The consequences of low calorie diets are automatic and inevitable. The responses, in turn, are metabolic, hormonal and psychological in nature, and include: decreased metabolism, loss of muscle strength, increased activity of fat and hormone storing enzymes, decreased activity of fat and hormone burning enzymes, decreased thyroid output, increased appetite, increased chance of regaining weight and decreased energy and work capacity. Let’s take a quick look at each one.
Low Calorie Diets Slow Your Metabolic Rate
The first thing that occurs when you drastically lower your calorie intake is the decrease in your metabolic rate. The less calories your body acquires, the slower your metabolism will act. That is, if you eat less, your body will burn less fat and the more you eat, the more fat it will burn. Let’s see if you can understand better, imagine you’re earning $ 4000 a month, but your boss suddenly cuts your payout to $ 2500. You will probably try to live in the same lifestyle you had when you earned $ 4000, right? But after a while, you will have to rethink your way of life and start saving money. The same happens when the amount of calories ingested is too low. If calories are reduced below metabolic needs.
When calories are restricted, their metabolism slows down by 20-30%. This metabolic slowdown occurs as follows: When calories are restricted, your metabolism slows down by about 20-30%, right? Already when severe calorie restriction occurs, some studies show that resting metabolism drops about 45%! This is the equivalent of having your daily energy expenditure drop from 3000 calories a day to just 1,650 calories. This explains why low calorie diets consume calories after a while but you still lose weight. This also explains why it is so hard to lose the last 10 or 20 pounds.
Low Calorie Diets Cause You to Lose Muscles
The most devastating effect of the low calorie diet is the loss of muscle tissue. Once the hunger alarm is triggered, your body begins to look for ways to conserve energy. Muscle tissue is metabolically active. Getting rid of it is the body’s way of decreasing its energy expenditure. It is easy for your body to use muscle for energy. This process is known as gluconeogenesis – conversion of muscle to glucose. This includes skeletal muscles and internal organs, even your heart muscle!
Studies after studies have shown that low-calorie diets that are not accompanied by exercise always cause about 40-50% of weight loss from lean tissue. Many diets, especially those where carbohydrate consumption is low, will have a very large body water loss. That is, between the loss of water, glycogen and muscle tissue, it is proven that 75% of the weight you lose is not fat.
This initial weight loss on most diets is very misleading, giving us only the illusion that we are succeeding. Even with exercise, if a diet is extremely restrictive, much of the actual weight loss will come from your lean tissue.
Low-calorie diets increase the ability of enzymes to store fat and decrease its ability to burn them.
The enzyme that drives fat storage is called LPL. When you decrease the amount of calories you eat, your body will produce more LPL and fewer ‘fat burners’. In other words, if you don’t eat enough, your body will change its chemistry to make it easier to store fat in the future.
Low Calorie Diets Decrease Thyroid Hormone Production
The thyroid is responsible for regulating your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest). When your body feels a severe reduction in the amount of calories ingested, there is a corresponding reduction in the production of active thyroid hormone. The result is a decrease in your metabolic rate and your calories burned.
Low-Calorie Diets Increase the Chance of Overweight
Almost everyone loses weight initially on low calorie diets, but it never takes long for the body to start capturing and conserving energy. Then comes the question: Were you losing weight before and now you are losing almost nothing or simply losing, but very slowly? This is common on a low calorie diet and certainly not what you want for you.
What’s worse is that the lack of results, combined with a starving stomach and an insatiable desire to eat, often causes people to give up their diet out of sheer frustration. They put an end to the diet, the weight comes back to the body, and their fat comes from where it came from – only now with much less muscle and slower metabolism. And with that, what used to be a maintenance level becomes a surplus, and the weight comes again. Most people are back to the weight they had when they started the diet, and others gain even more, making them fatter than when they started the diet.
This weight loss and gain is popularly known as the “yo-yo effect”, and it often lasts for years or even a lifetime. With each failed diet attempt, metabolism becomes less and less efficient and you can actually become progressively fatter by eating less.
Low-calorie diets increase appetite and cravings.
When your body goes into starvation mode, it causes your appetite and cravings to increase in an attempt to get you to eat more food. Hunger and cravings can be so strong that you become more voracious. It is virtually impossible to stick to a diet when you are ravenously hungry, and all you can think about is eating. Few people have all this willpower.
Low Calorie Diets Lower Your Energy and Work Ability
Low calorie diets make you more tired, lethargic and unable to sustain high levels of intense activity or exercise. Dr. Lawrence Lamb, author of The Weighting Game says: ” The truth about weight control, points out that the first sign of malnutrition is energy loss and an inability to sustain prolonged physical work. There is a direct relationship between the calories consumed and the physical work a person can perform. “If you don’t have the energy to work, you will feel miserable and seriously compromise your results. The ability to train hard aerobically and with weight is critical to your long-term fat loss success.