Have I gone into starvation or survival mode because I'm eating less than 1200 calories per day & I can't lose weight?

No & Here's 5 reasons why…

1. The Minnesota starvation experiment

In the Minnesota starvation experiment 36 men where placed on a very low 1570 calorie starvation diet (which is equal to about 1200 calories for women) and they were also required to walk 3+ miles per day and…

All of the men in that experiment kept losing weight week after week and they didn't stop losing weight until they got very skinny or until they got down to 5% body fat or basically…

They kept losing weight until they looked like this…

starvation or survival mode

I'm not showing you that picture to shock you but I'm showing you that picture to prove to you that you don't go into survival or starvation mode because no matter how little you eat…

2. Read this excerpt from popular science magazine…

In that extreme case he lost almost 300 pounds in ONE Year eating nothing (ZERO calories) so if you cant lose weight eating less than 1200-to-1500 calories per day…

Then you obviously need to double and triple check your calorie counts to make sure you're eating the right amount to lose fat.

3. Your body does not hold onto fat

Your body will NEVER stop burning fat until it's need for energy is balanced out so…

Look at the chart below to help you better understand exactly how weight loss, weight gain and maintaining your current weight works…

lose, gain or maintain weight


I'm not saying you'll maintain all of your muscle mass as you lose weight but usually…

4. You don't always lose weight fast

Look at the picture above again but for example…

Does this mean you are in starvation or survival mode?

Of course not and here's what happening in this example…

Once you get to 130 pounds or even 149 pounds your metabolism no longer needs to burn 2000 calories to maintain your weight because as you lose weight…

Your metabolism burns less calories to help you maintain your new weight (simply because it takes less energy to take care of a smaller body) so once you reach 130 pounds in this example…

Does this mean your metabolism has slowed down so much that you can't lose anymore weight and you're stuck at 130 pounds?


This is exactly what happens on any weight loss plan…

Look at it this way…

5. Is it possible to stop gaining weight?

Let's say you ate a HUGE amount of calories everyday and let's say for this example you're eating 10,000 calories per day so…

Do you think after you gain 10 pounds that your body is going to go into some type of "mode" to prevent you from gaining weight?

NO &…

Even if it did where would all the excess energy or calories go? Would you crap it out? Not likely and if you did eat 10,000 calories per day…

Then yes there would be a point where you'd stop gaining weight and…

That would be when your metabolism starts to burn 10,000 calories per day right after you've gained 100, 200, 300 or 500+ pounds!

But the bottom line is this…

If you're eating less than 1200 calories per day then your metabolism will never get SO SLOW that you'll go into "starvation or survival mode" and not burn any fat so…

If you're hardly losing any weight on a VLCD or less than 1200 calories then…

See why you can't lose weight and/or look at how to break out of a weight loss plateau but There's really only 5 things you can do…

  1. You can exercise more.
  2. You can exercise harder.
  3. You can double check your food journal to make sure you actually are eating less than 1200 calories and…
  4. 9 times out of 10 if you claim that you can't lose weight on less than 1200 calories then usually…

    You're not tracking how much you eat correctly and you're underestimating how much you actually eat so make sure you're using a food journal and that you know how to count calories

  5. You can eat even less than 1200 calories but that's probably not a good idea - see why.
  6. Be more patient (see #3 again) because your weight loss starts out real fast and it progressively gets slower and slower as you get closer to your weight loss goal.

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1-60 of 272 Comments


I am a 27 year old female, I am 5 ft 3, currently weigh 130 lbs. My goal is to reach 115 in a month from Monday. I had gotten into this weight by November last year but I recently moved to Colombia where I started bingeing like crazy and gained all the weight back in a couple of months. I have already lost around 4.5 pounds since last Monday, when I did two days of a juice cleanse and then a 600 - 800 calorie diet per day since Wednesday. I plan to continue this diet for the whole month but wanted to know if my goal of losing 15 pounds in a month is doable with an 800 calorie per day diet or if I should go even lower. At the moment my diet basically consists on a cup of fruit with no sugar greek yogurt or one slice rye bread with 1/4 cup avocado for breakfast, 3 cups of cooked veggies for lunch (eg. 2 cups roasted cauliflower + 1 cup cooked yellow squash with 2 tbsp tomato sauce and a bunch of spinach) and 2 cups butternut squash soup for dinner.

Thank you for you answer!

April 20, 2018


I still do not understand this. I have continued to religiously track my calories and still no weight loss. For example today I ate 2 eggs, I piece of toast made from whole grain, half a grapefruit, a cup of spinach and 3 small peppers all made with 1 tsp of grass fed butter. Nothing else. Please give me some advice or explantation.

