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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1-100 of 121 Comments

Hi, I was in the process of trying to lose 15 lbs, I am 5'2" and weighed 130 at the start and now weigh 125. I was running or biking 4 days a week and trying to maintain a 1200 calorie healthy diet. Then I had to have surgery and I am unable to do any sort of exercise except maybe a leisurely walk so I have cut my calories down to 900cal per day. I am also unable to lift anything over 5lbs or do any bending over. Will I continue to lose weight with these restrictions? Thank you!

March 16, 2015


Thank for your article so many people fail to realize it's not always how much you eat it's what you eat...1200 cal carbs from pasta and rice or a 100 calorie snack with 20g of carbs is quite different of 1200 cal of protein and healthy fats and vegetables. consuming less carbs allows your body to burn fat instead of the carbs since less carbs are consumed. the body naturally biologically burns carbs first before it can get to the fat.

November 29, 2014


So I take it you did not read the article? 1200 cal is 1200 cal. You can get that from a a whole bunch of vegetables, healthy fats and lean meats; OR you can eat a big Mac combo everyday and lose the same amount. Assuming calories ate equal, your body doesn't care where the calories come from. This only relates to body recomposition (I.e. Weight loss/gain) obviously.. You would be a hell of a lot healthier with the former example. If it fits your macros, eat that shit.

December 17, 2014


Good god you have no idea what you are talking about. 1200cals is 1200 cals. it doesnt matter if it is fat, protien, carbs.

The only difference is that eating more carbs (within the 1200 cal range) stores in your body as glycogen, which in turn holds water making you heavier but not fat. its water weight.

January 29, 2015


Actually, Michelle knows exactly what she's talking about. Do you think if you are eating 1800 calories a day and maintaining weight, then add an additional 200 calories a day of veggies, that you will gain 20 lbs in a year because of those veggies? In 10 years you will have gained 200 lbs because of those veggies. Hell no that's not gonna happen! Just like if you reduce your caloric intake by 200 calories a day you won't lose no damn 200 lbs in 10 years. No a calorie is NOT a calorie: m/robert-lustig-md/sugar-toxic_b_2759564.html

March 06, 2015


Hi, I workout about 6 days a week for about 2-3 hrs a day. 65 minutes eleptical and the rest weight machinea then a 30 min stretch. I'm only 5 ft but weight is 140. What would seem like a good weight goal. And daily calorie intake .

November 22, 2014

Adrian Bryant

the weight goal is up to you. the calorie intake is something you'll have to figure out thru trial and error but 1500-to-2000 is a good starting point. see this

November 22, 2014


Hi. Quick back story; I'm a male 6-3 360 lbs.(currently). I'm a former football player that was 295 lbs at 11% body fat. While playing ball I consumed 8000-10000 cal per day, and worked out 4-6 days a week. Stopped playing ball and five years later had gastric bypass at 470 lbs. got down to 270 lbs. (I was skinny) Lol. I'm ready to be healthy now. I feel pretty good but I'm too heavy and I can feel energy levels receding from when I was 270. Should I start my diet with a higher calorie count? 2500/3000? Your web site and my wife are my accountability partners. I'm very encouraged reading your advice all the testimonies. Thanks

November 09, 2014

Adrian Bryant

you'll only find that out after careful tracking but I'd start with 2500 and more than likely that should good enough to cause your weight to shift in the right direction

November 10, 2014


My name is Theresa i am a 20 years old indian female.I am 5'7 tall & weigh around 70 kgs.I want to reduce about 20 kgs. I want to reduce more fat in my upper body as i have more fat in there.please suggest a diet and exercise plan for me also how to spead up my weight loss & how to tone my body...please!!

November 04, 2014


I am 37 and weigh just shy of 300 lbs. 270ish. I sit around most of the time depressed. Last year I walked nearly everyday went to a dietician and wrote down everything I ate. I only drank water. I ate a strict 1200 calorie diet for diabetic people only I am not diabetic it was the diaticians idea. I checked in with her weekly. I didn't cheat. I lost 20 lbs and then nothing. My dietician thought I was cheating or not exercising but I was still doing the same thing I had done before when I lost the 20 lbs. I got fed up at having a twig tell me I was doing something wrong but never told me anything to help other than stay on the plan. After the year was up I told her I wouldn't be back because I felt I was wasting my money. I continue to not drink anything but water. I eat lean meals somedays I skip meals all together and I stopped doing regular exercise because my muscles are ceasing up and I get horrible leg and back pain. I am not losing weight still. I thought about giving the starvation diet a try where you eat grapefruit and tuna for 2 weeks and then a low calorie diet for 2 weeks and repeat until I lose the weight. The biggest issue I have is the pain in my leg and thighs and my lower back stopping me from getting off my butt.

June 30, 2014

Adrian Bryant

see this for other options to exercise pain free.

when you lost the 20 pounds how fast did you lose it?

June 30, 2014


Hi Kristina,
Please do not give up! Did you get a baseline verbal and physical assessment (labs included). A lot of times clients start out on a health journey without knowing what to do or where to go. A baseline physical assessment is like a compass or Garmin. It will show you where you're at, where you need to go and how to get there. Be persistent with your doctors. They work for you and should be listening. If they are not listening- then maybe it's time to discharge them and hire another one that will listen and work with you. Remember- you must be willing to do your part as well. Improving your health takes time and patience (practice). You can do it- just believe it and go for it. Good luck! :)

August 06, 2014


Let me paint anyone reading this an abstract story. I weigh 340lbs and have since very early high school. (From age 16 until now, 28 years old)

I would say I easily ate 4,000-15,000 calories a day for years and years. I'm talking in one sitting: Whole cakes, McDonalds large milkshakes or Sodas with 3 double cheeseburgers and 3 McChickens per meal. Whole large pizzas. Gallon tubs of ice cream. Multiple 2-liters of soda a night while playing video games. Whole big packages of cookies, candies, burritos, taquitos, anything and everything flavorful, fried and sweet.
From day to day I'm sure there were times when the calories weren't so huge but also times when it would probably be an astounding number. I have a terrible sweet tooth.

