A low-calorie diet is a regimented meal plan that restricts calorie consumption resulting in weight loss. A person following a low-calorie diet typically consumes 1200 to 1500 calories daily to create a deficit in the body leading to weight loss.
A low-calorie meal plan can help you lose weight only when followed properly and safely.
Before starting this diet, you must consult a registered nutritionist and dietician to balance your calorie and nutrient intake.
The science behind a low-calorie diet and weight loss is quite simple. Consume lower calories than you burn, resulting in weight loss. While the science might be simple, following and staying on a low-calorie diet takes work.
You will need discipline, control, and planning to recognise hunger signs. Furthermore, you have to plan your meals in such a way as to ensure that the 1200 to 1500 calories are adequate to fuel the body without creating nutrient deficiencies.
This article discusses all the nitty-gritty of the low-calorie meal plan to help you make an informed decision.
What do You Need to Do Before Starting a Low-Calorie Meal Plan?
As mentioned before, starting a low-calorie diet requires planning and strategy. Start by getting a physical exam to check the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol, diabetes, and blood pressure.
It is also essential to report any past eating disorders or medication you are currently on. Take the test results and medical history to the dietitian to start building a low-calorie meal plan.
Starting a low-calorie diet without goals is running a race without a finish line. You will never see results if you have no goals. Measure your body composition to set goals apart from a physical exam. Record your waist size before starting the low-calorie meal plan and measure it again after a couple of months. The difference will tell you how well the diet has worked.
The dietitian will help determine your daily calorie intake. The required calorie intake differs from person to person and might change over time. The dietician might start with smaller goals to give your body and mind time to get in tune. However, with time the gap will increase, pushing the person to follow the diet as long as possible.
Pros of a Low-Calorie Diet
Supports Weight Loss
The most highlighted result of low-calorie meal plans is to help reduce weight. When you eat low-calorie food, you consume a lower amount of calories than what you burn daily, without much fluctuation in your weight.
Improves Blood Sugar Levels
A low-calorie diet plan will not contain sugar or carbohydrates to reduce calorie consumption. Carbohydrates and sugar eventually turn into calories after digestion and will nullify all effects of this diet.
Avoiding sugar and carbs not only helps in calorie reduction but also helps keep blood sugar levels in check. High blood sugar is an indicator of diabetes and also increases the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Keeps You Healthy
While losing weight is the primary reason people go on low-calorie diets, it is also true that cutting down on carbs keeps you fit and healthy. People often think that low-calorie diets are all about eating less. It is the opposite. This is more about having a balanced meal without including carbs. In this diet, you can eat whole grains, protein, and leafy vegetables to prevent nutritional deficiency while losing weight.
Cons of a Low-Calorie Diet
When you cut down on carbs and calories, it is natural to feel hungry. Moreover, if your meal plan lacks adequate fibre and protein, these hunger pangs can easily get out of control. This is one of the primary challenges people face while staying on this diet. The constant feeling of hunger often affects the mental health and mood of the person.
Several Side Effects
People following the low-calorie meal plan for more than a month often report side effects like constipation, fatigue, diarrhoea, and nausea. While these side effects are common, the conditions improve with time and never prevent anyone from completing the diet plan.
Occurrence of Gallstones
This is a serious side effect of going on low-calorie diets. Rapid weight loss is often accompanied by gallstones. The liver produces additional cholesterol, which forms gallstones when mixed with bile.
Is The Low-Calorie Diet Right for You?
The answer to this question is very subjective. A low-calorie diet is not for everyone. You must not go on this diet if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or have a medical condition. However, suppose you are not bound by the restraints mentioned above. In that case, it is highly advised to seek the help of a licensed dietitian to determine if you need this diet plan. Starting this diet without consulting your doctor and nutritionist might be detrimental to your body in the long run.