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  The Low Carb Cafe :: View topic - Eating too Little
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Eating too Little
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PrairieGal



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 10:18 am    Post subject: Eating too Little Reply with quote

Starvation Mode

Here is what happens when an overweight person tries to diet too strictly (too little food): the body senses that it is not getting enough fuel and it becomes more efficient at using what little it has. It kind of lowers the temperature in the furnace so that it doesn't need as much to get by. They say this is a way the human body has adapted over many generations to periods of famine and hunger. This happens especially if you are not getting enough fat in your diet and is probably one reason why extremely low fat diets don't work well for weight loss.

Eventually, if you keep starving, the body will use up all it's fat reserves and you will begin to burn muscle tissue for energy. The anorexic or the starvation victim (or the extreme dieter) loses not just fat but muscle and becomes emaciated. There are all sorts of other physical problems that go along with this too.

On the other hand, if you eat plenty of protein and enough fat so that your body does not feel starved while restricting the amount of carbs enough to prevent the body from getting all its needed energy from them and even storing some as fat, your body will use up its stored fat for energy. You will keep your lean muscle tissue because you are using stored fat and replenishing muscle with protein intake. This is lots healthier than extreme calorie reduction or purging or other eating disorder type behavior. Eating plenty of protein and fat also satisfies your appetite so that you automatically eat less, keeping the overall calorie count lower than you would on high carbs.

I think what people mean when they suggest increasing carb intake to break a stall is that your body may be slipping into that "starvation mode" where it doesn't use up energy as fast. By adding some carbs (or, I expect, good fats) you reassure your body and it sort of says "oh, we have food - the famine must be over" and begins using fuel faster.

Now, I have seen quite a few people mention that you can't lose weight on a no-carb diet; this is not true. I lost 54 pounds in 1970 doing just that. I followed the Stillman diet to the letter and dropped all that weight in about 3 months. But when I started eating carbs - and especially sugar - again (too much too soon) my body reacted as if I were diabetic. They even put me in the hospital to teach me how to do the insulin shots. You will lose weight without any carbs - but it isn't a very healthy way to do it and it isn't necessary to restrict your body that way. The carbs we do eat supply nutrients we need and fiber that is healthy. Moderation is a good thing.
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