How Many Calories Do Anorexics Eat?

How Many Calories Do Anorexics Eat?

How Many Calories Do Anorexics Eat?

Anorexic patients need 5,000–10,000 extra calories to gain a kilogram. Hence, a 35-kg patient needs about 1,000 kcal/day (30 kcal/kg) to maintain her weight and at least 2,000 kcal/day to gain weight, even though the recommended minimum calorie requirement is 1200 for women and 1500 for men. After refeeding, inpatients can gain 1–1.5 kg/week and outpatients can gain 0.5 kg/week [6].

Anorexia and Caloric Intake

Anorexia nervosa is a complicated and possibly life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a disfigured body image and severe anxiety about being overweight. One of the main signs of anorexia is the severe restriction of food intake, which could cause various psychological and physical health issues.

The Physiology of Anorexia and Caloric Intake

If someone suffering from anorexia cannot eat, then the body’s metabolism is slowed to save energy. This makes it harder for the body to consume calories and maintain a healthy weight and increases the likelihood of malnutrition and other health issues. The body could also begin to break down muscles to make energy, reducing the overall caloric requirement and making it more difficult to satisfy the nutritional requirements.

As time passes, these physiological changes can lead to many health issues, such as lower blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances, and heart arrhythmias. The brain could be affected, too, through changes in neurotransmitter function that can lead to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

The Risks of Low Caloric Intake in Anorexia:

Alongside the physical risks associated with a diet low in caloric intake, there are many psychological risks that people suffering from anorexia might face. This includes:

  • Food obsession and thoughts of weight gain.
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • The focus is on body and appearance. image
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt or shame
  • An increase in anxiety and depression

It’s important to recognize that these risk factors can be increased due to other elements, like co-occurring mental health disorders or a history of abuse or trauma.

  • Treating Anorexia and Promoting Healthy Caloric Intake: Due to the risk of low caloric intake during anorexia, it is essential to encourage healthier eating and ensure that people suffering from the disorder get adequate nutrition and assistance. Treatment for anorexia can include a variety of strategies, including:
  • Food advise and meal plan: A registered dietitian may assist those suffering from anorexia to develop an appropriate diet plan suited to their nutritional needs and aids in weight loss.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy can help those with anorexia recognize and confront those negative behaviors and thoughts that cause the disorder and develop strategies to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Family-based therapy (FBT): FBT involves the entire family participating in treatment to promote healthier eating habits and weight loss.
  • Medical treatments: In certain instances, medications like antipsychotics or antidepressants may be prescribed to treat co-occurring mental health disorders or specific signs of anorexia.

The key to encouraging a healthy intake of calories in anorexia is to provide complete and compassionate treatment that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social factors contributing to the condition. With the proper treatment and guidance, those suffering from anorexia can overcome the difficulties of the disorder and establish an improved relationship with food and their bodies.

Consequences of Low Caloric Intake in Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is a severe eating disorder that may have various physical and psychological repercussions resulting from the inability to consume enough calories. Anorexics may limit food intake to extremely low levels, which can cause various health issues such as insufficient nutrition, organ damage, or even death.


One of the most important consequences of a diet low in calories during anorexia is malnutrition, which occurs when the body fails to receive enough nutrients to sustain good health. In the case of malnutrition, it can cause various health issues that include:

  • A weak immune system: Insufficient nutrition can affect the body’s capability to fight infections, putting people with anorexia at greater risk of disease.
  • Loss of bone: Insufficient levels of nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, may decrease bone density and increase the chance of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Nutritional deficiencies can alter hormone production like testosterone and estrogen, leading to menstrual cycle irregularities, decreased sexual libido, and other signs.
  • Organ damage: In severe malnutrition, it can cause damage to kidneys, lovers, and other organs, possibly leading to organ failure or various life-threatening complications.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Apart from malnutrition, a low caloric intake during anorexia may cause a variety of gastrointestinal issues, such as:

  • Constipation: A decreased food intake can cause decreased stool movements, which may cause abdominal pain and discomfort.
  • Gastroparesis: This condition is caused by stomach muscles not functioning correctly, resulting in delayed digestion and other symptoms, such as vomiting and nausea.
  • Intestinal obstruction in the intestines: In some instances, the caloric intake is low enough to develop an obstruction in the intestines. This can result in severe discomfort and other complications.

Cardiovascular Problems

The intake of calories in anorexia can also impact the cardiovascular system, causing various issues like:

  • Blood pressure is low: Limiting food intake can result in blood pressure dropping, which can cause fainting, dizziness, and other symptoms.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms: Electrolyte imbalances that are severe and caused by anorexia can cause irregular heart rhythms that could be life-threatening.
  • Cardiac arrest: In rare instances, the caloric intake is low enough to make the heart stop beating completely, which can lead to a sudden cardiac arrest.

