Are Your Calories Dangerously Low? How Low Can You Go?
I’ve had a few questions from readers recently, concerned that they may be going too low on calories. It’s a real concern, because if you do go too low on calories, say hello to:
- Muscle loss
- Feeling like crap
- Awful sleep
- Getting too skinny
- Ruining other life areas
- Regaining all your fat
Push it too far, and the metaphorical pendulum swings back just as far. In other words, you re-bound, like 97% of other dieters.
How Low Is Too Low?
In this post, I described how Paul Revelia never liked to see his clients go below 10 calories per pound of bodyweight, ever, and how this closely matched my experiences.
Of course, if you’re 160 pounds, eating 1700 calories (so technically okay) but doing endless piles of cardio, this is also an undesirable situation best avoided.
But generally speaking the 10 calories per pound of bodyweight is a good rule to follow, assuming you’re not doing anything too extreme with cardio.
Now, this rule is usually given to guys who are really pushing the envelope with their fat loss journey’s. They are starting to dip below 10% body fat and are clearly and visibly ripped.
If you’re 15%+ body fat, you shouldn’t be anywhere near this 10 calorie per pound of bodyweight rule. If you are, you have either:
- Been dieting for a long time without a maintenance period, or
- Cut your calories too quickly
Either way, you need a month or two at maintenance. This is a very strict and planned period of time where you focus on rebuilding your metabolism, through slowaly raising both calories and cardio.
How Your Minimum Calories May Look
Under my Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle dieting system, it will feel better than on a typical eating structure whereby you have to spread these calories out evenly throughout the day; never feeling satiated at any one moment and constantly thinking about food.
Take a 180 pound guy, eating 1800 calories.
He would have his morning coffee (or two) as per usual, followed by a 300 calorie fruit snack. A couple of hours later, around 1pm, he would have his first meal. This would need to be balanced evenly with the second main meal, and as we only have about 1500 calories left, each one would be 750 each.
This doesn’t look too bad does it? Especially compared to a normal, 3 meal split which would only be 600 calories each (assuming no snacks). If you up it to 4 meals, it’s now 450 calories per meal. Can you see how this would just constantly keep you ravenous?
Sure, even under my IF system, you will still be hungry on 1800 calories as a 180 pound man doing regular cardio, but because of the coffee, larger and less frequent meals and well-timed fruit snack and water, you won’t be as hungry. It’s less bad.
Another thing to remember is that you wouldn’t be able to have any evening snack, which I recommend for most people to keep cravings at bay. But when you’re really pushing it, you just can’t afford to miss out on potential protein, EFA’s and fiber. Not worth it.
I hope this helps to answer any questions in terms of calorie limits and thresholds. You shouldn’t be anywhere near your lower limit unless you’re approaching 10% body fat. If you are, you’ve done something wrong and will likely need a period of maintenance soon before you push it too far.
Learn how to eat the right amount of calories for your goals, get lean without rebounding, and get brutally strong by signing up to my email list in the top right of the screeen (if you’re on a computer), or at the bottom (if you’re on your phone).