Heya, Miri here. 🙂 In this blog post, I’m helping you understand why a calorie deficit is the worst thing that can happen to you and the last thing you want if you want to get or stay healthy. I tailored this to vegans but all info applies to anyone really, so feel addressed no matter what. Also, I’m addressing why over-motivated fitness & exercise can contribute to health issues instead of improvement. Everyone talks about how important exercise is – no talks about the people taking it too far. All about that balance (duh…).
You probably know all these “food swaps” and “eat this not that”s – and while they’re good inspiration in terms of nutritious choices, they’re are not the solution to weight loss. I repeat: Eating less calories is not how to lose weight and stay healthy. You won’t only lose weight but also functions, systems and organs of your body longterm. Creating a calorie deficit by eating less calories are not the solution or the way to longterm healthy weight! Eating enough for your body to sustain all your systems “wastefully” with a high metabolism is! [which causes healthy weight loss in the long run]
The 4 Pillars Of Health
1. nutrition (micronutrients, macronutrients, no overstimulation, no glyphosate / Roundup),
2. movement (but not too hard for your capacity & recovery ability),
3. rest (recovery & sleep are crucial – no fitness without them) AND
4. mental & spiritual wellbeing.
All of these make up a state of health. I’m only touching on the nutrition part in this series. I want you to have the whole holistic picture in mind.
What many people don’t know: A chronic calorie deficit is the main cause of body systems failing and as a consequence for disease
And not only that, but it also causes anorexia to develop in some due to the evolutionary starvation response in the body. It’s science, I’ll get into detail in future videos, so: consider subscribing. 🙂
We’ve heard it all before, over and over. But if you don’t yet “believe” it, that means that you haven’t fully got it. For some reason (most of the time due to diet culture & disordered thoughts), it hasn’t sunk in. Once you fully understand what direct effect a calorie deficit has on your immune and digestive system, you’ll want to never aim for one again but instead put it to the test because you finally see where all your health issues began which you thought were separate [but duh… they aren’t]. And once you’re applying that knowledge about your body & metabolism and experience yourself how your symptoms are fully reversed (or how you even lose instead of gain weight eating twice despite the amount of calories) – once that happens, you’ll be absolutely mind-blown. Like I was. — Did you know that:
1. A chronic calorie deficit causes anorexia in some. [Mental disease literally can be caused by physical starvation.]
2. A chronic calorie deficit slows your metabolism. [Priming you to gain versus lose weight. The hibernation response of the body to physical starvation is real and evolutionary.]
3. A chronic calorie deficit causes body systems to fail. [Immune, digestive, reproductive and hormone systems etc.]
A non-exclusive list of symptoms when systems are failing:
- fight & flight system turned chronically turned on
- high stress hormones such as cortisol due to starvation and excess energy expenditure / over-exercise (taking away from the rest & digest system)
- low production of other (non-essential) sex, thyroid and adrenal hormones for the sake of prioritized stress hormone production
- also low HGH & satiety hormones like insulin, leptin and ghrelin,
- leading to oligo/dys/amenorrhea = issues in maintaining your period, ovulation & cycle or getting it back,
- infertility, bone mass / density,
- estrogen dominance / progesterone deficiency / luteal defect = short luteal phase,
- weakened immune system, parasites,
- whacky digestion, intolerances, bloating, constipation, bacterial imbalances,
- all the way leading to what conventional medicine knows and diagnoses as leaky gut, IBS, SIBO and colitis etc.
It’s just a matter of the severity & length of calorie deficit. Even a tiny deficit adds up over a long time. All the while a suppressed immune system that can’t fight off invaders & pathogens as it’s supposed to, leading to infections, bacterial overgrowth and parasites.It’s a real thing. Vegans tend to think they’re immune to all of this because they’re eating well – but don’t fool yourself when you undereat. It’s easy to undereat on a vegan diet when being entrenched in the diet culture’s belief about the “holy and worshipped calorie deficit” to attain the body of your dreams… this guy Gabriel Sey here got it right when going vegan for 30 days – he avoided the trap most people tap into when going vegan – overemphasizing greens, vegetables and low calorie foods in general (jump to 14:55-15:50):
Why “normal dieting” or a chronic calorie deficit is the last thing that you want & the worst thing that can happen to you longterm
Your body operates with many intertwined systems to maintain homeostasis and balance. Being in an energy deficit will throw these systems off, one after another, the longer and the more severe the worse the damage and pain – some can be irreversible. The earlier and the more serious you get back into energy balance, the more and the faster your body will use the energy for these systems again to get you back to health and repair damage that was done in a state of calorie deficit where it had to save energy, hold back and slow down and hibernate on all those systems. Because they are not the body’s first thing to keep running for survival. Like fertility / period: Producing a baby is in fact a big “waste of energy”, a huge luxury that is only worth pumping all this energy out in a safe environment where food is abundant and starvation or excess energy expenditure is absent. Same with digestion: Your body will slow down gut transit time which leads to fermentation, bacterial overgrowth and severe constipation to the point of desperation. Same with the immune system:
A hibernating immune system is bad news. It means that you have a wide open gateway for anything outside to enter and invade to your insides without being fought off properly. Hello health crisis. A chronic energy – and therefore nutrient – deficit contributes to a weak immune system which contributes to opportunistic parasitism which occurs in hosts with weakened immune system, acidic body, malfunctioning guts, high intake of toxins (e.g. loads of glyphosate / Roundup / pesticides) and low stomach acid.
