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TOPIC: What happens to your body if you don't eat enough calories?

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May 20, 2011 6:47 PM
Here is what I found out...

Answer:
you get really bad headaches! but other than that I guess you can lose weight.
First your body burns all of its stored energy, in other words, your excess fat. Then it begins burning your muscles, and you get weak and lose all muscle tone. You get hair on your back even if you are a girl, and the hair on your head is not shiny anymore, but thin and ratty.

If your body starts burning muscle, remember that your heart is a muscle, and your health is *greatly* at risk. If you don't eat enough calories, you eventually die.
May 20, 2011 6:57 PM
That's right. You die.
May 20, 2011 7:01 PM
It's not just about eating enough calories, but eating the right types of foods. You could eat 2000 calories of chocolate candy each day and some parts of your body would starve.

Starvation isn't just about energy -- it's also about nutrition. You have to have the right stuff with your calories to nourish your body.
  6196745
May 20, 2011 7:02 PM
huh
May 20, 2011 7:03 PM
This is posted for people who are not eating properly over a long period of time. Many times we see people who have lost massive amounts of weight and they dont recognize their behaviors and they dont understand what can happen to them in the long run.
May 20, 2011 7:04 PM
Yep, and if you're closer to goal and don't eat enough I learned today that your body actually starts holding onto fat as stored energy because it's worried it's not going to get enough.....so the opposite of what I wanna do. Eating under calories is very popular here on MFP but I don't comment on those posts because eating under is often not the right move for everyone and I think it's a bandwagon thing, people feel peer pressure to finish under for the day. I don't eat all (but I do eat some, usually 1/3) of my exercise calories back most days, but I still don't consider it something to compliment people on.
May 20, 2011 7:18 PM
Can I share my two cents worth?
I was eating under my calories (1200 cal) about 1000, and I can not say for sure if this is related to it or not, however, something has affected the heart. I started having irregular heart beats, in fact the heart was beating at 44 beats a minute and then would go faster. I am in a yo-yo effect and it seems like your energy is just being sucked out of you. I was okay as long as I laid still but as soon as I stood up then the blood pressure would drop. I ended up spending 9 days in the hospital while they tried to get it regulated. Is it "starvation mode?" I am not sure however, the doctor did suggest that I take 50 mg of magnesium to try to heal the heart muscle. I am totally exhausted and she figures it has thrown me into a full blown fibromyalgia episode and it could be months before I come out of it. So my recommendation is if you are going to go under your calorie level, then make your calorie level more realistic by setting it higher. I am now set for 1500, but I am still finding it hard to eat 1300. I am one of the ones who always praised those on MFP for staying under their calorie goals, but now I am going to stop doing that. :))
  4123147
May 20, 2011 9:42 PM
QUOTE:

Can I share my two cents worth?
I was eating under my calories (1200 cal) about 1000, and I can not say for sure if this is related to it or not, however, something has affected the heart. I started having irregular heart beats, in fact the heart was beating at 44 beats a minute and then would go faster. I am in a yo-yo effect and it seems like your energy is just being sucked out of you. I was okay as long as I laid still but as soon as I stood up then the blood pressure would drop. I ended up spending 9 days in the hospital while they tried to get it regulated. Is it "starvation mode?" I am not sure however, the doctor did suggest that I take 50 mg of magnesium to try to heal the heart muscle. I am totally exhausted and she figures it has thrown me into a full blown fibromyalgia episode and it could be months before I come out of it. So my recommendation is if you are going to go under your calorie level, then make your calorie level more realistic by setting it higher. I am now set for 1500, but I am still finding it hard to eat 1300. I am one of the ones who always praised those on MFP for staying under their calorie goals, but now I am going to stop doing that. :))


I think that you two cents is exactly related to what I am trying to say. It seems obvious that this has affected your health. I hope others see I could affect theirs too. I just want for all of us to be healthy and happy with the successes we have. And not to do harm to ourselves in the process.
May 21, 2011 12:22 AM
QUOTE:

Can I share my two cents worth?
I was eating under my calories (1200 cal) about 1000, and I can not say for sure if this is related to it or not, however, something has affected the heart. I started having irregular heart beats, in fact the heart was beating at 44 beats a minute and then would go faster. I am in a yo-yo effect and it seems like your energy is just being sucked out of you. I was okay as long as I laid still but as soon as I stood up then the blood pressure would drop. I ended up spending 9 days in the hospital while they tried to get it regulated. Is it "starvation mode?" I am not sure however, the doctor did suggest that I take 50 mg of magnesium to try to heal the heart muscle. I am totally exhausted and she figures it has thrown me into a full blown fibromyalgia episode and it could be months before I come out of it. So my recommendation is if you are going to go under your calorie level, then make your calorie level more realistic by setting it higher. I am now set for 1500, but I am still finding it hard to eat 1300. I am one of the ones who always praised those on MFP for staying under their calorie goals, but now I am going to stop doing that. :))