Psychological Consequences

Apart from the physical effects of a low-calorie diet associated with anorexia, there are many psychological issues that people who suffer from the disorder might confront. These include:

  • Anxiety and depression: Intake of low caloric levels can alter neurotransmitter functions in the brain, causing mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • Obsessive thoughts about weight and food: Anorexics may be enthralled by thoughts about weight and food and find it difficult to concentrate on other aspects of their lives.
  • Social disconnection and withdrawal: The guilt and shame associated with anorexia may cause people to avoid social interactions, further exacerbating feelings of loneliness and insecurity.
  • Low self-esteem: The emphasis on body and appearance image in anorexia may lead to low self-esteem and negative self-talk.

Measuring Caloric Intake In Anorexia

Anorexia is a serious eating disorder that is marked by eating habits that restrict one’s appetite and can result in the consumption of fewer calories. Monitoring caloric intake is essential to treating anorexia because it helps clinicians determine the extent of restriction and track progress toward recovery.

However, determining caloric intake during anorexia can be challenging. People who suffer from the disorder may try to conceal their behavior or fail to accurately report the amount of food they consume.

Challenges Of Measuring Caloric Intake

There are a variety of challenges with determining caloric intake in anorexia, such as:

  • Avoidance of food: Anorexics may avoid eating in public or conceal their food items to avoid scrutiny or suspicion.
  • Distorted thinking: People with anorexia might have altered thinking patterns that cause them to overestimate how much food they consume or to see foods with low calories as high-calorie.
  • Purging and eating on a binge: Certain individuals suffering from anorexia can engage in purging and binge eating behaviors that make it hard to evaluate caloric intake.
  • Social pressure: People with anorexia might be pressured to conform to the norms of society regarding weight loss and diet, which can cause them to not report their caloric intake or engage in eating disorders.

Tools And Techniques For Measuring Caloric Intake

Despite these issues, many techniques and tools can assess the caloric intake of people suffering from anorexia, such as:

  • Food diaries: A food diary can help people track their food intake and account for their eating habits over time. Clinicians can use these diaries to determine ways to avoid food or track progress toward recovery.
  • Direct observation: In certain instances, the clinician may observe a person’s eating habits to evaluate their caloric intake and determine any eating disorders.
  • Food portions that are weighed: Food portions can help people accurately measure their caloric intake and monitor their progress toward achieving their nutritional goals.
  • Calorie tracking applications: There are numerous smartphone apps that allow users to monitor their caloric intake and progress toward their nutritional goals. These apps are helpful tools for people going through recovery, and healthcare professionals also use them to track progress and identify areas that might require additional help.

Challenges Of Accurately Reporting Caloric Intake

Even using these tools and methods, accurate reporting of caloric intake isn’t easy for those suffering from anorexia. There are many reasons for this, such as:

  • Fear of judgment: Anorexics may fear being judged or criticized for their eating habits which could cause them to underreport their calories.
  • Guilt and shame: Feelings of guilt and shame can cause people to conceal their food intake or conceal their eating habits from others.
  • Inadequate awareness: Anorexics might not be aware of the seriousness of their food restriction or the symptoms of disordered eating.

How Anorexics Control Their Caloric Intake?

Anorexia is a serious eating disorder defined by restrictive eating habits and a fearful approach to losing weight. Anorexics control their calories differently; some even resort to extreme measures to limit their diet.

Behaviors Used To Control Caloric Intake

There are a variety of behaviors used by people with anorexia to limit their caloric intake. These include:

  • Food restriction: People suffering from anorexia might limit their food intake to minimal levels, typically eating less than 1,000 calories daily. They may not eat whole food categories or limit their consumption of specific foods, for example, fats or carbohydrates.
  • Compulsive exercise: Certain people suffering from anorexia might exercise compulsively to lose weight and keep a lower body weight. They can exercise for long periods every day or perform intense workout routines designed to burn off many calories.
  • Purging: Certain people suffering from anorexia might be prone to purging behaviors like self-inducing vomiting or using diuretics or laxatives to eliminate excess calories from their bodies. These actions can be risky and could cause serious health issues.
  • Food rituals: Certain people suffering from anorexia may have food rituals that make them control their eating habits. For instance, they could consume food in a specific order or at certain times of the day.

