Why Not Eating Enough Food Stops Weight Loss

Find out what problems are associated with not eating enough food when trying to lose weight

Weight loss is challenging and some people approach these challenges with a little too much enthusiasm. Instead of pursuing a healthy weight loss eating plan, they adopt the philosophy that “more is better”. More calorie cutting, that is. Although the weight may fall initially, it inevitably drops off and then stops despite the fact that they’re eating so few calories. How can this problem of not eating enough food and “starvation mode” be avoided?

The Consequences of Not Eating Enough Food
Doesn’t it make sense intuitively that if you severely restrict calories the weight should come off even faster? If you’re not eating enough food, your body will initially respond with loss of weight, but after a few weeks the weight loss slows despite the fact that the body is taking in insufficient calories. Why does this occur? As the body senses starvation, the metabolism decreases so that less overall energy is needed. This is a form of adaptation to protect the body from self-starvation. At the same time, the body looks for other sources of fuel and starts to break down muscle to get energy it needs. This results in loss of lean body mass. This can be dangerous for individuals who are not drastically overweight to begin with as the body can break down the tissues surrounding internal organs, including the heart.

This is not the effect that most dieter’s want and once this semi-starvation process is started, it can be difficult to reverse. Although some experts recommend exercise to give the metabolism an additional boost, if more calories are burned than the body is taking in, the body will once again go into calorie conservation mode. Women are more likely to experience a dramatic slow down in metabolism when not eating enough food than men which may be related to the difference in lean body mass between the two sexes.

How to Avoid the Consequences of Not Eating Enough Food When Dieting
Obviously, these undesirable effects of not eating enough food need to be avoided. The best way to do this is to set realistic weight loss goals and plan overall calorie intake around those goals. Weight loss of between one to two pounds per week is ideal for most people. Achieving this rate of weight loss requires a calorie deficit of between five hundred to a thousand per day through a combination of diet and exercise. There are calculators online to help determine how many calories are needed to achieve this goal without sending the body into starvation mode.

Other Strategies for Boosting Metabolism
Other ways to avoid slowing down the metabolism when losing weight is to eat five small protein rich meals a day. This helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep the metabolism operating at peak capacity. Adding a form of resistance training along with aerobics will help to build lean body mass to give the metabolism an additional boost.

The Bottom Line?
Not eating enough food is not the answer to successful weight loss. The key is to set realistic, achievable goals through careful planning and avoid the “quick weight loss” mentality that can send your body into starvation mode.

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