The popularity of starting a 1000 calorie diet ( or even less) has been gaining momentum lately, especially among women. So, I will begin this with a warning- think twice and DO YOUR RESEARCH before restricting your calories to 1000 calories a day or less.
Many diets, coaches and trainers promote their life-changing programs by performing rhetorical gymnastics to disguise what is basically EXTREME CALORIE RESTRICTION. They make promises of long-term sustainability without actual long-term statistical evidence. A true measure of whether weight loss is sustainable is 5 years or more. Using that formula, 95% of all diets fail. Pretty grim, right?!
Many of these diets place so much emphasis on being skinny and not enough on your mental health and quality of life. What you don’t see on the faces and bodies of all those weight loss warriors are all of the sacrifices that had to be made to get there. Let me say this, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
The USDA recommends daily calorie consumption of 1,600-2,400 calories for women and 2,000-3,000 for men. This is substantially more than many diets are advocating. The net result of this drastic calorie deficit could lead to a plethora of short-term and long-term issues.
While I agree that there needs to be a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, I do not subscribe to the need to do so in such a drastic manner. The latter can come at a high price, both physically and mentally. Also, according to WebMD, extremely low calorie diets are only ok in specific populations and under the supervision of a medical professional.
Let’s Talk About Potential Side Effects
Many low calorie diets utilize restriction of carbohydrates as a weight loss method. According to the Mayo Clinic, a drastic decrease in carb consumption can lead to lightheadedness and dizziness.
Solution? EAT MORE CALORIES, specifically high fiber carbs such as whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies.
2. Hair Loss (Telogen Effluvium)
Just like the rest of the cells in your body, your hair follicles require energy from calories to function properly. I can’t tell you how many women I have heard complain about this detrimental side effect from a low calorie diet.
Solution? EAT MORE CALORIES!
3. Headaches/fatigue/lack of focus
These are two of the most common side effects of extremely low calorie diets. This stems from dehydration, low blood sugar and an electrolyte imbalance from lack of sodium.
Solution? EAT MORE CALORIES, with a focus on slow burning, low-glycemic foods such as protein, fiber and fat.
Again, one of the hallmarks of extremely low calorie diets is carbohydrate restriction. CARBS ARE NOT BAD FOR YOU!! Healthy carbs like whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies contain fiber. Fiber is necessary for proper digestion and without enough of it, constipation is very likely.
Solution? EAT MORE CALORIES, specifically high fiber foods.
When your body is deprived of calories, it will start to break down muscle tissue for energy. As you may already know, muscle burns more calories than fat. This muscle loss can lead to even more difficulty losing weight and keeping it off.
Solution? You guessed it! EAT MORE CALORIES
Now, let’s talk about long-term effects
Studies have shown that rapid weight loss from extreme calorie restriction can lead to a persistent slower metabolism, making it much more difficult to keep the weight off long-term. This is why you see so many people stuck in a vicious cycle of starting and stopping diets.
For long-term sustainability, choose a weight loss plan that is less restrictive in calories and more focused on eating a well-rounded diet of nutrient rich foods that fill you up and that you ENJOY eating.
Studies have also shown that extreme calorie restriction can lead to suppressed reproductive function in women because hormone levels are dependent on available calories in the diet. I have seen many women develop amenorrhea ( loss of menstrual cycle) after being on a strict low calorie diet.
So many diets are hyper-focused on how you look and neglect to address how you feel. Studies have shown that food restriction and emphasis on “getting skinny” can be detrimental to a person’s emotional well-being and often leads to an unhealthy relationship with food and disordered eating behaviors. I urge you to consider the sacrifices you will have to make before you jump into the next “get skinny fast” diet.
In conclusion, DO YOUR RESEARCH before starting a new diet. Some different ways to do this are:
1. Post questions in different social media groups.
2. Go on community networks, like Reddit, and search for the diet you are interested in to see what others have to say about it.
3. Research exactly what you can and cannot eat on the plan.
4. Find out how many calories a day you will be allowed to eat.
5. Make sure you can still exercise on the plan, as it is still important for your overall health.
6. Find out if you will be eating real or processed food; the nutrient content of processed food is completely different than whole food.
7. Finally, consult with your medical doctor if you want to try a restricted calorie plan.
If you liked this post, check out Fad Diet Red Flags.
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