What you are describing happened to you does not sound like starvation. Real starvation is not all that common in 1st world countries.
Your blood pressure dropping and your heart rate increasing is a positive sign of relative dehydration. You possibly did not have enough fluid (read this as blood and plasma) circulating in your vascular system. It's fine when you are lying down, because your heart doesn't have to pump as hard or against gravity to your upper half. When you stand, what blood volume you have "sloshes" into your lower body and legs; following gravity, thereby decreasing your blood pressure in your head and causing your heart rate to increase in response to this drop in pressure. Magnesium is an important part of muscle contraction, it helps the muscles (heart) to relax and recharge for the next contraction. Also there are a number of other things that can make the heart change it's speeds and beat erratically, I'm betting they performed lots of tests on you in the hospital to rule electrical disturbances and such out? Anyway, it is important to maintain proper nutritional balance in our intake, but it is every bit as important to stay well hydrated.
Good luck to you on your journey, you can do it!!
  5786445
August 7, 2014 2:42 AM
hi im new to all this and have only been doing it for a few weeks..My question is pretty much the same I am meant to eat a little over 1500 calories a day but what happens if im short by a few hundred, I am eating properly and am full but i dont want to do any damage as i walk pretty much every daysmile
August 7, 2014 4:01 AM
The headaches are true fact or maybe from too much exercise. I've noticed lately my heart feels a little irregular, but also might just be from the exercise. I had to quit a few years ago because I overworked myself and got sick from it. I'm thinking about eating back all my exercise calories, but it's so hard going back to eating normal at least right now.
  54146800
August 7, 2014 4:01 AM
QUOTE:
Here is what I found out...

Answer:
you get really bad headaches! but other than that I guess you can lose weight.
First your body burns all of its stored energy, in other words, your excess fat. Then it begins burning your muscles, and you get weak and lose all muscle tone. You get hair on your back even if you are a girl, and the hair on your head is not shiny anymore, but thin and ratty.

If your body starts burning muscle, remember that your heart is a muscle, and your health is *greatly* at risk. If you don't eat enough calories, you eventually die.


- just a few questions to the original poster please:

Headaches I can go with.

Your second point - so it's ok for me to keep losing weight until I lose all my stored energy, in other words my excess fat, and I can stop just as I get to where I have just muscles and a small percentage of fat - or does the body burn energy stored in the muscles as glycogen, energy stored in the body as fat and also muscle tissue at the same time and in differing proportions?

Your third point regarding back hair - is this not just hereditary or will the back hair that I have had since puberty just disappear as I lose my excess fat? It hasn't started to happen yet but I do have another 20lbs to go I think.

I'm not saying you are wrong but I m a bit sceptical and a touch intrigued as to where you found your research material.
August 7, 2014 4:12 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:
Here is what I found out...

Answer:
you get really bad headaches! but other than that I guess you can lose weight.
First your body burns all of its stored energy, in other words, your excess fat. Then it begins burning your muscles, and you get weak and lose all muscle tone. You get hair on your back even if you are a girl, and the hair on your head is not shiny anymore, but thin and ratty.

If your body starts burning muscle, remember that your heart is a muscle, and your health is *greatly* at risk. If you don't eat enough calories, you eventually die.


- just a few questions to the original poster please:

Headaches I can go with.

Your second point - so it's ok for me to keep losing weight until I lose all my stored energy, in other words my excess fat, and I can stop just as I get to where I have just muscles and a small percentage of fat - or does the body burn energy stored in the muscles as glycogen, energy stored in the body as fat and also muscle tissue at the same time and in differing proportions?

Your third point regarding back hair - is this not just hereditary or will the back hair that I have had since puberty just disappear as I lose my excess fat? It hasn't started to happen yet but I do have another 20lbs to go I think.

I'm not saying you are wrong but I m a bit sceptical and a touch intrigued as to where you found your research material.


1st. As long as you do some type of weight training with cardio and eating less you shouldn't be losing muscle mass. Even with cardio you probably shouldn't eat into your muscles. Your glycogen storage is used up first then fat is used up. You have to reallllly under eat to cause muscle wasting. Been there done that, didn't seem like a problem at the time, it definitely was later.

2nd. Lanugo can develop in malnourished individuals it's fairly common in patients with anorexia nervosa, where it grows is hereditary, you also get it there from just aging. Hair is from an increase in testosterone production generally, so there is probably another underlying condition at play, but hair on the back isn't male pattern so idk.
  54146800
August 7, 2014 6:10 AM
QUOTE:

It's not just about eating enough calories, but eating the right types of foods. You could eat 2000 calories of chocolate candy each day and some parts of your body would starve.