I only recently started studying calories and any type of weight loss science. I began to fathom how much I was overeating for so long. Ordering whole meals at restaurants with side items and sodas and still thinking I was hungry and eating more later. (I was also bad about eating just one huge meal a day. The rest of the time I would be nursing sodas or snacks though. Almost constant eating or drinking when it was possible.)
Throughout all of that and now changing to roughly 1,500-2000 calories a day for the past two months I've never seen much change in my weight or size. Minimum maybe 315 and max 360 both while overeating and probably during the same year. I often fluctuate easily 20lbs up or down a week or 10lbs from one day to the next. Not much of my activity level or energy level has changed during this time. I'm most often very sedentary with very little exercize weekly. Thought when I was working hard I would eat even more that day for sure and faster.

I write this because I think it's interesting so other people might also. In this article it says "If you ate 10,000 calories a day where will all those extra calories go?Would you crap it out?" That's the one change I notice very drastically and sorry to get a touch graphic here but when I ate a lot I would definitely poo heartily every day. Now that I don't eat too much I never do. Like literally never poo. I use absolutely all the solid food I intake even while trying to take in a lot of fiber.

A few more bits for perspective: I'm 6' with huge bones and I'm well muscled even though I don't work out much. I did weight training in high school and did some physical labor work after college. I can still bench maybe 300 but my legs are like tanks from carrying around so much weight all the time and any leg excercises I can lift 600lbs plus.
I have actually tried to do a bit more excercise since eating less but I've never hit anywhere near the reccomended amount of excercise. I've never felt unhealthy though. I've always been able to run a little and put in a full day of hard labor.

Anyone I tell my weight to will not believe me that I weigh so much until they see it on a scale. The DMV guy made me put 280 down on my license. I hopped on the Heart Attack Grill scale in Vegas and people were amazed that I hit 347.

I've been 100% honest here. I just kinda wonder what anyone will have to say about it since it seems to be the opposite of what's supposed to be normal, I guess. :)

March 11, 2014

Goddess FourWinds

You don't have enough fiber in your diet, if you're not having bowel movements. Fact. You may be only consuming so many calories, but ALL of those calories are high in carbohydrates, which up your insulin levels, which in turn tells your body to whatever calories you aren't burning (all of them) as fat. And without fiber? No bowel movements. Your mystery is solved. You're welcome. :)

May 15, 2014


Thanks for making a very valid point here. I'm on a very low calorie diet as I've picked up too much weight due to eating too much and not having the will to exercise due to a severe bout of depression. The meds didn't help either as they gave me terrible cravings, but I'm off the medication now and eating about 800cals per day. I'm also burning about 500cals due to cycling to college instead of driving - this occurs 3-5 times per week, depending on my schedule. I also do some weight to add muscle to my arms 1-2x per week. I started on this diet a month ago as I am now clinically obese and I miss being healthy and fit enough to do the extreme sports I used to do. It's a slow start, but it's a start. Can't haul my arse up a mountain if my arms can't bear the weight! :) My question is this: Most diets advise you to go very low on calories at the start and then slowly you start introducing more calories until you're on "maintenance" or whatever they call it. Isn't this exactly the opposite of what you should be doing and exactly why people plateau? Because of your base metabolic rate being lower, due to your smaller body needing less fuel to maintain, you should, as you've pointed out, be decreasing your caloric intake even more if you want to lose more weight, yes? I'm not taking about people with eating disorders here, but about people like me, who needs to lose a whole lot of weight and keep it off. So if I stay on my VLCD and hit a plateau, then take my cals down a notch again, or up my exercise, then I'll lose weight again, until the next plateau is reached. Once I reach my goal weight I WILL pick the weight up again if I don't take into account my body's new base metabolic rate and go back to eating like I did before. I mean that's why I picked up weight to start with duh! So if I keep my cals at a moderate level and keep exercising after I reach my goal weight, I should be good? Also increasing muscle mass during weight loss, by doing weight training, will push up your metabolic rate a bit during weight loss, allowing you to eat reasonably without starving yourself. I always found the whole starvation thing bizarre. My gran was in the war and they starved, yet not one of them grew fat after the war when food was in good supply again because they didn't over-eat and they stayed active. But off course this all takes into consideration that people realise a calorie is not a calorie because the calories you get from junk food is not comparable to the calories you get from healthy food in any way, shape or form.

March 05, 2014

adrian bryant

see this here but a succesful diet is ONE you can STICK to forever.

yes, eating 800 cals will work but how long can you stay on that diet? you need to pick a calorie range and not a single number where you can almost effortsley stick to

March 06, 2014



Great article.

I'm a 30 year old man who suffers from muscular dystrophy, so exercise is extremely difficult to non existent. I was asked by my specialist to lose weight as I was falling more being unbalanced by weight I'd gained. Did a lot of research, considering my disability as well as my height and age at 5'3, I gave myself a target of 1200 calories a day, although ends up being around 900. Lost 14lbs first fortnight and in a month since lost another 8lbs. Yet my weight has stabilised now. Going from your article does this mean my body has just adjusted to burning that amount? If so does that mean for me to carry on losing to reach my goal that I should lower my intake to change the metabolism rate?

