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How Dangerous is a Low Calorie Diet?

By Lana Bandoim

Extreme diets that drastically reduce calories can be dangerous. Most low calorie diets limit people to 800 calories per day. Although the total number of calories can vary from diet to diet, eating fewer than 1200 calories is risky.

Not Enough Nutrients

When you limit your diet and eat fewer than 1200 calories per day, you usually do not get enough nutrients. You are not getting enough carbohydrates, proteins or fats. In addition, you miss important minerals and vitamins. Serious nutritional deficiencies are common on low calorie diets.


Gallstones are more common among people who are on low calorie diets. When you eat fewer calories, your body turns to stored fat for energy. The liver responds to this change by releasing more cholesterol. However, the combination of bile with cholesterol can create gallstones. The most common symptom of gallstones is pain on the upper right side of the stomach or the back.

Extreme Fatigue

When you are not eating enough calories, extreme fatigue becomes normal. You do not have enough energy to do simple tasks. You get tired faster and have trouble staying awake at work. You are not able to exercise or play sports.

Muscle Loss

Even if you exercise, you can still lose muscle on a low calorie diet. Your body will try to break down muscle tissue to get energy. Rapid weight loss also accelerates muscle loss.   

Heart Problems

When you limit your calories, you do not get enough vital nutrients such as potassium or magnesium. These nutrients are essential for heart health, and irregular heart rhythms can occur without them. In addition, heart palpitations can occur on low calorie diets. In extreme cases, the risk of heart attacks and strokes increases dramatically.

Memory Problems

Your brain needs nutrients too, so low calorie diets starve it. One of the most common problems is the inability to remember things. You forget how to do simple tasks such as cooking rice or turning on the faucet. In addition, concentration becomes a problem on a low calorie diet. You cannot concentrate on work, books, TV shows or conversations.

There are multiple dangers linked to low calorie diets. Before you drastically cut your daily calories to lose weight, you have to consider these risks. Some of the problems such as gallstones and heart problems can leave you with large hospital bills. Other problems such as extreme fatigue will make your life miserable. Ask yourself if a low calorie diet is worth it.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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