Why Starving Yourself Doesn’t Work When Trying to Lose Weight

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We all know and have heard the golden rule when it comes to weight loss, calories in must be less than calories out. What most people don’t know however is that cutting calories to an extreme can cause the opposite effect, and it comes along with a whole assortment of negative health effects as well.

The road to your ideal weight can be a long and treacherous one, full of failures and missteps. An easier fast track to this success would seem to be that cutting the more calories, the better. This is mainly because the body requires a certain amount of calories for function alone, or the resting metabolic rate.

It is not something that we are always aware of, but our bodies are using energy around the clock, even while we are at rest or sleeping. This means that we need a steady supply of calories throughout the day, whether or not we are performing physical exercise.

If we do not meet these minimal requirements in which our body needs to function, we go in to what we can refer to a hibernation mode. This is where your body uses less energy to perform certain functions, which means a reduced metabolism. This effect can be so substantial that in some people the difference can be a small meal or snack, meaning that your body normally would be able to burn off that extra cupcake, but now it cannot.

Your Brain Function Decreases As Well

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It is pretty easy to forget how much energy in the form of glucose that our brain needs to function, given the amount necessary to do so relative to its size. Your brain will get these nutrients to do so from somewhere, and if it can’t through diet because of a severe nutrient and caloric deficit; it will start to break down muscle tissue.

Muscle tissue loss not only atrophies the muscle weakening it, but also negatively affects metabolism and weight gain as well. Muscle tissue itself requires a lot of energy to function, and thus is great at burning calories and fat. Reduced muscle mass means reduced ability to burn this fuel, making it easier for the body to accumulate fat.

Fat Burns With the Help of Carbohydrates

Your body breaks down fat with the help of carbohydrates through the process of oxidation which happens in the mitochondria within the cell. Without this necessary carbohydrate fuel to shuttle the fats in to the mitochondria, this fat burning process ceases to function.

Lack of Calories Affects Other Functions as Well

If your blood glucose level drops too low as a result of a calorie deficiency, you face a slew of problems. These range from increased appetite, cravings and mood swings as a result. Not getting enough calories will also affect how our the processes we undergo during sleep occur. Poor sleep can elevate cortisol levels as a result of this stress, which also promotes the addition of fatty tissue.

Poor sleep also leads to the obvious decreased energy levels, increased fatigue and ability to function to our full cognitive abilities. Lack of sleep and poor sleep habits as a result of a lack of calories can also negatively affect our professional life in our ability to perform on the job.

Is There A Right Way to Cut Calories?

shutterstock_543242224Calories can be reduced safely and can be effective in weight loss if done properly. The key here is to keep your blood sugar levels regulated, and in doing so your body will still be able to function properly even though you are working at a deficit.

You want to cut calories to the point where you are reducing weight gain but are not affecting your resting metabolic rate. On average this is about 500 calories if you are adhering to a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

If you feel that your metabolism is stuck, that you aren’t losing nor gaining weight; a temporary fast may do the trick. This is a way to cut calories for a short period of time without the long term consequences of prolonging the caloric deficit on your body.