March 04, 2014

adrian bryant

what is your weight now? and as for exercise would this plan be doable

March 05, 2014


So Adrian, what u'r actually trying to say is that eventually people will be able to live on thin air if they keep reducing calories?! Listen to u'rself man, u are responsible for eating disorders, starvation and death because they believe u'r flawed theories and obsession for calorie counting, please go to the doctors as u seem to be suffering with some sort of problem u'rself. Do u even know what Keytones are? They are the starvation chemicals which u say don't exist, they eat into muscle and if a regular lifestyle does not resume the person will die from organ failure. The key to weight loss is finding a healthy lifestyle and making it a change for life, not crash dieting and brushing with death! There are a lot of people who have commented who seemed to have developed eating disorders due to calorie limiting, do u really think u should be allowed to play god like this with such sensitive people reading this? I am glad to say I have never owned a pair of scales, I eat what I want, don't go gym and I have never needed to lose weight. The same can't be said for most people, this diet has killed people, people regularly pass out due to not enough energy, all that's wrong is knowledge. I mean how many of u readers know why a tomato is so good for u, or how many oranges u need to eat before u have enough vitamin c to soak up iron so u don't end up deficient? Need to go back to basics people and stop believing everything u see on the net

February 24, 2014

Adrian Bryant

Yes, muscle may be burned and their may be organ damage but only after you've reached a VERY low bodyfat % after being on a VLCD. I'm not advocating starvation diets by the way. THe point I'm proving is that IF you eat ZERO calories or less than 1200 calories and aren't losing weight then it's not because of starvation mode.

You're probably not counting calories correctly.

Again, I'm not into starvation or torture diets. Just saying that there is no such thing as your body holding onto fat and to your thin air point...

If people are able to live on thin air then where does the energy come from once they stopped eating? the answer is your bodyfat up to a point where your bodyfat gets very low

February 24, 2014


I have had an eatting disorder for over thirty years now, and I am really struggling at this particular moment. I have been driving myself crazy trying to figure out how my body is maintaining between 70 and 73 pounds when I use more than double the calories I take in. My body fat was 5% around nine months ago, so I know I am not burning stored fat; I don't have any to burn. My goal is not to lose any more weight, but I am fearful that if I stop doing what I am doing I will gain weight uncontrollably. There is nothing wrong with my intellect, it's just my psyche is all messed up. I know I won't gain weight in the manner that I fear, but I just can't understand how my body has the ability to just go on on almost nothing. While your article is somewhat questionable, it does make more sense to me than anything else I have read this far. If my body is using (eatting) muscle for energy, wouldn't I be losing weight? If my body is not eatting itself, where is its energy coming from? The body is an amazing thing, and I am baffled.

March 21, 2014

Adrian Bryant

how tall are you and how are you tracking your calorie intake?

March 23, 2014

Amanda Fogg(amanda@fogg.ws)

Hey there, my name is Amanda 15 years old and im 128 pounds 5'5 and ive been on a diet for over 8 months. I started out at 185 and im looking to still look 8 pounds. Around 4 months ago i was eating 400 to 500 calories a day. Sense then ive slowly increased my calories to 800 to 900 because my parents wete concerned. I just started getting insanely hungry all the time and ive gotten a little bit into puking when i feel ive eaten to much. I really want to jist loose the 8 pounds and have this battle be done with. Ive been stuck at 128 pounds for months now..do i need to go back down in my calorie intake ?

February 17, 2014


you need to exercise and make sure your eating at least 1100 calories and that the calories aren't junk.. and making yourself throw up is just messing up your digestive system and metabolism so thats probably why your not losing any weight

February 21, 2014


You have an eating disorder. Enough said. Take the time to look at reputable research and know that a caloric deficit is absolutely necessary to reduce body fat. Not only is puking terrible for one's body(you are spewing highly acidic, partially digested food) it is highly unnecessary. One bad day or meal is not nearly enough to make you accumulate body fat. Just focus on a well made daily exercise plan: lift weights and do moderate cardio, and keep your calories low but reasonable(no need to drop below 1000 unless your BMR[base metabolic rate] dictates so. I hope this helps and if you need any more assistance please email me at Shredder523@yahoo.com

February 23, 2014


Invalid information. Source of calories does not matter for fat loss unless you are eating for health reasons rather than aesthetics, and while she shouldn't exhibit bulimic behavior, vomiting has nothing to do with metabolic activity.

February 23, 2014


The source of calories absolutely matters! Having 300 calories of Twinkies vs. 300 calories of nutritious vegetables or fruits does not give the same nutrients to your body. The girl in question needs to eat AT LEAST 1,200 calories a day! Eating any less than that is dangerous! The author of this article does NOT know what he is talking about. The body will use muscle as fuel, as well as fat. If your body starts using muscle as fuel, that is not healthy weight loss.

March 13, 2014

Kim g

Hi there....I started doing turbo fire which is from the same company as insanity and p90x...on average per day I burn 500-750 calories...I weigh 191 lbs and am 5 6....if I eat 1000 a day will I actually be able to lose weight or will my body not have enough energy?? I have shakeology in the morning, and then all I really eat are combos of chicken or fish, brown rice, and lots of veggies. I'm getting tons of nutrients! I just am never super hungry becauE of all the fiber...I'm looking to lose 30 lbs

January 31, 2014

Adrian Bryant

no you will lose weight and as for energy? all the excess fat is what your body draws on for energy when you diet or dont eat enough

February 01, 2014


Hi there, I'm 20 years old any have been pretty active for 5-6 years. Currently I'm 5'2 and 150 pounds with a body fat of 27-27.5% I lift weights 3-5 times a week and in those 2-3 days i do about 20 minutes of cardio. I've been this weight with pretty healthy eating habits and working out consistently for 3 years and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I worked with a trainer for about 7 weeks and lost about 5 pounds(at the lowest, with a very strict diet and workout) but then went back to my regular weight in one week! I want to get at least to 22% bf but currently i have no appetite whatsoever, I've been forcing myself to at least fulfill my protein intake (127 g a day) so that I don't lose muscle and can still keep lifting. I dont eat carbs other than oatmeal in the morning and maybe a serving of 2 cups of veggies and one serving of fruit throughout the day (with some other types of carbs 1-2 days a week) and eat every 2-3 hours. Will this help the ball rolling to start losing fat, what can i do if i dont have any appetite Sorry for the long comment I just really need some advice, thanks in advance!

