Are Low Calorie Diets Safe For Weight Loss?



Are low-calorie diets the solution? Well, if you think that's the case, then you have not experienced all the symptoms from following a low-calorie diet, and no, I'm not talking about all the joy from losing weight. First of all, let's take a moment to consider why the low-calorie approach may work at the beginning and why it will stop working because trust me; it will stop working eventually. Theoretically, the approach of following a low-calorie diet comes from what we already studied and found out: calories in = calories out, so in theory, what you are trying to accomplish when reducing the calories you eat is to decrease "Calories IN" and by doing so, your weight will come off. Simple, right? That theory works at the beginning until your body adapts. Why is that? Well, it's too simple, let's go back to the beginning, if calories in are equal to calories out, that means if you eat 2000 calories, then your body spends 2000 calories in the form of energy. So, what happens when you reduce the number of calories? Let's say you reduced the number of calories to 1500, and you spend 2000 calories in the form of energy, the result: weight loss. Awesome! That's exactly what you wanted to accomplish, but then, something happens... For some reason, you stop losing weight, why is that? Well, your body finally adapts. It reduces the number of calories you spend on energy (calories out). It balances out the number of calories you eat (IN) to the number of calories you spend (OUT). So, what is your reaction?


Well, you look to repeat the same process, and you lose the number of calories IN once more until you start to see the results you want.

The problem arises when you decrease the number of calories below your basal metabolic rate.

What is Basal Metabolic Rate?


It is the amount of energy your body needs to support your vital functions. When you go below that number, you will start getting the symptoms of a low-calorie diet such as hair loss, amenorrhea, lack of energy, to name a few.

To get your body back to the way it was, the only solution left is to eat more calories. So, what happens then? Let's go back again to what we know if calories IN = calories OUT, then in theory, if you eat less than what you spend, you lose weight. If you eat more than what you spend, you gain weight. This theory is correct until your body eventually adapts and balances out. So, if you start to experience symptoms due to a low calorie diet, you will have to increase your calories to avoid those symptoms, but when doing so, you will gain weight until your body adapts once again. The solution is to find the root cause of your problem. As I said before, obesity is a complex disease. If something is not working, then when need to find out the reason for it.

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Email: rgarcia@rdietitian.com

Rhaizza Velasquez-Garcia, RD, LD

Registered Dietitian Services, LLC