April 07, 2018

Adrian Bryant

what is your current weight and height

April 07, 2018


I am 16 and last year around this time I stopped eating all together (about 200 calories per day) and lost 7 pounds in the first week. Then I started eating a little more but still probably under 1000 calories. I've gained 20 pounds since then and am aiming to lose 20 pounds before summer (June 15) I can do a 500 calorie diet and workout after school but I'm not sure how long to stay with the diet. Lmk

April 05, 2018

Adrian Bryant

why so low? you'll lose and gain it back b/c you're unable to stick with it. use 1 of the plans here

April 06, 2018


Hi! Awesome article. I am a 33 yo man. I am 178cm tall. I've never had overweight problems. I have been lifting weights at the gym for 12 years and almost always had a body fat % of 14-17. Now I am around 14% and really want to get to 10%. I have been tracking all the food I eat for 2 years now. According to calculations, my BMR should be around 1780. I used to eat 2000+ kcal per day and now I cut it down to 1600-1700. I have been eating around 1700 kcal for 3 weeks but my weight keeps going up and down and body fat % too. What should I do? Go below 1600? Like 1500? Thank you!

March 17, 2018

Adrian Bryant

you could and/or simply do more hiit

March 18, 2018


If I take blood pressure medicine should I still take it in the mornings if fasting? Will it cease the fast?

March 14, 2018

Adrian Bryant

I doubt it but please put your health first over IF

March 15, 2018


iam 130lb and about 5 feet, i want to lose about 40lb . When every i try to lose i just end up fatter then before. How much should i exercise and what should be my calorie intake to lose the weight in a short amount of time

March 13, 2018


Hello I am 19 year old and I am 187 pounds , I haven't stuck to a certain calorie intake , I just eat healthy and avoid starving myself , I tried to count how much I ate and it was less then 1000 calories , many people told me its dangoures for me and I should increasemy calorie intake to lose wight but I am not hungry and I just eat if I do , When I started the first week of my diet I hardly lost weight but now I am losing more with time , i thought it was supposed to be the opposite

March 12, 2018

Adrian Bryant

idk but the less you eat = the faster you lose weight but if you're not getting any hunger or massive cravings on less than 1000 then more power to you

March 12, 2018


I’m female, 34yrs old, 5”11 and now weigh 300, I started out Jan. 8 of this year at 341lbs, I’m eating max 300 calories and just started working out 3-5 days a week. I’m hoping to keep losing at least 20lbs a month. Is this possible? I drink a Slimfast Advanced (lower carbs, sugar, and fat and higher protein in those Slimfasts) a day and maybe snack on some veggies or fruit, drink at least 3 pints of water and several cups of coffee. My ultimate is to lose the rest of the 150lbs by the end of this year.

February 10, 2018

Adrian Bryant

that'll certainly work but are you going to eat 300cal per day forever? probably not so use 1 of the sustainable fat loss plans here

February 11, 2018


Hello. I have been on a VLCD for two weeks now, eating between 600-750 calories a day. The first week I dropped almost 10 lbs and I assume a lot of that was water weight. The second week, I only dropped .6 of a pound. I am very overweight (5’9”, 276 lbs now) so I know my body should be able to easily lose weight, I am just confused why I dropped off so steeply in that 2nd week. I know I am not eating more calories than I consume, I carefully log everything and even weigh everything before I eat it. I don’t exercise much, to be honest I have a heart valve issue that makes me afraid to, so i live a very sedentary life. My job is a desk job and I sit for 10+ hours during it. I want to work up the courage to exercise but I was hoping I could drop some weight first, so it’s not as hard on my heart. I’m not going to give up, I will cut my calories even less if that is what it takes, I’m just so confused why I did not lose at least 2 lbs last week. Am I going to need to exercise to see change? If so...I will start now. I know I should be consulting a doctor about my heart, but I have such shame about the state of my body that I wanted to lose at least some weight before I do. That’s stupid and silly, I know, but my self consciousness is really quite extreme.

I just thought with my body at my weight, cutting my calories to less than 800 would surely drop weight steadily until I am no longer mobidly obese. Even if my body only uses 1800 calories to function and maintain weight (which is around what my average calorie intake was before this - I measured that for a week before starting this diet) then I think I should still consistently be losing weight.

