6 Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme

You’re shedding pounds, sure, but is your health taking a hit?

intro: Constant hunger pangs aren't the only tip-off that your weight-loss plan has crossed over into potentially dangerous territory. If you've recently started a diet, check out these signs that you could be harming your health or setting yourself up for a weight-loss fail.

How to Keep the Pounds Off—For Good

quicklist: 1 category: Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme title: Your Energy Level is Circling the Drain url: text: "It's a tip-off that your calorie intake is way too low," says Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., a Boston-based sports nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. "You have no fuel, so you're tired all the time."

As a general rule of thumb, most women need at least 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day just to sustain healthy metabolic function—but some may need more than that, says Clark. So if you're seriously dragging, it's a sign that you may need to up your caloric intake.

quicklist: 2 category: Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme title: You Think About What You’re Eating 24/7 url: text: If you keep a running tally of your calorie intake in your head and constantly ruminate over meals you've had or plan to eat, you're unhealthily obsessed, says Clark. A diet should be a lifestyle change that makes you more mindful, sure, but it shouldn't be a mental energy suck or anything that causes you to engage in obsessive behavior.

Decode Your Food Cravings

quicklist: 3 category: Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme title: You've Cut Out an Entire Food Group url: text: Banning carbs or another category of food will probably help the number on the scale go down, sure. Problem is, you’re also ditching entire categories of crucial nutrients—for example, complex carbs for energy or B vitamins to keep your mood steady. Without them, your health suffers…and you also begin to feel bored and deprived, says Clark.

quicklist: 4 category: Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme title: You Can't Sleep url: text: It's not just that a growling stomach keeps you from catching Zzz's at night, says Clark. A too-extreme diet also lacks nutrients that help you get a good night's sleep, so you toss and turn instead.

quicklist: 5 category: Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme title: You've Overhauled Your Social Schedule url: text: A healthy weight-loss plan is one you can stick to in almost any circumstance—whether you're at home, eating out at a restaurant with friends, or heading to a party where you know a buffet table will be waiting. Avoiding outings that involve eating is a sign your diet is too restrictive—and bound to backfire once you finally do venture out to a buffet or barbecue.

5 Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny

quicklist: 5 category: Signs Your Diet Is Too Extreme title: Your Moods Are Swinging All Over the Place url: text: We all know what it's like to be hungry. But even if your appetite is in check for the time being, restricting calories too much wreaks havoc on brain chemicals, and that in turn can throw you into any combination of depressed, anxious, and edgy.

Crazy mood swings screw up your weight-loss plans by triggering killer cravings...so you just end up gaining back the pounds you've shed, says Clark.