We all have been told countless times that in order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you consume. Many people turn to low calorie diets so that they can lose weight fast. While this method may work, it is not sustainable and could cause future health complications.
Low calorie diets are only a quick fix to weight loss. You may lose weight quickly while on a low calorie diet, but you will also gain it back quickly. It is not a sustainable method to losing fat and can, in fact, be the cause of more weight gain after the low calorie diet is over! The reason that you can gain even more weight after cessation of a low calorie diet is because of metabolic resistance and compensation. These metabolic issues are caused by the extreme stress that your metabolism faces while you are consuming a minimal amount of calories. Without an adequate amount of calories your body’s survival instincts will kick in. Think back to the caveman days.. your ancestors only ate when they were able to find something to hunt or gather, otherwise they didn’t eat. Your body naturally stores the food that you consume as fat because it doesn’t know when it will be receiving its next source of energy.
After your body has experienced a deficit due to a low calorie diet, your metabolism will be damaged. Your body has learned to store fat because it has gotten used to consuming a minimal amount of fuel. Because of this, you may have a higher body fat percentage once you go off of the low calorie diet even though you have lost weight. Furthermore, your body will store the “extra” calories that you eat once you go back to normal calorie consumption so your body fat percentage may continue to rise.
In addition to metabolic resistance and compensation, there are many health problems that could arise from not consuming enough calories such as nutrient deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, fatigue, nausea, anaemia, mood swings, and loss of muscle mass. Losing muscle could be another reason why you will not be able to reach your weight loss goals as quickly and effectively because the less muscle mass you have, the slower your metabolism is. You also need to consume a sufficient amount of calories each day in order for your organs and bodily systems to function properly.
Another issue that may arise from a low calorie diet is increased cortisol levels. Increased cortisol levels in the body could be the reason that you aren’t losing body fat as quickly as you would like or could result in a weight loss plateau. High cortisol levels in your body could also lead to long-term health problems such as insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.
Low calorie dieting also affects your thyroid gland negatively. Low thyroid levels with the hormone T3 have also been linked to troubles with weight loss. Having low levels of T3 could also be the cause of mood swings while consuming a low calorie diet.
In conclusion, low calorie diets are not effective in the long term and can be hazardous to your health. If you constantly eat, you rev up your metabolism because your body will learn that it is consistently receiving fuel so it burns the calories for energy instead of storing them. With all of the above in mind, consume an adequate amount of calories! The number of calories that you must consume is catered to every person individually, but the average person should be consuming around 2,000 calories per day. Just make sure that you are consuming the right foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and healthy fats). Remember that you must eat enough calories for your organs to function, to keep your metabolism going, maintain muscle mass, and to be healthy overall!