The Dangers of a Hypocaloric Diet

Eating calories that don't satisfy your body's nutritional needs can have an overall negative impact on your health. Do you know the possible effects of inadequate nutrition?
The Dangers of a Hypocaloric Diet

Last update: 14 May, 2019

Of all the weight loss methods, today we’re focussing on the hypocaloric diet. These types of diets are useful when you want to lose weight over a short period of time and with hardly any effort. The result, unfortunately, is very harmful to the body, and, besides, it won’t give you the results you desire.

Next, we’ll discuss what the hypocaloric diet consists of and the dangers that it entails for those who follow it. Finally, we’ll suggest a much more effective way to lose weight and stay healthy.

What is a hypocaloric diet?

The hypocaloric diet is characterized by eating a minimal amount of calories. Thus, it provides the body with fewer nutrients than it needs, making you thinner faster. At least this is what advocators of this type of weight loss plan claim.

Regarding meals, all food with a higher proportion of calories is eliminated from the diet. As for the food with low caloric content, only small portions are eaten.

This type of diet can be more or less restrictive, depending on the number of calories you want to eliminate from your daily diet and how much weight you want to lose. In this article, we’ll focus only on the diets that limit food intake significantly, since they are the most harmful.

Consequences of the hypocaloric diet

It weakens the immune system

The main danger of following this type of diet is restricting yourself of vital nutrients. It’s true that you limit unhealthy fats or sugars, but you also have to take into account that you’re limiting the intake of vitamins and other types of nutrients as well.

As a consequence of restricting ourselves of crucial nutrients, our immune system is weakened, mainly due to a deficiency of B and C vitamins. Thus, we’ll increase our chances of catching a viral infection or becoming ill due to a cold or flu during the colder months.

This is a clear example of how harmful a hypocaloric diet is.

A recurring feeling of tiredness

We’ve already mentioned that the basis of this type of diet is to restrict our caloric intake. The first thing that happens when we start doing this is a recurring feeling of tiredness. Carrying out daily tasks becomes more difficult, and we finish the day exhausted.

We feel exhausted because the body lacks energy and, therefore, doesn’t have the necessary strength to perform typical daily tasks. Just imagine if you suddenly started to fill only half of your car’s gas tank instead of filling it up completely. Obviously, it won’t be able to perform at the same level as a car with a full tank does.

A loss of muscle mass with the hypocaloric diet

People follow a hypocaloric diet in order to decrease the amount of body fat they have. Instead, the complete opposite happens.

When you start a hypocaloric diet, your muscles are the first to suffer, they weaken and, little by little, diminish in size.

To recover your muscle mass, you’ll have to start a protein-rich diet. This is another reason why very low-calorie diets aren’t a good option.

High levels of cortisol

After following a hypocaloric diet for a few days, your hormones become destabilized. This destabilization is because the necessary nutrients are not being received, and, as a result, cortisol levels rise.

You may not recognize it, but you’ve undoubtedly heard of the stress hormone before. This hormone directly affects your mood and character. It can cause irritability, tiredness, insomnia or depression.


Severe hypocaloric diets aren’t a recommendable option for losing weight. Keep in mind that reaching your ideal weight requires time and effort. Moreover, the only way to lose weight healthily is by implementing a complete and varied diet (preferably agreed by a professional) and exercising regularly.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Trombetta, I. C. (2003). Exercício físico e dieta hipocalórica para o paciente obeso: vantagens e desvantagens. Rev Bras Hipertens10(2), 130–133.
  • Stern, L., Iqbal, N., Seshadri, P., Chicano, K. L., Daily, D. A., McGrory, J., & López, P. O. (2004). La dieta baja en hidratos de carbono es más eficaz que la dieta hipocalórica convencional. FMC – Formación Médica Continuada En Atención Primaria11(8), 525.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.