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.

More Tips

I'm Adrian Bryant, I started NowLoss.com to help you look better naked & if you're serious about losing weight…

Use My Fat Loss DVDs which Chris used to Lose 137 pounds in 7 months & Sue used to Lose 124 pounds in 6 months

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1-60 of 245 Comments

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


Yes, I have never ever gone over.

June 26, 2017


I also make all my own meals with no frozen food and I don't drink pop.

June 26, 2017

Adrian Bryant

with your activity level the 1000 ALONE should cause you to lose weight UNLESS you are already extra leab but even still... weight should be coming off.

I implore you to triple check your calroie counts or at least start over with brand new foods

June 27, 2017


I'm not lean at all really, 26 % body fat. I am telling you without a doubt that I only eat 1,000 a day, how on earth am I not like 100 lbs???

June 27, 2017

Adrian Bryant

see this for more insight but at 145 pounds your metabolism (even if dead lazy) is going to burn at least 10 calories per pound or you have a metabolism that burns close to 1500 cals per day NOT counting your daily activity so either your calorie counts are off and/or you are holding onto lots of water weight so also see this

June 30, 2017


How fast should I be losing weight?

July 06, 2017

Adrian Bryant

at leasy 1-2 pounds per week EVEN if you werent overweight

July 09, 2017


Best way to track your calories is to use an app that can scan your food and correctly log your food. Use MyFitnessPal as it has huge community. If you log your food accurately, and still didnt lose weight the community can always check your log and help you figure out what might be wrong. The important thing is to log honestly and if you had to round a meal, round it up not down.

July 11, 2017


Hi Adrian, thanks so much for this - really interesting and reassuring article.

I think I am blowing my current situation out of proportion but I am 6ft, 31 male who currently clocks in at 321 pounds. I have been losing weight for the last month at a fairly high rate (about 19 lbs the past 30 days) but for the past 7 days my scales haven't moved a bit. It has really frustrated me and I am just concerned as having lost weight beyond the 321 point in the past following a strictly controlled diet (I eat about 1600 calories a day - never more - and log everything religiously in MFP) and have never hit a break like this before.

Should I be concerned or should I keep sticking it out and see what happens next week?

Many thanks


June 15, 2017

Adrian Bryant

i wouldnt panic right now but double check the calories and add some exercise

June 16, 2017


i'm 4'11; 167lbs (ish) and consume about 1000 cal daily in an 8 hour period, but it's all junk food since i work overnights, i eat/drink nothing else and I am walking 12 miles a day depending on how work goes.. so I'm burning about 200 more cal than I am consuming... but I'm not losing weight.. I'm constantly tired, dizzy and just not feeling well...

June 14, 2017

Adrian Bryant

how do you track the 1000 cals

June 16, 2017

Hunter Stephens

Ok, so strange situation. I am a 17 year old, 5' 7" male who weighs 325 lbs, WAY over the preferred limit. Naturally I've been trying to lose weight by obvious means (keep a workout regimen, eat better foods, etc.) My curious question is that if it's normal I only eat about 1200 calories a day and still feel fine or if I'm killing myself without knowing it. A 300 lb man requires serious caloric intake to maintain weight, so this is strange to me, but I feel absolutely fine, no headaches, grumpiness, irritability, nothing. Just looking for some answers. This has only been for the past couple of days but it shocked me just how little I ate and still felt fine. I appreciate any answers you can give me!

June 01, 2017

Adrian Bryant

its simple. with more fat/energy you cna surive or last longer on a low cal diet

June 02, 2017


How do you explain what happened to the guy in "That Sugar Film"? Same amount of calories and noticeable weight gain and health issues. And how do you explain www.dietdoctor.com

May 27, 2017

Adrian Bryant

I need a link for the sugar film but i looked into the dietdoctor

1. He still gained weight on a high calorie diet

2. we dont know how active he was

3. we also dont know how much water weight he lost b/c people lose massive amounts of wate weight on low carb

4. the author at dietdoctor assets that carbs = insulin = fat gain which is true to some point but EVERYTHING you eat causes an increase in insulin.

