The Dangers of Not Eating Enough
Why does my weight loss journey seem so difficult? I am cutting my calories, avoiding carbs, and sometimes even skipping meals. I figured doing these things were the key to a successful weight loss program. I feel as if I am never going to lose this weight naturally and should just take up a fad diet or take a pill to make it all go away.
If this is your thought process, you are wrong. Most people worry that they are eating too many calories and immediately think that they can solve this problem by not eating at all. The main problem here is the lack of education and direction. I know that there is so much information thrown around the internet nowadays that makes understanding what's right for your body nearly impossible. I am not here to tell you that you must do it this way or that way to achieve your goals or that any diet is perfect for everyone. This would be a lie. There is no one size fits all when it pertains to a diet or exercise program. Everyone’s body is different and reacts in diverse ways.
I am here to lay out the science behind not eating enough, without using my opinions to persuade you into a new, ludicrous, fad diet, like so many others will do. The reason I won’t do this is because I am someone who firmly believes in things that have been proven over and over again, and the things that are then committed to science. This is the only way to keep yourself safe from being herded into the lies and deception that people put forth, as their truths, to make an extra buck.
Now, what does science show us happens in the body when we under consume calories?
One of the first things that will happen in your body is the drop in your blood sugar. Yes, your body will then naturally increase your production of insulin to stabilize your blood glucose but, If your body is unable to regulate your glucose, you will begin to display some, if not all, of the following symptoms; lightheadedness, nausea, fog brain, irritability, and moodiness. When I personally don’t eat at least 3 or 4 times throughout the day, I feel most of these symptoms and I do not feel good.
Your brain functions off of glucose as well. Without consuming carbohydrates or other natural sources of glucose, your brain won’t function properly. You could become less productive and alert, and develop a pounding heachache on top of all that.
Your body's metabolism will also begin to slow down, leaving you feeling tired and less motivated to pick up an exercise program. Exercise being the activity that will motivate weight loss the most when added to a proper diet.
You may also be depriving your body of essential nutrients that are required to maintain proper bodily functions. There are nutrients that you must consume in order to thrive and being aware of what those nutrients are should be a high priority when beginning any new diet plan.
When all of these interactions, listed above, take place because you aren’t eating enough calories, your body then begins to crave carbohydrates and sweets, usually leading to over consumption. This then brings you back full circle to the problem you were most likely having before. In fact, an examination of the long-term consequences of low-calorie diets found that between one third and two thirds of dieters regain more weight than they lost initially (Mann et al., 2007). This is because your body isn’t being allowed to properly adjust its mechanisms to support the sustained weight loss.
Lastly, when you try to lose weight solely by cutting calories, you will lose a similar percentage of fat and muscle. It is known that the more lean muscle mass you have on your body the higher your metabolism. So, by just cutting calories you may lose fat, but you are also setting your body up to store more calories as fat in the future.
In conclusion, dramatically reducing your caloric intake alone isn’t the healthiest way to lose weight, especially if you want to keep the weight off. Following a balanced diet that includes eating small meals throughout the day and incorporating an exercise program has proven to be the most beneficial way to lose fat and weight overall. I also want to reiterate that a diet that is right for someone else isn't necessarily a diet right for you. With this being said, seeing one of our registered dietitians on staff would ensure that you are triumphant in your future weight loss program by helping you build a diet specific to your body's needs. As an added bonus, our dietitians work alongside a world class fitness and counseling team that can help you accomplish a long lasting lifestyle change for a better future.
Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, Lew AM, Samuels B, Chatman J
Am Psychol. 2007 Apr; 62(3):220-33.
Benton D, Young HA. Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017;12(5):703–714. doi:10.1177/1745691617690878