A hibernating metabolism and body is also the reason why people have trouble losing or even maintaining their weight on very few calories and why you hear things like: “One of my brothers can eat 4,000 calories a day and still struggle to keep weight on, whilst for me I need not go above 1500/1700 even when training 3 times a day.” Even 2000 calories for a small female would be faaar too low to keep her healthy longterm. I know plenty of women who chronically eat below 2200 calories… not realizing that health issues arising are directly connected. Anything below 2200 calories is officially considered a famine by the WHO!
An energy deficit is a negative balance of energy taken in and put out
In other words: Your body is burning more energy than you put in – regardless whether with or without the “help” of exercise – and regardless if intended or unintended. The two components of a calorie deficit are a) an insufficient energy intake to maintain all body repair & maintenance systems
and b) an excessive energy expenditure (e.g. compensating intake by exercise). Whether it’s wanted or unwanted. “Wanted” goes without saying – people aim for prolonged deficit when dieting. But I believe that unwanted undereating is huge among vegans. Did you know that you can always eat until you’re full while undereating…? The sheer volume of foods makes them think eating to their physical and mental appetite is extreme whereas it’s necessary for them to stay healthy and not run into health and malnutrition and metabolic issues. Restriction of any kind, shape and form really. in other words: restrictive, anorexic and orthorexic eating behaviors. Most people dealing with an eating disorder won’t perceive themselves as doing so and it sounds exaggerated them as they would never consider themselves as “sick enough”, especially when not underweight! And most especially when “overweight”. But it’s all about being honest to yourself: Do you have food fears? Do you think that the less you eat the healthier it is for you? Do you obsess over macronutrients or fear fats, oil, salt, sugar, anything processed?
The big factors that I see leading to excessive energy expenditure especially in the vegan community are:
a) adopting automatic routines and habits that we catch from others and “that fit vegans do”, e.g. running, cycling, yoga, moving around the whole day a whole lot and
b) the association of eating with exercise and vice versa.
For a) Exercise is often not what we need to get fit but rest – aka less exercise. If we didn’t have the internet showing us what everyone else in the world is doing, we would be much better at doing our thing.
For b) Exercise and eating / amount of calories need to be completely separate if we want to find back to our body signals again.
An energy deficit is already known as the cause of a conventionally approved metabolic dysfunction
The Female Athlete Triad / RED(S) is an acknowledged metabolic and hormonal dysfunction in the conventional medicine which describes the health crisis female athletes go through in the state of a relative energy deficiency. What many don’t know is that you don’t have to nowhere near a professional 24-7 athlete in order to suffer from the physical health consequences included in this disease. One of them being hypothalamic amenorrhea – meaning that your body stops ovulating and getting the period on purpose – because it senses that it’s unsafe and food is too scarce for it to “waste” energy on these non-vital function of creating a baby. You might very well be concerned if you exercise a ton, struggle with movement compulsion, over-exercise and still have trouble maintaining your weight. Look up Female Athlete Triad.
Did you know that we’re meant to eat a calorie surplus?!
I have a video coming in which I’ll explain why you want to get to the place where your body does not gain weight from a calorie surplus, eating whatever you want, as much as you want, when you want. With many foods from nature but with fun foods included as desired. , Did you know that in a healthy state where your body’s systems and metabolism is humming along on peak, your body would (and will) not gain weight from a little fun foods on top every day and not even from a daily calorie surplus. Naturally, our bodies are meant to eat in a caloric surplus every day!!! Hundreds of excess calories! I’ll link a video of the amazoing Lily down below where she explains how this works
In the end, healthy longterm weight loss without the metabolism being suppressed does factually happen by a calorie deficit BUT: at a very high amount of calories (beyond anything under 2500) – because your metabolism is so high it releases any weight that’s not beneficial to your body’s health.
That’s why it’s so important to know how your metabolism works. To get the click you need for real recovery. Namely that any restriction will take you far away from your goal of weight loss and health longterm. To end to relapse & quasi recovery.
So what’s the difference that puts an end to relapsing and that leads to real recovery?
Understanding why your metabolism does what it does. Knowing why what you’re doing (not trying!) in diet & restriction recovery is the only way out and back to real happy life and health. For me, understanding what’s going on in my body and how it works hormonally and metabolically was the key to persist with real recovery without “trying” but instead just doing, to overwrite all my fears and be constantly above my fears and facing them, never stop challenging myself and not getting complacent.
I think that’s more than enough for today for you to let sink… :). I’ll be covering how I know that ca calorie deficit definitely was a reason for my health crisis” in part 2 – you wanna stay tuned! 🙂
But now, let me know below – have you had any experiences with all of this? Let’s share them below so we all can see that I’m not the only one! 🙂
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4889773/ – Impact of an energy deficit on the immune system