Weight Loss
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500-800 calories a day?

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I just need to know if 500-800 calories a day is really that bad. How long does it take before your body goes into "starvation mode". I have been doing this for about 3 weeks and I have seen amazing results. I weigh 168 pounds and I'm 6'1''. Everyone says I'm getting so thin and it seems encouraging to me but when I tell them how I'm doing it they frown. My daily diet usually consist of a 180 calorie energy drink and a 180 calorie nutrition bar. Then in the afternoon I have a 50 calorie bottle of Vitamin Water. Occasionally, like every 4-5 days I will splurge and get fast-food like Chipotle or Chick-Fil-A which is very bad because I'm trying to be a vegetarian. I ALWAYS feel guilty after I eat like I'm a fat pig or something. Does this make me Anorexic? I don't know anymore.

Edited May 22 2009 22:34 by peaches0405
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Yeah, thats bad, and is 'disordered eating' even if it hasnt yet reached the level of an eating disorder. If youve gotten to the point where you are losing weight rapidly... yeah, you might be anorexic. You also sound at risk of bulimia with the fast food. I tried to lose weight that way, but I had binge eating issues, so my 600 calorie plan turned into bulimia. Come up with a nice safe plan that falls between 1200 and 1500 to start. I have oatmeal with juice in the morning, salad and soymilk for lunch, and fish or tofu with veggies for dinner. 2-3 snacks a day with a max of 1 sweet and 1 fancy coffee. Its still a bit psychotic, but it keeps me healthy, in a safe calorie range (by health standards and messed up mindset) and keeps me from bingeing.
You're already at a healthy weight.

If you have too big a deficit (between what your body burns and what you eat), guess what you're losing? Some fat, but more MUSCLE. If you want to lose fat, don't carry such a big deficit. If you want your body to look better, start feeding it well and enough, and exercise.
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I don't care what the textbook definition of Anorexia is, but you definitely have a serious problem that needs professional intervention immediately.

I'm 6'1" 160 lbs and I eat 5 to 6 times as many calories as you every single day, just as a point of reference. Please, start eating normally again.

It's not worth it. You're eventually going to feel like crap and have weird side effects because you're not getting enough calories. Your hair could fall out, etc. Not worth it.

Since it's been only 3 weeks, you luckily can get back on track without it being a shock.

Be good to yourself. Fast weight loss is not real weight loss. Even if it feels good, and feels okay.
ditto with what everyone else said. you'll gain the weight back when you starte eating normal again, which inevitably you'll have too, bu then if you want to lose, you'll be able to soon enough. and as an fyi, vitamin water has 50 cals a SERVING with something like 2.5 servings a bottle. plus it's loaded with sugar and those calories won't help you feel full.
As you have been told by others here in this thread, you are eating way too few calories for your height and weight and sex (I am assuming from your user name that you are male. You will ultimately destroy your metabolism and endanger your health.

The minimal number of calories ANY male should eat is 1500 calories - merely to keep the body functioning properly. Your body needs at least that much per day to survive in a remotely healthy manner. Here is a very rough scientific break down provided by a dietician for a  5' 2", 19 year old FEMALE weighing approximately 100 pounds, sitting around all day and doing nothing:

-The heart needs 12% of the calories (144 cals)
-The kidney needs 12% of the calories (144 cals)
-The Liver needs 23% of the calories (276 cals)
-The brain needs 23% of the calories (276 cals)
-The skeletal muscle needs 30% of the calories (360 cals)


If you continue to eat 500-800 calories you will end up doing long-term damage to your body and will not lose the weight you want to in a sustainable manner.

Calorie-Count is all about healthy and sustainable weight management.   Please be aware that this website does not support unhealthy eating patterns.

Here are two links which might help you find the information you need on what happens to the body when it enters starvation mode and why it's bad to starve yourself:

  • Dieting & Metabolism (explains starvation mode and why undereating is counter-productive)
  • The Body Neglected (explains what happens when you undereat a long time)
  • In addition check out Calorie Count's resident nutritionist Mary's page which has tons of info on healthy ways to manage your weight.

    Also, have you inputted your stats into the TOOLS on this website? The calorie expenditure and allowance tools? They are SO HELPFUL in deciding what is the proper amount you should be eating in order to lose. I have been using them and am having great success WITHOUT restricting to such severe levels.

    I hope the links above help and that you find the positive, healthy support you need to lose weight in a healthful and sustainable manner.

    Unless you're under the care of a physician who has weighed the merits of your losing weight rapidly against the probable damage to your body, I just wouldn't do it. Even then, I still wouldn't do it. Supposedly some of the prescription diets allow you to get enough nutrients that it's not as dangerous, but I still wouldn't do it.

