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Weight Loss
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Here is what happens when you fast and drastically cut calories--YOU LOSE FAT not muscle!

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For some of the members on here that wanted to debate my saying that fat is always what goes before muscle is broken down and anyone else interested in knowing what actually happens when you go super low with the calories.

I'm tired of people with little education in nutrition and physiology telling other members not to cut their calories too much because it will put them in starvation mode and their body will hang on to ever bit of fat it has and how they will actually be losing muscle... yadda yadda yadda---THIS IS INCORRECT!! Your body has no choice but to use its fat stores first and foremost and spare the muscle. Anyone with more than 20 pounds to lose does not have to worry about starvation and people who drastically cut calories are well on their way to LOSING FAT!!! Good job! Just make sure to ease into a normal caloric intake once you reach goal weight.

I'm not saying that fasting and drastic calorie reduction are healthy or ideal ways of losing weight! I'm simply trying to point out that the body tries to keep us alive for as long as possible and that is why fat (the least important of our tissues goes first) then the skeletal muscle then the organ tissues. I felt I needed to support what I was saying in other threads so that the factually challenged members on here might actually get a clue before telling me I'm wrong despite the fact I studied anatomy and physiology at the graduate level!

Anyways...hope this helps some people on here understand how the body works before they hand out incorrect advice and information about "starvation mode" I couldn't find something more basic than this so I hope this isn't over anyone's head...but then again I don't know what kind of crowd I'm dealing with here when people on here actually think muscle is broken down before fat stores during fasts...I guess some of you might have trouble understanding basic physiology :) *teasing*

Go down to the bottom of p.252-253 (23 of 28)address what happens to your body during starvation/fasting. It is also what happens to the body during drastic caloric restriction. c_nut_spotlightmetabolism.pdf
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In all of your studying and  learning at graduate level I feel it is sad that you didn't learn a thing about tact or courtesy.  Most of the people on this site are trying to help other people in the best way they can.  "*teasing*" doesn't change the hurt you cause when you are so ego centered that you must prove yourself right at anyone elses expense.  I am not here to judge you anymore than I feel you are here to judge me, but I do feel that you are out of line attacking people that are trying to help others with the information they have at hand.  If you in all your wisdom believe differently just say so, don't try to make others look or feel less in order to make youself feel more.

Good health to all here, weight should be a secondary concern.
josal....I'm very sorry if I came across as tactless and rude. I honestly don't mean to come across that way to any of the members. I must say that I felt really dissapointed with how rude some members were to me (in other threads) simply because they did not like what I was saying. I wasn't saying anything that was medically incorrect, they just simply didn't like WHAT I was saying so they turned it into I'm wrong yadda yadda even though I'm not the person who makes our bodies do what they was like geez don't shoot the messenger!

Anyways I truly am very sorry if I have come across as rude, it's really not how am.
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While I feel many people in this site do exaggerate starvation mode, like the above poster mentioned your lack of manners and pettiness is really unbelivable.
As a physical therapist who has also taken a lot of those ' advanced courses' you talk about I can only thank God that you did not become a PT because I wouldn't want you to treat any patient with the attitude you portray.
I only hope you reconsider the way you express yourself
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Thank you, you just made my night.  I am glad to see that your opinion is out there and without the negative feelings I got the first time.

Have a great night.

This is in response to workoutaddicts second post
just a friendly reminder to please respect that other posters may have a different viewpoint or opinion.  Discussion of ideas and exchange of information is encouraged.  It is how we all learn and grow.  

However, please respect the posting guidelines so people can post without fear of being bashed, ridiculed or flamed for posting their point of view, thought or idea...  Please, NO PERSONAL ATTACKS!

Also, please refrain from encouraging anyone to try eating behaviours or for weight goals that are considered unsafe and/or underweight.


  • Your post is subject to modification or deletion by our moderators. Repetitive, off-topic, and frivolous posts will be removed.
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We hate to lock down or delete threads...  but will if necessary to keep things civil ~ with your help, we won't have to...

thanks, united (volunteer moderator)
workout ~ Thanks for sharing the link :) 

was reading pages 24/25 talking about what happens during starvation and it's not pretty.

Every time I read the technical nitty gritty, it sounds awful and scares the bejeebers out of me.  Starvation/fasting does not do a body good.  That's why people die as an end result, eh?

:::smackin4head::: :::smack::: :::smack:::

why is that such a hard concept to get?

~ i HATE talking the nitty gritty; it's like math & accounting & science ~ NOT my cup of tea.  The gist is enough for me and the gist is starve yourself = kill yourself....


