WE ALL KNOW the most basic principle of weight loss: You need to burn more calories than you consume. And you have a long road of weight loss ahead of you, it can easily seem like the best way to fast-track this journey is to simply consume a whole lot less calories. That way, you’re not adding any new fat to your body, right?

Actually, it’s not that simple. What’s more, cutting too many calories can actually have the opposite effect, completely stalling your weight loss efforts.

“It’s a very common problem—that ‘starving’ yourself tends to not result in very effective weight loss,” says Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., L.D.N., nutritional biochemist and researcher in Salt Lake City, Utah, and past director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic.