First, I would like to say I really enjoy your site! I have found a lot of great information here.
My question is in regards to ‘starvation mode’. I am 30 years old and considered obese. I have changed my diet and have been working out for the last three months and so far have lost 25 pounds. I have another 75 I would like to lose.
I perform a combination of strength and cardio exercises. I have recently increased the amount of time working out and being active during the day and my weight loss has seemingly stopped. And I have been eating pretty close to my BMR of 2165. (Basal Metabolic Rate)
I am being told on one hand that I am now not eating enough because I increased my activity level but on the other hand, that I am eating too much and need to decrease my calories. I can search the Internet and get many opinions from both sides of the argument, so I thought I would ask you.
While I may be oversimplifying the term ‘starvation’ mode here, do you think that not eating enough is stopping me from losing weight? Or do I need to lower the number?
Congratulations on your weight loss –that’s awesome. And I’m so glad you like the Angry Trainer Fitness site. Isn’t the internet frustrating? It seems like if you search long enough you’ll find whatever answer you’re looking for.
Okay so onto the subject of calories. You didn’t tell me your height or weight but I will say that a BMR of nearly 2200 calories sounds too high to me. A BMR is your body’s basic daily caloric requirement when at rest, without activity factored in. So I’m guessing that your figure is what you’re eating when you add the two together. But even with that being the case, it still sounds like too much to me – IF your goal is fat loss. If it were a maintenance calorie amount and you don’t gain weight from that intake then I’d say you’re good to go.
Keep in the mind you have to be in a daily calorie deficit to lose fat weight, because when your body is adequately fueled it has no need to burn excess body fat. Makes sense right? Think of this – I’m 200 + pounds and eat roughly 2000 – 2500 calories to lose weight and tighten up, so you’re almost eating as much as me! It is possible that you’re not eating enough, but I could only see that if you were exercising vigorously for hours per day and burning such huge calorie amounts that you’re not leaving much for daily body processes. And the ‘starvation mode’ phenomenon is real but it doesn’t happen nearly as fast or in the way the industry portrays it. So many people use this term loosely as an explanation for why they can’t lose weight when in fact far and few will ever truly be in this state. When taken to an extreme, in extreme, prolonged calorie deficits you will lose weight. However you’ll also eat up precious muscle tissue and likely gain it all back.
But here’s the good news. Since you’re so on track with how much you eat, it’ll be easy for you to make adjustments. For one, if you’re not eating lots of vegetables in your diet, add them in. They’ll help keep you fuller for longer and the fiber will keep you running all day. And be sure to keep your sugars low, even fruit. Fruit is natural sugar and it’s a great source of fuel. To burn fat we want slow releasing energy that keeps insulin levels low and promotes fat burn. Also be sure to eat lean proteins and healthy fats.
Second, I’d suggest you only knock off about 100 calories per day from your total for a 2 or 3 weeks and see what happens. If you resume weight loss you’ll know you were eating too much prior. If you still maintain then I suggest another 100 calorie drop per day for an additional 2 – 3 weeks until you dial in the exact amount that allows you to still feel good but that also promotes fat loss. I know it seems a bit tedious but this is really important. You must know what you’re doing in order to evaluate whether your plan is working or not.
And lastly, DON’T add more time to exercise. Although I will say make sure you lift adequate weights to maintain muscle mass and DON’T be a ‘cardio head’. Meaning make your workout more of the functional type with aerobics interspersed. Check out my YouTube channel for awesome multi dimensional routines. You should be hitting the gym or working out 4 – 5 days per week for no more than an hour – at most. The last thing you want is to be married to exercise and be reliant upon excessive sessions to regulate your weight. So many people want to workout more when they want to lose weight, when in truth if they just controlled what they ate they’d see far better results. Being a slave to exercise is no fun and truthfully it’s not healthy either.
So Sheri, eat a bit less and monitor whether fat loss resumes and stick to a realistic workout plan that you can sustain over time. I wish you all the best!
And if you have a question – please just click here. I’d love to help you!
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