Any thoughts would be appreciated, and I would be happy to share my food diary if that helps. This past week I bought an air fryer and have been testing recipes so I haven’t been eating the healthiest of food, nutrionally, but I know my calories haven’t exceeded 800. I even over estimate my calories when I make my recipes if I am doing something like breading an eggplant slice (because I do not use all the breading nor egg white wash, but still count it all, even what doesn’t get used, because I don’t k is how to calculate what does get used.)

Sorry for rambling.

February 04, 2018


First off, I am not a doctor. You definitely need to see your doc though. Make sure you understand how the heart works with sodium, potassium, and calcium. You doc needs to confirm kidney function and that you are not collecting fluid in your chest. Make sure you are getting enough water per day. There is such a thing as getting too much water or too quickly.

February 04, 2018


Adrian, many thanks for this article. It's the best one I have ever read about this myth. I re-read it whenever the scales aren't budging and it motivates me to stay the course.

February 01, 2018

Adrian Bryant

your welcome

February 01, 2018


I meant lose 60 pounds by May 1st, not March 1st.

January 11, 2018


Hello, I am 5'1" female and weigh 180 pounds. I started Atkins induction a week ago and I work out at least 5 days a week running and light weight lifting. I have been keeping carbs less than 20g per day and calories under 1200. I would like to lose 60 pounds by March 1st. This equals out to approximately15 pounds per month. Is this possible and what should my daily caloric intake be to achieve this goal? Will it help by limiting carbs? I'm glad I found your site!

January 11, 2018

Adrian Bryant

limiting carbs means you will proably automactiacally lower your cal intake but overall its that calorie total that determines fat loss speed and not carb amount

January 11, 2018


I am a 30 year old male 6ft 290lbs was wondering if its possible to lose 50lbs by march. I eat about 1000 calories walk/run 10 miles a day and im also taking adderal for my adhd do you think it’s possible?

January 10, 2018

Adrian Bryant

at your high weight = yes but you dont need to go so low to 1000

January 11, 2018


I eat about 850 calories a day workout 3x a week with interval walking and weight machines... I’m close to my personal goal so I’m very worried about maintaining after eating such low calories... I worked hard for this loss and don’t want to go back total diet time will be about 5 months with about a 45lb weight loss. Any insights about successfully maintaining?

January 09, 2018

Adrian Bryant

are you starving or constantyl craving at 800 cals per day

January 10, 2018


I had a friend in high school that weighed 80 lbs, and she would down 2 large dominos pizza at once for a meal, and wash it down with a couple of cokes that she kept in a mini fridge by her bed. I stayed with her for weeks at a time, and she wasn't exercising or puking. She never gained a lb, now almost 40 she is a rail and eats the same way. Interesting concepts you have here in this article. Funny thing is that I have met several people with this same body design.

January 05, 2018


I'm eating 500 calories a day Max, not working out atm.
But I'm not losing Anything for the past week. It's driving me nuts!.. My body is starting to ache.

In all logic I would have to have lost Something but no, nothing at all. It's completely stopped.

November 12, 2017

Adrian Bryant

how do you track calories

November 12, 2017


I read the back of everything, multiply and convert if I have to. But I dont have to have a calorie diary because I only eat once a day and have one drink a day that isn't water and that is my coffee. It's all I'll have during the day (and a multi-vitamin) until dinner. No snacks, no sugar, no carbs.

An example of my what I'm consuming daily at the moment is
Day 1: My daytime coffee with stevia and skim milk and eating half a can of soup for dinner.
Day 2: the same coffee and a very small portion of chicken breast chopped up with mushrooms and a few bits of plain cauliflower.
Day 3: my coffee, 2 portions of 80 calorie fish with a handful of steamed vegetables.
Day 4: coffee, piece of roast chicken (no skin) for dinner.
I was exaggerating when I say eating 500 calories, I eat less than that. I am also breastfeeding, so I'm Supposed to be consuming 2,200 calories a day but not losing weight on less than 500?
I don't cheat or have cheat days. I've also started doing 30 minutes on the treadmill for the past 2 days.
Nothing has budged for over a week and I don't know why, it doesn't make sense. I should be losing heaps of weight. I don't know what's happening with my body, everything has come to a stand still.

November 14, 2017

Adrian Bryant

what is your wweight and height (although it shouldntt matter if you're eating 500cals) and how much water are you drinking daily.

It could be possible you are holding onto fluid and how long have you been stuck without losing weight

November 14, 2017


I'm 19 yrs old btw.
I push myself very hard in the gym do intense interval cardio for about an hour, plus lifting weight I eat healthy most of the time. I eat probably twice a day. I lost about 80 pounds now and I can't seem to lose more.... I've been at the same weight for a WHILE... I don't know what to do anymore a bet frustrating. Any ideas or suggestions?

