Health Risks With A Diet Too Low In Calories
Updated: Dec 8, 2023
Let’s start this article by defining what a diet “too low in calories” really is. After years of helping my friends, we have determined to maintain adequate and relatively normal metabolic function we need somewhere around 800 calories on a daily basis. This number will go up or down based on activity levels and size and height of the particular subject.
If we choose to consume less than 800 calories a day, we will be fine for several weeks. Our bodies will switch energy production from burning glucose and simple sugars to functioning in gluconeogenesis. In gluconeogenesis, our bodies convert stored fat into sugars and then burns the sugars for energy. This is a normal process of metabolism and is a very efficient way to lose weight. All of us, except the very lean, will function fine in gluconeogenesis for a period of several weeks.
The key to doing well with a limited number of calories, in the 800 – 1,000 calorie per day range, is twofold – adequate nutrition and hydration. We can live normally and lose weight very efficiently if we watch these elements:
Stay hydrated – we get a good deal of our daily water from the foods we eat. If we are eating less food, we need to be drinking water, good clean water. Not sodas, especially diet sodas, not coffee, not milk, not fruit juices. Daily water intake should be at least half an ounce per pound of body weight. This means if we weigh 200 pounds, we should be drinking at least 100 ounces (3 quarts) of water daily.
Keep up optimal nutrition – this is why many weight loss methods fail, inadequate nutrition. When consuming less food, we must supplement our diets with nutrition to make up for the lack of natural vitamins and minerals in our food. At the least, we need a good multi-vitamin, good B vitamin complex, vitamin C, vitamins D and E with minerals including zinc, and calcium-magnesium complex.
Repeat, keep up optimal balanced nutrition – this means tracking what goes into the 800 – 1,000 calories we eat. We need good sources of protein, natural sugars from whole fruits, natural vitamins, and minerals from vegetables. Each meal we eat should include protein, vegetables and fruit. No processed foods, no carry-out, no microwave meals and no “diet” foods. When we maintain optimal balanced nutrition, we can live very productively on a low-calorie diet.
Sleep – it is natural to feel lower energy when we are consuming 800 – 1,000 calories daily. Successful living on a low-calorie diet requires proper rest. This might include naps during the day if we are not able to get around 8 hours of good, restful sleep at night.
Health risks to be aware of if we fail to follow the above bullet points are multiple and can be very serious with very low-calorie diets. Watch out for:
Constipation – if we are moving very little material through our digestive tract, it can lead to a dangerous slowing of waste material. Always keep up hydration and make sure we are consuming good amounts of fruit and vegetables to keep things moving through our system.
Headaches – this phenomenon is not unusual if we allow ourselves to become dehydrated or let our nutrition lag. Good water intake is critical during any time spent on a low-calorie diet.
Gall stones – while not a regular dysfunction, gall stones can develop due to production of cholesterol. Again, good hydration and good nutrition will typically keep us away from suffering with gall stones.
Perhaps it can be noted, most of this article was spent on how to maintain our vitality and health while pursuing a low-calorie diet with weight loss in mind. Losing weight and developing better health in the process is very attainable under the correct supervision.
Please do not put off losing weight because of a concern over risks of following a reduced calorie diet. The health benefits and lifestyle advantages to losing weight are amazing. We have been privileged to watch almost 40,000 people change their lives, one day at a time.