It should be fairly simple, right? Just burn more calories than you eat. Fewer calories should mean greater weight loss, and while that’s generally true, there is a lot more to it than that.
Many people attempting to lose weight want to see quick results, so they enthusiastically dive into a plan that cuts calories dramatically and increase their trips to the gym, length of their runs, or whatever physical activity they take part in.
Initially, this usually results in some pretty quick results, but then suddenly they stop losing, hitting a brick wall that seems impossible to get through, so the dieter cuts calories even further only to find they still aren’t losing those stubborn pounds.
While decreasing calorie intake is a good way to lose weight, eating too few calories can have detrimental effects on your weight loss efforts, as well as have a number of unwanted side effects.
A very low calorie diet, such as one that is 1000 calories or less per day, can cause fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and even gallstones to develop. It also lowers your metabolism, which is one of the reasons you’re probably not losing weight in addition to harming your health.
When you don’t get enough calories, your resting metabolic rate can slow significantly, which causes the body to burn calories much slower than before. Your body is a smart machine – it can sense a large reduction in the fuel it needs to run properly, so while it might work for a few days or sometimes even a few weeks, eventually it will sound the alarm that it needs to conserve energy in order to survive.
If the body isn’t getting the calories it needs in order to function optimally, there are a number of effects that can negatively impact weight loss and your health:
Reduced muscle mass. Muscle takes a lot of calories to maintain. On an extreme low-calorie diet, it’s the first thing your body will look to for fuel. It breaks down muscle tissue to use for energy, while saving the fat for future use. The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you’ll burn.
Slower metabolic rate. As mentioned, a very low-calorie diet will slow metabolism. If you aren’t eating enough, it also makes it difficult to exercise, which can further reduce your metabolic rate, making it even more difficult to lose weight.
Decreased leptin levels. Leptin is an important hormone that helps to regulate the metabolism and appetite. If your leptin level drops, the brain gets a signal that the body doesn’t have enough energy to function properly, causing it to go into starvation mode, slowing metabolism even more.
While you may need to eat more in order to weigh less, it’s important to nourish your body with high quality foods that help keep you satisfied without taking in too many calories. There is not one perfect number for everybody when it comes to how many calories you should consume, as there are numerous individual variables. As a general rule, however, women should not dip below 1200 calories a day; men should not drop below 1500.
More importantly, by focusing on whole, organic foods from the earth and avoiding processed foods filled with a long list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, you’re bound to eat fewer calories. You’ll also be providing your body with the essential nutrition it needs to function properly and achieve a more desirable weight.
-The Alternative Daily