Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Weight Loss
Moderators: Mollybygolly, spoiled_candy, devilish_patsy, nycgirl

Gaining Weight Trying to Come out Starvation Mode - Please read

Quote  |  Reply

I am so discouraged.  I am trying to come out of starvation mode (my nutritionist thinks that my body is currently in that state) because she tested my metabolism and says I burn about 3000 calories a day.  She thinks I have been under-eating hence causing my body to starve.


The scale is up TEN POUNDS from it was last week.  I feel huge and none of my clothes are fitting.  I cannot afford to gain more weight and am discouraged that I will continue to gain.  I would like to lose (I wasn't at an unhealthy weight to begin with).


Does anyone know how long this process takes and how long it will be before I can safely cut back and lose some weight?


Thank you so much!

29 Replies (last)
Hi there, I know EXACTLY where you are. I was there two weeks ago. I am a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. I underate for about two years and was in a wild starvation mode period. I even went as low as 400-700 calories per day trying to maintain my weight. The more I starved, the more I gained. I increased my calories to 1800-2200 three weeks ago. I gained eleven pounds in a week and a half. Then, after Christmas, I weighed in expecting the WORST. I was down three pounds. I am currently on track to lose a pound per week. You are SOOO close to being over the worst part. Your body is going through an adjustment, and when it gets used to the additional calories you will have a metabolism again. Know what that means? You get to go out with friends and get to eat something other than salad with no dressing, you will not have to worry about every bite if food going into your mouth. DON'T GIVE UP!! It's worth it! At new years, I will get to have wine and not have to worry about it reflecting on the scale the next day. I can't wait!!! If you give up now, you will confuse your body further. It's almost over, keep going. The reward is worth what you are going through now. Good Luck!

So glad to have someone to talk to in the same boat!! Did your weight begin to level off at 2200?  How many calories are you currently consuming?  Did you find yourself extremely hungry after making the initial increase?


Sorry for all the questions, it's just very scary :/

Thank you! I have been going through the same thing and couldn't get a satisfying response as to how long I should wait out the weight gain. I was about to give up and cut back again. It was freaking me out that my clothes were starting to not fit! I can now stick it through a little while longer knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel soon. 

Good Luck and Happy New Year!


It took three weeks to level out. I have stopped binging and craving and starving. I was almost ready to give up, but posted and had a good response here. I gained eleven pounds in about a week, then I had my husband put the scale away. I kept logging my calories, though. I ate 1700-1800 for the first two weeks. I went up to 2200 the last week. I exercised almost every day, then Christmas hit. When I weighed in the Monday after Christmas, I was down one pound. A few days after that I was down another. Your body will tell you when it is out of starvation mode. You will start losing weight as inexpicably as you gained it. When you feel that you are level (you will know. You wake up one day and feel normal. When you wake up that way a few days in a row, you are ready. Do it before then and you are asking for more trouble). I plugged my my numbers into the cc calculators, and have dropped my calories to 1519. I have lost half a pound. I still exercise almost every day. I feel healthy and strong. If was only four weeks ago that I would have gained mad weight on 1500 calories. I had sushi tonight. With rice. The scale will be fine tomorrow. I can feel it and calorie count tells me so! It wad SOOO worth a few weeks of pain. I tried so many times before, but gave up before I broke through. Keep going!!! It takes so little time compared to what you have been through. I have eight pounds left to lose. It will probably take me eight weeks. Eight weeks of eating more calories than I have in years. Eight weeks to be happy with my body and calorie intake. Priceless!!!

Did you religiously count calories?  I hate counting and have just been aiming to try and hit the right you think some of the weight you gained was water?  When you further increased in the third week, you didn't see any further gain? Have your hunger levels settled down?  I have taken this week off of my normal running regimine but it is making me uneasy and I don't want to wait any longer...but will I need to further increase if I run each day?  Sorry for all the is just so nice to have someone to relate to.....

Most of the weight I gained was water. Someone had me add up the calories I consumed, and even if EVERY calorie was turned to fat it didn't equal even pounds. I will let you know what the scale says Monday :)

Count EVERY calorie. If it goes in your mouth, it goes in your food diary. That includes gum, flavored water everything. It is the only way to get a true picture of what you are doing. I added up my gum and crystal light once, it came out to an extra 200 calories. If you have ever said " how bad can it be?", its probably worse than you think! Haha

Sites like this one make calorie counting easier. Download the mobile app to count on the go. My Fitness Pal is easy to use, as well. This one gives a more complete nutrient value, though.