Protein causes the bigest release of insulin which is why your hunger is low after a high protein meal

May 28, 2017


Hi Adrian,
I'm a 16 year old female and my height is 5'5. I used to eat about 1300-1600 calories a day naturally, not good food, but I never ate a lot, getting full quickly. I actually began to gain weight, even though I was active with school & tennis and just being out and about everyday. I noticed the weight gain when I weighed 130 lbs and began dieting, i'd say like 800 calories a day and i'd exercise for 30-60 minutes 4-6 days a week. But, 1-2 days a week i'd totally binge, and not on nutritious things and i'd probably go 500-1000 calories overboard. Still, I was losing weight, but very slowly. I got down to 123 lbs and for about 2-3 weeks now i've been off of my diet (which was lots of veggies, chicken, egg whites, fish, fruit, and some nuts on a daily basis, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar other than natural sugar in fruit, and no red meat + 8-10 cups of water a day) and I weigh 135 lbs now!!! I was wondering if I should continue with the 800 calorie diet a day. A lot of people say i'll die doing this, but since I ate very healthy food, which does not contain many calories, 800 calories was quite a lot of food and I counted my macros and micronutrients and I got enough protein, fat, carbs, vitamins in. I know 800 calories sounds like a little when you eat a cinnamon roll and a bowl of cereal for breakfast (which can easily be 600+ calories), but I very carefully choose foods which are high in nutrients but low in calories so that I don't feel deprived and stay healthy. Even though i've explained this, people still tell me as a growing teenager I need more food, but I didn't suffer any health risks when I did this 800 calorie diet for 3 months, it could have been because I was getting a lot of calories in when I binged, but I plan to go head strong now, maybe allowing myself a cheat MEAL not DAY once every 2 weeks and having a cheat meal that isn't filled with sugar. What do you think??

May 27, 2017

Adrian Bryant

what merhod do you use to track your calories? To gain weight on 1300 cals means you are not calcualting correctly

May 27, 2017


I think there is an over use of "..." in this article...

April 13, 2017


They are called ellipsis, but I agree

June 05, 2017


Hi Adrian,

I am 26 yo female 163cm. Starting weight 80kg, got down to 64kg just eating once a day and smoking weed. Six weeks ago I started to eat two/three small meals approx. 800 cals a day. I started lifting weights and taking a half hour walk 6× a week. Only lost 5 kilos in the past six weeks! Im upset because I am working so hard! My BMR is 1336 and body fat percentage 28. Is this a plateau? Thanks

April 06, 2017

Adrian Bryant

it dpends. start here

April 06, 2017

Mark Samuel

Hi, I am 5'9 and started doing a one meal,a day diet a week and a half ago. I weighed 250 at the start and now I am down to 239. Would you recommend continuing with this? I simply cannot eat that much during my one meal a day (which is dinner) so I end up consuming a ridiculous 500-800 calories a day. Am I going to continue to lose weight at this pace? Also I am 19, so does that play a factor?

Thank you and I enjoyed the article.

February 23, 2017

Adrian Bryant

yes you will but how long can you seriously keep that up?

February 23, 2017


I went to a weight loss clinic and was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, and this is my 2nd diagnosis. So the dietician placed me on 1000 calorie diet, I love what I am eating and I never feel deprived, fatigue or hungry because I eat 5 x daily. I work out 2-3 x daily doing light brisk 20-30mins walks on inclined treadmills. However, I have concerns, I weigh 175lbs & I'm 5'3 and needs to lose 40-45lbs in 6 mos. How do you feel this will affect me?

Also great article Mrs. Adrian very informative :)

November 03, 2016

Adrian Bryant

i feel the 1000 cal diet alone will net you 40+ pounds lost in 6 months IF you are accuratley tracking the 1000 calories

November 03, 2016


I appear to be maintaing on a 1300 calorie diet and cannot lose any weight. I'm also exercising. Shall I reduce to 1000 calories. Please help I'm 5 foot 2 inches and need to lose a stone

October 26, 2016

Incorrect please try again

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