December 05, 2013

Adrian Bryant

do you track your daily total calories?

December 06, 2013


Yes I do, it varies. Since last week, its gone from 1410,1160, 830,1251,1663,1140 all of them having a higher amount of protein. These don't include the calories I burn

December 08, 2013


But before I used to eat 1700-2000 each day and my weight didn't budge

December 08, 2013

Adrian Bryant

what is your bodyfat % b/c you should losing on that calorie intake but to spark up your weight lossuse these tips

December 08, 2013


My body fat is 27-27.5%, this week its just been fluctuating back on forth about 2 pounds. ok i will take a look at those too

December 10, 2013

danielle alford

i have recently starting eating like i did when i was a teenager so that is once a day maybe 6 to 700 calories and cut out pop and sugar how long will it take to start losing weight

November 28, 2013

Adrian Bryant

very soon but the real question is how long can you sustain that diet to keep the weight off?

November 28, 2013


What an amazing article. I don't know all the facts but the ones I know you are absolutely spot on. Awesome website too.And as per Sophie Smiths comment, she should back up her claim otherwise her comment is just a waste of everyone's time.

November 16, 2013

Eleanor Bird

I was a slim female at 104lbs, 5 foot 5, and due to several things - a developed food allergy, a bout of severe food poisoning, stress and very skewed perceptions of what a healthy diet consists of (thanks to the evil pit that is The Internet), I ate far less calories that my body needed and dropped down to 87.5lbs over a course of 3 months. I think I can confidently say that I am in starvation mode. I am looking to get back up to ~104lbs, I'm at 96 currently.

How many calories do I need to eat daily to wake my metabolism up and get out of it?
How long will it take?

On the internet I'm seeing endless horror stories about post anorexics that cannot stop gaining weight after they reach a healthy one and become overweight, I'm assuming this is because they are still stuck in this mode. I'm afraid this will happen to me.

November 07, 2013

Adrian Bryant

dont be afraid. you just need to carefully track your calorie intake as you are gaining weight. once you start to gain weight at a certain intake you won't infinitely gain weight forever on the same intake UNLESS you increase that intake over time

November 08, 2013



But do you know, or do you have any idea, of what percentage dictates the switch from the burning fat process to the burning muscle?

I know this is not an exact science! But if the body only hit the muscle when people are already like 6% or 5% body fat, is much better than doing it when people still with 13% or 12%! That's why i'm asking...

October 14, 2013

Adrian Bryant

that is more likely to happen in the less than 4-to-6% range

October 16, 2013


Hey Adrian,

So what happens if i eat just 500 or less calories per day during 7 days? Like an experiment.

I'm sure i'll lose weight, but that weight i'm gonna lose will be just fat or my body will ''eat'' my muscles too?

Thanks in advance!

October 13, 2013

Adrian Bryant

it'll be mostly fat if you are overweight or have a high bodyfat percentage. your muscles will only get "eaten" if you don't have much fat to start with

October 13, 2013


I was doing a Google search on very low calorie diets and came across your article. I have been eating no more than 150-200 calories a day and doing cardio exercise. Iv'e only been doing this for 7 days and I have lost about 10 pounds. I am 5'3 and I started at the weight of 165. I did this same eating pattern two years ago and lost 40 pounds in a month in a half. The only reason I quit was because I was found out I was pregnant with our second child. I was only 5 pounds away from my goal weight. I have gained it all back, but it has taken me two years. I have 35 pounds to go. I was afraid that I would be extremely tired, have no energy... so forth, But I have seen no change, and feel fine. Same as I did before. Please do not bash me for the amount of calories I am eating.. I can eat very little and I feel stuffed. What I am wondering is this, can I eat very few calories throughout the week and have one day a week where I eat what I wan't, as much as I want? Will I still lose weight doing this? Will that help balance out the loss of calories? Or will it actually make me gain weight? I am searching the web on what I need to do, and what I need to eat but it seems all to over whelming, so I just keep the calories few and the fat as low as possible. I cut out all sugar,breads,flour and dairy. All but eggs once in a while. I drink 2 quarts of water a day.I am asking for advice on what to do. I just hate my image and it's getting to me. I am afraid to post this because I am afraid of what people may say to me. Food is my weakness and I want to be at a place where it no longer controls me. I am not anorexic nor do I have a disorder.

October 05, 2013

Adrian Bryant

it's still about how much you eat so unless you're going to eat over 5000-to-10,000 calories in 1 day then I don't see you gaining any weight back

October 06, 2013


OMG. i absolutely love what i read and i am a 29 yr old female, also a mom at 250 lbs. i could deff stick to 150-200 cal a day but what kind of meals work for you? or what did you eat? i would like to see similar results... please reply.. us moms gotta help eachother out :) thanks.

October 31, 2013


Hi Adrian-
First I would like to start by saying thank you for such a awesome site with so much helpful information! Also, thank you for the free workout dvd I received a few months ago.

