Everywhere you look there seems to be a new diet on the block. Weight loss is a huge trend that just keeps on growing, and everyone has their part to say when it comes to diet plans. With obesity rising in America (and the world over!), it comes as no surprise that weight loss enthusiasts are looking for alternatives to help them shift excess weight. Exercise, diet plans and supplements are some of the most popular methods, with many looking to combine all three for maximum weight loss.
However, not everyone knows which route to take. With 800 calorie diets emerging in recent years, it seems that keeping your calories low is the latest must-try. The diet itself is in the name, but controversy still remains as to whether its super-strict calorie plan gives people the nutrition they need. So, we’re going to tally up the pros and cons and discuss whether the 800 calorie diet is really worth it.
What is the 800 calorie diet plan?
Although the clue is in the title, the 800 calorie diet plan has a little more to it when you look beneath the surface. We’ll admit, it’s an interesting approach to dieting, as many claim it can help people lose weight super fast – including that stubborn belly fat. Professional bariatric surgeon Dr Nowzaradan frequently recommends the low calorie approach to patients who are morbidly obese in the build-up to surgery.
Its claimed that one of the most important elements of losing weight is understanding your calorie intake and maintaining regular portion control. Those who consume many calories and burn very few are going to see those extra calories quickly stored as fat. Put it this way – calories may be energy, but when they aren’t used they have to be stored somewhere.
Low calorie diets such as the 800 calorie plan are appealing to dieters because of its quick effects. By creating a calorie deficit, weight loss appears easier and with little effort involved. Sounds great, right? In fact, the University of California has claimed you can lose up to 5 pounds a week on the 800 calorie diet. But… It’s not entirely healthy.
So, how does it work? Well, your body loses weight because it thinks it is starving when you consume below 1,000 calories daily. That’s right, starving…
It comes as no surprise that success stories associated with the 800 calorie diet plan come from those that are obese – in other words, they have the body mass to spare. Therefore, if you’re only looking to shed a few pounds, it may not be the diet for you.
Despite the benefits associated with this diet, a low calorie plan can land you in some discomfort in the initial first few days as your body is unfamiliar with so little intake. Side effects of this drastic change can include fatigue, hunger pangs (creating the urge to snack!) and other symptoms of starvation. These symptoms tend to trail off after around a week, however, issues such as nausea, diarrhea and constipation can continue.
What food is on the 800 calorie diet menu?
It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of cutting your calories down to 800 each day, especially when you’re not sure what you’re left with. Although it may feel as though you have to be super-strict, it’s not so much about what you eat, but how much.
If you’re looking for some ideas on food to incorporate into your daily 800 calories, we’ve got a few to get you started. Plus, some food best avoided, helping you keep to your daily limit.
Foods to eat during your 800 calorie diet
- Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain rice and sweet potato will keep you feeling fuller for longer as they are digested slower.
- Fresh and cooked veggies. These are super easy to pack into your meals, especially when sauteed in soup stock with a little spice for extra flavor. Plus, there are few calories involved. Bonus!
- Whole grains and legumes are a great source of protein. Add lentils, beans and rice into your diet plan, and despite their slightly higher calorie content, they’ll keep you feeling full.
- Fresh fruit is always a winner. Not only is it a great source of fiber, but there are also few calories involved.
Foods to avoid on the 800 calorie diet plan
- “White foods” – such as white rice and white bread. These are best avoided as they are highly processed with little nutritional value and plenty of calories. Starchy vegetables and white potatoes are also calorific and best avoided.
- Processed and refined sugars. Where possible, avoid sugar altogether. Although a teaspoon in your daily coffee may seem harmless, it will significantly increase your daily calorie count.
- Oils and fats. Oils and fats may be necessary for the body, however, they are typically very high in calories. To avoid extra calories, saute your veg instead.
What are the benefits of the 800 calorie diet?
As we’ve already discovered, the main benefit of the 800 calorie diet plan is to help you lose weight – fast. This is predominantly aimed at those that are obese, as a dramatic drop to 800 calories can shed extra pounds in no time. However, there are other benefits worth mentioning, too.
