1000 Calorie Diet Plan: Is it worth it?
1000 Calorie Diet plan: Is it worth it?
Struggling to lose weight? Welcome to the club! So many of us have a hard time getting rid of those last few pounds of excess weight or to get out BMI back down to healthy levels. With such a wide variety of diet plans around, it can be tough to know what the best way to lose weight is. There has been some buzz in the headlines lately about a 1000 calorie diet.
The 1000 calorie diet plan is one that seems promising at first. The fact that you’re slashing your calorie intake means you should be able to lose a lot of weight, right? Well, what may seem like a great diet could actually be more dangerous than you’d expect…
The 1000-Calorie Diet Promise
The 1000 calorie diet is fairly simple: reduce your calorie intake to no more than 1,000 calories per day. You can eat whatever you want, just make sure not to eat more than 1,000 calories in a single day.
Simple and straightforward, right?
Everyone knows that the secret to weight loss is “burn more calories than you eat”. If you drop your calorie intake to 1,000 calories, you will have no problem burning more calories. The average person burns through 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day without doing exercise. By cutting your diet to 1,000 calories, weight loss is all but guaranteed.
You know what they say: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
The Truth of the 1000-Calorie Diet
Many diets focus on improving the quality of your food intake and cleaning up your diet. The 1,000 Calorie diet instead focuses on the quantity. But the problem here is HOW MUCH you’re eating. More accurately, how much you’re NOT eating.
Remember how the human body burns through about 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day? This isn’t just the calories burned by your muscles, but it also includes the calories required to keep your brain, heart, lungs, eyes, immune system, digestive system, and all the other organs and internal functions working properly. Your muscles do use up a lot of energy when you move around, but your body burns energy even when you don’t think it is. Every time you move to reach for your phone, read something, or think about something, you’re burning calories.
So what happens when you skimp out on the calories your body needs to function? Why everything begins to slow down, of course! Your brain stops working at 100% function, your heart doesn’t get enough energy to keep pumping at full steam, and your internal systems and organs have to reduce energy consumption because there isn’t enough energy available. You go from running at full capacity to 40 to 60%.
This is, of course, a slightly oversimplified version of what happens. Your heart always pumps blood and your brain is always working. However, the reduction of available energy means they don’t get what they need to run at full steam. Over time (a week or two, or even over the course of months), you begin to see a number of problems:
Less fat loss. Your body will activate stored fat in order to make up for the energy deficit. For the first few days (or weeks), you will see some good fat-burning results.
However, after a while, your body starts to realize that it’s not getting enough energy and nutrients to keep functioning. It goes into “starvation mode”, which is essentially a low-powered state intended to conserve energy. It also clings to whatever fat you have stored, doling it out in tiny increments in order to “survive” as long as possible.
If this happens, your metabolism slows down and your body stops working properly. It can take weeks of normal eating to snap your body out of starvation mode. During that time (low metabolism but high calorie consumption), you end up gaining more fat than you burned initially.
More fatigue. Remember the “low power” state? With less available energy, your body has to apportion everything to the organs and internal functions that need it the most. This usually means your heart, brain, eyes, liver, digestive system, and so on. When it comes time to move around, exercise, or do something active, you have no extra energy to use. You end up feeling fatigued all the time because your body can’t produce enough energy from the 1,000 calories of food you eat.
Muscle breakdown. Your body is designed to prioritize the nutrients that are most needed at the time. When you cut back on food intake, it clings to the fat you have stored just in case things get dire. In the absence of food, it taps into the only other available energy source: muscle mass.
A long-term low calorie diet leads to the breakdown of muscle tissue. Your body has to scavenge energy wherever it can get it, and the muscles are the first to be utilized.
Long-term health problems. Over time, your organs begin to slow down, and there’s a risk that they will shut down eventually if you keep depriving them of food. But calories aren’t the only thing you’re depriving your body of. By only eating 1,000 calories, you’re also increasing the chance of malnutrition (a lack of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants).
What happens when you don’t get enough of the nutrients you need? Without iron, your body can’t produce red blood cells. A lack of calcium and Vitamin D leads to weak and brittle bones. The health of your skin, hair, and nails may suffer without enough Vitamin A, C, and E. Your immune system can’t function properly without enough Vitamin C, zinc, or magnesium. Without enough sodium or potassium, you run the risk of muscle cramps.
Malnutrition doesn’t just mean insufficient calorie intake—it also means insufficient micronutrient intake. A 1000-Calorie diet can deprive your body of those important vitamins and minerals. It’s all but guaranteed to lead to long-term health problems.
Still think the 1000 Calorie Diet is worth a try? Best try another, healthier way to get in shape!
Related: Nutrition Tracking Made Easy