The Faults of Restrictive Dieting

By Summer Banks FNS, SPT on Jan 13, 2021

If you are someone who is struggling to lose weight, then you are not alone. There are countless people who are struggling to lose weight, eat healthily, and exercise on a regular basis.

The reality is, you are going to have to burn more calories than you consume if you want to lose weight. There are lots of different ways to get there, but one of the most direct ways is to reduce the number of calories you eat on a daily basis. After all, that is the goal of most diets.

By going on a diet, you are going to try to eat more healthily. This usually means reducing your intake of fats, simple sugars, and processed foods. By default, this means that you are going to consume fewer calories, but it is possible to take this too far. In an effort to restrict unhealthy calories, some people will also restrict healthy calories. This type of restrictive dieting can be harmful, which is why it is important to take a closer look at restrictive dieting, what this means, and some of the negative outcomes this may have.

What Is Restrictive Dieting?

What is restrictive dieting

Restrictive dieting is a term that is used to describe the intentional restriction of calories, food groups, and other dietary restrictions.

It is true that people are going to have to reduce the number of calories that they consume if they would like to lose weight. However, restrictive dieting and restricting calories too severely can lead to serious health problems. This kind of dieting can also place undue mental and emotional stress on someone on a daily basis.

If you are thinking about going on a diet, it is important to weigh both the benefits and drawbacks of that diet before making a decision. Even though a lot of diets claim that they are going to improve your overall physical health, they may be incredibly difficult to follow, which can make you feel a significant amount of stress when you go on that diet.

When deciding to undertake a restrictive diet, there is one goal that is usually focused on: reduce caloric intake and lose weight as a result. Before you do this, it is important to weigh this goal against some of the potential drawbacks.

Overall, restrictive dieting may not be the answer for everyone, which is why it is important to choose a weight-loss program like Noom to meet your needs. Right now, all readers have access to a free trial offer from Noom.

What Are a Few Examples of Restrictive Dieting?

Clearly, this definition of restrictive dieting is relatively broad. Let’s take a look at a few specific examples of restrictive dieting so you can get a better idea of what this looks like.

The Cabbage Soup Diet

Now, most don’t think that anyone would ever seriously recommend that someone go on the cabbage soup diet, but it is an actual diet that is out there. Just as it sounds, the goal of this eating style is to consume as much cabbage soup as you can In a one-week period.

Overall, this is a starvation diet, and the goal is for you to lose as much water weight as possible. You are not going to accomplish anything by consuming only cabbage in a 1-week period, but you might find yourself hugging your toilet for a week as that water weight leaves your body.

The Grapefruit Diet

Anyone who looks through the 80s can attest that this was a strange decade, as it was one that was filled with lots of fad diets to help people fit into their spandex. One example is the grapefruit diet.

The grapefruit diet had people consuming about 800 calories per day. Given that most people should consume about 2,000 calories per day, it is easy to see that this diet was incredibly restrictive. This diet involved eating one half of a grapefruit before every meal, then people would drink as much black coffee as they physically could. Overall, this diet did not work very well, as it was incredibly hard to adhere to in addition to being unduly restrictive.

The Master Cleanse

This diet is a completely liquid diet. If you ever get tired of chewing your food before you swallow it, then perhaps you would want to give this a try. This meal plan is supposed to provide your body with all of the calories and nutrients that it could possibly need in liquid form. Of course, given its name, the goal of this diet is to help you cleanse your body as well.

The idea behind consuming an entirely liquid diet is that you are supposed to give your digestive system a rest, allowing your body to heal itself naturally. Essentially, there is cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and a lemon concoction that you were going to drink close to a dozen times every day. You will also be consuming laxatives on a regular basis to help you cleanse your digestive tract.

In addition to being incredibly restrictive and very uncomfortable, this diet could also be downright dangerous. Even if you are consuming all liquids, your digestive tract is still going to have to work to absorb those nutrients. In reality, the only thing this diet will have you doing is sitting on your toilet wondering what you have done to yourself.

Of course, these are some of the most extreme examples of restrictive dieting in action. Even though most diets today are not going to come anywhere close to this level of restriction, restrictive dieting can still be dangerous if people do not choose the right diet. Therefore, it is important to take a closer look at a few of the drawbacks of even mid forms of restrictive dieting. That way, you will be able to find the right diet for your goals.