- The 800 calorie diet plan can be a great option for those who may be unable to workout at the gym or get outside to exercise – although exercise is encouraged where possible.
- It has been shown to help reverse type 2 diabetes – leading to its nickname the ‘Blood Sugar Diet’. One study of 298 patients showed incredible results in relation to type 2 diabetes, helping them to both lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels.
- If you opt for an intermittent fasting routine, your body’s metabolism will get one hell of a boost. This can improve a number of areas of your overall health and speed up the rate at which you lose weight.
Risks involved with following a low calorie diet
While the benefits might sound very appealing, like any low calorie diet, it’s important to take any dangers or side effects into account before getting started. Putting your body through an extreme form of low calorie dieting can result in the following.
- The difficulty to get the sufficient nutrients your body needs while maintaining a low calorie plan. Unless you’re qualified in nutrition or dieting, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve the amount of nutrients your body required without supplementing.
If your body continues to consume predominantly fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains, there’s a high chance you’ll run into a mild nutritional deficit.
- A low calorie diet can affect the vital hormones your body produces, lowering their levels. When your body is running low on testosterone or oestrogen, your bone health can decrease and it can also impact fertility.
- Those following an extremely low calorie diet are at a higher risk of having high levels of uric acid present in the body. This can contribute to the development of gallstones.
- You may experience muscle loss – leading to fatigue and overall body weakness. Extra protein and exercise are required to help avoid this.
- Long term, low calorie diets can actually reduce your metabolism – resulting in fewer calories burnt that normal. This reduced metabolism continues longer than the duration of the diet plan itself.
What does 800 calories look like?
Check out our 3-day diet plan menu.
- Before breakfast: a glass of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar OR a cup of water that has had fenugreek seeds soaking in it overnight. Both give your metabolism a boost.
- Breakfast: green smoothie – kale and fruit with 2 almonds for protein, OR quinoa, spiced with two almonds.
- Lunch: Vegetables in a lettuce wrap OR tuna salad (no mayo – use spices and onions or pickles for flavor).
- Dinner: Peppers stuffed with chickpeas OR grilled chicken and vegetables.
- Before breakfast: a glass of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to boost metabolism.
- Breakfast: Oatmeal sweetened with a banana or an apple.
- Lunch: Vegetables, sauteed in water with spices, or clear chicken, fish, or vegetable soup.
- Dinner: Baked fish with grilled vegetables.
- Before breakfast: a glass of water with either of the prior suggestions OR mixed with lime juice.
- Breakfast: 1 boiled egg, 1 glass of fat-free milk OR green smoothie (avocado, celery, and chia seeds are a great source of healthy nutrients).
- Lunch: Baba ganoush with pita OR smoked fish with veggies.
- Dinner: Gourd soup OR sauteed chicken with vegetables.
How to wean yourself off an 800 calorie diet plan
If you’ve restricted yourself to an 800 calorie diet plan, you’re most likely eager to try and ease your way into regular portions again. Before switching from a super-strict diet to regular portions, be warned, it can have a serious impact on your health. If you’re looking to make the transition, it’s important to do this gradually, to avoid other health issues.
As a starting point, work out how many calories you need to maintain your weight. The likelihood is you won’t be consuming calories like you did before your diet plan.
When you’re first introducing new foods, start slowly with fresh fruit and veg, especially if your previous 800 calorie diet was predominantly liquid-based. If this is the case, start with softer foods before bringing heavier foods back in, order to not shock your body.
Often, strict low calorie diets can make you feel fatigued and weak. If you experienced this during your diet, be sure to ease your way back into exercise!
Let’s face it, 800 calorie diets are pretty strict and can be hugely helpful for certain people. Their main aim is to help those who are obese, and possibly preparing for bariatric surgery.
For the average dieter trying to shift a few pounds, such a low calorie approach may do more harm than good. We would always recommend you keep your calorie intake no more than 400 calories beneath your recommended daily amount for the healthiest approach. For most women, this means no less than 1200 calories each day. A considerable different it may be from 800 calorie plans – yet a far healthier starting point for losing weight.