Count them all, and let me know how it goes! Talk to soon!,

Were you experiencing decreased energy levels while you were in the state of starvation and did you notice that leveling off when you increased?  Also, did you see instant swelling in certain areas (my face looks three times its size and ALL of my clothes are tight) I can't tell if the weight is water swelling or fat weight.  The scale was down 3 lbs this morning from yesterday my clothing still feels the same as it did yesterday and I look terrible.  Even people were saying at work, you look a little different today...


Is it possible for those changes to happen THAT fast without it being water......I am at my wits end with this.......



Lol, just the right side of my face. Yes, that's as pretty a picture as it sounds like. My legs still get swollen easily, that's where I put on my water weight. And they ached! It is mostly water. You may a have a couple extra pounds when your body levels out, but it is mostly water.

It was actually the energy levels that prompted me to do this. That, and suddenly I started gaining weight. It wad only three pounds of weight, but I couldn't get rid of it. When it became four, I decided something had to change. Starving, being exhausted all of the time, and being so careful of my food that I stopped going out with my husband and friends, isn't worth it. Especially when the scale goes up anyways. I have some health issues, so its time to do what I can to be as healthy as,I can. The few weeks of pain is worth it, I promise. I feel better now than I have in YEARS! I have more energy than I have in years, my nous is better and even my husband is happier.

In your heart, you know that the starvation is making you feel worse than you should. You know that it is not making you healthy or happy, and that it has made it harder to lose weight and even harder again to keep it off. You didn't starve your body overnight, we just need to be greatful that it doesn't take as long to get out of the situation as it did to get into it. You are on a good path. You just need to trust yourself and not this awful feeling you have right now. If the scale was down this morning, you are on the road to recovery.

My suggestion would be get rid of the scale. Weigh in ONCE per week. It messes with your head too much to weigh in every day. COUNT EVERY CALORIE. Instead of the scale, track your food. You will know if you are feeding your body correctly, the weight will follow. I know this is a BIG step and a hard one. I have fought my husband over giving me my scale back, but in retrospect it is what I have needed to do. Get somebody to take it away for you. Have them give it back only once per week. You will be in a much better head space such will make recovery faster.

I know this is a lot to take in, but aren't you ready for some success? There is nothing like the feeling of watching the numbers on the scale go down (once a week) while living instead of obsessing. You will get there if you give your body the time it needs. It is uncomfortable. It sucks. It gets better.

My legs swell too!! And right now a lot around my hips/trunk area, not sure how much of it is fat but it is unattractive and making ALL of my pants so tight.. :/  My thighs though and legs have been a major area for water retention, it makes me feel better to know I am not alone... thank you for all your advice!

You aren't alone. That's why I love this site! I needed it, too. I'm so happy I get to pay it forward! Please let me know how you are doing.

BTW, I bought two pairs of workout pants and two pairs of work pants in my swollen size. Again, it makes it better in my head not to be wearing pants that are too small, and each time I try on my old pants and they fit better, my head gets even better. Do what you have to in order to be happy with your new calorie intake and swelling. It will go down, and it seems to go faster when you do these little things to make it better in your head. I promise this won't last forever :)

do you think i am in for furthur gain or do you think its leveling off?  you are so encouraging and such an inspiration...congrats on your success :)

Quote  |  Reply

I am so glad I found this thread. I've been in starvation mode for about 4 months. I didn't understand what was wrong with me. I was constipated, bloated and I stopped menstrating. I wasn't even trying to lose weight to begin with.

Before this I ate healthy, exercised regularly and was happy. I ended a long term relationship and moved into my own place, and I began to eat "healthier" lower calorie foods since it was just me. Then my metabolism slowed and I lost definition in my arms and stomach-despite that I continued to work out. Also I may have gained a pound or two. I don't even own a scale so I can't be sure. But I felt like I gained some. So I cut back more on calories and increased my workout, to no effect at all. It is so unlike me. Normally, my body is very responsive.

8 days ago, I FINALLY realized I was in starvation mode. I was only consuming around 1,000 calories a day, when I use to eat at least 2,000. So I began eating more and tracking every calorie to make sure I reach my goal. I added between meal snacks to help speed up my metabolism. 