The Drawbacks of Restrictive Dieting

There are a few major drawbacks of restrictive dieting that everyone should know.

One of the biggest issues regarding restrictive dieting is that it may harm your metabolism in some ways. While the exact impacts that restrictive dieting will have on your metabolism depend on what you are eating and what you are leaving out, it is important for you to consider your metabolism when you are deciding which diet to use.

The reality is that your body needs a certain number of calories every day in order to carry out its functions, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. These functions include:

  • The Basal Metabolic Rate: Your body has a basal metabolic rate the refers to the number of calories that you need to power your various organ systems including your brain, your lungs, and your heart.
  • Digestion: Even the digestive processes of your body are going to require a certain number of calories in order to be carried out properly. Even as you are absorbing nutrients, you are also burning calories to absorb them.
  • Your Physical Activity: Finally, your body is also going to burn calories as you carry out your physical activities on a daily basis. For example, you are going to burn calories when you walk up and down the stairs. You are also obviously going to burn calories if you go to the gym.

If you happen to eat more calories than you burn, you are probably going to gain weight. If you happen to eat fewer calories than your body requires, then you are going to end up losing weight. At the same time, if your metabolic rate drops, then you may end up burning fewer calories in a day even though you are consuming fewer calories as well.

For example, one study published in Obesity (Silver Spring) showed that individuals who consumed an unduly low in calories may actually reduce the number of calories they burn by close to 25 percent.

Furthermore, the slower metabolism may actually last for a significantly longer amount of time than the diet itself. This means that even after people go off of their restrictive diet, their metabolic rate may continue to be slower, as per research published in the International Journal of Obesity (London).

Have you gone on a restrictive diet in the past? Have you ever gotten frustrated by the fact that you seem to regain weight after you leave a diet in your rearview mirror? It is true that a lot of people regain weight after they stop eating their restrictive diet because their food choices become unhealthy.

At the same time, one of the other reasons why these people might be gaining weight is that their metabolism is still slow after they have stopped their restrictive diet. If you harm your metabolic rate, you may end up gaining weight anyway. So, one of the biggest questions to answer is, why would a restrictive diet slow your metabolic rate? One of the potential culprits is the fact that restrictive dieting can also lead to muscle loss.

The reality is that your body needs plenty of lean protein if you would like to build more muscle. A lot of these restrictive diets do not include any protein at all because protein is relatively calorie-dense. That’s why people tend to stay away from protein when they go on a restricted diet, which results in muscle loss, according to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Why does muscle loss matter? The reality is that muscles burn a tremendous number of calories in a given day because muscles are responsible for your physical activity. If you want to keep your metabolic rate high, then you need to make sure that you maintain your lean muscle mass. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one of the ways that you can do this is to slightly increase your protein intake as you add more resistance exercises to your workout routine.

Remember that if you would like to lose weight, you need to combine diet and exercise. If you want to avoid losing your lean muscle mass, consider adding more resistance exercises. You will be able to take care of your muscle mass, allowing your body to keep its basal metabolic rate high, and as a result, you will burn more calories in a day and lose weight.

Combine regular exercise with a weight-loss program like Noom and it will be that much easier to meet your goals. That’s because Noom has been clinically-proven to help users make healthier choices and lose weight for good. Make sure to check out their free trial offer – available for a limited time.

Restrictive Dieting Leads to Emotional Lability

Food and mood swing

Restrictive dieting may lead to emotional lability as well. Emotional lability refers to rapid swings of emotion ranging from feelings of euphoria to feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, and sadness. When people engage in restrictive dieting, they are more likely to suffer these dramatic mood swings, and there are several reasons why.

First, restrictive dieting can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. When people do not eat as much food on a regular basis, their body is going to go into overdrive, breaking down its own stores as a source of energy. This leads to a rapid spike in blood sugar, as the body is already hungry to break it down.

When people experience rapid spikes in blood sugar, their mood is going to flush quickly, experiencing short bursts of energy that are quickly followed by feelings of fatigue is due to the restrictive diet.

Restrictive dieting can also place people under a significant amount of stress. Even though stress can lead to a lot of impact on the body’s physical health, it can also impact the body’s emotional health as well.

