Thursday, December 18, 2008

Weight Loss and Starvation Mode in plain english

I am going to start posting other stuff that I find interesting to my blog here as well. I will attempt to quote the original sources when I can. If nothing else this will help me to consolidate a lot of what I am reading and discovering.

Here is a good example:

A guy on one of the beachbody forums responded to a question I had about starvation mode with this. "This info I found on an Mit website and spells it out in a very understandable way."

In a nutshell, losing weight means that energy intake must be less than energy expended. Weight is most safely lost and kept off by decreasing calories by approximately 500 per day by following a good nutritious diet and exercising. Food intake should be timely. An athlete may exercise more or eat less but a balance combining the two is the best method of weight loss, that is; burning 250 calories through exercise while also decreasing food intake by 250 calories.

Weight loss is not easy to do and can add to a person's stress level and is even harder when suffering from sleep deprivation. One must be very motivated, disciplined, patient, have a weight loss plan, be able to follow specific and realistic daily and weekly goals, and be honest with oneself. In addition, other factors that may have positive or negative affects on weight loss are: heredity, age, your "set point" (a predetermined weight appropriate to your body), cultural habits, hormonal imbalances, emotional trauma (anxiety and depression), time management, sleep deprivation, level of fitness, type, frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity, existing body composition, and one's ability to obtain enough fresh fruits and vegetables and other high quality foods.

One pound = 3500 calories. Decreasing calories by 500 per day for a week = 3500 calories lost or 1 pound. Increasing exercise expenditure by 200 kilocalories per day for a week = 1400 additional calories expended which is a little less than ½ pound. An example of 200 kilocalories expended can occur doing: 45 min. of walking @ 3.5 mph on a 1.5% incline on a treadmill. The heavier you are, the faster you walk, the longer you walk, the greater the incline, all result in greater calories lost. It is recommended that no more than 2-3 lbs. per week be lost. Weight loss greater than prescribed weight loss is unhealthy. Individuals requiring minimal weight loss (like 5 – 10 lbs.) should not attempt to lose more than .5 to 1 lb. per week.

'starvation mode'...
This mechanism, which is thought to have evolved as a defense against starvation, means the body becomes super efficient at making the most of the calories it does get from food and drink. The main way it does this is to protect its fat stores and instead use lean tissue or muscle to provide it with some of the calories it needs to keep functioning. This directly leads to a loss of muscle, which in turn lowers metabolic rate so that the body needs fewer calories to keep ticking over and weight loss slows down. Of course, this is the perfect solution if you're in a famine situation. But if you're trying to lose weight, it's going to do little to help you shift those unwanted pounds into lean muscle to burn more fat.

The website he was referencing is:


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