I have a couple of questions for you. Mid April 2013 I weighed 147 lbs. I'm 33 years old and barely 5' so my goal has always been 119 lbs because that is where I have felt comforatble many years ago. Through hard work (mostly intense exercising) I got down to 129 lbs. However, I reached a major plateau because I burned myself out of the exercising.

Therefore, 11 days ago I decided to do the HCG diet and have lost 7 lbs (of course due to it being a VLD). Everything I read say you must complete the 21 day VLD phase plus 21 day maintenance phase (eating only certain foods) in order to not gain all the weight back after quitting the HCG.

So my question is, if I go ahead and stop the HCG today because I'm tired of the VLD, limited food choices and would like to do it on my own will I really gain those 7 lbs back when I up my calories to my bmr despite diet and exercise?

Also, do you have a calculator here that tells how many calories are needed to 'maintain' a current weight (not lose)?

Once again thank you so much for your assistance.

September 27, 2013

Adrian Bryant

yes, you'll gain some weight back when you return to eating normal but can you explain more in detail what your exercise rotuine was like?

September 28, 2013


Sorry for just getting back to this message. I didn't receive notice of a response. I did stop the hcg and I have gained all but 2 pounds back. I'm going back and forth between 127, 128 and still hoping to get to 119. To answer you question my exercise routine consist of 30 minutes on the treadmill 3x a week alternating jogging 2 minutes and walking 1 minute. Every now and then I will do a intense workout video (HITT training) like George St. Pierre or Jackie Warner which I get burned out on easily. I do fairly well eating breakfast and lunch at work but by dinner time I'm eating heavily. Any advice?

November 11, 2013

Adrian Bryant

use these workout rules instead but how many total calories are you eating now?

November 11, 2013


Ok. Thanks. I will try these exercises. How much exercise would you recommend? Right now I try to do 30-45 minutes 3-5 days a week. I try to eat no more than 1200 calories a day. I don't skip any meals and I usually only eat a snack if I'm hungry.

November 13, 2013


Thanks for the interval tips. I will definitely apply these rules.

November 13, 2013

Goddess FourWinds

HCG does absolutely nothing to help you lose weight. It's all in the amount of calories in the diet plan they give you. Once you add up the daily calories in the plan, you'll see what I'm saying. The shots are completely unnecessary. :)

May 15, 2014


I am a female 5"1 and currently 200lbs. I just started a diet that consists eating between 1250-1500 calories. I do exercise for about 30 minutes 4-5 times a week. It not intense because I am trying to work my way up. I do drink about 100 ounces of water a day Any suggestions

September 26, 2013

Adrian Bryant

you are off to a good start but increase the intensity of your workout a little bit each day to lose weight faster

September 26, 2013


Hi Adrian, I currently weigh 15 stone. I am using myfitnesspal to track my calories and I am keeping my intake at or below 1200 calories per day. However, I am losing only 1 lb every 2 weeks. On less active days I eat 1200 or less. I cycle 2/3 times per week, around 15 to 20 miles each time. I eat more on these days but still don't eat back all the calories up to my 1200 when I do excercise. Is there any reason why I am losing weight so slowly?

September 17, 2013

Adrian Bryant

#1 - you don't need to eat back the calories you burn working out unless you want to lose weight slower.

#2 - make some changes

September 18, 2013


Though this all sounds logical, but how do you explain this. I am recovering from an eating disorder, and when I was deep into my eating disorder I ate 500 to 1000 calories a day. I did not exercise as much as I am now though. I was roughly 5-10 pounds less than I am now, and I was maintaining a healthy weight on that number of calories. I know that was exactly what I ate back then as I counted every single one of those calories obsessively. Once or twice a week I would have a 1000 calorie binge, but that is not nearly enough to make up for the undereating I did. How come I was maintaining my weight back then eating sometimes as little as 500 calories a day and burning all of it off, when I am maintaining my weight right now with 2200 calories, if I was not in starvation mode?

It is not that simple. The human body is not a machine. Your metabolism does slow down. You do start to burn muscle instead of fat, I know that because I had hardly enough muscle left to lift my schoolbag, at a healthy weight.

September 11, 2013

Adrian Bryant

at your lowest, how much did you weight when eating 500 calories per day? also, do you remember how much you weighed before you started eating only 500 calories a day.

September 11, 2013

Sophie Smith

This is the dumbest article I have ever read. Erroneous on so many levels it HURTS to read.

September 10, 2013

Adrian Bryant

help us make it better. can you tell us what was so erroneous that made your head it.

Please take time to tell me. I don't want to cause anybody to get migraines

September 10, 2013


I 100% agree with Adrian Bryant. Starvation mode will only fully switch on after your body can no longer find its BMR of daily calories. In an obese person, those calories will be gotten from stored body fat. Thats what stored body fat is for. When stored body fat gets low, then the muscles and organs will be used next until death occurs or food intake is resumed. No obese person needs to worry about BMR until their body fat levels start approaching normal (20%) levels. Just use the simple rule of eat less lose fat, eat less more and lose fat more. The only thing is, if you go on a very low calorie diet ie <1000 then you should supplement your diet with a multi vitamin tablets. Probably a good idea to do that with any diet any way to ensure you stay healthy. Oh yes, also, it appears from looking at other posts, the closer you get to the normal range of body fat (20%) the harder it gets to lose more fat, the more you need to diet to bring results similar to the one you got at the start of the diet. So if 1500 cals per day got you from 35% body fat to 24% , then to shift that last 4% might need you to go down to 1200 cals or less because your body is getting closer to starvation mode since you have less fat now to provide the BMR calories (even if they are lower now due to your reduced weight).