November 09, 2017

Adrian Bryant

use these tips

November 09, 2017


Does any of this apply to me?? I have savere hashimotos.. hypothyroidism... autoimmune disease.. I literally eat like 300 cals a day... I know that cuz I dont drink anything but water... everything taste gross... I have absolutely no cravings. Im never hungry... I eat like 2 eggs, maybe 1 packet of instand oatmeal in the morning.. then a shake for dinner or like half a cup of veggies for dinner... I dont eat meat, soy, or gluten cuz of gut stuff... I still cant lose weight.. ive been seeing doctors who say my blood work say all test came back in normal range... they dont know why im so tired and never hungry.. but they told me I should force myself to eat atleast 1200 cals a day and work out cardio 5xs a week... but I take a bite of something and its like shuving cardboard in my mouth.. and im full... I just drink water all day cuz im thirsty... they said im not loseing weight cuz my body is in starvation mode.. im like.. makes nooo sence... and when I was doing their "diet" I wasnt loseing weight.. I gained weight...I just figured id be dead by now lol im 26. 5,5 210lbs.. only thing I can think of to do is literally suck out my fat cells.... my doctors wont refere me for weight loss surgery.. said it wouldnt work for me... any ideas???

November 05, 2017

Adrian Bryant

how much water do you drink? your body may be holding onto water. if you eat 300 cals a day you'd lose something

November 05, 2017


So I am 40 years old and weigh 265 I'm 5'3. I have been on this journey for 2 months now I have to have surgery so losing weight is a necessity. I was Eatting 1500 a day but over the last 3 weeks.I'm lucky to hit 1000. Idont have an appetite my Dr and therapists are constantly on my case. I need to lose this weight I want to be at 140 in a year. Am I going to cause my weight to stay on by not Eatting 1200 I have become very worried constantly about this.

November 05, 2017

Adrian Bryant

you'll lose weight with 1200 cals but you may be hungier or more cravings due to that

November 05, 2017


I am a 42 yo female who is 250 I have lost 14 pounds so far on a strict 600 calorie diet I exercise twice a day and only drink water. The problem is constipation and weight fluctuations. I know if you eat 600 calories you don’t gain 2 lbs. My diet is oatmeal package, yogurt, salad and chicken breast. The meat and vegetable changes and I track through fitness pal. Any suggestions on the fluctuations.

October 29, 2017

Adrian Bryant

the fluct. could some from being malnuourished with 600cals causing your body to retain water

October 30, 2017

Mika Misaki

Unfortunately my friend decided to share this page with me on Facebook. I once had anorexia due to wanting to lose weight and often starving myself. I believed this information on my own and went with it with pretty awesome success. However due to everyone telling me if I starve myself my metabolism will get slow and all these terrible things will happen.

Now that I've read this article, I think I'm gonna go back to what I was doing before.

People with a history of eating disorders should probably not see this page imo.

October 10, 2017


Hey Adrian,

I have been doing KetoDiet for about 2 months now. I started out in March 2017 this year at 300lbs. Now I'm 200lbs and want to lost 40 pounds to get to 160 lbs but will take losing 20-25 pounds right now really quick before it gets cold here. My calorie intake the entire journey since March has been 1200 calories. I have notice my weight plateauing these last 3 weeks not going lower than 200 lbs and I do your HIIT training workouts faithfully and get healthy but I Run and do weight lifting! Any suggestions?

October 02, 2017

Adrian Bryant

do you look slimmer in the mirror although you're not losing weight on the scale?

October 03, 2017


You cardio might also make your body retain energy.. its a fight or flight mode. Don't necessarily run for cardio it's better to walk. Plus HIIT or Tabata should be enough for you to reach under 200lbs. Keep the food journal that he mentions. When you do exceeding cardio like running your body hungers more because of release of cortisol. You might be eating more than you think. I'm just assuming here. Plus I've only lost 10 lbs on 1650 calories so I'm no teacher. I really hope I can reach 10% Bfat with this range. I'm also going to start walking on the treadmill ~20 mins a day. Keep going and I wish you much luck on weight loss!

October 30, 2017


Hi Adrian,

I'm a 46 year old female, 4ft 10in and 97 pounds. Before the summer I was 89 pounds but for the last 4 weeks I have been trying to lose the weight I've gained. Nothing I do is working and normally when I put on weight I can lose it within a month. I've been exercising and restricting my calories to 500 (my BMR is 850). I don't know what else to try, any advice?

