Many people facing the daunting task of losing weight turn to the idea of starving themselves as a means of shedding pounds quickly and easily. Starvation, however, is not an alternative to a healthy diet, and will not result in the long-term weight loss you desire. Whether you attempt to starve your body of much-needed nutrients by simply skipping a few meals a week or if you turn to extreme starvation by becoming anorexic, you are doing far more harm to your body in the long run than if you simply modify your eating and exercise habits to attain your desired weight in a healthy manner.


According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, a noted osteopathic physician, limiting protein and micronutrient intake as a part of your diet regimen, as occurs during starvation, can lead to impairments in fertility, your immune system and even your stature. As you continue to rob your body of the nutrients it needs to survive, you will enter into a state of malnutrition.  Once you have entered into this state, you will find that it will become harder to even continue to diet as your body opens itself to infection and as you shed much-needed energy instead of pounds.


A healthy diet depends upon maintaining a metabolic rate that will give your body the energy it needs to shed fat and become fit. A starvation diet is defined by consuming less than 800 calories per day. Entering into a starvation diet as a means to lose weight will slow your metabolic rate to a point where your body will actually begin to store fat instead of burning it. Like a hibernating animal preparing for winter, your body will create a fat reserve to live from during the time period where your caloric intake is the lowest. 


As a further means of preparing for low caloric intake, other body systems will begin to slow down and eventually fail.  Symptoms that will result as bodily functions fail include dehydration and muscle spasms, which are caused by the electrolyte imbalance that will occur as your levels of much-needed nutrients drop.  In extreme cases, electrolyte imbalance may also cause cardiac arrhythmia, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Patients suffering from anorexia nervosa often suffer these heart-related complications, the leading cause of death in anorexics.


When in a state of starvation or malnutrition, imbalances in your body will also lead to psychological reactions such as irritability and anger, anxiety and depression. As your spirits tumble, apathy may set in and may lead to further or more extreme starvation, or a complete reverse to overeating as compensation to depression. Starvation will also lead to exhaustion, which will further reduce your calorie-burning potential.  If you are exhausted, your movements will slow and you will not have enough energy to exercise regularly. Mentally, exhaustion will cause your natural responses and reflexes to slow and reasoning skills to become muddled.


Cutting calories is not the same as starving yourself, but diets that promise extreme weight loss by restricting the intake of carbohydrates, fats or proteins can also lead to a state of starvation. Your body needs carbohydrates, fats and proteins as a part of a well-balanced diet, so beware of any diet that entirely cuts out any particular substance. Carbohydrates, especially, are important to your diet as a natural fuel to help burn unhealthy fat. Proteins are also important, as they help to prevent muscle tissue from breaking down while enabling body tissue health.


While it is possible to lose a few pounds quickly through starvation, the harm you cause to your body may be irreparable in the future. Weight loss is important to ensuring a healthier future, but you must always remember to diet wisely by incorporating the right blend of a smart nutritional plan along with exercise.


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