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Anorexia and starvation mode

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I'm not saying I will ever not eat but I was just curious.
Why do anorexics lose so mich weight? Doesn't starvation mode play a big part of it? Wouldn't they plateau or gain a little bit of weight from not eating? If I were to eat only 300 calories a day, wouldn't I just go into starvation mode or would I actually be anorexic? How many calories would it be to go into starvation mode and how many calories until anorexia? I'm just curious, so I can try to avoid both.
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Obviously if you starve yourself you'll lose weight.  That's common sense.  Yes, your metabolism slows down, but there's a limit.

You'll also lose your hair, your period, your concentration, your interest in life, your friends/social life, your ability to think clearly, your energy, your muscles, and eventually your life.  It is a miserable, miserable prison to live inside of.  It is driven by irrational compulsions and fears.  Imagine knowing that you're slowly killing yourself but being unable to stop it.  Yeah, it's hell.

There is no specific number of calories that defines anorexia.  It is defined in the DSM by maintaining a BMI of less than 17.5, having an intense fear of gaining weight, and amenorrhea (or something along those lines).  Some individuals severely restrict calories, while others eat seemingly a large number of calories but compensate through purging or overexercising.

Your question is a vast oversimplification.  'Starvation mode' is not an on-off switch.  And more importantly, anorexia is much deeper than merely eating x number of calories.  It is a devastating, life-destroying mental illness.  I find this post a little insensitive, to be honest, but I realize that was not your intention...

They don't always, and that's the scary part. A lot of people think that anorexia is having a BMI of 15-16 and never eating ever but that's simply not the case. My cousin was diagnosed years backk, and was even hospitalized when she was "only" 5-10lbs underweight. She was naturally very thin to begin with.

She went from 5'4 and 115lbs to 5'4 and 100lbs in two weeks and in between she would plateau and maintain for a week or so in between. Her weight would fluctuate between borderline underweight and 10lbs underweight for months at a time without ever really staying close to one weight. During this time I don't think she ever ate the required amount of calories, even when she was maintaining. She ended up in the ER twice and almost died.

Not everyone who starves themselves is going to end up 80lbs. Being super underweight isn't the eating disorder. The eating disorder is the act of starving yourself and torturing your body. Not everyone who has anorexia wants to lose weight either, it's just a side effect of the whole "not eating" thing.

My cousin was anorexic for years and she never went under 100lbs. It wasn't that she didn't "try hard enough" either. She was over exercising while eating less than 500 calories a day. In contrast, she mentioned a girl at her clinic would easily drop from normal weight to emaciation in a month's time.

I'm not going to pretend I understand the science behind it, but I'd guess it has something to do with how every body is different and unique. Sometimes people have fast metabolisms to begin with. Some people like my cousin are more constant with their weight and won't fluctuate within a very large range (I don't think she's ever been above 120 either, even after being recovered for three years) regardless of if they starve or eat a lot. It's all about how your body works.

But moral of the story is... don't starve yourself. Whether you lose ten pounds or you lose forty pounds it can still kill you.

Anorexics who starve themselves do it over a very long time period and therefore they go past the plateau and into deterioration of muscle, bones and fat. If you were to eat 300 calories a day for a week and then return to your normal eating nothing would happen. This is because your body realises that its not getting food so it stores fat rather than burn it. To be 'anorexic' is different person to person. some people have larger builds than others so their weight may be more but the percentage of fat is very low.

'Starvation mode' is usually described when someone eats less than 400 calories a day. There isn't a number of calories for anorexics like the people have said previously because its different person to person. It also depends on exercise and if they purge.

Anorexia is a bi-product of being mentally unstable. Usually comes from body image issues, self esteem, punishment for something or depression.

Its good that your curious and want to know more about issues like anorexia and we should all know where it comes from if we want to diet or have a healthy life style. :) I'm glad you asked because there are so many negative tags on anorexia and the reasons for it!

Because "Starvation Mode" is a myth?



Original Post by healthyhabit:

Because "Starvation Mode" is a myth?



Yes, this too.  'Starvation mode' is a misconception; your metabolism will slow down if you undereat, but there isn't some sort of on/off switch.  

Starvation mode may be a myth, but starvation is very real.  And its consequences are far worse than any weight plateau, OP.

Like someone else said, there isn't a number of calories that one consumes each day that can define him or her as anorexic. Anorexia is diagnosed based on other factors, none of which are related to calories (as far as I know.)

Your metabolism never just completely stops. If it did, you would die. If you deprive your body of nutrients for a long enough time, your body will store the majority of what you consume as fat because your body basically doesn't know when your next meal is coming. Starvation mode is exaggerated on this site. Having over a 1,000 calorie deficit a few times isn't going to kill you or make your body store every single calorie you take in as fat. So don't worry too much about starvation mode. Don't under eat to lose weight too quickly, but also don't be so concerned that if you're 100 calories under what you should be one day that you'll go into starvation mode. Also, the tools on this site are definitely not exact. The burn meter can't tell you exactly what your body burns each day just based on your age, weight, height, and activity level. They're just estimations.

I don't think that starvation mode is a complete myth, though. Yes, it's exaggerated and not as prevalent as lots of people on here say (at least in my opinion.) But when people who have suffered from anorexia increase their calorie intake during recovery, they generally gain weight very, very quickly. My best friend suffered from anorexia when she was 14-16 years old and got down to 96 pounds. Once she got into recovery and upper her calories to a healthy amount, she gained all of the 45 pounds that she'd lost over a period of years back in less than 2 months. She went from being very underweight to being at the top of the healthy BMI range for her height in a very short period of time even though she wasn't overeating during recovery. She described to me that it took a long time for her to find her "natural weight" because it took years for her metabolism to stabilize completely. She's now right in the middle of her healthy BMI range and she doesn't count calories or anything.

Basically, the moral of the story is try not to have more than a 1,000 calorie deficit, eat when you're hungry, and try not to be TOO concerned with starvation mode.

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