    I know that you can lose 1-2 lbs per week using the tools on CC and that compared to continuing to climb in weight or even staying really heavy, this is so much better. If you are very much overweight, you might lose at a faster rate for the first few weeks.

    Just eating healthy foods and getting some exercise should allow the weight to come off. Input your information and use the tools on CC to find out what your sedentary burn rate is, then eat 500 calories less than that per day while making sure that you're eating a minimum of 1500 calories per day.

    I would reccomend you start eating 2000 cals a day now. you are already at a healthy weight, if you want to look better now, you'll have to work out ;)
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    Eating only 500-800 calories a day IS dangerous. Any female, even those who are not active at ALL should not be eating any less than 1200 calories a day! Women lose weight eating between 1200-1600 calories a day (though it varies depending on how active you are.)  Please eat more. And think of it this way- you're not gonna be able to stick to this diet forever. EVentually you're going to want REAL whole foods. So you don't want to put yourself on a diet that you'll just bounce right back from. Rather, just start healthy lifestyle habits, which includes eating right. If you're having trouble getting yourself to eat at least 1200 a day, please go talk to a doctor or counselor or someone that you can trust who isn't going to encourage you to starve yourself. Until then, we are here to help! Please take care of yourself!

    Most of what everyone here is saying is great advice. You're not really eating anything. When you starve for 3-4 days and then eat junk food, your digestive system can't handle the high amounts of fat and grease (even Chipotle). So in reality, your body isn't getting the benefits of that fast food either. I will say that it takes about 3 weeks for your metabolism to change.

    What will happen is  your body will become accustomed to surviving on 500-800 calories a day, and you'll hit a plateu and be stuck there. If you go up to 1,500, you'll blow up like a balloon because you're body was already sufficiently working with much less.

    I will disagree that all men need 1,500 calories a day a more. If you want to know about serious nutrition, bodybuilders, not doctors, know what works and what doesnt. Eating lean fish and chicken meals 200-300 calories at a time, with fresh vegetables and water is what your body needs. You're probably taking in too much salt also, you need to keep it under 1,000 mg. Salt retains fat - not just water.

    Also, it takes approximately 10-16 ounces of water for your body to burn one pound of fat. This is above and beyond the age-old 8-cups of water a day. If you're using the restroom and that water isn't clear, then you are dehydrated. Just a small amount of yellow means you're dehydrated. Shoot for 80-100 ounces of water a day. Your skin will be clearer, and you'll lose more weight.

    Having said all that, I eat around 800-1200 calories a day, run 42 miles a week, and lift weights MWF, and I'm in the army. I'm in perfect shape, but I have a Type E metabolism (A-E) which is the absolute slowest of the five types.


    Keep one thing in mind: Our bodies were designed to survive periods of a severe lack of food. Low calorie intake must be balanced by cardio workouts, which keeps your metabolism running strong. Your blood-sugar level must always been maintained, so if you don't give your body the right amount of food, it will break down your muscles and turn them into sugar to keep everything running. By the way, one pound of fat burns about one calorie an hour, while one pound of muscle burns 26 calories an hour. It's not going to make a huge difference, but you don't want to lose that muscle, which is keeping your metabolism going strong.


    Also, your metabolism burns 4-6 times the calories in the 2-3 hours immediately following exercise.


    Hope this helps





    ummm - you realize you just replied to a 2 year old thread, and the OP hasn't logged on since Sept 2007?

    Edited to add:  also please don't promote eating 800-1200 cals a day and running 42 miles a week...  That's a starvation diet and CC will not allow that type of info to be promoted.      I realize you're a newbie, but thought you might like to know.

    Yep I just wanted to get the information out there. Thanks though, because you just replied to a post, to a person replying to a two-year old post yourself.


    Yes, I responded because of what you seem to be suggesting:

    "I will disagree that all men need 1,500 calories a day a more. If you want to know about serious nutrition, bodybuilders, not doctors, know what works and what doesnt"  and "I eat around 800-1200 calories a day, run 42 miles a week, and lift weights MWF, and I'm in the army"

    This is completely against what CC promotes, and for you to make it seem like it's OK goes against CC posting guidelines.

    Ok, well there are doctors that are now accepting the fact that because Americans are so overweight, 2,000 calories a day is a bit much. 10 years ago my doctor would have put me in a straight-jacket for talking about 1,200 calories a day, but with my family history (all 50 pounds overweight), he's more concerned that I have a healthy heartbeat, low blood pressure and low blood sugar than calories. I've been running 40+ miles a week for years. How is that possible if my body was dying inside?

