What to know about low calorie meal plans

People with overweight or obesity can lose weight using a low calorie diet. For a safe weight loss a doctor can prescribe this. There are some potential risks too.

This article would describe diets with low calories, explain how much calories are found in various foods, and address diets including intermittent fasting.

It will also provide weight management tips and advice on reduced calorie meals.

Daily calorie requirements

People following low calorie meal plans should make sure that they are getting enough nutrients.
People following low calorie meal plans should make sure that they are getting enough nutrients.

According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, the following table outlines average calorie requirements every day by age , sex and physical activity level.

Although this gives guidelines, caloric consumption ranges from individual to individual, and other considerations — such as expectations for height , weight, and weight — may influence how much calories a person can eat.

SexAgeSedentaryModerately
active
Active
Male19–302,400–2,6002,600–2,8003,000
Female19–301,800–2,0002,000–2,2002,400
Male31–502,200–2,4002,400–2,6002,800–3,000
Female31–501,8002,0002,200
Male51+2,000–2,2002,200–2,4002,400–2,800
Female51+1,6001,8002,000–2,200

Tips for weight loss

According to experts, to lose weight safely and successfully, people should:

  • Aim to lose 1–2 pounds of weight per week for a period of 6 months.
  • Do this by reducing their calories by 500–1,000 per day.
  • Include 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days.
  • After 6 months, assess their weight loss and consider their next steps.

Learn more about tips for successful weight loss here.

Low calorie diets

Even diets that are limited in calories restrict calories to particular numbers, such as 1,200 to 1,500 per day.

An individual must make sure that their meals are nutritionally healthy while selecting a low calorie diet to loose weight.

Various meal schedules are available online. An individual should ideally follow a diet planned by a nutritionist to ensure that the meals contain essential nutrients, such as vitamins , minerals, and fibre.

The safest way to ensure a sufficient diet is to use organic, unprocessed foods to make up the necessary amount of calories. A big burger meal with fries and soda, for example , provides 1,320 calories but this will not be enough to satisfy the core nutritional requirements of a person every day.

Vary low calorie diets

A low-calorie diet requires less than 800https://www.uclahealth.org/clinicalnutrition/vlcd calories a day. Such very low calory diets are made up of 500 calories a day. Without medical assistance, a person should not begin a very low calorie diet, as it may be dangerous to their wellbeing.

Doctors may recommend a very low calorie diet ideal for people with obesity who are unable to undergo bariatric surgery, who need to lose weight quickly and safely.

For a prescribed period of time the doctor can provide a liquid version of a very low calorie diet. The drink can contain fatty acids, vitamins , minerals, electrolytes, and. They will also monitor weight loss and blood pressure, and take blood samples to make sure the person keeps within safe limits.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a nutritional strategy including cycles of either no-food or extremely limited calories and unlimited feeding times. There are several ways to get things done:

  • Alternate day fasting: For this approach, a person alternates between days of normal eating and days of reducing calories by 25% or more of their daily needs.
  • Whole day fasting: This approach involves fasting on certain days of the week. For example, the 5:2 diet allows no food restriction on 5 days of the week and 400–500 fewer calories on the other 2 days of the week.
  • Time restricted feeding: For this approach, a person only eats within a specific time frame — for example, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. — and fasts for the remaining hours of the day. There are various versions of this, such as the 16:8 diet.

Research into intermittent fasting is controversial, with some reports indicating that more weight loss may be avoided by physiological modifications to calorie reduction.

Calories in different food groups 

The number of calories in different foods depends on what macronutrients they contain.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture:

  • carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram
  • protein provides 4 calories per gram
  • fat provides 9 calories per gram

Using an online calculator or app, people will figure out how much calories there are in various foods. Apps also encourage users to insert meals that they consume daily and determine how much calories they consume each day.

High calorie meal schedule in one day

The following is a National Heart, Liver, and Blood Center 1200-calorie 1-day meal menu. The meal plan accounts for 1,247 calories in total. It is based upon American traditional cuisine.

It is important to note that the following meal plan is only a suggestion. It does not take into account any dietary requirements or fulfill the minimum daily intake for all nutrients.

Breakfast

  • 1 medium slice of wholewheat bread with 2 teaspoons (tsp) of regular jelly
  • 1/2 cup of shredded wheat with a cup of 1% fat milk
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of regular coffee

Lunch

  • a roast beef sandwich made with 2 medium slices of wholewheat bread, 2 ounces (oz) of lean, unseasoned, roast beef, 1 lettuce leaf, 3 slices of tomato, and 1 tsp of low calorie mayonnaise
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 cup of water

Dinner

  • 2 oz of salmon cooked in 1.5 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 of a medium baked potato, topped with 1 tsp of margarine
  • 1/2 cup of green beans
  • 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1 small white dinner roll
  • 1 cup of unsweetened iced tea
  • 2 cups of water

Snack

  • 2.5 cups of popcorn prepared with 3/4 tsp of margarine

Summary

Low calorie diets can help people lose weight, but evidence as to their long-term effectiveness is controversial.

People should only use a very low calorie diet if a doctor has recommended this, as the doctor needs to ensure that someone stays healthy while losing weight.

People can use an online meal planner or app to plan their weekly meals and monitor how many calories they consume each day.

In addition to following a healthful diet, people should also incorporate an exercise routine into their day for effective weight loss.

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