Can Eating Too Few Calories Stall Your Metabolism?


Learn why cutting out too many calories can keep you from losing weight.

If you’re like most people who want to lose weight, you want to lose it fast. So you may be tempted to make drastic changes in your diet to dramatically reduce the number of calories you consume. But what you may not know is that eating too few calories can actually backfire and sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

“It would make sense to stop eating [when you are trying to lose weight], but it actually works in the opposite way,” says Kimberly Lummus, MS, RD, Texas Dietetic Association media representative and public relations coordinator at the Austin Dietetic Association in Austin, Texas.

Calories and Your Health

The most effective way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you expend, creating a calorie deficit. But if your calorie intake dips too low, says Lummus, your body could go into starvation mode. “Your body will start to store fat because it thinks it is not going to get anything,” says Lummus. “You will be at a point where your body is kind of at a standstill.”

Lummus says that when your body goes into starvation mode, your metabolism slows to a crawl, burning calories as slowly as possible to conserve its energy stores. This is why people who cut their calories too much may reach a plateau and stop losing weight.

Eating too few calories can be the start of a vicious cycle that causes diet distress. When you cut your calories so low that your metabolism slows and you stop losing weight, you probably will become frustrated that your efforts are not paying off. This can lead you to overeat and ultimately gain weight.

“It is so hard to sustain cutting calories and eating too little. What typically happens is that the person will go in the opposite direction; they will just become too hungry and go into a binging mode,” says Lummus. “Because you are getting frustrated by not seeing any weight loss, you just sort of throw in the towel.”

In addition to sabotaging your weight-loss efforts, eating too few calories can also harm your health. When your body goes into starvation mode, you are at increased risk for the following:

  • Abnormally low blood pressure and slow heart rate
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Electrolyte imbalances, especially potassium deficiency
  • Gallstones
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Loss of menstrual periods in women
  • Soft hair growth over entire body
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anemia
  • Swelling in your joints
  • Brittle bones
  • Depression

Coming to Terms With Calories

Remember that calories are not your enemy. They are a vital part of a healthy and energetic life. “Your body needs a certain amount of calories just to sustain proper function,” says Lummus. This is why fad diets that force you to cut out too many calories leave you feeling lethargic, shaky, and ready to give up.

Instead of opting for a fad diet, find a reasonable eating and exercise plan that allows you to lose one-half to two pounds per week. There is evidence that people who lose weight at this rate — by making better nutrition choices, eating smaller portion sizes, and exercising — also have the best chance of keeping it off. Make a plan to adopt new healthful habits that you will be able to stick to indefinitely, and always allow yourself a little wiggle room for special occasions.

On most diets, you lose fat and muscle.  When you lose muscle, you lose your ability to burn fat, and your metabolism drops. When you go off your diet, you can’t burn calories like you did before. So you gain the weight back faster.

Find out how you can keep muscle you have, burn fat you don’t need, and lose inches you don’t want.

Learn how to break the diet cycle with this weight loss program.  It will have you losing 2 1/2 lbs in a healthy way!

Be sure to check out this Free Report on Losing Weight and Building Lean Muscle.



Source: Krisha McCoy, MS –

Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD





Can Eating Too Few Calories Stall Your Metabolism? — 15 Comments

  1. I am no longer certain the place you are getting your information, however great topic. I needs to spend a while finding out much more or figuring out more. Thank you for great info I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission.

      • You can definitely lose 10 poudns by summer, and you can even do it healthily! You can lose that much weight in about a month to a month and a half.Exercise 4-5 times a week, doing moderate to vigorous cardio.Eat well. Get enough protein and good carbs; cut out unnecessary junk and fats (but eat healthy fats olive oils, fish, eggs, nuts). Make sure you are eating the right amount of food not too much, not too little. And eat lots of fruits, veggies, and dairy and water! At least 8 8 oz. glasses a day. Being properly hydrated can help speed your metabolism.Check out the link below; it is a great resource. Good luck!

    • Weight loss is A Business like any other ! They do it for the MONEY. It’s billion dlalor industry ! But it only works @ 7-10 %. And that is a constant. The law of averages . That’s sales BTW and doesn’t equate to success. Of that 7-10 % will succeed. So 7 out of 100 people divided by 7 = 4.9 people will succeed on any given program. If you HONESTLY want to loose weight ! Change eating habits and get active. Exercise is the key that turns the lock of succeeding. and opens the door of opportunities. Behind door #1, door #2, #3 and so ON. Simple ! Not rocket science IS IT ! What your really paying for is an EXCUSE to fail. Like drug addicts. So you become addicted to THE fitness Centre or Program, Personal trainer. To whip your ASSs into shape. Works for unmotivated persons !

  2. The trick of losing wegiht is to fool your metabolism into thinking it is getting fed normally.If you try to lose wegiht by starving yourself,then your metabolism kicks in to low gear and hangs on to every scrap you feed yourself,making wegiht-loss impossible.Plus,after you have managed to starve yourself and not die,the minute you start eating again,your body sucks up every calorie it gets,and you pack the wegiht back on.If you want to lose wegiht,which is a very difficult thing to do,you have to eat proper food:grains;veggies;low-fat meat./fish;drink plenty of water;and do some exercise.It sounds very simple,but it is very hard to do when you are de-toxing your body from fats and sugars.Ask your doctor for an appropriate food plan for you.Don’t use or think of the word diet. It only serves to defeat you because it implies deprivation.And as humans,we do not like to be deprived of anything.I might also suggest that you join a wegiht-loss group,like Overeaters Anonymous,or better still,a group like Weight is easier to lose wegiht if you are partnered with people who have the same goal as you.Good luck to you,and eat healthy!!PS:If you are a young person and need to lose wegiht:Start now because with every year,it becomes more and more difficult to lose wegiht and keep it off.Take the word of an old geezer.I know whereof I speak,sadly.

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