It is not unusual for people who engage in restrictive dieting to develop feelings of depression. Let’s look at some of the most common signs of depression:

  • People who are depressed often have trouble sleeping at night, or they end up sleeping the entire day
  • There will also be major changes in someone’s overall level of physical activity, as people who are depressed tend to lose enjoyment in activities that used to bring them great pleasure
  • People who are depressed will also develop feelings of guilt regarding things that are not their fault
  • Those who are depressed will have trouble maintaining relationships with friends, family members, and professional colleagues
  • People who get depressed may also have thoughts of suicide

When people are not able to enjoy the same foods that used to in the past, they may end up getting depressed. Plus, the stress of trying to follow a refractive diet may make the symptoms worse.

People who are on a restrictive diet may also develop feelings of anxiety. When following this meal plan, many are concerned about not only their weight but their physical appearance as well. If they do not have a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem in what they see in the mirror, they may develop feelings of anxiety, which can contribute to major instances of emotional lability as well.

That’s why it is important for everyone to take care of their emotional health, and staying away from restrictive dieting can help you to do exactly that.

Restrictive Dieting Can Reduce Your Fertility

There’s also research that shows that restrictive dieting can reduce an individual’s fertility. Even though this is true for both men and women, it is more important for women because the female ovulation cycle depends on healthy hormone patterns and levels.

Specifically, in order for women to ovulate properly, they need to experience an increase in estrogen and luteinizing hormone, according to the Journal of Applied Physiology. More research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that calorie restriction can disrupt the regular cycles of luteinizing hormone. In women who unduly restrict their calories, the patterns of luteinizing hormone become more unpredictable, causing women’s ovulation cycles to be disrupted.

Another research study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that women who reduce their calories by 20 to 40 percent have their reproductive function directly impacted as a result. It is critical for everyone to make sure that they do not restrict their calories too severely, as it can directly impact their reproductive function.

Finally, restricting calorie intake to the point that estrogen levels are impacted will impact not only the reproductive system but other organ systems as well. If estrogen levels drop, this will impact not only fertility but also the bones and the heart, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and the American Journal of Physiology.

Even though there are not nearly as many studies that have taken place regarding calorie restriction and male fertility, medical professionals believe that calorie restriction can impact male fertility as well.

Remember that a healthy diet provides the body with everything that it needs to produce all of its necessary hormones. If people restrict their diets unnecessarily, their body may not have the pieces that it requires to construct these hormones, which can lead to fertility issues.

Restrictive Dieting Can Lead To Weak Bones

dieting and bone health

Another side effect of restrictive dieting is that this may cause your bones to weaken. If you have ever suffered a bone fracture, you know how painful this can be and how long this injury takes to heal. There are multiple reasons why restrictive dieting can lead to weak bones in the process.

We have already discussed reproductive hormones, estrogen, and testosterone, which play a role in fertility. In addition, these two hormones also play a role in helping people reduce the rate of bone fractures.

When women go through menopause, their estrogen levels drop severely. It is well known that women who go through menopause are at a much greater risk of suffering a bone fracture. This is primarily due to a lack of estrogen which is required to keep the bones strong.

Restrictive dieting can have a similar effect. When people go on a restricted diet, they may reduce their production of estrogen and testosterone. As a result, their bones are going to get weaker in the process, increasing the risk of suffering a serious bone fracture.

In addition, the stress that accompanies restrictive dieting can also place people at a greater risk of suffering a bone fracture, according to research published in Metabolism. There is a chance that under stressful situations, the body may need to mobilize more calcium in order to power its daily functions. In some situations, the body may decide to take this calcium from the bones directly. This can place people at a greater risk of suffering a bone fracture because their bone density is going to decrease when their calcium is removed from their bones.

Finally, it is important for people to keep in mind that bone loss may be irreversible. As a result, if bone density starts to decrease, people may run the risk of suffering more bone fractures for the rest of their life.

With all of this in mind, it is important for everyone to make sure they are consuming enough calories on a regular basis. This is important for not only maintaining high calcium levels but also for ensuring the body is unable to produce important hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone – both of which are important for maintaining bone health.

Keeping track of your nutrient levels is important, which is why we love the comprehensive health tracking tools available from the Noom weight-loss app. For a limited time, all readers can give the program a try with Noom’s free trial offer.

You May Get Sick More Often on Restrictive Dieting

If you engage and restrictive dieting, you may also reduce your immunity, since restricting your calories can increase your chance of getting an infection. This includes everything from viruses, such as the common cold, to more severe infections that might even place you in the hospital.

