What Happens If You Cut Your Food Intake BELOW Your RMR?
If you are eating an insufficient amount of food to meet your RMR, you will not be eating enough to maintain your body’s functions properly. You can do this for a day or even two days without consequences. But chronic restriction of calories below the RMR is not unusual among dieters. This type of severe restriction can go on for an extended period of time (weeks or months), but NOT WITHOUT PAYING A PRICE. That price may be your health.
Your body fights back.
It actually DECREASES its metabolic rate.
When you restrict calories too severely, your body is forced to make tradeoffs. Your body will struggle to preserve the highest priority bodily functions. Brain and heart function will be a very high priority whereas reproductive function and bone will be sacrificed.
You think you are restricting calories but if your restriction is too severe, your body will do everything it can to conserve calories. A familiar example of restricting calories too severely is the athlete or ballerina or model that is always trying to cut weight. But many people practice severe calorie restriction, not just models or athletes.
Here is what happens to a female who restricts calories too severely for an extended period:
- She experiences fatigue and becomes listless
- She may sleep more
- She finds it more difficult to exercise or work
- She damages her immune system which means she gets sick more often and for longer
- She skips her menstrual periods for months or even years because her endocrine system is thrown into disarray
- She loses her reproductive capacity (she will be unable to conceive or carry a baby)
- If she is dieting while pregnant, she may damage her baby’s development
- She loses muscle tissue as her body breaks down muscle in its desperate search for calories
- She loses heart muscle in addition to skeletal muscle
- Her bones become thinner and she may experience broken bones if she falls
- Her hair becomes brittle and may start to fall out
- Her eyes become dull
- She develops skin problems
- She has bad breath because she is burning ketones
- She starts to experience mood changes
- She develops psychological changes that can develop into dementia, anorexia or bulimia
- She can eventually starve to death
There has to be a better way, and there is!
Severe calorie restriction is totally unnecessary and counterproductive. The alternative is to take the long view and be willing to LOSE WEIGHT SLOWLY by restricting calories only modestly. THE UPSIDE – YOU WON’T HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN! What You Need To Know
You need to know your RMR and avoid restricting calories below your RMR. Here is what you need to know:
- Your RMR makes up the major portion of your daily calorie needs
- You should protect your body’s RMR as you do a high performance automobile. You need to eat enough calories to meet your RMR each day.
- A racecar requires high-test fuel for optimal performance. Similarly, your body requires wholesome food in adequate amounts to protect your RMR
- Building healthy muscle and bone by eating the right foods and exercising will actually INCREASE your RMR and help you manage your weight
- Protecting your RMR will pay you dividends because you will feel better and be more vigorous and active – which allows you to burn more calories.
- To increase your metabolism:
- Exercise daily
- Build your muscles through strength training
- Build bone by doing “weight bearing” exercise like walking or dancing (or any other exercise or sport that you perform while up on your feet)
If calorie restriction is too severe, the fatigue that results will undermine your exercise regimen. You will not have the energy you need to exercise. You may actually rest more or sleep more – which leads to an overall reduction in calories burned. Here is a typical scenario:
John burns 2000 calories per day of which 1600 calories per day is his RMR requirement.
John wants to lose 1.5 pounds per week, so he cuts his calorie intake by 750 calories. This leaves John with 1250 calories – some of which is from nutrient poor soda and “junk food.” The 1250 calories he allows himself is well below the 1600 calories he needs to support his RMR.
This drastic reduction in calories and poor quality food causes John to feel fatigued and he sleeps a lot – in fact he starts sleeping late and does not want to go for his daily workout in the early morning.
After a week or two of feeding his body only 1250 calories a day, John is surprised and frustrated that his weight loss is not the 1 ½ pounds per week he expected. It is scarcely ½ pound per week! This is because to conserve calories, his RMR has decreased drastically and he is exercising less and sleeping more.