It’s pretty normal for people trying to lose weight to try to restrict the number of calories that they eat. While this may actually be helpful in some ways, you may be doing yourself more harm than good by increasing your risk of other health problems. Your body needs calories to function and also to sustain digestion, basal metabolic rate (BMR) and physical activity. Of course, eating less calories than your body needs helps to promote weight loss, but then, you shouldn’t focus so much on losing weight that you end up harming yourself. There has to be a balance. Below are some ways by which restricting calories can be harmful.
1. It can cause fatigue and nutrient deficiencies
Depending on which foods and how much you are cutting out, you may not be able to meet your daily nutrient needs like iron, folate or vitamin B12, and lack of these nutrients can lead to fatigue. How much carbs you consume also determines your fatigue levels. However, it is usually dependent on the individual, as some studies have found out that calorie-restricted diets with low-carb diets may cause feelings of fatigue, while other studies have shown that low-carb diets actually reduce fatigue. Restricting calories can also make you deficient in protein, calcium, biotin and thiamine, vitamin A and magnesium. You have to eat a variety of whole, minimally processed foods, to avoid this.
2. It can weaken your bones
Calorie restriction can reduce estrogen and testosterone levels, and the deficiency of these two hormones can reduce bone formation and increase the risk of bone breakdown. Stress hormone levels can also be increased, especially when combined with workouts. When your bones are weakened, you are more likely to suffer from minor injuries and fractures.
3. It can lower your metabolism
Your metabolism can slow down if you aren’t eating enough calories as needed by your body, and this has been linked to the reason why many people regain weight after stopping their calorie-restricted diets. This is because a lower metabolism can persist even long after the diet is stopped, and your body won’t be working as effectively as it should. You need to take in a good amount of calories to sustain your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and increase your protein intake to avoid muscle loss which may slow down your metabolism.
To eat the right number of calories, determine your BMR, estimate your daily requirement and then determine your calorie needs for weight loss. You can also keep a food journal, where you record everything you eat so that you have an idea of how much you eat.
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