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Low calorie diets can be bad for your health, says Doctor

Low calorie diets can be bad for your health, says Doctor

Tasneem Nazari

Practicing low calorie diets as a weight-loss program is bad for your health, according to Dr Khairul Izan Mohd Ghani, General Surgery Consultant at Columbia Asia Malaysia Hospital who spoke to Berita Harian.

Picture credit: Berita Harian

Not only that, research suggests that calorie-restricting diets are actually destined to fail as long-term weight loss programs because your brain will try and override the results.


You body needs energy to power its biological functions and for movement.

Digestion, breathing and pumping blood, together with physical activity you do naturally throughout your day (like walking to the coffee machine and typing away at your keyboard) uses energy.

In fact, your resting metabolic rate (amount of energy your body uses while you’re laying on the sofa watching TV) makes up the majority of the total amount of energy your body spends on a daily basis.

Due to this, it is extremely important to eat foods that give you enough energy to keep your body functioning at its optimum levels.

And if you don’t eat enough calories, you end up risking your health in the following ways:

1. Your body becomes nutrient deficient.

Picture credit: Pinterest

Vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients are just as important to your long-term well-being as the number on the weighing scale.

After 30 years old, your body stops storing excess calcium in your bones and relies on your existing stockpiles to keep your bones healthy for the rest of your life.

And if you don’t eat enough calcium, your body will scavenge your bones for the crucial mineral which then increases your risk of osteoporosis.

2. You slow down your metabolism.


When you don’t eat enough, your body senses that it’s not getting enough fuel. It goes into survival mode and slows down your metabolism to conserve energy.

It also starts to break down your muscles to release the glucose stored inside to use it for energy.

3. You become mentally slow.

Just like a car uses petrol to fuel its engines, your brain uses glucose, and it needs a constant supply to keep everything running at optimum levels.

Starving your body all day won’t allow it to work at peak capacity, and you’ll find yourself becoming mentally weak.

4. You can get gallstones.

Picture credit: Imgflip

Gallstones are twice as likely to occur in women, older people, and those who have a family history of it.

However, while very low-calorie diets (around 800 calories per day) can cause rapid weight loss, it also causes the body to break down fat for energy. The liver then secretes more cholesterol and when combined with bile, can form gallstones – which may cause abdominal pain and require surgery.


Dr Khairul Izan says that sometimes gallstones can actually exit the gall bladder and enter the pancreas which can lead to pancreatitis complications and become life-threatening.

“The symptoms of bile duct blockage includes yellow discolouration of the skin (jaundice), dark urine, and a persisting fever.

This effect can be clearly seen and felt. If symptoms persist, patients will need immediate treatment as it could become very uncomfortable.”

Dr Khairul Izan via Berita Harian

Therefore, these type of diets are essentially designed to fail. And trying to lose weight using them will ultimately have you feeling frustrated, miserable, unhealthier AND hungrier than before you started.

Instead of beating yourself up over a couple of kilograms, we’d recommend practicing a positive body image, eating in moderation and getting a little bit of physical activity into your daily routine!

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