October 02, 2017

Adrian Bryant

how did you test your bmr? nd how are you tracking calories

October 03, 2017


Hi Adrian! I need to lose 46 pounds. I started the gym today. Can I lose belly fat by walking the treadmill for an hour a day? I also plan to eat on a Low Carb High Fat diet combining it with Intermittent Fasting. I'm 5'2, 194 pounds, 26 years old. I lost my first 15 pounds last year by eating better and cutting out a lot of bad food. I didn't workout. I still have fatty arms and still a fat belly with back rolls. My legs are fine to me. What else should I do to lose the fat in those areas? I was told I have an Adrenal Body Type, so it will be VERY hard to lose weight. It really is hard for me to lose weight. My weight fluctuates between 191 up to 198. I really want to get my belly fat and arm fat off of me. I need more stamina and lubido. I just want to feel good! I did feel really good after walking on the treadmill today! But anyway can you Please help?!?!? I need to lose 46 pounds by March 2018

September 30, 2017

Mrs. O

I am 48 y.o. female. In perimenopause. I weigh 145 and am 5'3.5"
I am curious, is 1000 calories a day safe to lose weight?
Thank you!

September 14, 2017

Adrian Bryant

maybe not health wise but it will help you lose weight fast

September 14, 2017


I'm at least 5ft, weighting at 130 pounds. I eat at least 900-1000 calories a day, and exercise at least 90-120 minutes a day. Is this a bad way to lose weight? How much would Ioose if I do continue?

July 04, 2017

Adrian Bryant

its not a bad way but its also probably not a sustainable way to keep the wweight off

July 05, 2017


hi , i am 18 years old and i was 202 pounds down to 175 pounds for 3 months,at the first month i didnt calculate daily calorie that i needed but i can tll u that i fasted ramadan a whole month and i lost 14 pounds in and in second month i eated normaly for breakfast 2 eggs and soup and a kind of meal and and dinner maybe 500-600 calorie wich means from that second month to this day i eat maybe 1300-1500 calories per day but i dont have like headache or some issues with my health can u tell me did i lost 202-175 for 3 months was his unhealthy?

August 18, 2017

Adrian Bryant

not at all. if you were mostly overweight or high bodyfat then your drastic weight loss is normql

August 19, 2017


thank u very much i needed this info

August 20, 2017


Yes, this is a terrible way to lose weight. It's almost as terrible as this article.
There is no need to exercise for 120 minutes a day. If you can work out for that long, you're probably doing it wrong. Stop doing long, slow cardio. Lift weights. Heavy ones. And do a strength training circuit for about 10 minutes to get your heart rate up.
And, you keep eating 900 calories a day and exercising 120 minutes, you're seriously going to F up your metabolism more than it already is. Read any number of follow up studies on the Biggest Loser participants. Guess how many of them gained back all (and often more!) of the weight they lost, EVEN THOUGH they were still working out and eating low cal diet. Doesn't work. Not healthy.

October 31, 2017

Adrian Bryant

it may not be a sustainable way to lose weight for some people

your metabolism does not slow down during or after an extreme diet. admittedly the studies bear out a slight decline in metabolism but that is only once you literally almost have no bodyfat and even at that point the slow down is not enough to stop weight loss on an extreme diet

October 31, 2017


This article is so fucked up & full of misinformation. This type of info will spring people into eating disorders (I was someone who was influenced by this type of shit and had my health compromised by undereating -- lost my period, always cold, all my hair fell out, etc.) Check your facts. EATING UNDER 1,200 CALORIES A DAY IS UNHEALTHY. Fuel your bodies!

June 19, 2017

Adrian Bryant

yes, severe undereating is unhealthy but the point of this article is to prove that severe undereating or starving is not going to cause you to NOT lose weight or hold onto fat

June 19, 2017


Hi I'm a 20 year old female 145 lbs 5 ft 4 inches I've been working out 50 to 70 minutes a day of calisthenics. My entire life since puberty I've weighed pretty much the same and I actually used to eat about 500 calories a day, no joke. I track my calories with MyFitnessPal app and actually add calories just in case and I never exceed 1,000 and I never have. I recently had a baby, before her I weighed 160, during pregnancy I only ate about 300 calories a day because I was so sick, i lost 20 lbs but I ended up with a 9 lb baby and immediately afterwards I was 145 and still am. I don't really want to lose weight because I'm doing strength training and everything and I feel great and already have tons of muscle from just working out for 3 months but I'm just curious how I'm not anorexic if I eat so little... Let me know. Thanks for reading.

June 18, 2017

Adrian Bryant

do you reliougsly track the 1000 cals daily?

June 19, 2017

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