    I think we need to consider the possibility that the old numbers are wrong. Remember when everything was fat-free, and fat was the enemy? Then it went to sugar, lately it's been on carbs.

    Research from Harvard Medical suggests we don't need the calories we think we do. In lab testing, animals lived twice as long as those fed the "normal" amounts of food. They were also healthier in living twice as long. This suggests our 1,500 or 2,000 calories a day might be excessive.

    So my numbers are based on science, but if you feel it's inappropriate, take it down, and I'll respect the rules. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Original Post by justinpauldavis:

    Research from Harvard Medical suggests we don't need the calories we think we do. In lab testing, animals lived twice as long as those fed the "normal" amounts of food. They were also healthier in living twice as long. This suggests our 1,500 or 2,000 calories a day might be excessive.

    So my numbers are based on science, but if you feel it's inappropriate, take it down, and I'll respect the rules. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Your numbers are based on a faulty interpretation of science.  Those studies were performed starting with juvenile rats and the other main effect (which you haven't noted) was delayed onset of puberty.  So, essentially, the calorie reduction delays growth and, in order for the mice to have a decently long fertile period, they live longer.  That means the studies do not apply to anyone starting calorie reduction as an adult.

    Yes, you're right that many people have become so sedentary that they maintain on less than 2000 calories/day - but we're talking a couple of hundred calories difference.  e.g. petite sedentary women who maintain on 1700ish cals/day or sedentary men who maintain on 2200ish cals/day (instead of the recommended 2500).  If you're truly maintaining on 1000 cals/day, I suspect you've damaged your metabolism.

    Right, and I haven't damaged my metabolism. What real proof exists that it does in fact damage your metabolism, if a person is able to stay as active as I have? If I can run 40+ miles a week for years on that diet, don't you think my system would be shot by now? It's not, and I'm in great shape. All I'm saying is, it's possible we don't even need 1,500 a day, and that people who do can do it because of fast metabolisms.

    Maybe this website isn't the proper forum for this discussion. I want to argue my point, but I don't want to give a layperson the wrong idea here.


    You're probably eating more than you think you are, to be honest.

    To be honest, I grill skinless chicken breast, I don't add anything, or I'll  eat very low-sodium (low sodium has 125 mg, very low has 25) tuna straight from the can, with fresh vegetables.

    It's easy to count the calories because the skinless chicken breast I buy is around 110 calories a piece, and the tuna is around 200 calories for one can. The vegetables I count, but are negligable as the fiber does offset a few calories.

    No, I think I can tell you exactly how many calories I eat. I don't snack throughout the day, I don't eat a chip when there is a bowl of chips available. This is what I've accepted as my lifestyle, as my family is all severely overweight with serious health problems. The benefit is, I save a lot of money in food, compared to most families. One day of food "might" be $8.

    The best part is, I don't have cravings, and I don't appreciate "good" food like most people do. I get hungry at the times I'm supposed to eat, and I'm full when I'm done eating. I eat my first meal at 5:00 AM to get my metabolism going, then another one at 8:00 AM, then again around 1:00 PM, and finally one around 6:00 PM. The portions do not vary, so the calorie counting is easy with a kitchen scale on the counter.

    I go running for an hour after 6pm, and I'm not hungry at all during or afterwards. I have around 7% bodyfat and weigh 192 lbs, and I'm 5' 10", but I weightlift up a storm. On this diet I've never gone below 190. So, I think all you guys should tell me just how I'm able to accomplish this. How am I able to run 40 miles a week, lift weights, and pass a medical physical with lab tests on eating so little? A man my age and activity level should be eating closer to 3,500 calories a day, especially with the weight lifting. Look, I can't explain it, but all I know is that when I eat 1,500 calories a day, I start gaining around 1 pound a month, because I've tried.

    Isn't it possible that the reason so many people gain weight back, is because they are being told 2,000 calories a day is healthy?

    And those of us who are a lot smaller than you, do a lot less than you, eat a lot more than you, and don't gain weight?

    I started at 168lb, 5'6" - I exercised moderately (30min every other day, including lifting weights and cardio) and at 1500 cals. When I reached my goal (135), I stopped doing as much cardio, increased my weight lifting, and increased my calories to 1700-2200, depending on the day. I've kept that weight off for a year.

    I'm sure that if I started eating too little, I'd be able to maintain at a lower calorie level - but why would I want that?

    This is a somewhat dumb yet serious question.


    What about if you ate three salads in a day. They don't have many calories so you would be well under the limit, but you would have eaten a good amount of food.

    Would that be under eating? That doesn't describe me but I'm curious.

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