When it comes to weight loss, things can go from a very casual transition to nuclear with what seems like the push of a button. Motivation takes over and the thought of pushing yourself to the extreme to see changes and results gets the best of you. Maybe you have a big event coming up that you want to look your best for or an upcoming vacation? I get it. I’ve been there before too. But that was when I didn’t know any better. And if you’re like many people out there who thought dropping your calories super low and eating too little in an effort to be in a drastic caloric deficit to force your body to lose weight was a good idea, think again.
The fact of the matter is, eating too little can actually completely destroy your progress and send your body in a whirlwind and downward spiral. The end result is crash and burn. If you thought losing weight was challenging, try losing weight when eating too little and your body gives you the Italian salute and wants to fight you as if you were thrown into the Mortal Kombat video game. FIGHT! Only your body has all the secret codes to beat you down every time.
In this article, I want to talk to you about the negative effects you can be faced with when you decide to go the route of eating too little in an attempt to drop weight and body fat. All of the things below can hurt your fat-burning potential as they all tie into how your body utilizes and burns stored body fat. Let’s dive right into it with number one.
- You are constantly hangry
If you have been on a diet, you know the hunger pangs you may experience. It’s the rumbling of your stomach and discomfort until you finally eat. Well, if you’re eating too little on a consistent basis, you’re going to get extremely moody – in other words, HANGRY. For those of you who never heard of that term before, it’s the combination of hungry and angry.
When this happens, many people cave on their diet and break all the rules. They binge on the food they know is bad for them when in reality, if they’re eating too little, the only thing they’d really need to do is increase their calories to anywhere from 250-500 under their maintenance. The “if a little is good, then a lot is better” does not apply to weight loss and slashing your caloric intake.
- You haven’t seen the number on the scale move in weeks
A telltale sign that you’re eating too little is when your weight loss has completely stalled out. You drop more calories from your diet and see no change on the scale. It’s because your body is essentially trying to preserve itself as it thinks you’re starving even though you’re actually doing it to yourself on purpose.
When you are eating too little, your body is going to want to hold on to every last calorie you give it. From the start, you need to figure out what your maintenance calories should be and subtract 250 calories from that number. It’s that simple. If your maintenance is 2,000 calories, drop it down to 1,750 and see how your weight loss progress goes. You can always make changes. But dropping your calories from 2,000 to 1,000 because you think more is better will only set you up for failure.
- You are always tired and lack energy
It doesn’t matter if you get seven hours of sleep each night. If you are eating too little, you’re going to have zero energy and feel lethargic all day long. And it makes sense. If you aren’t providing your body with the proper amount of nutrients it needs to effectively fuel your body, your physical and mental performance is going to suffer.
In order to bring your energy back up, you’re going to need to bring your calories back up. If you constantly have your tank running on “E” you will eventually completely burn out and run out of gas or you could even have some major health complications which you absolutely want to avoid.
- You notice you aren’t going #2
I’m not going to lie, talking to you about your poop is a little uncomfortable, but in the end, you’re going to notice a difference in bowel movements if you are eating too little. When I say “notice a difference” I mean you’re going to find yourself jammed up and unable to drop the kids off at the pool (a little poop humor for some chuckles).
Your body is trying to save energy. Digesting food takes energy – energy which you may not have due to dropping your calories so low. Therefore, your digestive tract will take its good old time pushing food through your system. A simple fix would be to raise up your calories and ensure you are consuming enough fiber in your diet.
- You notice a dip in strength
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably still working out, right? During your workouts, you will probably notice that your strength has disappeared – just like your energy. Well, they go hand-in-hand. If you’re not fueling your body properly, expect to see a decrease in strength and performance in the gym.
You aren’t able to effectively burn fat if you aren’t fueling your body so you can train intensely. Again, increase your calories and you’ll start to see your strength come back.
- You notice a decrease in muscle
It’s an unfortunate thing but if you aren’t providing yourself with enough calories, your body can actually turn catabolic. Sure, your body can tap into your fat stores but it can also pull energy from breaking down lean muscle tissue. If you lose lean muscle tissue, your metabolism will actually slow down because muscle, itself, utilizes a lot of energy from normal day to day functions as well as rebuilding broken down muscle fibers after bouts of exercise.
Dipping low in calories will not help you hold onto your muscle mass. Calculate how many calories your body burns each day as your maintenance baseline and slowly lower the calories from there. Taking your calories super low will serve you no benefit and, in the end, will do more harm than good – especially when it comes to fat-burning and weight loss.