While it’s true that burning more calories than you consume can result in weight loss, taking in too few calories is often unhealthy and counterproductive. This is so important to healthy, medical weight loss that we’re going to say it again: taking in too few calories is often unhealthy and counterproductive.
It’s extremely important to strike a balance because more calorie restriction does not always lead to faster or better weight loss. In fact, undereating will put you at risk of malnutrition, which is extremely dangerous.
Why is it bad to undereat?
- Your metabolism slows down
By giving your body fewer calories, you are essentially teaching it to live on less by slowing down your metabolism. When you sustain this restrictive diet, your body assumes that food is scarce and goes into survival mode to ration the small portion of calories it can access. Then, instead of burning calories at its usual rate, it slows down considerably, making weight loss even more difficult to achieve.
- You become malnourished
Eating less makes it more difficult to obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, including iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B, and vitamin D. Without these nutrients, you will experience debilitating side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, loss of coordination, breathing difficulties, aching joints, depression, and more. You certainly won’t be able to exercise well under these conditions.
- Your body literally breaks down
Without the calories and nutrients you need, your body will begin to lose muscle mass. It will also have a hard time distinguishing between essential tissues (kidneys, heart, etc.) and less essential tissues. That means that it will start to weaken and damage some of your most vital organs and cause your bones to become thin and brittle.
Health and fitness experts say that to lose one pound a week, you would need to accomplish a 500-calorie deficit every day via diet and exercise. This, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean eating less or starving yourself! Every body is different, but no body benefits from starvation. Not only can undereating lead to major health complications, it can also prevent you from losing weight altogether.
To learn more about healthy ways to lose weight and reach your fitness goals, look into various medical weight loss programs and consult a nutritionist for your dietary needs.