Is The 1000 Calorie Diet Plan Really A Weight Loss Miracle?

by Tim

in Fad Diets,Nutrition,Weight Loss Techniques

The 1000 calorie diet is a drastic weight loss program that is intended to help you lose a great deal of weight as quickly as possible through the use of severe caloric restriction. In this, it is similar to various detox diets or cleansing diets that have become popular in recent years. The purpose of this article is to outline the 1000 calorie a day diet plan and let you know whether or not it is recommended for weight loss.

How Does The 1000 Calorie Diet Plan Work?

One of the primary concepts of weight loss is that whether you gain or lose weight depends on which side of the equation of calories consumed versus calories burned you are on. In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume.

Severe caloric restriction diets like water fasts and the 1000 calorie diet take this concept to a new extreme: the fewer calories you eat, the more weight you’ll lose. While there is a certain logic to the concept, the intricacies of metabolism and the way the body functions are not entirely taken into account.

The basic concept behind the structure of the 1000 calorie diet involves eating three meals per day plus two snacks, all of which are low in calories and contain very small portions. As the name implies, your goal is to consume right about 1000 calories each day. No exercise is required. This continues for 14 days before you return to a more normal diet.

Sample 1000 Calorie Diet Menu

A typical daily meal plan under the 1000 calorie diet looks something like this:

Breakfast – Sugar free oatmeal with skim milk

Snack 1 – Fat free yogurt

Lunch – Chicken salad with mixed greens, no dressing

Snack 2 – Handful of cherries or blueberries

Dinner – Skinless chicken breast with mixed vegetables

1000 Calorie Diet Dangers

Whenever you severely restrict your caloric intake, you are going to run into some definite side effects, few of them pleasant. While the 1000 calorie diet is not going to be nearly as extreme as you would find from a water fast or a juice fast, there are some definite dangers that you are going to need to be aware of.

Dehydration – When you lose weight, especially a large amount of initial weight loss, a good deal of that weight lost is going to be in the form of water weight. Unless you are very obese to start with, it is not safe to lose 30 pounds in a month, as some who recommend a diet such as this promise.  If you are not careful to drink plenty of water, you risk dehydration.

Malnutrition – The body needs nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in order to function. It is a simple matter of life. When it does not get the nutrients that it needs, the body can break down and suffer all manner of impairments. Brittle nails and hair, dizziness, pale skin, and other symptoms are among the initial signs of malnutrition.

Reduced Metabolic Function – When you restrict your calories too much, whether you are following a 1000 calories diet or some other type of cleansing diet or water fast, such as the Master Cleanse or lemonade diet, your body is going to act as if it is in a starvation situation – which it is. In order to ensure survival, it will drastically reduce your overall metabolism in order to adapt to the new, lower caloric level. This will reduce the amount of weight lost and make it that much more difficult to lose weight later on.

Fatigue – When you are not getting the proper nutrition, the body does not have enough energy in order to properly sustain itself. As part of the energy-saving methods that the body uses as part of reduced metabolic function, your energy levels will also decline. You will become tired, fatigued, and will have a general lack of energy. This will be compounded further if you continue exercising during your severe caloric restriction.

Thyroid Damage – Severe caloric restriction, as is the case with any sort of cleanse diet or the 1000 calorie diet, causes thyroid function to decline. Over a prolonged period, this can result in hypothyroidism. Good weight loss tips never result in the potential for the body to become permanently damaged in such a way.

Eating Disorders – When you engage in such a restrictive diet that requires such a specific number of calories, the intense effort that goes into maintaining such a regime can potentially cause changes in the way you think about food and approach eating. This increases the risk of developing an eating disorder.

1000 Calorie DietIs The 1000 Calorie A Day Diet Recommended For Weight Loss?

While there are situations where a medically supervised very low calorie diet can be recommended when the life of the patient is at risk, these situations generally occur within a hospital or quick weight loss center where the patient undergoes constant medical supervision. These are extreme situations.

