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The Importance of Eating Enough CaloriesThe Importance of Eating Enough Calories


Importance of Eating Enough Calories

While it may be tempting to drastically reduce your calorie intake to quickly lose weight, research has shown time and time again that this is not an effective approach to long-term weight loss.

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 cut food intake drastically. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women eat no fewer than 1,200 calories per day and men eat no fewer than 1,800 calories per day. These numbers can change based on the individual. Any intake lower than these recommended amounts should be closely monitored by a medical professional.

What happens if I don't eat enough calories?

Extreme calorie restriction affects your health and your ability to lose weight. The dramatic reduction in food may prevent you from getting all the necessary nutrients. Research shows that extreme 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 excessive dieting increases stress and releases 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 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. To lose weight at this rate, you must reduce calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories daily. 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. Combining food intake reduction with regular exercise allows you to lose weight without severely limiting your calorie intake. This will prevent your metabolism from slowing and ensure your rate of weight loss remains steady.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
Eat better. Feel better. MyFoodDiary Categories Exercise
Weight Loss
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