While it’s tempting to drastically reduce calories in an effort to lose weight fast, research has shown time and time again that this is not an effective approach to long-term weight loss. While it’s important that you control the number of calories you consume, too much restriction can halt your progress.
How many calories do I need?
The number of calories needed for weight loss is determined by several factors, and varies from person to person. MyFoodDiary uses the information you provide such as age, gender, and current activity level to determine a safe and effective number of calories to eat each day to reach your goals.
As you decrease calories, it’s important not to drastically cut food intake. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day and that men eat no fewer than 1,800 calories per day. These numbers can change based on the individual. The Mayo Clinic recommends talking with your doctor about the minimum number of calories that are safe for you. Any intake lower than these recommended amounts should be closely monitored by your medical professional.
What happens if I don’t eat enough calories?
Extreme calorie restriction affects your health and your ability to lose weight. Low calorie intake reduces the amount of food you can eat and may prevent you from getting all necessary nutrients. Research shows that calorie restriction reduces leptin, a hormone that helps to regulate appetite. Low levels of leptin can lead to hunger and overeating. Research also shows that low-calorie dieting increases stress and the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. As a result of this stress response, the body conserves energy and the metabolism slows to combat the risk of starvation. While you might think that drastically cutting calories is sure to result in weight loss, these changes in stress levels are actually associated with weight gain.
How can I reach my goals if I can’t reduce my calorie intake?
Losing weight at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week has been found to be the most effective method to keep it off for good. In order to lose weight at this rate, you will need to reduce calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day. This reduction could put some people below the recommended 1,200 and 1,800 calorie minimum. This is one reason that exercise is an important tool for weight loss. The calories burned during exercise contribute to the calorie deficit you need for weight loss. By combining reduced food intake with regular exercise, you can still lose weight without severely limiting your calorie intake. This will prevent your metabolism from slowing and ensure your rate of weight loss remains steady.