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What happens to my metabolism if I consistently eat too little?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness

Contrary to popular belief, nothing truly significant happens to your metabolism at anytime except in severe starvation when your body fat would be EXTREMELY low. Most people (even trained professionals) believe they eat fewer calories than they actually do, which is the reason most people hit a plateau. If you need to lose weight and you are not, eat less and/or move more and forget about slowing your metabolism or the amount of calories you think you were eating. That said, the point is not to lose weight too fast by drastically reducing calories. This is because, first of all, that method is miserable and generally not sustainable.

Second, although there is a slight (but again, insignificant in the big picture) metabolism down regulation in response to a very low-calorie diet, the main reason it may appear to slow down more than it actually does is because the very low-calorie intake is slowing YOU down. In other words, you become tired with less energy, causing a reduction in your daily activities, causing you to move less thus burn fewer overall daily calories.

Caroline J. Cederquist, MD
Family Medicine
If you consistently eat too little, especially lean protein, it will impact your metabolism in a negative way. Watch as bariatric medicine specialist Caroline Cederquist, MD, explains how you can work lean protein into your diet in a healthy way. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.