Ever since the misconception that ‘thin is in’ crept into the minds of people across the world, many people are starving themselves to death by consuming very little calories. The first thing that people do to lose weight is to cut the calories in their diets. Carbohydrates, fatty foods, meat products, snacks and other protein-rich products are avoided in order to stick to a low-calorie diet plan. They restrict their diet plan to just low-calorie salads, steamed vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products. Some obsessed people may even skip meals without realizing the dangers that an extremely low-calorie diet can cause. There is a huge difference between a healthy diet and a low-calorie diet.
A calorie of sugar is definitely not the same as a calorie of broccoli or spinach. Reducing calories to lose weight may show some results temporarily, but generally is unsustainable. People must look at what they are eating, and not just numbers. Consuming a wholesome diet recommended by a nutritionist will help in weight-loss without adversely affecting the person’s health. Consuming more calories than your body requires
What you must reduce or avoid are fast foods, junk foods, processed foods and refined sugars. But, cutting down on calories unscientifically can cause numerous health problems such
1. Restricting Calories Causes Nutritional Deficiencies And Fatigue
Consuming fewer calories than what the body requires causes fatigue and leaves the body unable to meet its daily nutrient needs. A calorie-restricted diet may not contain the required quantities of iron, folate or vitamin B12, which can cause anemia and fatigue. 3 4 5
Moreover, the carbohydrates you consume has a direct impact on fatigue. While some studies suggest that calorie-restricted diets that are low in carbs may cause feelings of fatigue in some individuals, other studies show that low-carb diets reduce fatigue. So, the effect
- Protein: Lack of protein-rich foods may cause muscle loss, hair thinning and brittle nails.
- Calcium: Insufficient calcium intake may reduce bone strength and increase the risk of fractures.
- Biotin and thiamine: Absence of these two B-vitamins can result in muscle weakness, hair loss, and scaly skin.
- Vitamin A: Not eating enough vitamin A-rich foods can weaken your immune system and lead to permanent eye damage.
- Magnesium: An insufficient intake of magnesium may lead to fatigue, migraines, muscle cramps and abnormal heart rhythms.
2. Restricting Calories Weakens Your Bones
Consuming insufficient calories can lead to weakened bones. A restricted-calorie diet reduces the levels of the two reproductive hormones called estrogen and testosterone. This results in reduced bone formation and increased bone breakdown, resulting in weaker bones.6 7
Severe calorie restriction combined with physical exercise can increase stress hormone levels, which may also cause bone loss.8 9 Bone loss is a painful condition that is often irreversible and increases the risk of fractures. When nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, potassium, and phosphorus are deprived to the body due to calorie restriction, it makes the bones fragile and increases the risk of osteoporosis.
3. Restricting Calories Lower Your Metabolism
When restricted calorie diet becomes a habit, your metabolism
Muscle loss is one of
4. Restricting Calories May Cause Infertility
A diet that does not contain sufficient calories to suffice the body’s metabolism affects both men and women. A calorie-restricted diet may even have a negative impact on fertility, especially among women, as their ability to ovulate depends upon their hormone levels. An increased estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) level is a prerequisite for ovulation to occur.16 17
Some studies have shown that LH levels are also dependent on the calorie intake in a woman’s diet.18 19 Many studies also point to the fact that the reproductive function is suppressed in women who eat 22–42% fewer calories than required by the body to maintain their weight. Reduced calorie intake can also reduce estrogen levels, which is known to cause a long-term negative impact on bone and heart health.20
Some signs and symptoms of reduced fertility may include irregular menstrual cycles or a complete lack of menstrual cycles. But, subtle menstrual disturbances may not display any symptoms and may require medical examinations.21
5. Restricting Calories May Lower Your Immunity
Restricting the calories can have serious health implications and may increase your risk of infections and illness. The effect is magnified when infections caused by viruses like the common cold and flu is combined with intense physical activity levels.22 23 In a specific study, researchers compared athletes in various disciplines that places emphasis on a lean physique, such as martial arts, boxing, gymnastics or diving, to those in disciplines that focused less on body weight. The study observed that the athletes in disciplines that required leanness had to make a constant effort to lose weight and their possibility of being sick in the previous three months was almost double.24 Another study performed on taekwondo practitioners who observed restricted calorie diet to reduce their body weight in the week before a competition experienced lower levels of immunity and an increased risk of infection.25
With all the research backing the drawbacks of a calorie-restricted diet, it can be summarized that eating a balanced diet comprising all the nutrients and minerals is essential for a healthy body and mind. Most importantly, exercises must be incorporated into our daily schedule to prevent bone and muscular degeneration and for improved metabolism. The simple motto should be “eat well and burn better’.
