We get energy from the food we eat. The energy in the food is measured by calories. The estimated amount of calories needed to maintain energy balance depends on the gender, age group and activities level. An average adult maintains around 2000-2500 calories.
Too much calories leads to weight gain and eventually develop into health problems. Too few calories will lead to feeling tired and less active. Going on an excessive calorie restricted diet is a common mistake made by people wanting to lose weight
Excessive restricted calorie diet leads to the following problems:
- Drop in metabolic rate due to the lack of essential nutrients. The body conserves energy by working less.
- Fatigue from the lack of energy
- Mental sluggishness due to brain cells lacking in glucose, which is the basic nutrient for energy for the brain
- Hormonal function is disturbed
- Anxiety and depression can develop
- Weight gain will rebound by double when the restrictive calorie diet is stopped and normal eating resumes.
Some weight loss diet advocate stopping all carbohydrate intakes. This will work only for a short period of time (2 weeks). But prolong carbohydrate restriction diet is not good because it can lead to the health problems:
- The body breaks down glycogen reserves from the liver as well as muscle. So, you lose lean muscle mass instead of fats.
- The body burns fat for energy, producing ketone as a by-product. Excessive ketones can cause kidney stones, gout and kidney failure.
The 2005 Dietary Guideline recommends that nutrients need to be met by eating nutrient dense food that provide substantial amount of micronutrients ( vitamin, mineral, antioxidants) in relatively fewer calories.
However, in our modern-day diet is filled with calorie dense but nutrient poor food. Most processed foods are rich in sugar, fat and salt, which provide substantial calories but are poor in micronutrients.
Coupled with a sedentary lifestyle with a diet rich in calorie dense food, it is easy to put on weight over time. Therefore, it is important that we strive for calorie balance lifestyle with nutrient dense, low-calorie food from fruits, vegetables and whole grains plus adequate amount of activities daily.
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