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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


Are my calories too low, will my body think it's starving?

Hi, I'm looking to up my exercise regime this week and try to burn a lot more calories. I have a 1400 calorie allowance each day but I�m looking to burn at least 700 of these. Do you think this is ok or will my body start to think it is starving? I've been told it will think it is starving and start storing fat and i will lose muscle mass instead because of the lack of energy from food. Is this true? I'm very confused. Vicky x


Our expert says...

Hi Vicky,

Essentially with a daily intake of 1400 calories a day with 700 calories burned through exercise would mean your body was functioning on 700 calories a day which is quite low. That said, the entire process of calorie calculation for food products, meals and exercise consists of a vast amount of approximations based on science so there is scope for inaccuracies. I would recommend that you initially try upping your exercise schedule while maintaining your 1400 calories target and if you are able to still stick to your calorie target without suffering excessive hunger than I would urge you to not purposely eat any extra calories burned.

The calorie counting process is always an approximate calculation process so spare calories burned is useful to optimising accuracy and ensuring weight loss. Make sure you consume good quality nutrition and achieve adequate hydration levels as this will ensure you recover from your exercise and minimise the likelihood of hunger. If however, you start to suffer with symptoms of hunger, persistent muscle soreness, irritability, headaches or have problems sleeping then consider increasing your calorie intake by 100 calories and see how the symptoms change over 2-3 days.  By listening to your body and making minor adjustments you should be able to find the right calorie level to achieve weight loss while preventing hunger or fatigue.

If your body is exposed to extreme calorie lows for prolonged periods then yes it can start breaking down muscle tissue and storing calories as fat for protection but if you listen to your body on a daily/weekly basis and adjust intake as necessary then this wont be a problem for you.

Hope this helps, 


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