1000 Calories or Less: The Danger of Extreme Calorie Restriction
When you first joined Calorie Count were you shocked to see that your goal weight and goal date didn't quite match up? Did you shun the note that healthy weight loss is achieved by losing 1-2 pounds a week, and that it could take you much longer than you intended to get the weight off? Did you still strive to lose 4, 5, or even 10 pounds a week despite the guidelines to eat more calories? You're not alone. There is a growing trend about extreme calorie restriction, well below the amount of calories your body needs to function properly. While you've heard losing muscle mass, going into starvation mode, and other buzz words regarding extreme calorie restriction, it may not hit home how your decision to cut calories too low could effect you in the long term. To grasp an understanding of this, read one of your fellow Calorie Count Member's post about how extreme calorie restriction led to a harsh reality.
In the Weight Loss forum last month, shainarance, shared a post called "Trust Me, It's Not Worth It." It is so poignant, we're running it here unedited.
This is solely from my perspective, but to everyone that has asked, "why can't I eat <1000 calories a day for weight loss? I've seen the numbers on the scale, it's working..."
I've been there. Ten years ago I lost 65 pounds in about six months. For ten years I consumed between 700-900 calories per day. I started at 1000, but as I got older the weight kept creeping on even at that low amount, so I cut further to maintain. When I started eating 400 calories per day about six months ago, I realized it's not worth it. There are consequences for losing that quickly and in such an unhealthy way.
I have been put on new medication and doctors orders, 1600 calories per day. Not an amount that a person should gain on, but I am. I have put on fifteen pounds in an incredibly short period of time. When I finally balance out, I have a long road of weight loss ahead of me.
Starving like that has put me in a ten year battle with my weight that didn't have to happen. When done in a healthy way, weight loss can be achieved and maintained. Do it the way I did, and you are in for constant misery with the scale dictating your life. People would always say to me, "You're so lucky you're thin." They didn't know that I kept two food diaries (in case one was off), an exercise diary and an activity diary. I became a group fitness instructor so that I had a reason to exercise MANY hours a day. This is the path of starvation. This is what happens when you cut too drastically, and lose too quickly. It's still misery, it's just skinny misery.
I finish my medication in two weeks. I can tell you that I have been happier these last four weeks than I have been in years. I am not counting calories to the last degree. I am not constantly moving to burn more, and I'm not worried about what the scale will say next week (I only weigh once a week now instead of every day). I will drop some of these pounds, and I will do it in healthy way. I even increased my calories to 1850 to ensure that I can do it the right way. I can't go back to being a slave to the scale.
The next time you ask yourself if you should eat less calories than is wise, ask yourself if you are willing to give up eating and drinking with friends. Ask yourself what you will do as you age and can't maintain the loss anymore. Ask yourself what you will do when start driving everyone around you away because of your obsession with your weight. It's a road that is VERY hard to come back from.
Weight lost from starving CAN'T be maintained. What will you have left when the weight creeps up? It's not worth it. -end
To avoid the pitfall of extreme calorie restriction, you must consider where you are. It's not enough to say, I want to lose 50 pounds in 5 months, and that equals 10 pounds a month. You must consider the basal metabolic rate at your current weight before you start slashing calories all over the place. While you may have read the minimum recommendation for daily caloric intake is 1200 calories, that number may be too low and therefore damaging to both your body and your mind.
How has extreme calorie restriction affected your weight loss? Have you tried a more realistic draw down in daily caloric intake?