What Happens When You’re Not Eating Enough Calories?
When most people start dieting, they slash their calories and add a large amount of exercise to their daily routine. That’s fine, but they usually cut their calories way too low.
Add in the extra exercise, and all of a sudden you have an extreme calorie deficit that is working against you.
Not eating enough calories causes many metabolic changes. Your body is a smart machine and senses a large decrease in dietary energy.
Your large calorie deficit might work for a few days or even weeks, but eventually your body will wake up and sound alarms that it needs to conserve energy. It doesn’t want to just waste away. It needs that energy (fat) to survive.
So, what does your body do when it senses prolonged energy restriction? Not eating enough calories…
1. Slows down thyroid production – Your thyroid is responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism among other things. Your body has the ability to slow down thyroid output in an effort to maintain energy balance
2. Decreases muscle mass – Muscle is highly calorie intensive to maintain. In a prolonged extreme calorie deficit, it is one of the first things that your body looks to get rid of. Your body needs the fat, wants the fat, and the muscle can be spared. It breaks down the muscle tissue and uses it for energy.
3. Lowers testosterone levels – An important hormone for both men and women, testosterone is just one of many hormones that are affected with severe calorie restriction. Testosterone helps to build muscle tissue. Without it, it becomes that much harder to maintain, let alone put on muscle mass.
4. Decreases leptin levels – Leptin is one of many energy regulating hormones. More importantly, it’s a “hunger” hormone that tells you whether to eat or not. High leptin levels signal that it’s OK to stop eating, while low leptin levels are a signal to eat more energy. Because of this, leptin levels decrease in calorie restricted environments.
5. Decreases energy levels – There are many physical actions your body takes when you’re not eating enough calories to lose weight, but there are also some mental ones.
6. Neurotransmitter production is limited, which can lead to a lack of motivation. It’s your body’s way of telling you to “slow down” – conserve your energy.
So, avoid simple low calorie regimes – as soon as you start eating again – and you have to eat (unless you are planning an eating disorder) you will be back where you started, but with more body fat, less vigour, less resolve and feeling a fat failure.
Think – how long did it take you to get to where you are now – years? probably.
Consider – your diet history – have you tried every fad going? probably.
Ready for a different approach?
Add some exercise – YES
Restrict portion sizes – YES
Maintain Protein – YES
Smart Fasting – YES
DON`T EVER STARVE YOURSELF
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