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Starvation Effect Concerns

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:02 pm
by CkDead
Hello. I started a diet and workout regimen based on information from this and an assortment of other sites. I continue to be impressed with the thoroughness and accuracy of the information on this site, and I figure this forum could help answer some of my concerns.

Beginning on November 7th of last year, I initiated a diet based on low fat intake, moderate-high carbohydrate intake, and moderate protein intake. The following picture is a composite average of my daily nutrition and exercise habits, which consist of racquetball and weight training.


I'm 5'10". At the beginning of this diet, I weighed in at 244 pounds, with high body fat but moderately muscled. At my most recent weigh in two days ago, I now weigh 214 pounds.

My basal metabolic rate is approximately 2100 calories, so I restricted my diet to around 1600-1700 calories (the image is somewhat skewed by days with only partial entries, so some 900 calorie days drag the average down). This is a sound reduction, but I've been concerned that on days when I play racquetball and train, I'm getting a very inadequate amount of nutrients. I burn upwards of 3100 per day on training days (about 4 per week), as shown in the graph.

My question is, despite my continuing and effective weight loss, which has not been accompanied by muscle performance decreases in the gym, am I risking my long-term weight loss by eating too little? Do I need to gradually increase my daily intake to around 2500 calories to keep up?

Thanks for any help, and I can answer any additional questions about my diet or training.

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:41 pm
by Jungledoc
I think your carb intake is too high, and your fats are too low. You are depending on carbs for your daily energy needs, and not fats. I don't believe that it will be very easy to maintain your losses on this sort of diet. In fact, I doubt that it will be easy to stay on this sort of diet.

Yes, I think your total calories should probably be higher, but as I've argued on this forum at some length, I don't think calories is a useful measure if you are treating calories of one macronutrient as equal to calories of another macronutrient. Your daily energy needs should come primarily from fats, with more carbs pre- and post-workout. As it is, you are maintaining a fairly high insulin level, and that is not a help in the long run.

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:54 pm
by ApolytonGP
I'm not a doc, but I ran a 3#/week loss for 5+ months (from 230 to 160, 5-8, goodly exercise, calories from 1500-2000 during different periods). I found that it worked fine. Probably could have lost 4#/week or 2#/week and not much difference. I went a little protein heavier and carb lighter, but not sure if that mattered. I did get very squeeky hair though. Now that I'm not in deficit it is back to normal.

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:07 pm
by NightFaLL
I lost ~50lbs in 3 months when i first started dieting, that's like what.. 3+lbs/wk?

I dunno I think the whole '1-2lbs a week is the only healthy way' is just something that's been said forever. I think if you're doing it right, you can cut weight and maintain muscle easily at 2-3lbs a week (Until you get below like 10% bodyfat.)

I'd say if you're seeing good results, stick at it. I would agree that you should lower your carbs some and raise your fats.

Fats are used in the balance of hormones, which decides whether you build muscle, burn muscle, store fat or burn fat more than probably anything else.

I've read somewhere that ~90g/day is an adequate fat intake for most, with omega3/unsaturated fatty acids making up much of the diet.

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:24 pm
by stuward
We have a sticky about fats. Low-fat is anything under 30%. That's been proven to be harmful but it's what's still recommended. 40% is probably better for a health point of view. If you're on a low carb diet, fat could be up to 60%. On a 3000 calorie diet that could be 90g. The ratios are debatable. The "prudent diet" is equal saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. It turns out that higher saturated may be better. 1/2 of your polys should be omega 3 for optimal health but you can get by with less. Total omega 6 should be around 4g. No one gets that little today but that seems to be optimal for health.

These ratios are what I see based on my selective readings. I know most dietitians would say I'm out to lunch.

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:00 am
by CkDead
Thanks for the quick replies and input everyone. I've read that if you intake more fats as part of a diet, your body will use fat as your primary energy source, aiding in burning excess bodyfat. Hopefully this is true.

I forgot to mention in my original post that most of the fats I consume come from almonds, cashews, lean meats, and cheeses, and I also eat a fair amount of Mahi and Tuna for omegas and protein.

Based on what's here so far, I think I'm going to adjust my diet by adding around 100 calories (as recommended on the site) per week to an eventual goal of about 2300 a day. I suppose I'll trade a portion of carbohydrate intake for more fats from my existing sources.

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:10 am
by Jungledoc
Yeah, that's wise--to make small changes and assess the results.

Posted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:13 am
by Jungledoc
stuward wrote:I know most dietitians would say I'm out to lunch.
I think that's fine, as long as it's a low-carb lunch! :lol:

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:45 am
by Ironman
Perfect advice. I couldn't have said any better.

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 12:05 am
by CkDead
Whelp, I know this thread is a little old at this point, but I figured I'd post my revised diet and results.

This is my averages as of late. I balance my fats the best I can with sometimes limited nutrition data.


At the time of my last post, February, I weighed about 215. I'm currently at about 185.

Carbs are gained from breakfast, fruit and vegetable intake, and post-workout meals. Although it's not entirely kosher, I eat some unrefined carbs (usually around 25g) for breakfast because I feel sluggish if I don't. Otherwise, it's a potato or Ezekiel bread post-workout and vegetables the other meals.

I was a bit worried about the transition from getting most of my energy from carbs to fats, but things seem to have gone smoothly. I'm making good gains in the gym despite having my eating restricted. My daily calorie intake is roughly even with my BMR but I am still in deficit from energy expenditure in the gym.

Thanks for the advice posted here.

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:54 am
by stuward
Well done. That's great progress. It's common to reach a point where you stall, get discouraged, start slipping back to your old ways. You need to catch yourself, don't feel guilty, just revist your goals and adjust. Come back if you need help or advice.

Thanks for sharing your results.

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:05 pm
by CkDead
Thanks for the warm reception :green:

At this stage, I'm considering upping my intake to bulk for a period. I'm a large-framed individual and I figured that 200lbs was as light as I could get, but clearly being 185 has proven that incorrect. I think at this stage I would like to maximize my muscle gains considering my fat level is about where I want it and I know I'm inhibiting muscle hypertrophy by eating under my daily expenditure. I'm thinking of simply upping my portion size and eating using a similar strategy, simply enlarged, and making the changes in the gym.

Posted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:57 am
by stuward
Just increasing everything will work, certainly better than the opposite approach for reducing. It's important to get adequate nutrients. That's hard while reducing, easier while gaining. Once you need to cut, keep the protein and fat constant and cut the carbs. Ideally, a carb high/low cycle works best for fat free muscle gain. You will always be healthier to base your diet on real food and it makes it easier to cut again if you maintain that habit.

Posted: Wed May 19, 2010 10:54 am
by CkDead
That's what I was thinking, bumping up both fat and protein to a degree but primarily adding more quality carbohydrates. I already have a fair amount around the house I've been using for a post-workout meal. They're all whole grain and not processed and have no sugar. I eat about 90-130 grams of carbs per day and will probably cycle that to around 170-200.

Posted: Fri May 21, 2010 12:09 am
by shane
The perfect diet is identical saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. It turns out that higher saturated may be better. 1/2 of your ploys should be omega 3 for optimal well being but you can get by with less. Total omega 6 should be round 4g. No one gets that little today but that appears to be optimal for health.