lose weight just as fast only more of it will be fat.
24 Jul 09 01:18
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Well, I tried restricting to 800 cals for two months...it was horrible. GAINED two pounds. Are you absolutely positive you're only eating 900 cals a day? Sometimes extra calories will sneak up on you when you're least expecting it... I found that when trying to hit 500 cals. It's super hard to eat that few. 
When I ate that little, it really screwed up my metabolism. I was tired all the time, and was always cold. Like you, I've read lots of different versions of things on the internet, but most of the sites I've read said the way I was feeling was a sign of a slowing metabolism. I was really miserable because I felt tired and horrible all the time. I was really active though, so maybe the low calorie diet won't have the same effect on you because you aren't very active and simply don't have huge energy requirements.  You said you're feeling good now, so I don't see any reason why the diet would be bad for your metabolism. You said your calorie requirement per day is 1,505? Mine's like 2100 and I eat about 1200-1500 cals a day, and feel fine. So maybe the deficit isn't a bad thing, just so long as it's not too low for our bodies to function.
As for whether starvation mode's legit, in my opinion it makes sense. Evolutionarily, our bodies would have had to adapt to times when we couldn't get enough food, and it makes sense that they'd do that by making it so our energy requirements weren't as high. This would help hunter-gatherers in the wilderness, but doesn't do a heck of a lot for us 21st century folks, because eating too much less only leads to burning less. I know for a while I didn't believe in starvation mode either because, I mean, anorexics barely eat anything but they still lose weight! Someone on another site put it pretty well- as they said, there's a difference between starvation and starvation mode. By eating too few calories, you're not actually starving your body like anorexics are. They've gone past where their body tries to conserve energy because they're not eating anything to give it energy to save! So then the body turns to using muscles and other important tissues for energy, which can lead to nasty internal issues. The way I see starvation mode is that it's just making your body think you're starving it, so your metabolism slows because your body is saving every last bit of energy for the famine it thinks is coming. I'm not a nutritionist or anything, but that's just the opinion of a fellow dieter.
Like someone said above, I doubt that you're in starvation mode, but I wouldn't go too much lower because you don't want to gain a ton of weight if you start getting an appetite again. I go through stages like that where I feel like my body's a holy temple of healthiness and don't eat anything even remotely unhealthy, but then a few weeks later I get the irresistable urge to binge on a bunch of crap. I'm not saying that's going to happen to you, but I would just make sure you aren't going so low that you're going to undo all your hard work by eating a little more or losing control for a few nights.
Also, you said what you're mainly eating is oatmeal, rice cakes, salad and fish? You might want to try some other options of food sometimes. I went that route too in my lovely adventure of crash dieting, and believe me, you will get bored. For months all I had was gum, crystal light, and cooked vegetables (like the kind you buy in a bag at Safeway), and now I can hardly stand the stuff. If you branch out a bit, you'll get the benefits of a variety of nutrients, and plus you won't exhaust what healthy food you're eating now and turn to junk food because you want some different tastes. I got the same way, where I wasn't enthusiastic about anything to do with food because I really didn't want to eat anything, but maybe if you try to make your meals a bit more exciting, you'll be more likely to stick with eating healthy as a lifestyle, not just a diet.
Just suggestions, no offense taken if you think they're horrible. :)

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