The Low Calorie Diet

A low calorie diet is a diet that restricts calorie consumption between 900 to 1300 calories per day. This is different from the VLCD (very low calorie diet) which allows only a maximum of 800 calories per day. Individuals who attempt this diet are very overweight and suffer from obesity.

How the Diet Works

The theory of the low calorie diet is simple. Calories you consume provide the body with fuel. By consuming fewer calories, our bodies are allowed to burn stored fat instead of calories for maintaining bodily functions.

The first thing you need to do when starting this diet is to purchase a calorie counter which can calculate the number of calories that are in the food you have eaten. There are many books and web sites available with this information.

Determine how many calories you will need per day. An inactive woman usually requires between 1500 – 1800 calories per day. An inactive man probably needs between 2000-2200 calories per day. If you are active, then you might need to add as much as 600-800 calories per day to sustain you through your workouts.

Next, determine which foods to use on your diet. Read the calorie values on the labels of packaged food items. For fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and other items that do not have a label, use your calorie counter.

Choose foods from all food groups in order to achieve well balanced, healthy meals.

To determine which foods you should eat, let’s review some basic nutrients found in foods.

There are three familiar nutrients which provide fuel for the body -carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Carbohydrates are used primarily for energy. Each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. It is recommended that approximately 60% of your daily caloric intake come from carbohydrates. If you require 1100 calories per day and 60% of the calories should come from carbohydrates, then you should consume 660 (1100 X .60=660) calories or 165 (660/4=165) grams from carbs.

Fats are another important nutrient in the diet. They provide energy and give us the “full” feeling we need. Fats contain 9 calories per gram. It is recommended that no more than 25% of our calories come from fat. That means that you should consume no more than 275 (1100 * .25= 275) calories or 30 (275/9=30) grams of fat per day.

The final nutrient is protein. Protein contains amino acids which are important in the growth and maintenance of our bodies. Proteins contain 4 calories per gram. It is recommended that you derive 15% of your calories from protein. For a daily diet of 1100 calories, 165 (1100 X .15= 165) or 41.25 (165/4= 41.25) grams should come from protein.

Keep a diary of the foods you eat everyday. It is easy to lose track and by writing down your food consumption gives you a more accurate count of the calories.

Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercise will help to get your reduce weight and help you maintain it once you’ve reached your goal weight.


Several benefits are associated with a low calorie diet.

  • Dieters normally loose 4-7 pounds (2-3 kg) per week.
  • Low calorie diets help slow down the aging process
  • Improved mental acuity
  • Dieters learn to eat a healthy, well balanced diet.
  • Some research shows that a low calorie diet increases the life span
  • Helps prevent stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and high blood pressure
  • Increases energy level
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Improves blood sugar levels
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases risk of Type 2 diabetes

Side Effects

As with any diet, some side effects can occur.

  • Since your stomach is accustomed to large portions, eating smaller portions is not going to satisfy your hunger.
  • Fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and constipation are sometimes common side effects which tend to disappear early in the program.
  • Gallstones can occur if you loose weight too rapidly.
  • If your eating habits do not change, once the diet is complete, most of the weight is easily regained.


Long term treatment programs are encouraged to help maintain the current weight. This includes lifestyle changes and physical activity.

Losing weight can improve many areas of your life. The low calorie diet is a sensible, well balanced diet that’s been proven to work on thousands of individuals.