I have read through the text you quoted.  It is true that your body does resort to "carbonhydrate reserves" first, but it also states you soon resort to using protein in your body in just a 12 hour period.  And within weeks, the subject started to rapidly breaking down protein. The fact stated in your text is that brain cells need glucose and protein (less important muscle breakdown) is where they would get it.

I think you have missed key points in this text.  I have read through it and this is what I can quote from it.

At the top of page 253, it states:  "Your body's first priority is to preserve glucose-dependent tissue:  red blood cells, brain cells, and the rest of the central nervous system.  Your brain will not tolerate even a short interruption in the supply of adequate energy.  Once your boy depletes its carbonhydrate reserves, it begins sacrificing radily available circulating amino acids to make glucose and ATP."

On page 253 under "The Prolonged Fast: In the Beginning"
"What happens during the fasting state?  Lets take a metabolic look at Fasting Frank, a political activist detremined to make a drastic statement.  Frank begins fasting at sundown, planning to rink nothing but water and consume no other foods.
  The first few hours are no different from your nightly fast between dinner and breakfast.  As vlood glucose drops to fasting baseline levels, the liver breaks down glycogen to glucose.  Gluconeogenesis becomes highly active and beings churning out glucose from circulating amino acids.  The liver pours glucose into the bloodstream to supply other gorgans and altruistically shifts to fatty acids to its own energy needs.  Muscle cells also start burning fatty acids.  After about 12 hours, the battle to maintain a constant supply of blood glucose exhausts nearly all carbonhydrate stores.
  During the next few days, fat and protein are the primary fuels..."

Under The Early Weeks, it describes the body's energy-conservation strategy, which is what most people called Starvation mode.  (Page 253-254)
"As starvation continues, Frank's body initiates several energy conservation strategies.  It ratchels down its energy use by lowering body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure, and resting metabolism.  He becomes lethargic, reducing the amount of energy expended in activity.  Frank may begin to have detectable signs of mild vitamin deficiencies as his body depletes its small reserves of vitamin C and most B vitamins.
  If Frank's body continued to rapidly breakdown protein, he would survive less than three weeks.  To avoid such a quick demise, protein break-down slows drastically and gluconeogenesis drops by two-thrids or more.  To pick up the slack, his body doubles the rate of fat breakdown to supply fatty acid for fuel and glycerol for glucose.  Ketone bodies pour into the bloodstream... (skipping ketone bodies)  Yet some brain cells can only use glucose.  To maintain a small, but essential supply of blood glucose, protein breakdown crawls along, supllying small amounts of amino acids for gluconeogenesis."

I feel strongly that you should remove the misleading thread topic you have entered. 
There is a lot of hype among people in general about the fear of starvation mode.  You can read about it on hundreds if not thousands of sites by self-proclaimed experts and medical people who should know better.  Many declare that if you so much as skip a meal, or are short 100 calories one day, that you will send your body into that dreaded starvation mode and you will gain fat, not lose it and permanently wreck your metabolism.

I know it is mostly to discourage people from going on those severely restricted calorie diets.  But it is a very poor way of doing it.

It's like when parents used to tell their kids they would go blind if they masturbated. 
Perhaps what you say is true, but I had thought the problem with starvation diets is that they slow down your metabolism, not that they cause you to break down muscle--that part I had not heard.

If your metabolism slows down, doesn't that work against your weight loss goal?

I also think it's weird that arbitrary calorie limits are set at 1200 and 1500. Surely those can't be magic numbers; the caloric intake below which one enters starvation mode must be different for everyone. It would probably be more helpful if a more defined list of symptoms were given instead of a calorie threshhold.
After havng read this PDF, workoutaddict, I am thinking that you don't really know what it is you're reading. 

Yes, I realize that people toss around the phrase "starvation mode" and not understand what's happening, and this link does a great job of explaining what happens - combined with other resources, which paint a full picture.

Try here:

That explains what happens when, as explained in your PDF, the body starts borrowing amino acids from your muscle proteins.  That PDF you linked specifically states that your body's main goal is to keep the brain functioning.  The brain needs glucose.  Once the body has burned through carb stores, it then begins converting muscle proteins to glucose.

Only some weeks AFTER the body has resorted to breaking down muscle proteins (what the hey do you think is happening when it does that?  You're destroying muscle!  Yes, your body is literally eating your muscles.) does it "double the rate of fat breakdown."  By that point, the person starving themselves is near-death: lethargic, experiencing body deficiencies, with three weeks of muscular damage under his belt.

