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Obesity and Weight Management

Starvation mode

03/29/2007

Question:

Due to some poor diet habits, my body went into starvation mode. I have been trying to lose the 20 lbs. it put back on since July and have not been very successful. I have increased my caloric intake. I am trying to get up to 1,200 to 1,300 calories a day but can only seem to make it to about 1,150 (or thereabouts) each day. I truly am not hungry. I do exercise everyday. I do cardio, weights and Yoga (not everyday - but alternate day, but do some form of exercise each day to mix it up for at least 30 to 60 minutes, depending on time allowance--average is about 45 minutes a day).

I am getting totally frustrated as I cannot get into any of my clothes. I did buy a couple of jeans but summer is coming and I would like to get back into my clothes from last year.

How long does it take for the body to respond back and get back on track and start to lose weight at a sensible and responable way to keep it off? In other words, how long before the body heals itself to start responding to the caloric intake and exercise to start losing the weight it gained? I am I doing the correct measures to heal my body? Is this enough calories? What would the correct amount of calories be--1,200 to 1,300? I am not sure what is right or what is wrong at this point?

I appreciate any information you can give me or insight on this matter.

Thank you.

Answer:

From your question, it seems you lost weight in the past and now want to gain back some of that weight. Since I do not have your weight and height, I am unable to ascertain whether you are under, ideal or overweight. Starvation triggers the body’s response to protect itself when food (energy) supplies are inadequate. Usually, there are three stages. In the first stage, the body uses up its stored forms of glucose, then in the next stage, it breaks down body fat for energy. When the fat reserves are gone, the body breaks down muscle mass in the final stage. During this process, the body’s ability to handle normal amounts of food is impaired.

If you are an adult, you should be consuming at least 2000 calories per day, 1200 calories is low. Also there should be a balance between your diet and exercise behaviors. Because, there are certain medical conditions which can affect your appetite and weight, I suggest you to see your primary care physician for a check up.

You may also benefit from a consultation with a dietitian, who will help you develop the best diet plan for you, as well as ensure you are getting your daily requirements of minerals and vitamins.

For more information:

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Response by:

Ihuoma U Eneli, MD Ihuoma U Eneli, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University