Low calorie diets have their place – they can help morbidly obese persons shed weight rapidly thereby modifying their disease risk factors and enhancing their quality of life. But, for the person who needs to lose 20 lbs or so, low calorie diets are not my favorite option unless they use them for a short period of time (2 weeks or so) or alternate low calorie days with higher calorie days (this takes diligence and commitment).
Why the distain for very low or low calorie diets? According to research out of Baylor University, conducted on Curves participants, a low calorie diet can quickly drop metabolism which means you are burning fewer calories at rest (in this particular study, they put women on a 1,200 calorie diet for 2 weeks). And that counteracts exactly what you are trying to do.
Secondly, low calorie diets can make you feel fatigued (especially if you aren’t eating the right foods). And when you are lethargic, all you want to do is sit on the couch – not exactly a good prescription for weight loss.
And lastly, low calorie diets often make it tough to get all the nutrients we need everyday. You have no calories to spare when you aren’t eating much, which means every single food must be packed with nutrition value. And, even then, you won’t meet your nutrient needs making a multivitamin and possibly supplemental vitamins or minerals (in addition to the multivitamin), very important. Some of the most obvious nutrient deficiencies and the foods you must eat to obtain enough of each nutrient include:
- Omega 3s ~ fatty fish
- Vitamin D ~ salmon, mackerel, fortified milk, some yogurts, some mushrooms, sunlight
- Calcium ~ dairy
- Iron ~ red meat, dark turkey meat, chicken
- Magnesium ~ halibut, mixed nuts, cereal
If you want to try a low calorie diet, do so only under the care of a Registered Dietitian and/or a physician who specializes in bariatrics (few physicians are versed on diet and nutrition but bariatrics is the study of obesity).