Consequences Of Caloric Restriction

The effects of caloric restriction in anorexia can be serious and have lasting effects on an individual’s health and well-being. The consequences of caloric restriction are:

  • Malnutrition: Anorexics limiting their food intake might not get sufficient nutrients. This could cause malnutrition and various health issues. Insufficient nutrition can affect the function of important organs, like the liver, the heart, and kidneys, and can weaken the immune system.
  • Loss of bone: Caloric restriction may lead to loss of bone which increases the likelihood of fractures and related bone injuries. Bone loss is more common in women who suffer from anorexia since estrogen levels can be low, which can cause the breakdown of bone tissue.
  • Heart problems: Anorexics who are limiting their intake of calories are more at risk of developing cardiovascular issues, which include low blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure.
  • Mental health issues: Caloric restriction may have a significant impact on the mental health of an individual, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Treatment For Anorexia

Treatment for anorexia usually requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes nutritional counseling, therapy, and medical therapy. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and family-based therapy (FBT) have been proven to be successful in helping those suffering from anorexia overcome their restrictive eating patterns and establish an improved relationship with food.

Nutritional counseling is an essential aspect of treatment since it can aid those who suffer from anorexia in developing healthier eating habits and meeting their nutritional requirements. Medical treatment is often required when an individual’s health is severely affected due to their dietary restrictions.

Treatment for Anorexia and Caloric Intake

Anorexia nervosa is a severe eating disorder characterized by restrictive eating habits and a heightened fear of losing weight. One of the most important aspects of treatment for anorexia involves addressing the intake of calories and nutritional deficiencies.

The Importance of Nutrition in Anorexia Treatment

Nutrition is essential in treating anorexia since people suffering from this disorder typically suffer from significant nutritional deficiencies due to their restricted eating habits. A lack of nutrition can lead to several health issues, including weakening immunity, organ damage, and impaired cognitive functioning. Thus, it’s crucial to take care of nutritional deficiencies as part of a comprehensive treatment program for anorexia.

The first step to addressing nutrition deficiencies is to supply the person with an adequate and diverse diet that contains all the vital nutrients they require. It can be daunting since those suffering from anorexia usually have very strict food restrictions and may have difficulty incorporating new food items into their diet.

However, with the help of a skilled dietitian or nutritionist, it’s feasible to design a diet plan suited to an individual’s nutritional requirements while accommodating their food preferences and limitations.

Another important aspect of addressing the nutritional issues that cause anorexia is monitoring weight gain and ensuring that the person is growing at a healthy pace. Weight recovery is an essential element of recovery from anorexia because it assists in addressing the physical effects of malnutrition and can also enhance the psychological health of an individual.

Approaches To Addressing Caloric Intake In Anorexia Treatment

Many different strategies can be employed to combat caloric intake to treat anorexia, including:

  • Gradual weight increase: Gradual Weight gain is usually recommended for those suffering from anorexia as an increase in weight quickly is often overwhelming and could cause relapse or resistance. Weight gain of 1 to 2 pounds per week is usually considered a healthy weight gain for those who suffer from anorexia.
  • Meal plans: Meal plans are a crucial tool to manage the intake of calories in treatment for anorexia. A meal plan can give the structure and consistency of meals and help ensure the person gets the proper nutrients needed to aid their recovery.
  • Nutrition supplements: In certain situations, nutritional supplements are required to treat nutritional deficiencies in people suffering from anorexia. Nutritional supplements can be the most concentrated supply of nutrients and help promote weight growth and overall health.
  • Nutritional counseling: Counseling for nutrition can be an essential aspect of treatment for anorexia since it can assist individuals in establishing good eating habits and an enlightened relation to food. Nutritional counseling also provides guidance and assistance with eating plans, portion control, and other crucial aspects of nutrition.


What calorie gain is required for anorexics?

According to studies, AN patients require more calories – roughly 3,400 kcal – to grow 0.5 kg/week than are required merely to maintain weight. This translates to roughly an additional 500 kcal/day over the course of seven days in addition to the calories needed for weight maintenance.

Consuming 600 calories daily causes an ED?

An eating disorder can only be diagnosed by a specialist, however 300–600 calories per day is WAY BELOW what is considered healthy.

Should anorexics track their calories?

When someone has the limiting form of anorexia, they severely limit the kinds and quantities of food they eat. These foods typically have an extremely low calorie and/or nutritious content. Additionally, they will skip meals or count the calories in everything they eat.

1200 calories: Are you starving?

A 1200 calorie diet is, in fact, a starvation diet for the majority of us. So where did this magic number for weight loss originate? Dr. Lulu Peters, who initially suggested this in 1920, advised every woman to count every bite of food she consumes and to consume no more than 1200 calories day.

Is 700 calories per day sufficient?

The National Institutes of Health estimate that an adult needs between 1,600 and 3,000 calories per day. Although the precise calorie requirements change depending on age and physical activity, 700 is a fairly modest quantity. A 2-year-old needs at least 1000 calories per day even if they only do light physical activity.

Is it possible to live on 500 calories per day?

According to registered dietitian Jesse Feder, “A person can only survive for a limited period of time on 500 calories a day. This is quite low and over time could cause major health problems.