What is a low-calorie diet?
A low-calorie diet is a healthy, structured eating plan that limits the number of calories you consume each day. This type of diet can help you lose weight, but it requires a lot of discipline to follow. It’s important to remember that a low-calorie diet should be followed safely and under the guidance of a health professional.
Since the 1980s, scientists have been studying the effects of low-calorie diets on aging. While the research is ongoing, there’s evidence that these diets may help slow down the process. For weight loss, though, the science is clear: take in fewer calories than you burn (via daily living and exercise), and you will lose weight.
It can be easy to overlook the importance of planning when it comes to dieting. Despite the simplicity of the science, actually adhering to a low-calorie diet is hard work. It takes effort to understand and recognize hunger cues, and make sure you’re getting enough calories and nutrients.
Benefits of Low-Calorie Diet
A healthy, low-calorie diet does not require specialty foods or dietary supplements. Just stick to real, whole foods that you can find at any supermarket (although you may want to look for low-calorie and low-fat versions of some foods, such as dairy products).
If you follow this diet plan closely, it will generally be successful in the short term. Research shows that this type of diet can help overweight people lose weight. However, maintaining the weight loss over the long term will require consuming fewer calories than before the weight loss occurred. When your weight goes down, your calorie requirement decreases – meaning you need to adjust your caloric intake accordingly
The key to maintaining your weight loss is making permanent changes to your lifestyle. This includes adding exercise and eating differently than you did before starting the diet. If you go back to your old ways, your body will require fewer calories and you will regain the weight you lost.
Low-calorie diets can be safe if you follow them closely and under the guidance of a doctor or registered dietician. They can help make sure you're getting the right mix of nutrients and enough calories to stay healthy.
Risks of Low-Calorie Diet
As you adjust to your low-calorie diet, you may find yourself feeling more hungry than usual. This is because your meals may be lacking in protein and fiber, which can help to suppress appetite. The key to success on a low-calorie diet is choosing nutrient-rich foods that are satisfying and fit within your daily calorie limit.
Following a low-calorie diet can often result in weight gain if you only stick to it for a short time. However, if you eat slowly, chew your foods well, and drink plenty of water, you can make the diet more manageable and successful. Lemons or limes add flavor to your water and help keep you hydrated.
If you want to avoid feeling hungry, aim to include high-fiber foods at every meal. Eat multiple servings of non-starchy vegetables at most meals and choose high-fiber carbohydrates such as whole grains and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Requires Planning and Tracking
If you're following a low-calorie diet recommended by a medical professional, it's important to plan ahead and keep track of the calories you consume. Unlike a very low-calorie diet (VLCD), on a low-calorie diet, you're in charge of what you eat. You decide what, when, and how much you want to. While this freedom can be empowering, it can also be more challenging.
Not for everyone
For some people, a low-calorie diet is not advised. That's why it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting this or any weight-loss plan.
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