There are some sports that place a greater emphasis on physical appearance than others. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that sports that place an emphasis on physical appearance are more at risk of engaging and restrictive dieting. Two of the common sports that place a focus on physical appearance include diving and gymnastics.

One study examined athletes in these disciplines that required more body “leanness.” These athletes commonly engaged in restrictive dieting in an attempt to lose weight. One research study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that individuals who engaged in restrictive dieting were more than twice as likely to get sick in the past 3 months when compared to individuals who did not engage in this practice.

There was another study that focused on martial arts athletes who engaged and dieting in an effort to restrict their body weight. This study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, echoed the results of the prior one, showing that restrictive dieting can impact the body’s immune system. As a result, this increases people’s chances of getting infections.

There are not as many of these research studies on this topic that have taken place in people who are not physically active. On the other hand, given that physical activity is supposed to strengthen someone’s immune system as a whole, it would not be far-fetched to believe that restrictive dieting and people who do not exercise would lead to even more severe results.

Now, it is important to take a closer look at just why this might be the case. Why would restrictive dieting impact the body’s immune system? In order for the body to power its immune system, its bone marrow requires all of the nutrients it needs to build white blood cells, antibodies, and other cells that play a major role in the immune system. Even though vitamin C is closely tied to the immune system, there are other vitamins and minerals that play a role as well.

Restrictive dieting commonly involves eliminating entire food groups. When this happens, the body’s immune system is heavily impacted. Individuals who want to avoid developing severe bacterial and viral infections need to make sure they provide their body with all of the nutrients it requires to power all of its daily functions, including the immune system.

Restrictive Dieting Can Lead to Major Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Another major issue regarding restrictive dieting is that it can lead to numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For example, a lot of restrictive diets may not provide your body with enough vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is incredibly important in the production of red blood cells and is mainly consumed in animal products, such as meat.

If you are cutting out these calorie-dense foods in an effort to restrict your diet, it only makes sense that you may develop a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you do not have enough vitamin B12, your body will not be able to produce enough red blood cells.

As a result, your organs are not going to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to power their daily functions. You may start to feel tired too. Of course, there are plenty of other deficiencies that can stem from restrictive dieting. If you do not eat enough lean protein, you may also suffer from a severe protein deficiency. This can lead to hair loss, brittle and cracked nails, and low lean muscle mass.

There are other diets that may lead to calcium deficiency too. Calcium is commonly found in dairy, which a lot of restrictive diets try to cut out. If your body does not consume enough calcium, you reduce the strength of your bones. You might start to experience more bone pain and you run the risk of suffering a serious bone fracture.

Another common deficiency that is seen in restrictive dieting is a deficiency regarding thiamin and biotin. These are two other B vitamins that are incredibly important for your overall health. They are commonly found in whole grains, eggs, dairy, seeds, and nuts.

A lot of diets try to cut out these products because they are relatively calorie-dense. If you do not have enough thiamine and biotin in your diet, you may notice that your skin starts to crack and feel scaly. You may also notice hair loss and muscle weakness. Vitamin A deficiency is something that may be developed as well. This vitamin is commonly found in dairy, fish, organ meats, and fruits and vegetables that are orange in color. If you do not consume enough vitamin A, you may weaken your immune system in addition to leading to eye damage.

Finally, magnesium is commonly found in nuts and whole grains. If you develop a magnesium deficiency, you may develop an abnormal heart rhythm, which can lead to a major medical issue. You may also notice fatigue, muscle cramps, and migraines.

These are just a few of the many vitamin and mineral deficiencies that you may develop if you do not eat a well-rounded diet. When restrictive died and cuts out entire food groups, you run the risk of developing a severe vitamin or mineral deficiency, which can lead to major long-term health consequences.

That’s why it is so important to keep track of what your eating, something Noom can help with. This program helps users lose weight by offering extensive food logging tools, personalized meal plans, and even coaching sessions to make sure you are eating the right kinds of food for your weight-loss goals. Right now, Noom is offering a free trial offer, so make sure to check it out!

Restrictive Dieting Can Increase Your Stress Levels

Dieting and Stress

When you start restrictive dieting, you are going to place a lot of focus on the number of calories that you consume on a daily basis. The reality is that placing so much focus on your calorie intake can be incredibly stressful. You are constantly going to be worrying about how many calories something contains, what this is going to do to your diet, and whether you are going to meet your weight loss goals.