Starvation isn't just about energy -- it's also about nutrition. You have to have the right stuff with your calories to nourish your body.


Sorry but starvation is all about calories. Nutrient deficiencies are something entirely different.
  53377916
August 7, 2014 6:16 AM
bump
  46314369
August 7, 2014 6:29 AM
QUOTE:

hi im new to all this and have only been doing it for a few weeks..My question is pretty much the same I am meant to eat a little over 1500 calories a day but what happens if im short by a few hundred, I am eating properly and am full but i dont want to do any damage as i walk pretty much every daysmile


I think it is natural to be under some days and over on other days. Many people here like to look at their quantities as a weekly average or total (so my goal would be to have ingested around 11,550 calories per week). I often try to stay under during the week so I can go a bit over on the weekend.
August 8, 2014 12:18 AM
thanks for that it helps a lot...i want results but i want to do it properly...also what is a decent amount to burn per day by exercise..cheers for the help
August 8, 2014 5:39 AM
QUOTE:

thanks for that it helps a lot...i want results but i want to do it properly...also what is a decent amount to burn per day by exercise..cheers for the help


A decent amount depends on what you're doing, how much effort you're putting into it and if you have any goals you're working towards, on workout days where I'm running and then doing a circuits class it depends on how many miles I do (I normally count about 100 per mile, anything above that I feel is generous) but my running is done at a steady pace, so I could probably count about 300 calories for a 5k and maybe 650 calories for the higher intensity circuits class, however I know someone training for worlds toughest mudder in November, he's burning in excess of 3000 calories a day with his workouts, but both of us are aiming towards different things, I'm going for a nice half marathon that normal people do, he's aiming to complete 60 miles plus all the obstacles in a 24hr endurance race (personally I think he's aiming for a straight jacket but that's just my opinion)!!
August 8, 2014 6:01 AM
I used to think that 1200 was the magic number... for about a week or 2... but then I realized that this would never work. I kept overeating on days when I was super hungry and ate anything I saw ;) These days if I eat less than 1500 I get signs that my body isn't getting enough.. I am losing weight on 1600-1900 a day love
  20164268
August 8, 2014 6:24 AM
Every time this thread comes up I read it "what happens to your body when.... "
and then I think

"you die"

but someone already said It LOL

QUOTE:

I used to think that 1200 was the magic number... for about a week or 2... but then I realized that this would never work. I kept overeating on days when I was super hungry and ate anything I saw ;) These days if I eat less than 1500 I get signs that my body isn't getting enough.. I am losing weight on 1600-1900 a day love


anyway- last line- super important.

Could you have survived on that 1200? sure- but that's the crux of the situation- WHY would you want to eat that little when you can accomplish the SAME EXACT GOAL of losing weight and not make yourself miserable. That's really all it boils down to. If you can lose weight AND still eat? How is this not a win win!!!!
August 8, 2014 9:47 AM
QUOTE:

Every time this thread comes up I read it "what happens to your body when.... "
and then I think

"you die"

but someone already said It LOL

QUOTE:

I used to think that 1200 was the magic number... for about a week or 2... but then I realized that this would never work. I kept overeating on days when I was super hungry and ate anything I saw ;) These days if I eat less than 1500 I get signs that my body isn't getting enough.. I am losing weight on 1600-1900 a day love


anyway- last line- super important.

Could you have survived on that 1200? sure- but that's the crux of the situation- WHY would you want to eat that little when you can accomplish the SAME EXACT GOAL of losing weight and not make yourself miserable. That's really all it boils down to. If you can lose weight AND still eat? How is this not a win win!!!!


Exactly... It's so hard to convince those that eat 1200 to up their calories, but once they do they will be so much more likely to continue their weight loss!
  20164268
August 8, 2014 10:04 AM
QUOTE:

It's so hard to convince those that eat 1200 to up their calories, but once they do they will be so much more likely to continue their weight loss!


This isn't correct. All the evidence and studies to date show "slow and steady" leads to just as high rates of weight loss failure and weight loss regain as all the other methods.
August 8, 2014 11:35 AM
QUOTE:

This is posted for people who are not eating properly over a long period of time.

Got it.

This is a public service announcement warning women about the imminent danger of hairy backs?
August 8, 2014 12:04 PM
I started carb cycling a week ago. I keep my carbs in check by making sure I eat more fats on my low carb days and enough protein everyday. Because I keep my carbs always under 160g I can't seem to eat enough calories. I eat 5-6 times a day and never let myself get very hungry but I struggle to eat 1000 calories everyday. Will my metabolism still slow down from the calorie deficit?
August 8, 2014 12:05 PM
So, bottom line, starvation can lead to death....?

Is that what we're talking about here?

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