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What Are the Dangers of Low Caloric Intake?

author image Tyffani Benard
Based in Virginia, Tyffani Benard began writing health-related articles in 2010. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Benard has a background in dentistry and science, and enjoys making these complicated subjects accessible to the general public through her writing. She holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Howard University and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Florida A&M University.
What Are the Dangers of Low Caloric Intake?
Excessive weight loss can occur when caloric intake is lowered too much. Photo Credit: Zdenka Darula/iStock/Getty Images

Obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that no state has an obesity prevalence of less than 20 percent. Lowering caloric intake is essential for weight loss, and it will lead to a healthier lifestyle for many people. However, an excessive decrease in calories can be dangerous, resulting in many negative side effects.

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Inadequate caloric intake can lead to malnutrition over time. According to MedlinePlus, malnutrition occurs when the diet does not allow the intake of a sufficient amount of nutrients. A diet with extremely low calories does not allow for adequate consumption of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants the body needs to perform its daily life processes. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to various problems, including fatigue, impaired wound healing and extreme weight loss.

Slower Metabolism

Metabolism is the rate at which the body burns fuel for energy. The basal metabolic rate is the minimum number of calories necessary to perform daily basic functions such as breathing, growth, cellular repair and digestion, according to Kansas State University. When calories are restricted over a long period of time, the body will compensate by holding on to the few calories that are consumed, explains This can actually lead to weight gain.

Physical Changes

A decrease in caloric intake may cause positive physical changes at first, primarily weight loss. However, an extreme decrease in caloric intake can cause negative physical changes over time. Once individuals lose excess weight, calorie restriction can cause various physical problems. The Calorie Restriction Society indicates that decreasing daily calories too much can lead to reduced bone mass, fatigue, sensitivity to cold temperatures and food obsession due to extreme hunger. The CRS recommends gradual calorie reduction over a period of at least six months to avoid some of the side effects of low caloric intake.

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