1000 Calories a Day – Is It Safe?

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If you’re entertaining the idea of eating 1000 calories a day, there are many things to explore. Suppose, just for the moment, you are playing cards blindfolded. All kinds of things could happen. Your opponents could remove the good cards from the deck. When it came your turn to play, you could not see the cards. If you were playing for money, chances are, you’d go broke.

How does a playing card scenario explain the 1000 calories a day plan? To subject your body to consuming this stingy amount of calories, you must eliminate many fuel foods (good cards). Due to calorie deprivation, after a time, your body will literally begin to consume lean muscle and convert it to glucose. Also, toxic by-products result when body protein is converted to glucose.

The body believes it is in starvation mode and compensates to conserve its store of fuel (energy). You can’t see what is happening behind the scenes (like you can’t see cards blindfolded) but your physical body becomes at risk for several severe medical conditions. You may go broke at the doctor’s office.

How the 1000 Calories a Day Diet Works

Did this simplified explanation get your attention? About now, you may wonder, “But, what if…” Let us guess – what if a person is morbidly obese? Would this calorie restrictive diet work? Yes. An obese person would lose weight quickly.

However, in a life-threatening situation, the person should remain in a controlled environment, under constant supervision of a medical professional.

Proponents of 1000 calories a day earnestly believe severely restricting calories will stave off diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease. There is no doubt healthy weight loss may help deter these medical conditions. But, any diet plan that promises quick and easy weight loss is unhealthy. Losing too much, too quickly will result in regaining the weight after the dieter begins eating regular meals again.

Drastic dieting slows down basic metabolism rate. The dieter will begin feeling sluggish and unable to exercise due to fatigue. Combine a slow metabolism with fatigue and weight loss efforts become a losing proposition.

If you’re still waffling about whether or not to give 1000 calories a day the benefit of doubt, let’s explore an overview of this diet. Get ready to eliminate foods (toss good cards out).

The basic premise is to convince yourself you really aren’t eating less; you’re enjoying it more by savoring salads and green vegetables. High fiber foods achieve that fullness feeling. Sugar is a non-entity, as is flour. Protein and some fats are permissible, but rather than meat, especially red meat, food-combining is suggested. For example, beans and rice combine to create perfect protein. Bits and pieces of chicken or fish are acceptable. The tricky part is getting the correct amount of protein, so that one must calculate intake vs. body weight.

Starch foods and dairy products must be cut drastically. Recommended replacements are just about any green food, such as turnip greens or broccoli.

Liquids are restricted to water, unsweetened tea or coffee and zero calorie diet sodas. Fruit juices must be avoided because of sugar.

Once a person commits to eating 1000 calories a day, correct record-keeping is imperative. It is necessary to maintain a spreadsheet or food diary, which notes – date and weight at top; time of day; food consumed; number of calories for each meal and any liquids. A calorie-counter book is necessary. Careful tracking proves invaluable to curb impulse eating.

Another promise of 1000 calories a day “experts” is spreading equal portions of protein between three meals reduces loss of lean muscle mass. Calorie distribution is accomplished by eating three hundred calories at each of three meals, leaving 100 spare calories for a snack.

1000 Calories a Day – The Hazardous Diet Plan?

You’re likely realizing some hazards posed by this drastic reduction of daily calories. Let’s examine the dangers one-by-one.

Your body will become malnourished. We’ve already discussed that when we don’t supply our body with adequate nutrients it goes into starvation mode. Are you aware malnutrition affects the function of every single body system?

The first malnutrition symptom that manifests is weight loss. The dieter accomplishes his/her primary goal, but the physical body pays a hefty price. Following weight loss, the next visible signs are usually fatigue and/or dizzy spells. Gum and teeth problems will occur as evidenced by bleeding, swollen gums and cavities in teeth. Bones will begin to deteriorate and osteoporosis sets-in. The 1000 calories a day, long-term devotee will experience malfunctioning organs, which could create end-of-life situations.

Lacking proper sustenance, energy levels rapidly decline resulting in chronic fatigue. Any attempt to exercise will burn-up more body fuel. Most likely, fatigue accounts for the reasoning those who recommend the calorie restriction diet, do not recommend exercise.

Earlier, we briefly touched on the basic metabolism rate. According to a study published in JAMA, metabolic rate reduced more than projected when healthy, sedentary men and women were put on restricted calorie diets for six months. At the beginning of the trial, researchers reduced calorie amounts by 25% of the participant’s baseline requirements.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Evidence supports the risks outweigh the benefits of limiting oneself to 1000 calories a day. Research is ongoing to determine whether or not moderately restricted calorie diets will increase the lifespan of humans.

This is an extremely rigid way of life. The dieter must monitor every scrap of food eaten. If an individual uses 1000 calories a day to launch a healthier way of eating, it should not be continued longer than two weeks. Experts highly recommend consulting a medical professional for blood tests before beginning this endeavor.

Aside from the serious health concerns, such a stringent way of eating can set the person up for obsessive binges or anorexia, as a way to rebel against their lack of control.

If one is diagnosed morbidly obese, the 1000 calories a day plan may be undertaken in a medical setting, with close doctor supervision.


Dietitian Charlotte Lawson explains the dangers of a 1000 calories a day diet:

Further resources:

- Web MD on low calorie diets

- “Love to Know” – Dangers of a very low calorie diet

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