July 26, 2013


Ok, I cannot get a straight answer from my nutritionist or anyone else, so maybe you can give me some insight/feedback. Im 5'7"/130lbs, ~17.5% body fat. Ive been trying to lose 5lbs via calorie restriction (935 a day) & through a high protein diet (40% protein, 30% carb, 30% fat) and exercise (HIIT; running/cardio/cycling; circuits; weights). So after 3-4 weeks, i have not dropped any pounds, and very few inches/cm have been lost. I am beginning to suspect that I will never be able to lose those 5-7lbs because my body simply cannot -- do you think this is true? What am i doing wrong you think? I track almost all that i eat throughout the day & i am always at 800-900 cals. I dunno, i just need some help/answers.

July 16, 2013

Adrian Bryant

here's the straight answer: you are someone who is not fat or not even or little bit overweight trying to lose 5 more pounds so yes...

you can lose those last 5 but it's going to take longer. see this and how did you test your bodyfat?

July 17, 2013


I am wondering if it is better to do one of your 10 minute interval workouts several times a day...or to do the 20 minute one several times a day. I weigh 294 pounds, I'm 43, and I am eating 1200 calories per day, with the exception of having one cheat meal per week.

July 02, 2013

Adrian Bryant

either way is great and it's better than most people who do nothing but start out with what is best for you and if that's too hard then start here

July 03, 2013

Alie J

I agree, starvation mode does exist and I know I've been there before. I was eating 1000kCal per day and failing to loose weight but my BMI was 16.5 and I had anorexia nervosa, although I was blissfully unaware of it at the time, especially as I didn't match the stereotype - I'm male and 30 at the time.

It does worry me somewhat that 1500kCal is seen as a healthy level of restriction when the Minnesota experiment has proven otherwise and I've seen this myself. Like the men in the experiment, I consumed a miserable 1500kCal per day and ran a couple of miles per day and my BMI fell to 17.5 quite quickly. I became injured so couldn't run (you need food for repair as well as energy you know) so paranoid about weight gain, I cut to 1000.

Starvation mode has some nasty side effects: sore joints, lethargy, hypothermia, low blood pressure, dizziness, constipation (irrespective of your fibre intake), insomnia, depression, mood swings, delusions, body dysmorphia, OCD, preoccupation with food, the list goes on. If you're experiencing any of them then please eat more, irrespective of your weight, your health is in danger!

One thing to bear in mind is that if you were obese before you started restricting, starvation mode will kick in at a higher body fat percentage than it would if you were already a healthy weight and never been fat. Their is because the metabolic rate is governed by leptin (a hormone produced by fat) levels and obese people have leptin resistance. Even so I doubt anyone will experience starvation mode, unless their BMI is a the lower end of normal, say below 22.

Is it possible to stop gaining weight?
Of course it is! Check out the Vermont overfeeding experiment when inmates in a prison binged on 8000kCal to 10000kCal per day, over 10 weeks and at most they gained 25% of their body weight and they lost it when they resumed normal eating!

The trouble is they were lean men who have never been overweight before. Someone who had previously been obese would gain.

I've also seen this in myself, on recovery I binged on 6000kCal per day for over a month and didn't gain as much weight as expected.

The trouble is the body's metabolism adjusts to fight weight loss. An obese person who's dieted down to a BMI of 24 will have a slower metabolism than someone who's never had a BMI of more than 25.

The reverse is also true, a person who's normal BMI is 24 but binged to obesity will have a faster metabolism than someone who's always been obese.

June 17, 2013

Adrian Bryant

Simply put...

you'll stop losing weight or stop losing a considerable amount of fat once you have very little fat left to lose OR... if you have a low bodyfat % and this is not starvation mode but...

It's just that you have very little to lose so of course your fat loss rate will go to a crawl and NO...

an overweight or fat person would not go into the perceived starvation mode as quickly as a lean person would simply because they have plenty of fat that can be burned for energy during a restrictive diet and also NO...

you can keep gaining weight if you keep OVEREATING. that experiment you referenced where the guys stopped gaining at 8,000 cals stopped gaining at 8000 cals becasue that was probably there maintaince level at that point so of course when they went back to eating normal or way under 8000 cals they lost all the weight again.

to end this...

you'll only go into the mythical starvation mode if you are extremely lean with very LITTLE fat to lose

June 17, 2013

Alie J

The trouble with that theory is it's based on the Minnesota starvation study which was performed on healthy individuals who've never suffered from obesity.

In a person with a healthy metabolism, you're right, starvation mode will kick in when your body fat percentage falls below around 5% but an obese person's body doesn't do that.

What causes starvation mode? Of course it's too low body fat but how does the endocrine system know that lipid reserves are running low?

When we loose fat, serum leptin levels fall which is detected by the the mediobasal hypothalamus and results in a fall in resting metabolic rate.

The problem is an obese person's leptin receptors are desensitised, so a they will go into starvation mode at a higher body fat percentage than someone who's always been lean because their body thinks they're leaner than they really are!

If a morbidly obese person went on a 1000kCal, they would've gone into starvation mode before their BMI got to 16.5. What's more a reintroduction of an unrestricted diet would've also caused binging back to obesity, rather than back to a healthy weight.

Check out the work done be Jules Hirsch at Rockefeller University for some fascinating studies on obesity which explain why it's very hard to keep the weight off and many people fail.

June 18, 2013

Adrian Bryant

okay but your body constantly needs energy so even if your body thinks it's lean when you're obese you're going to still burn or use fat for energy.

the fat loss or metabolism never stops. where does the energy come from then? you're going to lose fat at a satisfiable rate if you eat less than 1000 calories per day provided that you are counting those calories correctly

June 18, 2013

Alie J

Yes, you'll burn fat for energy until you die.