Please do everyone a favor and change the topic of your post.  There are people out there who are eating a ridiculously low amount of calories, and they are looking for anything that can validate their lifestyle, which is quite often the product of an eating disorder or the beginning stages of one.

And next time, read - really read - what you are posting.

p.s. Thanks for proving the point of everyone who has been warning others of "starvation mode" and why not to go into it.
I didn't find that to be rude in the least. Some of you just see what you expect to see and that's not always the way it is.

As for "starvation mode," I think what most people mean by that is metabolism slowdown, which is what nobody wants.
Every time we have a discussion like this regarding the truth and reality of Starvation Mode, I like to pull out this link.

Quoting zshenry (who claims to be a PhD) in 3.html

Emphasis is mine

The physiological process referred to as starvation mode is certainly not a myth.  When entering starvation mode, your body does not in fact become more efficient - quite the opposite occurs.  It more readily stores fat to prepare for the emergency, because your metabolis shifts from using glucose as a primary fuel source to using triaglycerols, pyruvate, lactate, and alanine.  Your metabolism slows down (really meaning the number of mitochondria in the cells is down-regulated), more of the food you consume is converted to triglycerides for processing by the liver to be stored as adipose tissue (HK's note: adipose tissue = fat).  After about 3 days of starvation, the liver forms large amounts of acetoacetate and d-3-hydroxybutyrate.  Their synthesis from acetyl CoA increases markedly because the citric acid cycle is unable to oxidize all the acetyl units generated by the degradation of fatty acids. Gluconeogenesis depletes the supply of oxaloacetate, which is essential for the entry of acetyl CoA into the citric acid cycle. Consequently, the liver produces large quantities of ketone bodies, which are released into the blood. At this time, the brain begins to consume appreciable amounts of acetoacetate in place of glucose. After 3 days of starvation, about a third of the energy needs of the brain are met by ketone bodies. The heart also uses ketone bodies as fuel.  Prolonged starvation mode will result in organ failure eventually, one by one, as blood glucose levels are not sufficient to provide energy to both the brain (which takes its share first) and other organs in the body, and the breakdown of proteins for the carbon skeletons fotr the formation of glucose occurs (first from the muscles, then from the organs such as the heart and liver - this it what leads to death).  In addition, phosphorus levels go down significantly, and a sudden return to normal eating from starvation mode can be lethal, as the phosphorus levels in the body suddenly surge (refeeding syndrome).  Please pick up a textbook on biochemistry, physiology or molecular biology before making such an off-base statement as "Starvation mode is really more of a myth."

I'm not a doctor, or a nutritionist, or even a personal trainer, but here's a direct quote from somebody who is.
I didn't find it to be rude, per se.  But there was this sort of triumphant, "I'm right, you're wrong, na na na na na na!" air to it that was the source of most people's irritation, I'm betting.

I'd even be able to respect workoutaddict's post, if he/she was CORRECT.  As it is, the PDF they posted disproves their own point.  And the worse thing about deliberate misinformation is that you can take something like this PDF - a many-paged file that can get rather technical, and a file that very few are actually going to read the entire way through - and say, "This file says xyz!  See!?  I was right!"

And people who already want to believe will feel validated, without having actually done their own searching.  Thing is, in this case, feeling validated about a very low-calorie lifestyle can lead to malnutrition, illness, and death (as discussed by the PDF above.)  And it's really a bit upsetting to see someone give the thumbs up to people who in reality are harming themselves.

So do yourselves a favor, if you're inclined to believe workoutaddict: actually read the PDF that he/she just provided.  Cross-reference it with other sources.  For that matter, ask your doctor - someone who's quite likely seen what starvation looks like in the flesh.  Don't just assume some random person - not even me - is correct when it comes to your health; do your own research.
In response to those who say the metabolism slows during starvation mode--you are correct! BUT the metabolism slows with any diet and weight loss and that is perfectly natural. A person who weighs 110 pounds has a much slower metabolism than someone with more body mass, this does not mean the metabolism is damaged it just means it's adjusted to work for a lower body weight.

As for others who think that the link I posted disproves what I'm saying about fat for fuel first, then muscle...*bangs head against a wall*

I give up...some of you just really are not going to get it and that is fine. As for the brain's primary source of energy coming from glucose...YES that is correct and that doesn't change a damn thing I said!  Once again...You will always lose fat first, muscle in the FINAL stages of starvation then organ tissue.  It's really not that goes from least to most important. The brain needing glucose doesn't change what gets broken down FIRST (fat!)