Now I'm retaining water and I'm about 10 pounds heavier than I was in October! It's so discouraging. I have never looked so bloated and pregnant. Everything in me is saying I should eat less and exercise more because of this increased weight. But I'm going to stay on path with my 2,000 calories and regular workout routine and hope that the weight starts to come off as my metabolism speeds back up and my body adjusts to the new caloric amounts.

I am glad to read your comments, shainarance. It's the first time I've seen any sort of timeline to give me an idea of how long it will be before everything normalizes again. I'm thinking about getting a scale to weigh in every week and keep track of my progress.

where are you noticing the water rentention most?? what kind of symptoms are you having with that??  that is a huge problem for me and it's so uncomfortable :/


i totally feel your pain..

Quote  |  Reply

Mostly I'm noticing it in my stomach. It's bloated and I look a few months pregnant. Also, my face and thighs are noticeably softer and swollen. I tried to pull on my skinny jeans today and they were way to tight all over. My face kind of looks like it did a few days after my wisdom teeth came out.

I've been adding lemon or lime juice to my water, it's supposed to help with the retention and I am drinking a glass of cranberry juice when I make dinner since it's a diuretic and should help flush some of the water out.

The one thing I am glad for, is that it's winter and I have plenty of sweaters to wear that hide how puffy my body is at the moment.


UGH! my thighs and butt have been the worst the entire time!  i feel ya on the jeans...they are SO tight in that area.  and it feels stretchy, not like fat, just swollen....have you noticed any of those remedies (lemon, cranberry) helping?  all that seems to be helping me is coffee (as it's a dieretic).  I'm so desperate to rid myself of it....

Quote  |  Reply

I haven't noticed a lot of improvement yet, but I just started eating enough calories last week. The water retention really started for me on Monday of this week. So I'll give it some more time before I get impatient.


Quote  |  Reply

Hey guys!  I am so frustrated and have been scouring the internet for weeks to find an explanation.  I lost about 20-25 pounds two years ago.  I am good 6 days a week, eating about 1300-1400 calories, working out VERY intensely 6 days a week.  I noticed that I started gaining weight, although I hadnt changed my diet (I eat 6-7 healthy meals a day) or workout regimine.  I tried adding a 7th day of working out and cutting calories, but clothes just got tighter.  So I thought I had no other way to go but up with calories.  No one seems to understand.  I went back to working out 6 days a week and I added 50 calories a day brining me to 1450 for two weeks, then for these last 2 weeks I brought it up to 1500 (truly 1600 with vitamins/supplements).  I feel like my face is starting to look bloated and the legs of my skinny jeans are tight.  I almost cut my calories back today bc I hate how I feel.  But I am going to go for the 1500 through this week.  I am scared and I am not sure if Im doing the right thing, but I could look leaner, tighter... any thoughts? 

Quote  |  Reply

If you are working out that much you should be eating at least 2,000 calories a day.

Keep adding calories back into your diet. I would suggest you use one of the calorie calculators that tell you how much to eat to maintain your current weight and how much to eat to lose. But if you are exercising a lot, you could probably eat at least 2,000 and still get in shape. Remember your body is a machine and it needs enough fuel to operate.

In the last ten days, I have been eating around 2,000 calories a day. I even had a cold this week and didn't work out, other than walking the dog, and I lost a lot of water weight. Every day I noticed I was returning to my pre-under eating body. And all I was doing was eating. I feel and look so much better now that I am eating enough.

Muscles need a lot of calories to get toned and stay toned. You'll find the right balance for you. The water weight it tough to deal with because it makes you feel so bloated and you don't look like yourself, but it won't last for long.



Exactly everything mnmsilver said. In my opinion, you may have to up your calories a bit more for a while. It took me eight weeks of eating maintenance (1850) before I saw a drop. It does happen, and somewhere in the process you get some peace when it comes to food. I feel fantastic now, but it kinda sucked getting here. Good luck! 

Quote  |  Reply
Thanks guys. Mnsilver, ur post makes me nervous bc u say u hav been bloated since Oct? I am determined to get this under control this yr, but that really freaks me out. It is interesting though too, that this wknd on my cheat day I wasnt famished like I normally am... I just want the bloat gone, I even stretch in the sauna at the gym.
29 Replies (last)