|↑1||McDevitt, Regina M., Sally D. Poppitt, Peter R. Murgatroyd, and Andrew M. Prentice. “Macronutrient disposal during controlled overfeeding with glucose, fructose, sucrose, or fat in lean and obese women.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 72, no. 2 (2000): 369-377.|
|↑2||Bray, George A., Steven R. Smith, Lilian de Jonge, Hui Xie, Jennifer Rood, Corby K. Martin, Marlene Most, Courtney Brock, Susan Mancuso, and Leanne M. Redman. “Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial.” Jama 307, no. 1 (2012): 47-55.|
|↑3||Iron. Dietary Reference Intake: The Essential Guide To Nutrient Requirements. The National Academies Press.|
|↑4||Folate. Dietary Reference Intake: The Essential Guide To Nutrient Requirements. The National Academies Press.|
|↑5||Vitamin B12. Dietary Reference Intake: The Essential Guide To Nutrient Requirements. The National Academies Press.|
|↑6||Loucks, Anne B. “Energy balance and body composition in sports and exercise.” Journal of
|↑7||Ihle, Rayan, and Anne B. Loucks. “Dose‐response relationships between energy availability and bone turnover in young exercising women.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 19, no. 8 (2004): 1231-1240.|
|↑8||Clarke, Bart L., and Sundeep Khosla. “Physiology of bone loss.” Radiologic clinics of North America 48, no. 3 (2010): 483-495.|
|↑9||Fuqua, John S., and Alan D. Rogol. “Neuroendocrine alterations in the exercising human: implications for energy homeostasis.” Metabolism 62, no. 7 (2013): 911-921.|
|↑10||Fothergill, Erin, Juen Guo, Lilian Howard, Jennifer C. Kerns, Nicolas D. Knuth, Robert Brychta, Kong Y. Chen et al. “Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition.” Obesity 24, no. 8 (2016): 1612-1619.|
|↑11||Müller, M. J., and A. Bosy‐Westphal. “Adaptive thermogenesis with weight loss in humans.” Obesity 21, no. 2 (2013): 218-228.|
|↑12, ↑13||Rosenbaum, Michael, and Rudolph L. Leibel. “Adaptive thermogenesis in humans.” International journal of obesity 34 (2010): S47-S55.|
|↑14||Biolo, Gianni, Beniamino Ciocchi, Manuela Stulle, Alessandra Bosutti, Rocco Barazzoni, Michela Zanetti, Raffaella Antonione et al. “Calorie restriction accelerates the catabolism of lean body mass during 2 wk of bed rest.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 86, no. 2 (2007): 366-372.|
|↑15||Helms, Eric R., Caryn Zinn, David S. Rowlands, and Scott R. Brown. “A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes.” (2014): 127-138.|
|↑16, ↑18||Loucks, A. B., M. Verdun, and E. M. Heath. “Low energy availability, not stress of exercise, alters LH pulsatility in exercising women.” Journal of Applied Physiology 84, no. 1 (1998): 37-46.|
|↑17, ↑19||Loucks, Anne B., and Jean R. Thuma. “Luteinizing hormone pulsatility is disrupted at a threshold of energy availability in regularly menstruating women.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 88, no. 1 (2003): 297-311.|
|↑20||De Souza, Mary Jane, Sarah L. West, Sophie A. Jamal, Gillian A. Hawker, Caren M. Gundberg, and Nancy I. Williams. “The presence of both an energy deficiency and estrogen deficiency exacerbate alterations of bone metabolism in exercising women.” Bone 43, no. 1 (2008): 140-148.|
|↑21||Sonntag, Barbara, and Michael Ludwig. “An integrated view on the luteal phase: diagnosis and treatment in subfertility.” Clinical endocrinology 77, no. 4 (2012): 500-507.|
|↑22, ↑24||Hagmar, Magnus, Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, Lukas Berglund, and Bo Berglund. “Special attention to the weight-control strategies employed by Olympic athletes striving for leanness is required.” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 18, no. 1 (2008): 5-9.|
|↑23, ↑25||Tsai, Min-Lung, Kuei-Ming Chou, Chen-Kang Chang, and Shih-Hua Fang. “Changes of mucosal immunity and antioxidation activity in elite male Taiwanese taekwondo athletes associated with intensive training and rapid weight loss.” British journal of sports medicine 45, no. 9 (2011): 729-734.|