Low Calorie Diets – How Low Is Too Low?

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Low Calorie Diets – How Low Is Too Low?


Prior to the low carbohydrate, high-protein diets, such as the Atkins or South Beach diet, the most popular way of losing weight was generally to limit your calorie intake.

Most of us already know that weight loss is essentially the difference between calories eaten and calories burned.  Even in the high protein diets the body is forced to burn a higher number of calories which results in the weight loss – again, higher number of calories burned versus calories eaten. But there is a difference between a low calorie diet and a very low calorie diet plan.

Dietitians and physicians agree that most individuals should not consume less than 1200 calories per day or they risk sending their body into starvation mode – which actually slows metabolism and slows weight loss.  In some instances, and only under the care of the physician, individuals may attempt a very low calorie diet (900 calories or less per day). This should only be for a very short period of time, in order to jumpstart diet weight loss. However, remember that anything below 1200 calories per day, should be under the care of a physician and working with a dietitian or health coach.

Fitness and medical professionals agree that the ultimate goal should not be weight loss per se, but rather to seek an improved, overall healthy body.  Generally, striving for overall health will also include achieving a normalized weight.

All that said, please always beware of the pitfalls of only reducing calories and not changing your nutritional intake.  For instance, you can actually eat only chocolate and still lose weight if you are not eating more calories than you are burning.  A diet that is based on smaller amounts of the same (or worse) calorie rich foods often results in increased hunger and only temporary weight loss.  In contrast, by eating foods that are higher in nutrients and fiber but lower in calories, we become satisfied eating fewer calories and actually lose weight even though we are eating more food.

The idea behind healthy weight loss is to do more than count calories.  In fact, I teach my clients not to count calories at all. Instead of focusing on a specific food group, counting calories, over exercising or going on the newest liquid diet, we work together to achieve a balanced diet and overall health.

Long-term weight loss is achieved only when we change our nutritional intake permanently by increasing fruits and vegetables, fiber, exercise and learn the true differences between overall health and fad diets.


Get in touch today and let’s get you off that diet roller coaster, once and for all.

Jeff Spitzer, Nutrition In Focus



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