/Why Very Low Calorie Diets (500-1000 Calories A Day) Don’t Work

Why Very Low Calorie Diets (500-1000 Calories A Day) Don’t Work

Are you enthusiastic about occurring a very low calorie weight loss program (VLCD)?

If that’s the case, it’s in all probability since you perceive that the one large secret to weight reduction is consuming fewer energy.

As a result of when you perceive that you must eat much less with a view to drop pounds, it’s frequent to then suppose “If I eat so much much less, I’ll drop pounds so much sooner!

And the way do you eat so much much less? Easy. By following a really low calorie weight loss program.

What Is A Very Low Calorie Weight loss plan?

“Official” definitions put it at any weight loss program that’s 800 energy a day or much less. In case you go searching, although, you’ll see it outlined as something between 500 – 1000 energy a day.

However actually? I don’t actually care about any of that. Within the context of this text, I’m going to outline VLCDs like this…

My Definition:

A very low calorie weight loss program is any weight loss program the place an individual is consuming considerably lower than the quantity of energy they’d actually must eat a day with a view to drop pounds at an optimum, sustainable and wholesome fee. A extra correct time period would in all probability be an unnecessarily low calorie weight loss program.

Now what does that imply, you ask? It means deficit dimension issues.

The Measurement Of Your Deficit Issues

You see, weight loss happens whenever you eat fewer energy than the quantity your physique requires to keep up its present weight. It is a state generally known as a caloric deficit.

The factor is, that deficit could be quite a lot of sizes.

Let me offer you an instance.

Let’s fake some instance particular person maintains their present weight consuming 2500 energy a day. To ensure that a deficit to exist, they’d must eat some extent much less than 2500.

Meaning our instance particular person might doubtlessly eat…

  • 2250 energy a day (a deficit of 250)
  • 2000 energy a day (a deficit or 500)
  • 1750 energy a day (a deficit of 750)
  • 1500 energy a day (a deficit of 1000)
  • 1200 energy a day (a deficit of 1300)
  • 1000 energy a day (a deficit of 1500)
  • 800 energy a day (a deficit of 1700)
  • 500 energy a day (a deficit of 2000)
  • Or anyplace in between.

And in each single case – no matter whether or not their deficit is small, reasonable or giant, or whether or not they’re on the next or decrease calorie weight loss program – they’re going to find yourself reducing weight so long as they’re constantly in that deficit.

The one query is… which deficit dimension is greatest?

Bigger Deficit = Sooner Weight Loss

For most individuals, the principle (or usually, solely) consideration right here is which deficit dimension will work the quickest. And that reply comes right down to simple math.

The bigger the deficit… the sooner your fee of weight reduction will probably be.

And that’s how most individuals find yourself on a really low calorie weight loss program. They merely wish to drop pounds quick, they usually notice that the much less they eat, the sooner it’s going to occur.

Due to this fact, a really low calorie weight loss program is assured to be the most suitable choice for anybody who needs the quickest outcomes potential.

Finish of story.




Eh, not fairly.

The Huge Drawback With Very Low Calorie Diets

On paper, a VLCD weight loss program ought to produce the quickest weight reduction outcomes. However that is hardly ever what finally ends up occurring in the true world.

Actually, not solely do VLCDs not work quick, they usually don’t work in any respect.

How can that be, you ask?

How can somebody who is clearly in an enormous caloric deficit – consuming as little as 1200 energy a day, or 1000 energy a day, or 800 energy a day, and even 500 energy a day – not drop pounds?


Is it hunger mode?

HA… no. Starvation mode is a myth. A caloric deficit, irrespective of how giant it might be – even when the particular person is actually ravenous to dying (undoubtedly NOT a suggestion… simply making a degree) – will nonetheless end in weight reduction.

Is it metabolic injury? 

Nope, because metabolic damage is not a real thing.

Then what the hell is the issue right here?

It’s easy.

The issue is that the meant (unnecessarily) giant deficit doesn’t exist constantly sufficient to work.

What I imply is, individuals might try to create this massive deficit through the use of a VLCD, however because of how exhausting and unsustainable a VLCD actually is, it doesn’t occur usually sufficient or final lengthy sufficient to truly work.

And so, the massive deficit they’re making an attempt to constantly put into place isn’t constantly being put into. Which suggests weight reduction doesn’t occur.

Now it’s possible you’ll be questioning, what precisely makes VLCDs so exhausting and unsustainable?

