In order to intelligently discuss this important topic, let us first clearly define what a calorie is. A calorie is a term for the energy content in food. It is said that the majority of people need somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 calories daily for proper functioning of the body’s organs and muscles. Basically, there are calories that are necessary to remain alive (these make up your Basal Metabolic Rate), and there are calories we need for exercise. To determine your BMR, which varies depending upon your gender, height, weight, and age, simply multiply your ideal weight by ten. For example, if your a woman whose ideal weight is 120, then approximately 1,200 calories per day would be recommended. Regarding the exercise, add about 200-400 calories depending upon the type and intensity.
With that said, how often do you hear daily someone say that they’re going to cut their calories so they can lose weight? It’s one of those things you might say, “If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say….” While it may sound nice, chances are what they’re really saying is that they’re going to go on some semblance of a starvation diet, and usually for a significant period of time. Their mindset: cut a lot of calories, lose weight quickly. Although that may indeed happen, it can come at a cost to your body that you did not bargain for. Here are a few.
Your immune system depends upon you taking in enough calories to be able to fight off colds, flu, infections, etc. When your lacking iron and have insufficient protein intake for too long, your immune system may not have the power it once had to keep you healthy and out of the doctors office. It has also been shown that calorie deficiency can increase inflammation and decrease anti-inflammatory immune factors in athletes and others. Once caloric intake is increased along with consumption of good fats, it is possible to reverse these affects.
Next, as ironic as it may sound, calorie cutting can be the, or at least one of the, culprits why you may not be losing the weight you wish to. Here’s how: When you eat too few calories, your body may think it is in “starvation mode” and actually lose muscle, which it needs to boost metabolism, and instead store fat impairing your weight loss efforts. Not to mention how it can make losing weight in the future more difficult. So, instead of reducing caloric intake, keep an eye on the types of calories, and get out and move your body!
Some additional negative side effects of lack of calories include anemia and joint swelling, decreased muscle strength, lack of concentration, lack of coordination, hair loss, brittleness of the fingernails, heart rhythm problems and abnormally low blood pressure. Oh, and let’s not forget low energy levels, heightened depression, and the effect it can have on your thyroid and causing you to often feel cold.
So, in a nutshell, if you want to stay healthy and out of the doctors office, keep your metabolism revving and not lose muscle, and avoid the many negative effects of calorie deficiency, then be sure to consume the recommended amount and appropriate types of calories daily. Eat and don’t cheat!