Extreme Dieting: Lose Lbs & Add Years to Your Life?

woman dieting If you want to lose weight and reverse aging, some experts are turning to ultra-low-calorie diets. 

Numerous animal model studies show that when you restrict an animal’s natural caloric intake, the animals lose weight and live longer. While maintaining strict caloric restriction is more difficult for humans (we battle hunger, psychological ties with food and our own free will to eat!), there are studies being conducted now to determine the effects of following extreme diets long-term.  In one study that’s ongoing at the University of California San Francisco, called CRONA (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition and Aging Study), a handful of adults are enrolled in a study that is evaluating the long-term effects of following a strict calorie-reduced diet for years. While there are no results from this trial yet, subjects in the study generally report that they feel great and believe that they’re healthier than when they ate a “normal” diet and were heavier.

While following any type of strict diets is mentally (and often physically) challenging for most of us hard, they’re seriously effective for losing weight and possibly providing other health benefits.  The most important about following the ultra-low-calorie approach is making every calorie count because it is challenging to get in all of your nutrient needs in less than 1,500 calories a day.  To make the most of a very low calorie approach, you must choose more of the most nutritious foods that are naturally low in calories—vegetables and lean protein—while essentially eliminating added sugars, most fats and foods that you’d consider a treat.

Below are five days worth of meals and snacks that provide about 1,000 calories a day.

If you try a low-calorie diet, be sure to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement.  That will help bridge any nutritional gaps.

 Day 1

Breakfast
¾ cup (C) cantaloupe cubes
¾ C 2% cottage cheese
3 whole-wheat crackers
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Lunch
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich: 2 slices wheat bread with 1 tablespoons (Tbsp) natural, chunky peanut butter and 1 Tbsp all-fruit spread
1 medium apple
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Dinner
3 ounce (oz) broiled or grilled boneless chicken breast
5″ baked sweet potato, topped with 1 teaspoon (tsp) unsalted butter
2 C tossed field greens, drizzled with 2 Tbsp fat-free vinaigrette dressing
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Snack
6 oz low-fat yogurt, favorite flavor
Calorie-free beverage of choice

 Day 2

Breakfast
2 Scrambled eggs with mixed veggies or salsa prepared using cooking spray
1 slice toasted whole wheat bread topped with 1 tsp jam
8 fluid (fl) oz skim milk

Lunch
Turkey sandwich (2 slices light wheat bread with 2 slices roasted turkey breast [1 oz each], 1-oz slice low-fat Swiss cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice medium tomato, and 1 tsp deli mustard)
1 medium pear
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Dinner
3 oz grilled salmon
½ C seasoned brown rice, prepared with 1 tsp olive oil
1 C cooked summer squash
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Snack
⅔ C low-fat frozen yogurt, favorite flavor
Calorie-free beverage of choice

 Day 3

Breakfast
½  C cooked oatmeal, topped with 2 Tbsp slivered almonds and ½ C fresh, sliced strawberries
4 fl oz skim milk, added to kasha or consumed as a beverage
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Lunch
Pasta salad (1 C cooked enriched pasta [cooled], tossed with 1 diced plum tomato, 5 large sliced mushrooms, ½ C chopped red or yellow bell peppers, 2 Tbsp chopped, fresh scallions, 1 oz crumbled soft goat cheese, and 1 tsp olive oil)
⅓ C canned pineapple chunks, drained
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Dinner
Burger (1 black-bean burger on a reduced-calorie hamburger bun, topped with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1 Tbsp low-sodium barbecue sauce)
Spinach salad (1½ C baby spinach, tossed with ¼ C fresh mandarin orange slices), drizzled with 1 Tbsp chunky blue-cheese dressing
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Snack
½ oz or about 15 large dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
Calorie-free beverage of choice

 Day 4

Breakfast
1 C whole grain flaked cereal topped with 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts and ½ C fresh blueberries
4 fl oz skim milk
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Lunch
1 small (4″) wheat pita bread, served with ¼ C hummus, favorite flavor
8 oz low-fat yogurt, favorite flavor
1 large peach
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Dinner
4 oz baked, broiled or grilled fish
1 small, baked potato (with skin), topped with 1 Tbsp reduced-fat sour cream and 2 Tbsp fresh, chopped chives
½ C cooked, drained turnip greens, topped with 1 tsp soft margarine
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Snack
2 reduced-fat chocolate-chip cookies
Calorie-free beverage of choice

 Day 5

Breakfast
1 C oatmeal (cooked in 8 fl oz skim milk), topped with 2 Tbsp golden, seedless raisins and 2 Tbsp chopped pecans
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Lunch
Tuna salad (mix 4-oz water-packed tuna with 2 Tbsp chopped white onion, 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise, and 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard; arrange 1 C shredded lettuce and 3 slices medium tomato on plate; top with tuna mixture)
1 medium orange
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Dinner
8 large shrimp, grilled
1 C steamed broccoli florets, seasoned as desired
1 C wild rice, prepared with 1 Tbsp butter
Calorie-free beverage of choice

Snack
10 large baby carrots, served with 2 Tbsp fat-free ranch dressing for dipping
Calorie-free beverage of choice

–Julie

Comments

  1. Hello
    This is a great article! I have been on a low cal diet for a month now and I have lost 10lbs. Some weeks it is very difficult for me on weekends becuase hubby is home and he can’t cook and he would like to have dinner together as a family. However during the week it is easy for me to follow. I try to only eat 800-1000 cals/day. If I get really hungry than I snack on 100 cal Granola bars or fruit and veggies.

    I was wondering if you can give me a breakdown of all the calories for all the foods?
    also what kind of Calorie free beverages are out there? any ideas? all i can think of is water and 0 cals vitamin water!

    Thanks Shari

  2. Shari,

    I will have to write another article where I break down the calories of these foods as I just analyzed each day as a total.

    Congrats on your weight loss….

    Julie

  3. I don’t really think you have to deprive yourself of calories just to lose weight. I have recently switched to eat no grains, higher saturated fats (coconut oils, avocado oil, etc), not counting calories, eating to satiation and I am losing about 1-2 lbs a week.

    Losing weight is not just about your caloric intake. You have to factor what your body mostly burns for energy. Are you a fat burner or sugar burner? That depends on what you eat. Calorie restriction also causes your body to hold on to your fat even more because it goes into a starvation mode, slowing down your metabolism. It can work yes, but how long can you go with eating only 1000 calories a day?

    I only feel like I am on a “diet” if I don’t eat the proper amounts of protein and fat at my meals. If I don’t prepare my meals, I tend to want to turn to easy prepared foods. It has been 30 days now and I don’t think I will ever go back to eating grains again. Nor will I ever go back to counting calories again. It just made me feel bad about myself because eating 1200 calories for me was depriving my body and my body could feel it. Cranky and without energy is what I felt.

    If it works for you great, but I know most people will gain weight again once they go back to their regular eating habits.

  4. Hi I have a question, what about the phisical activity? Doesn’t it affect that you need more energy to do exercise or it’s just enough amount to do so?

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