Good query…

1. Starvation And Urge for food Are At Their Worst

Starvation and urge for food improve any time you go into ANY caloric deficit. Nonetheless, the extra excessive that deficit is, the extra excessive the hunger and appetite issues will be.

Why does this matter? As a result of these points will finally forestall you from consuming the low quantity you’re making an attempt to eat.

The best way I normally see it go is like this…

A particular person will try to eat 500 – 1000 energy a day or one thing comparable.

And they are able to efficiently do it… for a day.

Hell, possibly even a few days.

In the event that they’re actually fortunate? Perhaps every week.

However then, because the starvation and urge for food points worsen, a breaking level is finally reached. And when that breaking level is reached, an enormous binge (typically lasting for days) takes place.

And it’s normally to a level that cancels out no matter unnecessarily giant deficit the particular person efficiently managed to create within the day(s) prior, thus stopping any weight reduction from occurring.

Right here’s an instance of what that may appear like utilizing 1200 calories because the particular person’s meant low calorie consumption…

Bingeing due to a low calorie diet.

So you understand how individuals will declare to be consuming some tremendous low quantity (i.e. 500 – 1000 energy a day) but still aren’t losing weight? THIS, proper right here, is likely one of the commonest explanation why. (The opposite frequent cause is unknowingly consuming extra energy than they suppose they’re because of some sort of error, miscalculation or underestimation.)

Even higher, think about that the binge days on this instance went even greater in energy. That’s the way you get individuals claiming to be consuming some tremendous decrease quantity however but are by some means gaining weight.

There’s nothing mysterious concerned right here. You’re simply making an attempt to eat lower than you realistically can, and it backfires.

2. Muscle Loss Is At Its Worst

One other large drawback with going excessively low in energy is that you simply lose muscle.

Muscle loss is a possible drawback with ANY extended caloric deficit, however similar to with starvation and urge for food, it’s a lot worse the bigger your deficit is.

To not point out, the inadequate protein intake that always goes together with very low calorie diets makes this drawback even worse, as does the truth that power and efficiency within the health club (which is one other key issue for sustaining muscle) goes to shit when your calorie consumption is excessively low.

The results of the entire above? Important muscle loss.

3. You Know What? Every thing Is At Its Worst!

Let me save us each a while right here.

You see, your physique doesn’t like being in a caloric deficit, nor does it like weight reduction on the whole. Actually, to your physique, your fats is definitely an excellent factor to maintain round for survival functions, and survival is all of your physique actually cares about it.

This survival obsession, mixed with the truth that your physique can’t inform the distinction between you consuming much less since you’re making an attempt to get leaner, otherwise you consuming much less since you’ve run out of meals and are about to starve to dying, results in some attention-grabbing adaptive responses.

And by “attention-grabbing adaptive responses,” I imply your physique fights again in opposition to your try to drop pounds.

How so? By doing all the pieces it might probably to make the load loss course of so exhausting that you simply begin consuming extra and cease being in a deficit.

And guess what else?

Whereas that is true with ANY extended caloric deficit, it’s worse – a lot worse – the bigger that deficit is.

Which suggests, whereas any weight loss diet goes to be exhausting to some extent, very low calorie diets are going to be the toughest.

Particularly, rattling close to each single physiological and psychological facet of reducing weight will probably be at its worst.

This contains…

VLCDs will trigger your physique to combat again the toughest, which suggests the complete weight reduction course of will happen underneath circumstances that would be the least constantly doable within the short-term, and the least constantly sustainable within the long-term.

Which is why VLCDs hardly ever work. And even in these uncommon circumstances after they do? Properly…

4. You’re Most likely Going To Regain The Weight Proper After

One of many largest issues individuals have with weight reduction is sustaining their progress for the long-term. So even after they efficiently drop pounds, it’s a complete second battle to then hold it off.

And whereas regaining the load is a possible drawback for individuals on EVERY type of weight loss program, it’s MUCH worse and MUCH extra prone to occur for individuals on very low calorie diets.

And the rationale why is apparent.

Very low calorie diets usually are not long-term options.

So even if you’re by some means in a position to stick with your VLCD lengthy sufficient to achieve your weight reduction objective, what the hell are you purported to do when you get there?

How do you preserve your outcomes for the long-term after getting these outcomes utilizing an excessive methodology that isn’t truly maintainable?

Spoiler Alert: you don’t!

