Low-calorie diets are very popular as a means to lose weight, but research suggests they can have detrimental consequences on your bones and muscles. An Australian study suggests that low calorie diets can result in weaker handgrip strength and reduce bone mineral density (BMD). These effects were seen more so among women.
The study included 150 individuals, where after two months of adhering to a low calorie diet, participants experienced significantly reduced handgrip strength regardless of age.
Bone mineral density was also found to drop significantly in the spine and hip in those younger than 51.
Presenter of the study Radhika Seimon explained the findings suggest that “low-energy diets in females and older adults could benefit from strategies to protect against loss of muscle strength and bone mineral density; for example, using diets that are higher in protein and also exercises such as strength training.”
“However, given the known gravity of obesity-related health complications, concerns about potential effects of low-energy diets on muscle strength and BMD should not deter clinicians from using these diets to manage overweight/obesity. [Rather they should take] due care to monitor and protect musculoskeletal integrity before, during, and after the diet.”
The study highlights that even though a low-calorie diet aims to reduce weight, which is important for health, it can present other challenges including bone and muscle weakness. If your goal is to lose weight, you should work closely with a nutritionist or dietician so that you are losing weight in a healthy manner while still supporting strong bones and muscles.
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