Lol counting the calories correctly? I developed OCD. Before I could eat anything, I had to weigh it on laboratory grade scales (10mg accuracy) so I new the exact weight and calculated the calories, even if it was just celery. I always had under 250kCal for breakfast, 250kCal for lunch and a 500kCal evening meal with no snacks or calorific drinks. I would often spend hours just planing what I was going to eat and calculating the calories which were more important than everything else. Preparing something as simple as a ham and tomato sandwich would often take 2 hours because I'd even weight pre-sliced bread, ham and the salad. It wouldn't surprise me if I was often eating less than 1000kCal per day.

Determining the true weight of a person suffering from malnutrition isn't easy because water retention is common. I found my weight would fluctuate by as much as 10lb per day so I couldn't be sure what my lowest weight was but 50kg was normal for most mornings. I've heard other anorexics describing how they would maintain a certain weight on a starvation intake for awhile, then suddenly loose a lot of weight despite eating the same. I expect it's due to changes in water retention.

I'd imagine an obese person would probably die at a higher BMI/ body fat percentage than a lean person, even though it would take much longer, given the same diet.

Assuming I'm allowed to post links, here's some interesting research which explains why many people find it hard to keep the weight off.

June 21, 2013


The other problem with the experiment is that it was performed solely on men.
Women hormonally respond differently to severe caloric restriction.

As a moderately overweight, yet very active person, I stayed in the mid-140's for years. At 5'3.5", it's more than looks good on my frame. All while eating fairly sensibly, but not counting calories or consciously slashing calories.
I went through a stressful period that made my appetite non-existent (and killed my drive to exercise), and I finally dropped about 20lbs. I was thrilled.
After coming out the other side and regaining my appetite, I somehow happily maintained this loss for a few years, without too much thought; I was even less active than I had been in the past and drank way more alcohol. Although I was often skipping meals, eating once a day, or even not eating for 24 hours, it didn't feel like effort.

That weight loss really drove into my head that the only way for me to lose weight was to starve. This was further compounded when I decided to get off those last 5-10 vanity pounds, and I joined a gym and started counting calories. Not only did I NOT lose weight, my weight started to creep UP.
Over the next 4 years - while dieting, exercising, eating under 1000 calories per day (I weigh and measure all my food), and occasional fasting - my weight has found it's way back up to the mid-140's. There were times I was logging 400-700 calories per day (again, weighing and measuring), and exercising; even if I were making huge errors, I still wouldn't have consumed more than 1500 gross calories, which according to my supposed BMR should still have produced even a very slow, slight loss, but at the least, definitely not have caused weight gain.
I get that people sometimes don't want to admit that the reason for a lack of success lies squarely on their own shoulders, but what if that isn't the case? I can't even begin to explain what it feels like, to be for all intents and purposes starving myself and counting calories down to the crumb, and hear over and over, "There's no way you won't lose weight if you're eating less than 1200 calories."
I recently came across this great insight/message, while trying to do some more of my own research:

... for people that are working on losing weight and are getting frustrated by the scale not reacting as they anticipate. Right now, we tell those people that they must be doing it wrong. If you were REALLY cutting 3500 calories out of your diet, you would have lost a pound. You must be lying about what you are eating. You must be lying about your exercise. Quit cheating. But what if they are not? If that person is actually not cheating, that's a pretty demoralizing message. Telling people things have happened that haven't and making people question their sanity is a form of torture used to break war prisoners. Imagine the impact that has on a person trying to get healthy.

July 27, 2013


starvation mode is not a myth. The study you are referring to the men were still above 1,000 calories. Additionally, they were only walking 3 miles a day. And finally, a calorie is not a calorie. if those 1,000 calories were nutritious, (and not lets say, all alcohol), then there is no need to go into starvation mode.

Starvation mode happens when your body thinks food is scarce. This can happen through different combinations, too much exercise, too little nutrition.

I've experienced starvation mode, although I didnt know it at the time. I went through a period of stress, and wasnt eating right, not paying attention that was below 500 calories a day. I did lose weight,but then all of a sudden, I started to gain weight even though I was eating 500 calories.

If I was paying more attention, I would've noticed that I was starving, but there were other emotions that took precedence I guess. When your body is in starvation mode, it dumps the most "expensive" sorta speak, muscle, over fat. Muscles need to be fed, so the body starts getting rid of it.

I dont think most people have issues with starvation, however. Most people eat.

May 29, 2013

Adrian Bryant

were you tracking those 500 calories per day? so are you saying that if I were to eat ZERO calories per day I would rapidly lose weight and then for some unknown reason I would gain weight? where would my body get the extra energy from (if not food) to make me fatter on a 0-to-500 calorie diet

May 29, 2013


What a crock of bs. The only way you'd gain weight eating 500cals every day is that you were stupid enough to go back to eating 2000cals per day then you'd gain it all back. Or youre 4 foot tall and ate 500cals until you got to the point where you only needed 500cal per day to survive. Snd also you mentioned you didn't know you were eating 500cals. Then how did you know you were eating 500cals. You didnt. You didnt measure it or weighed what you ate thus you have no idea how much of what you ate every day meaning everything you have said is flawed. Eating 500cals per day will work for3-4 weeks before you end up in hospital with organ damage. Its stupid and you are actually killing yourself. You would knowsomwthing was wrong after the first day or 2 as you'd be very faint, you'd cramp and then have dizzy spills untill you actually pass out. Pretty much everything youve typed is utter bs. I actually laughed while reading it. I'm currently doing case studies on malnutrition and this artical mentions one of the cases were investigating. Its completly different from eatin 500cals per day. Which i still doubt you even did.

June 15, 2013


From her imagination...