As a result of as an alternative of studying the basics of correct weight loss program and train, and easy methods to alter issues based mostly in your particular wants and preferences, and growing the mandatory habits and dietary/behavioral expertise required for long-term success, you went with an excessive, short-term, quick-fix methodology that doesn’t assist AT ALL with long-term upkeep.

Contestants on The Biggest Loser have the identical drawback after the present ends.

So even when you can handle to endure the bodily and psychological ache of a VLCD lengthy sufficient for it to truly work, you’re prone to finally find yourself proper again the place you began. Or probably even worse. After which repeat the cycle over and over.

5. It’s Not Bodily Or Mentally Secure

Along with very low calorie diets being exhausting to constantly maintain within the short-term and unattainable to maintain within the long-term, it additionally comes with two different enormous potential issues, each of which contain your well being and the general security of such a weight loss program.

The primary includes your bodily well being. Permit me to cite myself from a earlier article (Am I Not Eating Enough Calories?) on the topic…

That is when an individual is consuming an quantity of energy that’s so low that they simply aren’t in a position to devour the quantity of macronutrients (primarily protein and fats) and micronutrients (varied nutritional vitamins and minerals) that the human physique requires to maintain well being, operate and doubtlessly even life itself.

In case you could have forgotten, we don’t simply eat meals as a result of it tastes yummy. We eat it as a result of it comprises the issues our our bodies must hold us alive and functioning.

Cease giving it a few of these issues, and even simply cease giving it the total quantity it wants of a few of these issues… and dangerous issues will regularly start to occur.

Precisely what sort of “dangerous issues” is unattainable to say, because it depends upon quite a lot of elements. However if you would like an instance, simply take one have a look at the lengthy checklist of issues related to anorexia.

That’s the proper place to start out.

If you need extra examples, choose any particular nutrient you need and lookup the frequent issues related to a deficiency in that nutrient. Then lookup some extra. After which extra. After which mix all of it collectively.

That is the truth of what can occur on a really low calorie weight loss program.

Now, certain, the particular person on this situation will nonetheless drop pounds if they’ll handle to maintain consuming no matter unnecessarily low quantity they’re consuming (which explains why anorexics attain disturbingly skinny ranges), however um… it’s going to take a major unfavorable toll in your well being.

And as that toll turns into an increasing number of vital, it’s going to grow to be more durable and more durable for the particular person to proceed reducing weight on account of the way-more-important affect it’s having on their means to maintain well being, operate, and, if it goes on lengthy sufficient… life itself.

Our second potential drawback includes your psychological well being in a manner that may considerably affect your bodily well being as nicely.

And that’s the undeniable fact that unnecessarily low calorie diets usually include/result in disordered consuming habits (anorexia, bulimia, and so on.) and/or varied physique picture points. And as soon as that occurs… the doorways are open to all types of related issues.

So Then How Many Calories Ought to I Eat?

At this level, you need to have a reasonably good understanding of why VLCDs are a nasty concept, and the way though we frequently suppose they’re what’s going to work the very best/quickest, the truth is that they normally don’t find yourself working in any respect.

For all of those causes and extra… they need to be prevented.

(Be aware: The principle exception right here could be in (usually) short-term circumstances when a health care provider prescribes a VLCD to a (usually) overweight affected person who (usually) has some kind of well being challenge that warrants an excessive weight loss program measure like this, the place it’s then used underneath medically supervised circumstances.)

And that brings us to an apparent query: what number of energy must you eat to drop pounds?

For the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants, my reply is that this:

How Many Calories Ought to You Eat?

It is best to eat the most quantity of energy potential that also produces a sustainable and wholesome fee of weight reduction for you.

Extra particularly…

  • Meaning consuming an quantity that enables weight reduction to constantly happen whereas drastically minimizing or fully stopping the entire issues that come about throughout the weight reduction course of (hunger, muscle loss, metabolic slowdown, hormonal diversifications, weight regain, and so on. and so on. and so on.). This, by the way in which, is a topic I wrote a whole e-book about: Superior Fat Loss
  • Meaning as an alternative of utilizing a really low calorie weight loss program and unnecessarily consuming any lower than you actually must in an try to make weight reduction occur sooner than it realistically ought to, you need to eat an quantity that’s as sustainable for you in each the quick and long-term as potential so you may truly do it constantly sufficient to achieve your targets after which completely preserve them.
  • For most individuals, meaning consuming someplace between 10-25% beneath your upkeep degree.

Full particulars right here: How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?