Loosing weight is a worthy goal, but achieving this goal by starving yourself is not the best way to get there. Consuming less than 1,000 calories per day constitutes a low-calorie diet. Such rigid caloric restrictions can take a toll on overall health and can have lasting negative ramifications. Taken to the extreme, a low-calorie diet can be deadly and can lead to conditions such as bulimia or anorexia. Perhaps the best deterrent to going on such severely restricted regimens is to learn about the damage that these diets can do to the body.
One of the first things that happens on a low-calorie diet is the metabolism starts to slow down. Because of the changes in the metabolism that a low-calorie diet can cause, it is amazingly easy to rapidly regain the weight once the dieter returns to normal eating habits. The body has learned to adjust to a limited supply of food. What was once a diet that would maintain a certain weight level is no longer the case.
A dramatic drop in carbohydrates will result in a drop in blood sugar as well. Lowered blood sugar can affect how the brain and the nervous system functions. The dieter may feel dizzy, weak, confused or anxious.
Lean Body Tissue
When fuel is scarce the body will go after muscle and lean body tissue to obtain energy. Over time, organ tissue may be sacrificed as well. Loss of muscle tissue causes the resting metabolic rate to decrease, setting up a vicious cycle of lowered metabolism. These mechanisms are how the human body survives in a time of famine.
An imbalance of electrolytes is another dangerous side effect of a low-calorie diet. Electrolytes are actually salts in the body and their job is to conduct electricity that is in blood and body fluids. Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include nausea, muscle spasm and cramping and feeling lightheaded.
Anemia caused by a lack of iron in the blood can cause a loss of red blood cells. These red blood cells carry oxygen to the rest of the body and in turn carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Persons with an iron deficiency may feel tired and may experience heart palpitations.
Serotonin is a mood regulator in the brain. Serotonin levels can drop as a result of prolonged low-calorie dieting. Low serotonin levels can lead to clinical depression and other serious mental health issues.
Deterioration of Hair and Nails
Low-calorie dieting causes a deficiency of nutrients that can lead to a deterioration of both the hair and the nails. Not only can the overall condition of the hair suffer, but it is also possible to start loosing your hair on an extreme low-calorie diet. Malnourishment also will cause fingernails and toenails to become very dry and brittle.
A lack of dairy products, and therefore calcium, in the diet can damage the bones through a loss of bone mass called osteoporosis.