According to the Boston Medical Center, about 45 million Americans go on some type of diet each year. While people change their eating habits for different reasons, one of the most common reasons to go on a diet is to lose weight.
The basis of weight loss is calorie consumption. Every person is required to eat a certain number of calories each day for their bodies to function properly. Then, you add in daily activities. If you’re sedentary most of the day, you will need fewer calories to function than someone who goes for a 10-mile jog every morning.
If you want to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns off. Unfortunately, many Americans underestimate the number of calories they take in each day, which undoubtedly contributes to the obesity epidemic in this country.
One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself on the pros and cons of calorie restriction, and which diets can really help you to see lasting results. If weight loss is your goal, learning as much about it as possible will make it easier to achieve.
How Weight Loss Works And When It’s Important
Again, the basis of weight loss is pretty simple. It’s all about calories in versus calories out. Once you know how many calories your body needs each day to survive, you can form a simple equation to learn how many calories you need to burn to lose weight.
One pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. That means you need to burn an extra 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat. Most people try to do this by eliminating 500 calories from their diet each day. In one week, that will allow you to lose one pound.
What’s difficult about estimating caloric intake, at times, is that not everyone is a dietician. There are days when you will misinterpret your calorie intake because you didn’t know the lean chicken breast you ate for lunch was cooked in oil or the dressing on your salad was packed with fat.
But staying diligent about your calories as often as possible and reducing them a little every day is the safest way to lose weight. It’s important to go about your diet plan safely and healthily to enjoy the benefits of weight loss, including:
- Reduced risk of diseases, such as diabetes
- Easier time breathing
- Reduction of acid reflux
- Better sleep
- More energy
Losing weight can also help to alleviate muscle and joint pain. Carrying excessive weight around can cause issues in the hips, back, and knees because of the pressure on your joints, and the increased risk of inflammation. While things like hip flexor stretches and regular exercise will help to manage that pain on your weight loss journey, the actual weight loss itself is what will help to get rid of it for good.
Calorie restrictive diets take the basics of weight loss and often go to extremes. While some specific diets work very well, others might not be the healthiest options. Let’s look at some of the benefits of those diets and which ones might be better than others.
The Benefits Of Calorie-Restrictive Diets
The main benefit of a calorie-restrictive diet is weight loss. It can also reduce cholesterol levels and even lower your blood pressure. A normal calorie-restrictive diet should reduce the average person’s daily intake by ⅓.
While the science behind losing weight is simple, so many diets have come into play and gained quite a bit of popularity. They focus on different ways of losing weight. But, they all restrict calories in some way. Some of the most popular diets circulating right now include:
- Keto – Low-carb, high-fat, high protein.
- Paleo – Predominantly plant-based, encourages people to ‘eat like a caveman.’
- Weight Watchers – Every food has a point value, and you work to stay under your daily point goal.
- South Beach Diet – Mainly low-carb, focusing on healthy fats and lean proteins.
Other diets focus more on scientific methods, like the HCG diet. The HCG diet combines daily injections of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) with an extremely calorie-restrictive diet. In most cases, people on this diet don’t eat more than 500 calories a day. The HCG changes your eating behaviors and works to turn stored fat in the body into energy, which is what allows you to lose weight so quickly. This diet also claims to allow you to lose fat mass while keeping lean mass and remaining muscular. But the risks of this diet include everything from depression and fatigue to fluid buildup and blood clots.
It’s important to talk to your physician before beginning any weight loss or calorie-restrictive program, to determine how to restrict your calories safely and healthily.
What Are the Risks Of Calorie Restriction?
If you have a lot of weight to lose, diet and exercise are always the way to go. But, be careful about restricting your calories too much. If you do, you could cause more harm than good, and actually have a harder time losing weight.
For instance, if you aren’t eating the calories your body needs to function, your metabolism could slow down. Not only does that make it harder to lose weight, but it can contribute to muscle loss. Even healthy fats are good for your muscles, so cutting them out completely can make you feel weak and lethargic.
There are other potential risks of calorie restriction, too, including:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Reduced fertility rate
- Weaker bones
- Weaker immune system
While reducing your calories each day will help you to lose weight, going to extremes won’t give you the results you truly want. Instead, you may experience health issues with weight loss that won’t last. Don’t be afraid to learn more about the science behind weight loss, and find a healthy diet that works with you and your weight loss goals. It’s not about deprivation. It’s about getting healthy.