As to whether or not the 1000 calorie diet can be recommended for a person working on his own at home to lose weight, it is certainly not the case. It is not safe or effective for sustained weight loss, and tends to exacerbate the problems associated with yoyo dieting. If you are in a life or death situation and your doctor is planning a medically supervised weight loss plan, it is important to follow his advice, but diets like these should not be undertaken alone.  There are better diets that work out there.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

M. Evans April 24, 2011 at 7:02 am

But then there are those of us with desk jobs who are post menopausal and 5 feet tall. My maintenance diet is about 1200 calories and to lose weight I can eat about 1000 calories a day (and exercise, of course). A 1000 calorie diet can be just as healthy as a 2000 calories diet — you eat the same healthy things but just half as much. Portion sizes are quite small, vegetables and fruits make up a large portion of the calories with some small servings of protein (usually 2 ounces), and go lightly on the carbs (complex carbs only like whole grains). At my age I take vitamin E supplements to maintain bone health.
If you’re little, old and don’t get as much exercise as you’d like, 1000 calories a day is a way of life.


Tim May 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I agree that there are some circumstances where a diet consisting of 1000 calories per day can be valid and healthy, but definitely not when it comes to weight loss in the general population, as the 1000 calorie diet used as part of the Master Cleanse is generally used. I wouldn’t recommend doing it without working with a doctor first to make sure that all health precautions are being taken.


Sharon May 13, 2011 at 10:42 am

I have been on a 1,000 calorie diet for the last 6 weeks. I’m 5 ft 3 and now weigh 128. I have lost between 10 and 12 lbs. I am 55 and sit at a desk all day but I do exercise 1 and 1/2 hours at 4am, cardio and weights. I did the 7 calculation and in order for me to lose weight, it says I need 896 calories and to maintain I need 1536 calories. I have done this before when much younger and I have to say it’s been easier this time probably because I don’t need as many calories as i used to. I don’t believe I would be able to stick to the 896 calories for very long. I’ve done well on the 1,000 calorie a day plan. I am due to gradually eat a little more to maintain my current weight.


Wnut June 21, 2011 at 2:48 am

I agree with the first poster. I’m 5’2,” in PERImenopause and losing weight isn’t as easy as it used to be. The old formula of more going out then coming in still applies. As a matter of fact, it applies now more than ever. In truth, I feel better not gorging myself until I can’t breathe. I feel more energetic largely b/c I’m not weighed down by needless calories. It will likely be away of life for me, at least in the short term, because I have 25 more pounds to lose (120 lbs. is what the consensus perfect weight is for me). People who are younger and have sup’ed up metabolisms don’t get it. But they will in about 20-25 years.


Terry February 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Wnut, I’m with you. 53, perimenopause, 135lbs. I gain weight if I go over 1200 calories/day. I was doing okay before Christmas at about 1000 cal/day, losing a little less than a pound a week. Then I had fun over Christmas and now I’m having trouble getting back on track and I’ve gained back 5 of the 9 pounds I lost. I hit the gym 3 days a week and walk 2 miles 6 days a week. Every day is a new opportunity to get it right so I keep trying! Good luck to you.


Vonne July 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I use the 1,000 calorie diet only on the days I do not work out. I go to the gym about six days a week. I have lost 20lbs in three weeks using this method. On average I take in 1600 calories a day, I burn off about 400 calories in my work out. The 1,000 calorie diet works, I would recommend high fiber (both types), vitamins and plenty of water every day. That’s my method it works!


Beth October 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm


Your recommendation is what I have just started on. Gym 6 days a week. Wanted to get your input of what your 1600 calories a day consist of….thanks.


heather July 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Year ago I was told that you should eat 1000 calories for the first 5 feet and 100 calories for each inch over that. Lately I saw a dietician who recommended I eat 6 smaller meals a day. I am 5′ 2″ and I eat 6 x 200 calories snack/meals (being very particular that the calories I am getting are high protein and complex carbs i.e. of vegetables and fruit and chicken/fish/ low fat meat/pork but I will use a 200 calorie snack for a ‘treat’ of something I really want). For the first time also allow a 200 treat of something I really want).me in years I am actually losing weight and not hungry and bingeing so this is working for me. I also do a study each day based on the book Made to Crave which keeps me focused. I firmly believe that for any eating plan to work for you, it must be something that you can live with. This is the first time in years I have hope that I can finally loose the excess weight I have been carrying and hating for so long. I also go to Curves 3-4 x’s/week.


