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Why eating too few calories will backfire

Over the years I’ve met many individuals who fell into the trap of thinking that eating very low calories will speed up their weight loss. Or I meet individuals who’ve been ‘sold into’ a very low calorie diet, only to have it backfire and bring about less than satisfying results.

Some of those backfires include:

  • loss of muscle mass – muscle is crucial for sustained fat loss
  • loss of energy
  • loss of strength
  • weakened immune system – which often leads to increased illness
  • stall in weight loss
  • increase in body fat %

When individuals mention any of the symptoms above, the first thing I ask about is their diet. And more times than not, they’ll describe a very low calorie one – one that also sounds gruelling, depriving, and unsustainable.

I usually then suggest that they increase their intake. And within a few weeks, their weight loss continues, energy returns, and things begin to improve.

Yes, low calories will bring about weight loss. But eating too low can actually cause you to hold fat, lose muscle, weaken immune system, and backfire altogether. It’s just not worth it.

The remaining is an excerpt from Kristie Leong M.D at wcgh.org.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to avoid extreme calorie restriction. Here’s why.

What’s the best way to lose weight? Undoubtedly, the safest and most effective approach is to eat healthy and exercise; but some people want faster results and resort to unsafe practices such as diet pills and starvation diets. Neither approach works in the long run and both can have serious health consequences. To speed up weight loss further, some people adopt very low-calorie diets that fail to provide adequate nutrition. Sure, they may be rewarded with weight loss initially, but inevitably they end up jeopardizing their overall health. What are the consequences of eating too few calories?

Eating Too Few Calories Can Cause Health Problems

What are some of the medical problems seen in people eating too few calories? In women, one of the first signs may be irregular menstrual periods or even complete cessation of menses. This is frequently seen in people who have eating disorders such as anorexia where calories are severely restricted. When menses stop, the risk of bone loss climbs due to lack of estrogen and poor nutrition.

Other health risks associated with eating too few calories is anemia related to iron deficiency and decreased immunity due to low protein levels. This can increase the risk of colds and flu as well as more serious illnesses. Thyroid function can also be affected as the entire body tries to slow down to adapt to a starvation state. You may feel cold all the time with a decreased energy level and can experience mental symptoms such as depression.

The Bottom Line?

The reality is that eating too few calories not only increases the risk of serious health problems, it also doesn’t help with long-term weight control. When calories are severely restricted, the body goes into conservation mode by holding onto fat. This is why slow, steady weight loss through a sensible diet and exercise plan is the safest and most effective way to reach ideal body weight.

eating too few calories can actually cause you to hold fat, lose muscle, weaken immune system, and backfire altogether. It’s just not worth it.

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