As long as an individual is getting all of the micronutrients, fiber, and essential fatty acids that he or she needs, is there anything inherently unsafe about calorie restriction?
I can see a premenopausal woman being too underfat and struggle with fertility or other hormonal issues.
Two major factors contribute to a weight loss plateau: losing a large amount of weight and restricting calories. Remember, our bodies are designed to protect us; if we lose a lot of weight quickly, the body interprets this as illness or starvation and sends out alarm bells. It's for this reason that I only promote slow, gradual weight loss. With my clients, I look at 4 week weight loss trends, rather than week-to-week changes.
Plus, if you are undereating, chances are pretty high that you will start thinking about food more during the day, which can increase the chances of overeating or binge eating later in the day.
My advice is to pay attention to your calorie intake, noticing when you feel both full (not stuffed!) and satisfied. These are two separate concepts, but equally important for weight loss.
Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
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Thanks, Susan. Fortunately, weight loss is not a goal or concern of mine. I was only wondering if a low calorie intake on its own is unsafe in any way. My impression is that as long as one is getting the micronutrients that one needs, a low calorie intake is nothing to worry about from a metabolic standpoint.
It can be safe (many people have safely practiced CRON diet for a years at a time), but of course it always depends on the specifics of the restriction, the diet, and your personal conditions.
The CR society (http://www.crsociety.org/) is a good resource.
Paging @michael who is one of the foremost experts on Calorie Restriction (w/ Optimal Nutrition) may also want to chime in.
In that case, there is nothing inherently unsafe about restricting calories, as @Aaron mentioned; in fact, there may be possible health benefits associated with such dietary practices.
Just be sure to meet your nutrient needs and follow-up with your MD to ensure you stay healthy and strong.