By Lauren Denos: 3/3/2015 (Nutrition)

For some crazy reason people still think it is a good idea to skip meals and eat an extremely low-calorie diet. Beside making you cranky and lowering your enjoyment of life. There are so many more reasons that you should not deprive yourself of much needed calories.

Calorie deprivation is different than calorie reduction. Calorie reduction is something that can be done to lose some weight. If you are overweight, then a small reduction can help with getting some pounds off. But some people take this to an extreme and think they are doing something good for themselves so they can lose weight. The problem isif they reduce too many calories, they then flip into deprivation.

Some people do cleanses. Yes, this is a deprivation time, but is different. A cleanse is for a short period of time. People do this as a way of letting their systems refresh itself. If you are thinking of doing a cleanse, please do your research. Better yet, work with someone who knows what they are doing. Some cleanses work for some and not others. When you have health conditions, a cleanse can be something that can help as well as harm. With this in mind, you want to make sure you are doing something that is good for you personally. This article is not about cleanses, though it is about deprivation diets.

In case you are one of the people who think that calorie deprivation is a good idea, let’s take a look at what can happen when you choose to go down this road.

When you do calorie deprivation, you are most likely depriving yourself of specific nutrients that fends off diseases of the old world like scurvy. Luckily, we have supplements we can take so that, even if people decide to reduce their calories to a ridiculous point, they can avoid getting these diseases.

  1. You will have lowered energy levels. Your body’s fuel is the food you eat. It needs these calories to function properly. Calories are a measurement of energy in our food. What many people do not think about is that we need calories even if we just sit on our butts all day. Your body simply being alive each day takes energy. You do not want to see calories as the enemy. See them more as the fuel you need. You want to have enough fuel for your body to run well, but not more than you will use. When you have the right amount, you will function properly.
  2. You lower your metabolism. Your metabolism is how your body burns food for energy. When you deprive your body of calories it lowers your metabolism, which means you are not able to turn your food into energy quite as efficiently. As a result, you are eating more calories than you are burning. This is when weight gain happens. However, this does not mean that having a slow metabolism will make you gain weight of its own accord. It is merely one piece of the puzzle, but you are doing yourself no favors by skipping meals and lowering your metabolism below what it would naturally be for your body.
  3. Your body goes into storage mode. When you have very erratic eating habits, you can make your body start to wonder if it is going to get enough fuel. This happens when you eat 500 calories for a day or two, and then eat 2500 calories on that third day. Your body starts to not know when it is going to be getting the vital nutrients it needs, so it will store more fuel as fat in your system. This is a very good thing because it means your body is protecting you from starvation. But if you are in no threat of going without food, then you do not want your body to do this.
  4. You will lower your nutrients. Most of the time when people are over restricting their foods and skipping meals, they are also lowering the amount of nutrients they are ingesting as well. Many people will use vitamins, protein powders and the like to offset this, allowing them to eat less. But keep in mind the body still needs fats and carbs to function as well. There is also something to be said for eating natural foods, the body usually processes them better than processed or manufactured foods . Not to mention eating real foodis about enjoyment which is big in our culture. When you lower your nutrients, you lower the body’s ability to heal and repair itself. This is a big deal. Your body is literally made up of what you put into your mouth. These nutrients rebuild your body. Our skin replaces itself about every 2 weeks, our red cells about every 4 months, and white cells in about 1 year. In addition, our bodies replace cells for the lining of our stomachs every 5 days, the intestinal tissue every 11 years, and skeletal muscle every 15 years. Our liver is new in about 300-500 days, our heart every 20 years, and lungs in about 2-3 weeks. This is just a taste of the renewal going on. Almost everything in our bodies is replaced during our lives, and many of these systems are replaced very often. When you do not give your body the nutrients it needs, it cannot repair itself the way it needs to. The deprivation also lowers immune system response, which means those little colds that usually go away pretty fast can turn into a much bigger deal.
  5. If you deprive your body long enough it will eventually start to cannibalize itself. Your body needs calories to survive. Your calories, in turn, build your whole body including your muscle. If you deprive it severely, and for long enough, it can start to cannibalize less important parts of your body to fuel the ones most vital to survival. You might say, “That is fine, it will just use my fat.” No, it will eventually get to where it is cannibalizing your muscle. Losing muscle mass is a big deal. You will really understand that when you find it hard to do basic functions. That is no way to live.
  6. Fertility issues may arise. If you are someone who would like to eventually have children, you may want to think twice about going too low in body fat. When they body goes too low, it knows it cannot carry another life in a healthful way, so you will may be unable to get pregnant. What is too low for your body will be different for you than it will be for others. But, generally, 20-25 % body fat is considered the ideal range for pregnancy.
  7. You could create some eating disorders. If you are not already dealing with an eating disorder, then doing a deprivation diet intentionally could head you in that direction. In our society there is already so much pressure to look a certain way, so you do not need to add to that. You do not want to start yourself down the anorexic path. It’s not a fun issue to deal with.

As if all of the above points were not enough, deprivation can also cause mood swings, irritation, anger, depression, anxiety, and a host of emotional instability. If you are a woman, due to hormonal issues, you may already deal with unstable emotions you do not need to help it along.

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