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Not Eating Enough Calories & Weight Loss

By Luann Voza ; Updated July 18, 2017

When attempting a weight loss program, it is understood that less food needs to be eaten in order for pounds to be lost. Just how much less food is a question that can be confusing to many. Diets with very low calories may be successful initially, but may soon become difficult to maintain. In addition, the weight that is lost is likely to be regained, making the diet another failed attempt to lose weight.


The food you eat is the source of energy for your body. Energy maintains body functions and sustains physical activity. Food and energy are measured in calories. When the amount of calories eaten is lower than the amount of calories burned, the extra energy is drawn from stored fat. When your body burns 3,500 calories from stored fat, the result is a weight loss of 1 pound.


Losing weight by eating a reduced amount of food contributes to a decrease in your metabolism, the rate at which your body burns calories. Your body senses that it may be in a starvation mode and begins to conserve energy by slowing down your body's processes. A lower metabolism results in a decrease in the amount of calories burned. If the amount of calories burned equals the amount of calories eaten, your weight will remain the same.


In some cases, a very low calorie diet may be recommended to promote rapid weight loss. A doctor supervised, 800 calorie per day diet can promote a three to 5 pounds a week weight loss. Individuals that need to lose a significant amount of weight quickly for life threatening medical conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure may benefit from this diet. The diet consists of liquid shakes, bars, vitamins and micro-nutrients. This type of diet is not suggested for longer than a few weeks and may cause problems such as fatigue, constipation, nausea, diarrhea and gallstones.


Your body needs an estimated 15 calories per pound of body weight to maintain your weight. A 150 lb. individual needs 2,250 calories daily to maintain body weight. Daily calorie totals lower than that amount will result in a deficit. Eating 1,750 calories daily over seven days will result in a 3,500 calorie deficit that reduces body weight by 1 pound. A weight loss of 1 pound per week is more likely to be maintained compared to lower calorie totals that result in larger amounts of weight loss.


Low calorie diets are not recommended for those over age 65 or under age 18. Eating less food that is not healthy will not provide the nutrients needed for health maintenance. For low calorie diets, nutrient-rich foods will result in a weight loss that is not detrimental to your overall health.

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