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You may feel fatigued and experience confusion on a calorie-deficient diet.
Eating a diet deficient in calories can produce a variety of side effects, including fatigue and weight loss. Over time, you may even lose muscle mass and develop nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia. Eating a diet deficient in calories means you are taking in fewer calories per day than your body needs as fuel to support bodily functions, everyday activity and exercise. Tracking your calorie intake can be helpful when working to remedy a calorie deficit.
Hunger and Low Blood Sugar
The most obvious signs of a calorie-deficient diet are hunger and low blood sugar. When you don't eat enough food, you feel hungry, which is your body's way of communicating that you need to eat more. A lack of hunger, however, doesn't necessarily mean you're consuming enough calories. You may feel full from eating high-fiber, high-volume and low-calorie foods, such as vegetables and fruits, even if you haven't consumed adequate calories. Your blood sugar level may also be low due to inadequate calorie intake. Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include confusion, blurred or double vision, shakiness, anxiety, sweating and heart palpitations, according to MayoClinic.com.
Another obvious sign of a calorie-deficient diet is weight loss. Your body uses calories as fuel to support unconscious bodily functions such as heartbeat and breathing, as well to power physical activity and exercise. If you take in fewer calories than you burn in a day, your body uses fat stores as fuel. Weight loss occurs as a result of this usage of fat stores as energy. You may notice your clothes feeling a little looser than usual at first. Feeling cold all the time can also be an indicator of fat loss from inadequate calorie intake.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
A calorie deficiency may also lead to malnutrition over time. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are some of the main problems from a calorie-deficient diet. Without enough of certain essential nutrients from food, you may start to develop side effects. According to the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, common symptoms of nutrient deficiencies include anemia, infections, decreased immune function, reproductive health problems, thyroid problems, improper or delayed wound healing, impaired neurological function and birth defects. Vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in your diet as a result of a calorie deficit include folate, iodine, iron, vitamin A, zinc and B vitamins.
A calorie-deficient diet may lead to a decline in your muscle mass. Your body relies on amino acids, the building blocks of protein and muscle, to support healthy body tissues and fluids as well as for growth and repair. If you don't consume enough protein from your diet, your body must access amino acids stored in body tissues and muscles. Over time, this can lead to a decline in muscle mass, also known as muscle wasting or kwashiorkor. You may feel fatigued, experience diarrhea, increased infections, irritability and swelling from lack of protein in your diet, according to A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.