Dobbs August 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

You’ve got that right! To lose weight, cut at least 500 calaries from a 1440 calorie diet. If you need to weigh 120 and you’re at 140 and you’re almost a senior citizen that’s 5 ft. tall.


Alexis October 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I am 12 in middle school I am 5″10 and intend going on this diet not all the way 1,000 but more than that just less food and no bread and more. I weight 150 and I want to weigh 130


Sandy December 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

On a low calorie diet such as this, not only will your body burn fat, but it will also burn muscle, which is why it’s recommended that a person engage in strength training vigorously in order to prevent muscle loss. As long as your intake of protein and other necessary nutrients meet the daily recommended requirements, your body will have the fuel it needs to rebuild muscle and repair dying cells. Cardio on the other hand while on this diet will cause your body to also burn muscle. Strength training is a must!


Brenda Sanders January 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

In the past two years I’ve had cancer, seven months later surgery on my small intestine and a month later, went through chemo. I lost 55 lbs. A year later I quit smoking and my weight came on so fast I couldn’t keep up with my sizes (I have put on 70 lbs.). Exercise scares, because the chemo damaged my heart, but I’ve got to do something. Somebody help me please. Would a 1000 calorie diet hep me or hurt me?


Tim January 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I wouldn’t recommend following a 1000 calorie diet plan without doing so under your doctor’s supervision. Unless the person is tiny, severely restricting calories is tricky and poses some health risks. Since you have already been through so much, I don’t feel like I am qualified to tell you exactly what to do in regards to your weight loss, but I do have a few suggestions for topics to discuss with your doctor.

  • An appropriate daily calorie range that you should aim for.
  • Low-intensity exercise that will not negatively impact your heart. He may want to run a few stress tests to see exactly how much you can handle.
  • Whether you may need to consult a registered dietician regarding a healthy diet that is congruous with the rest of your treatment.
  • Foods and supplements to avoid to prevent possible interactions with medication or consuming too much of a particular nutrient.
  • Local support groups where you can find people in similar situations, so you can support each other and work together toward your goals.

I’m very sorry to hear about your sickness and everything that followed, but I’m sure that things will get better. Just make sure to work with your doctor to devise a diet and exercise plan that will help you be active and healthy.

I wish you all the best.


Hannah February 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I am 14 and in 8th grade. I am a cheerleader and run track and on the side do dance and gymnastics. It has deffenitly built my muscles up. I am 5’5 and 150 lbs. I am not fat though. I am very muscular but could lose some weight. My goal is 130 lbs. I was going to do 1500 cals a day then burn 400 cals in my work out. So if i did 1500 cals per day for 7 days, I would consume 10500 cals for that week. Then in my work out which I was going to do for 5 day, I would burn 2000 cals. So each day I would consume only 1100 cals and each week 8500. So I could still get a good amount while losing weight.


donna February 7, 2012 at 10:10 am

hi i weigh 18 stone 2 pounds and started the 1000 calorie a day diet last week an lost 8 pounds i am keeping well hydrated but feel dizzy after excercise i was just wondering if this diet is going to negatively affect my health as so far i have tried lots of diets to lose my excessive weight but i have either lost very little on them or even put weight on i am sticking to bran for breakfast and chicken and bacon pasta salads for lunch and dinner wich total a 1000 calories for the day but do have a bannana at around 50 calories if i get too hungry inbetween would love some advice


Louise February 21, 2012 at 4:58 am

I have found a 1000 calorie a day diet to be great. As long as you eat a lot of raw fresh fruits, veggies and oily fish (or healthy fats if you’re a vegetarian) you’ll be fine. I do interval/resistance training on this diet. Perhaps its a little low for men, but my body hasn’t gone into starvation mode, which I can tell straight away because my body temperature drops. My body temperature has risen, probably since I’ve been so careful with where I spend my calories – I eat lots of good food, not so much bad food. Its all calories in/calories out. If your leptin drops you will experience higher appetite and fatigue, but you’ll only put on weight if you respond by eating more and not exercising. Uric acid affects leptin sensitivity, so keep vit c up and dietry protein to an appropiate level, don’t eat sugar and get your omega 3s for brain health.


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