*shakes head*
BUT the metabolism slows with any diet and weight loss and that is perfectly natural.

I don't believe that's true. Can you please back this statement up?
hkellick anytime you diet or lose weight you will lose some muscle not a lot but some will be lost with the fat and the metabolism slows because it does not have to work as hard at a lower body weight. I know that if you fast for a few weeks (Which I really do not recommend) but I know if you do fast for whatever reason you can expect a 1-2 pound muscle loss in about 25 days which really isn't that much muscle loss.

Also if you go on a regular healthy calorie reduced diet you will lose an insignificant amount of muscle with the fat. Most people do not know that heavier people have more muscle in addition to more fat and they do have higher metabolisms than thin people... that is why your metabolism slows with some weight loss and people hit plateaus because their metabolism is adjusting to a lower caloric intake and less body mass.

I'm not going to run a search for every person on here who wants to despute medical facts! You can look it up for yourself sheesh!

What I'm saying is NOT my opinion, these are all medical facts that anyone can look up and I do not make the rules of physiology!

Just make sure the sources you find are not by some bodybuilder or some so called "Nutritionist" claiming your body will store coffee if starving lol like your body wouldn't friggin burn coffee off in like 2 seconds worth of breathing?! Look these things up in an anatomy and physiology textbook at your library if you get a chance instead of asking me to back every basic physiological fact for you but of course you are free to believe and think whatever you want :)
I think we're disagreeing with your facts. You are correct that during even healthy weight loss, some muscle is lost. That's why weight lifting is so important when you diet, to stop yourself from losing more muscle.

However, I don't think you are correct about what happens when you starve yourself on a very low calorie diet. You don't lose fat. Your body more readily stores fat, but does burn muscle. That's what zshenry, and pretty much everything I've read about Starvation Mode and VLCD has told me. Articles and books written by Nutritionists and Doctors.

I think this is the point where you, and a number of us, disagree. Now, if you want to go a very low calorie diet, none of us can physically stop you, however I believe it is fair to expect that we are going to disagree with you regarding your premise that VLCDs burn fat and not muscle.
You will always lose fat first, muscle in the FINAL stages of starvation then organ tissue

anytime you diet or lose weight you will lose some muscle not a lot but some will be lost with the fat

These seem to be two contradicting statements to me.. so you were saying no muscle is lost until the fat is gone, and now you're saying some muscle does go? 

And it would make sense to me that if you were dieting properly, eating only 500 calories less but upping your exercise and spreading out your meals better, your metabolism would actually rise, not decrease.  Before I came here to cc, I would skip breakfast and sometimes lunch also, eat a huge dinner and snack all night long, and spend all day off my feet.  Now I'm eating less calories, exercising, not skipping meals, and I would be VERY surprised if my metabolism is actually slower!
Thank you babyangie for taking the time to write your post so I don't have to. :-)

It is estimated that when you lose weight by diet alone, you lose 25-50% muscle to 75-50% fat. The lower your calorie intake, the higher the percentage of muscle you lose.

Regarding slowed metabolism: it's not just that the body slows metabolism in response to lowered calories. It's also that the body has lost muscle, so it's metabolic needs are lowered after the diet. This is another factor in the yo-yo syndrome.
Ok, I admit fully that I may not 100% fully understand the nitty gritty technical details and most anal of details with regards to the progression of starvation mode.

Got that?

But that doest not mean I am wrong at all about the things that do happen when you go into starvation mode. So one tiny little victory here for workoutaddict, however also one extremely major DANGEROUS TOPIC for this forum.

When someone goes on a diet or makes a big lifestyle change like watching their calories daily they don't just do it for a day or two. Starving yourself for 2 days is probably not going to kill you. However what everyone here who warns about starvation mode is doing is addressing those of us (Pretty much everyone here) that are aiming to lose weight over the long haul.

Are you really saying you fully endorse putting your body into starvation mode for the sake of losing a few pounds? Have you not read any of the people here that screwed up in their diets and ended up with a perminent heart murmur or other heart related problems?

I'm all for people proving their points. Yes, some of us here have it out of order a little bit on what happens when going into starvation mode... but the end result is what's important not the nitty gritty details. The reason everyone warns about starvation mode is, again, people aren't here to lose just a pound or two over a couple days... they are in it for the long haul.

SO please, you got your tiny victory... you can feel all self-righteous about that... but please don't encourage people towards life threatening ways of dieting like you are doing in this thread.
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