A 500-calorie diet is a form of a very low-calorie diet where a person eats below 800 calories per day. It is usually adopted by a very overweight person that has failed to lose weight while on other diet plans.
While on the 500-calorie diet, most of your meals are replaced by drinks, shakes, and very low-calorie foods for at least two days.
A 500-calorie diet can be dangerous and should be done with the supervision of a doctor or a qualified person. There are many health concerns related to such a drastic reduction in calorie intake. If it’s not recommended and supervised by a doctor, don’t be allured into such an undertaking.
Is the 500-calorie diet safe?
The 500-calorie diet can be safe when it is recommended and supervised by a doctor.
It can also be safe when it is linked to the intermittent fasting type of diet. That is the reason you will find the 5:2 diet talked about while on the 500-calorie diet.
This works in a way that you will eat normally during the 5 days of the week and restrict your calorie intake to about 500 for women and 600 calories for men during the remaining 2 days of the week. You can choose whatever day of the week to restrict your calories as long as the calorie restriction days aren’t following each other.
For example, you can plan to restrict your calories on Mondays and Thursday while on the other days you eat normally without calorie restrictions.
However, eating normally without restrictions doesn’t mean that you just eat whatever junk food that crosses your path. You may not lose weight when you don’t mind about your eating during the non-restriction days of eating.
When the 500-calorie diet is done with intermittent fasting, there are no food restrictions during the 5 days of a normal week. It is more of a lifestyle than a diet.
Health risks of the 500-calorie diet.
Health risks are usually experienced when the die is attempted without a doctor’s supervision. Let’s look at what will happen to your body if enroll in the diet without a doctor’s supervision.
1. Nutritional deficiency.
The major problem or risk involved with the 500 calorie diet is nutrient deficiency. Since your food intake is restricted to less than 800 calories per day, it might be hard to get all the required nutrients with such little food intake.
To give you a picture of a 500-calorie meal, here is a meal chart with foods and calories present.
If you eat less than 1200 calories in a day you are most likely not to meet your vitamins and minerals requirements. Health risks associated with nutritional deficiencies include;
- Muscle loss, hair thinning, and brittle nails due to protein deficiency.
- A calcium deficiency will cause reduced bone strength and formation.
- Lack of enough vitamin A will weaken your immune system and might lead to permanent eye damage.
- Lastly, magnesium deficiency will cause fatigue, migraines, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms.
2. Loss of muscles.
You are most likely to lose muscles too. Besides fat, when you don’t meet your protein requirements, you are most likely to lose muscles since the body gets muscle building and sustaining blocks from proteins.
You will also start losing muscles when the body has consumed the fat reserves and starts to burn muscles to sustain your energy levels.
3. Slowed metabolism.
In the body’s attempt to save itself from the very low-calorie intake, it can reduce metabolism. The body will reduce the number of calories it burns. Slowed metabolism can also be linked to the loss of muscles.
Slowed metabolism will persist even when you have stopped the 500-calorie diet and you will also regain weight much faster.
Read also: How to increase your metabolism.
4. Fatigue and lack of energy.
Since you are getting a few calories, your body will lack the source of energy and thus you will experience fatigue and the feeling of being down.
5. Hormone imbalance.
Extreme restriction of calories can cause hormone imbalance, especially in women. Women may fail to ovulate and thus reducing fertility.
6. Weakened immune system.
Since your body isn’t getting the right amount of nutrients, it’s prone to many infections and attacks.
Do I need to work out while on a 500-calorie diet?
While on the 500-calorie diet, there will be no need to work out for weight loss because you are already consuming fewer calories than what the body requires.
Consuming such few calories will also make your body weak for workouts since the body will have no reliable source of energy.
Since some exercises burn even up to 500 calories in just 30 minutes, working out may not be a wise option. Although the body might burn fat for energy, it will burn muscles too in order to meet the body’s calorie demands.
However, when you are on a 5:2 diet that involves eating normally for 5 days and restricting calories for 2 days, workouts will be necessary. Workouts during those non-calorie restrictive days will help you burn calories. It is important to note that in order to lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit simply means that you burn more calories than you consume. Since for 5 days you are not counting calories, workouts can help you burn calories to meet.
What foods to eat on a 500-calorie diet?
There are no specific foods that can be eaten while on the 500-calorie diet. You are free to eat from fruits, vegetables, carbs, proteins, and others without the restriction of food groups so long as they are low in calories.
Whole grains, lean proteins, leafy greens, and certain fruits are usually low in calories. Eating food s that are rich in fiber can help keep satisfaction for a long time.
The bottom line.
As seen above, attempt the 500 calorie diet with the supervision of a doctor. And if you are to choose this type of diet, combine it with intermittent fasting to make the 5:2 diet.
There are many diet plans with fewer health risks that you can choose from for weight loss. Get to know those diet plans from the article here;
Popular weight-loss diets reviewed.