Even something as simple as adding seasoning to your food may cause you to second-guess the number of calories that you just added to your dish. Was that 5 calories, or was that 6 calories? You may even lay awake in your bed at night wondering if you met your calorie goal for the day.

Clearly, this can be incredibly stressful. There are several major impacts that long-term stress may end up having on your body. Let’s take a look to see what a few of these impacts could turn out to be:

  • You may notice that you are experiencing more headaches, including tension headaches and migraine headaches
  • Stress may cause you to develop more stomach acid, which can lead to acid reflux, ultimately making your stress levels worse
  • Stress can increase your chances of developing depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health issues
  • Chronic stress can also weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to developing a bacterial or viral infection
  • Stress triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, causing your body to mobilize more blood sugar, which can lead to unhealthy blood sugar spikes and long-term metabolic issues
  • Stress will also raise your blood pressure as a whole

These are just a few of the major impacts of long-term stress on your body. When you decide to give restrictive dieting a try, you are probably going to realize that you are under much more stress than usual. Overall, you can throw away the effects of this long term stress on your body against the benefits of restrictive dieting. Is all of the stress of restrictive dieting really worth it?

Restrictive Dieting Can Lead to Extreme Fatigue

Finally, another major drawback of restrictive dieting that has to be explored involves fatigue. Remember that your body requires a certain number of calories every day to carry out its basic functions. This is also referred to as the basal metabolic rate.

If you do not provide your brain with the nutrients that it needs to function on a daily basis, it is not going to be able to carry out its daily operations. This includes keeping you awake. If you have ever gone for a while without eating and felt tired as a result, it is because your brain is lacking the nutrients it needs to remain awake.

So, how does a restrictive diet play a role in this? In addition to restricting calories, a lot of diets try to restrict the number of carbohydrates you consume as well. It is true that eating a tremendous number of carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, can cause you to gain weight, but your brain also requires carbohydrates as an energy source. Therefore, it is better for you to target complex carbohydrates instead of simply trying to avoid carbohydrates altogether.

For example, there are some studies that suggest that individuals who unduly restrict the number of carbohydrates in their diet can develop extreme feelings of fatigue. One specific study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association indicated that people who have a lot of ketones in their bloodstream are more likely to feel tired.

Ketones are what your body produces when you are not consuming carbohydrates. In fact, producing ketones as a specific goal of the famous ketogenic diet. When your body is producing ketones, which you can detect in your urine, it means you are not consuming enough carbs.

On the other hand, the study also shows that when you have ketones in your bloodstream, you are more likely to feel tired. As a result, if you do not consume enough carbohydrates, you are more likely to feel tired, which is why a lot of people on restrictive diets feel tired constantly.

If you would like to find a healthier way to reduce your carbohydrate intake, it is more important for you to think about the specific type of carbohydrates you are consuming instead of simply trying to avoid them altogether. Try to target healthy, complex carbohydrates that are more difficult for your body to break down while staying away from refined sugar and added sugar.

If you consume complex carbohydrates, you’ll provide your brain with the energy source that it needs to carry out its daily functions without sacrificing a healthy diet in the process. Furthermore, your body may have to work harder to break down complex carbohydrates, burning more calories in the process.
When your body works hard to break down complex carbohydrates, you may also avoid unhealthy blood sugar level spikes that could otherwise lead to emotional lability and metabolic issues.

Stay Away from Restrictive Dieting

No restrictive dieting

Ultimately, it is true that you are going to have to reduce your calorie intake and exercise more often if you would like to lose weight. At the same time, there is both a healthy and unhealthy way to do this. Restrictive dieting is simply not healthy.

Restrictive dieting can lead to a number of complex, long-term medical issues that impact your physical health, emotional health, and mental well-being. If you cut out entire food groups, you place yourself at risk of developing serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Therefore, instead of solely focusing on the number of calories you are consuming, focus on how you are consuming those calories. Try to target healthy calorie sources such as complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables that can provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need. Then, try to pair your diet with a healthy exercise plan. That way, you will be able to take a comprehensive approach to your weight loss goals without placing your physical health in harm’s way.

All of this can be a lot easier when you have a customizable and clinically-backed program like Noom in your corner. This app makes achieving your weight -loss goals easier through exercise tracking, personalized meal plans, coaching sessions, educational tools, and more. Be sure to check out the free trial offer available from Noom for a limited time!

About the Author:

Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.

Updated: