Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Starvation Mode and Minimum Calories
Periodically, there seems to be some confusion on whether or not we need a minimum number of calories and if so, what that minimum number is.
The number (minimum) to try and hit is 1,200 NET for women and 1,500 NET for men (although for some it's slightly different). It's not really magic, but it will help to keep you steadier in your weight loss and will definitely keep you healthier. It's very important.
NET is calculated: Calories consumed minus what you burned off during exercise.
Read that again: it is the minimum you should be eating, not the maximum; you will probably lose at a higher rate if you add to that, taking into account your body's metabolism and your activity level.
For me, 1,350 to 1,375 is my sweet spot (which I've talked a LOT about on my Facebook community). Others do best at a lot more, others do good at dipping below 1,200 every now and then. KNOW YOUR BODY!
Why 1,200 calories? After all, it is not mentioned in the book.
The menu plans in the book only come up to 800-900 calories and women require 1,200 to keep from going into starvation mode (1,500 calories for men); starvation mode slows down your metabolism and your weight loss--sometimes completely halting it.
Remember also: Eat when you are hungry-- as much as you want from list of unlimited proteins and cleansing veggies lists.
Remember that the meal plans in the book are suggestions -- you'll do just as well by following the diet by making your own choices from the food lists.
We all need to add foods from the list of unlimited proteins and cleansing veggies list to reach your required food for the day.
Now on the whole issue of "why 1,200 calories as a minimum?" question:
Our bodies need a certain number of minimum calories NET just to function. For women, that minimum is 1,200 calories a day and for men, it is 1,500 calories per day.
When your calories dip under that minimum on a regular basis, your body will go into famine or starvation mode, which means that without enough calories (remember calories = fuel for our bodies) our bodies start to think that we aren't getting enough nutrition and won't be getting any for some time.
So, instead of burning the fuel you have put in, it starts to store it as fat.
The same thing happens if you don't eat often enough, oddly enough! If, say, you're eating every 8 hours, your body knew it wasn't going to get any food/energy during that time, so it won't burn any of it. Ideally, with the snacks and meals on this diet, it's a good idea to try and eat every 3 hours or so.
This means you need to eat a minimum number of calories on a regular basis! It does not mean that if once in a while (say once or twice a month) you have one day where you get less than the minimum that you're going to stall your weight loss or damage your health.