June 15, 2013

Alie J

Yes of course you'll loose muscle and fat on 500kCal per day, irrespective of where the calories come from or the micronutrients.

The trouble is the scales often lie. I've gained weight fasting and lost eating 4000kCal per day.

The problem is the scales don't tell you what it is you're loosing: muscle, fat, water. If you're eating under your maintenance you might gain water but continue loosing other tissues.

When you don't eat enough, your electrolytes can go out of whack and your kidney function could be poor. Oedema is a common problem, both due to malnutrition and in recovery which can distort your weight significantly. At one point in recovery, my legs swelled with water which subsided as I continued eating, hence why I lost weight on a hypercalorific diet.

If you're obese don't stay on that diet for more than a week and don't do it at all if you're a healthy weight - it's very risky.

June 25, 2013


Do you even understand the laws of thermodynamics? What you are saying is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

July 22, 2013


So, I think I eat enough calories a day....lets say about 2000 and I workout a lot, like....3-4 hours a day, really intense exercise. What are the chances for me to lose the fat? and how long would that take? (honestly I don't know how much body fat I have but there is something but I want it "all" gone.....I said "all" cause I know I can't get all the fat gone but I want as much as possible to lose the fat).

May 27, 2013

Adrian Bryant

depends on what your weight and height is now?

May 27, 2013


well, weight is 65 kg and height is 176 cm.

May 28, 2013

Adrian Bryant

at that weight and height you can't have too much fat left and eating 2000 cals a day will make it take you longer to lose that last bit of fat

May 28, 2013


that's correct, I don't have much body fat but as I said I want to get rid of as much fat as I can and I eat about 2000 cals a day cause I exercise a lot and I feel hungry all the time but I don't eat every time I am hungry cause that would mean to eat about 7-8 times a day, I eat 4 times a day, sometimes 3 times a day, like morning, after-noon and night. I would eat less but that would mean to keep me so hungry that I would get stomachaches and I don't think that's quite indicated.....so what do you think?

May 29, 2013


in reading your post, it appears that you have to try more specific methods of eating and training. You may have to try something like the anabolic diet, which consists of high protein and very low carbs, and then you cycle your carbs. A lot of body builders use this method to get as lean as possible. Then, they are carbo load to look even leaner.

Your body goes through phases of builidng up, detoxing and tearing down. Try meal timing, etc.

May 29, 2013

Adrian Bryant

it's all about calories or energy balance and you'll need to eat less. start off with a RANGE of 1500-to-2000 calories

May 29, 2013


well, i'm already on a meal timing ( almost), I mean the time of eating is approximately the same andi will eat less. Ok then, i'l try eat less calories and time my meals better, and wait for the results, and I will feeback you later. Thanks a lot.

May 30, 2013

John S

I am a very big man of 400 lbs, 5 11 tall and have been overweight my entire life. I have exceeded 250lbs since I was 10 yrs old. I am to a point in my life now, I can not bear to continue this way. I am searching for a solid method to lose weight, my biggest issue is I drive truck, and sit for 11hrs a day, moving in and out of the truck for about 2hrs a day. my stamina and focus are solid after 20 yrs of driving, but I can not manage my weight any longer. I feel like I want to stop eating period. I quit drinking soda, and sugar drinks, I drink 1 to 3 32oz cups of coffee with some milk/cream per day. 1-2 gatorades a day and limit myself to 1 footlong subway sub per day, no mayo or anything on it, just the sub with all the veggies I can fit on it and with peppers. even after changing my entire junk food and soda intake to this I am not getting the results I want. in fact I think I gained a few pounds. I need help finding a solution to my bodys lack of metabolism and find a way to start losing this weight. Would it hurt me if I would cut back hard and only eat once every 2-3 days?

May 23, 2013

Adrian Bryant

it would not hurt if you ate only ONCE every 2 days but how long can you seriously keep that up until you gain everything you lost back. do this easier diet here

May 23, 2013


Now I have a question, my calorie tracker states that when I do zumba about 5pm that I burn around 500 calories , which then makes me neg for my daily caloric intake. Should I not count that as I should eat more to make the 1000 calorie mark ? Or even with zumba I should reach 1000 calories? Hope that's not too confusing:)

May 16, 2013

Adrian Bryant

you do not need to eat back any calories you burn working out unless you want to lose weight slower

May 17, 2013


The calorie caculator always says you shouldn't go lower than 1200 for a women , but what if I'm sitting most of the day and only working out maybe 3 times a week. I'm starting to think the days I don't work out I don't need 1200 calories. I did the 1200 calorie a day diet for 2 weeks didn't lose anything. I'm a stay at home mom that does housework but most of the time entertaining my two year old. I'm 32 , 5'5 and I'm at 178 today. Was at 176 two days ago lol. I think I'm going to try 1000 and see if that does anything.

May 16, 2013

Damien Lewis

I'm 6'0 even and 228 lbs, I'm trying to loose weight as quicks as possible but also be healthy, so if I take in 1200 or less calories and work out for 2-3 of cardio daily, will I loose a lot of weight fast?

May 11, 2013

Adrian Bryant

you sure will!

May 11, 2013


I am 20, 5'2" and weigh 110 lb... I started eating around an average of 1000 calories a day (some days less and some days more) and lost 7 pounds in a month and half (got down from 117 lb to 110 lb). The thing is that I do nothing but sit on my ass all day and require to move very little, that's why I thought that 1000 calories a day was ideal for me. But now all this talk abt how everyone should be eating at least 1200 calories a day to be healthy is scaring me. Should I be worried?

May 10, 2013

Adrian Bryant

I don't need to be worried. are you constantly hungry or thinking about food?

May 10, 2013

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