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What Happened When I Followed a 1000 Calorie Diet…

The 1000 Calorie Diet – Good, Bad or Indifferent?

In life there are all kinds of accepted ‘truths’ which are factually incorrect. Fitness and nutrition is full of them… ‘don’t eat carbs after 6’, ‘don’t arch your back when deadlifting’, ‘stretch before exercise’ etc etc. Most of these ‘rules’ turn out not to be true when put to the test, but they still persist in many quarters.

There’s another one recently that I wanted to test in nutrition, which was ‘don’t under-eat or you’ll lose your muscle’. I wanted to eat a 1000 calorie diet to see what the effects would be.

This one is particularly interesting to me, for a number of reasons…

  1. It contradicts a lot of the research around fasting.
  2. All diets are a form of under-eating, so is it really that bad?
  3. Who has proved the rule?

The thing is, single gram of fat contains 9 calories. If a person was carrying 20kg of fat tissue (which lots of people are), then they have 180,000 calories of potential stored energy in the form of fat tissue.

If a man burned 3000 calories per day, theoretically he could live for 60 days on his stored fat reserves alone!

There was a case in the 1960’s where a man fasted for 382 days. That’s correct – he lived for over a year without food, under medical supervision. You can read the study here.

Using this as a starting point, we know that fasting is absolutely fine. Many people use intermittent fasting anyway, going anywhere between 8 hours and 1.5 days at a time without eating. That’s their daily routine, not a special weight loss approach.

Using those examples as a base for comparison, 1000 calories per day is positively gluttonous.

Low Calories In Sport

It’s been well-known in weight-class sports for a long time that an athlete who has to reach a weight category can survive and perform on low calories. One of the common approaches is to increase micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) intake dramatically to offset any likely issues stemming from low general calorie intake.

It works, but it’s certainly not a long-term strategy for an athlete, maintaining extreme low calories with a very high training load.

1000 calorie diet, nitric oxide, breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Now, with this in mind I got in touch with a friend of mine, Jordan. He is a sports performance nutritionist for a HUGE (I won’t say which one) nutrition company. He’s my go-to source of nutrition info when I have a question. Before I made my mind up if I was going to experiment with low calories, I thought I’d run it by him.

Anyway, this is what happened in our recent convo…

So, there we go. A clinical nutritionist who works with professional athletes says it’s OK.

Good start.

Next up, I’d have to decide the approach I’d take. Of course the obvious thing is you just eat less, but that’s a little too simplistic. If I’m going to eat little but still perform well, I can’t rely on just filling my pie-hole with garbage. I had to be a little more tactical.

I usually eat around 3000 calories per day, so my thinking was to make the experiment a 1000 calorie diet for 5 days. Long enough to see an effect, short enough that the end of the diet was in sight. In reality 5 days doesn’t take a huge amount of discipline, so I opted for that.

I decided to start with accepted good practice, which dictates that if you are going to eat very low calories, it’s a good idea to over-compensate with high micronutrient intake. I always take a multivitamin anyway, but in this case I decided to go for an extra powerful multivitamin.

BodyNutrition.org has some really great recommendations for choosing the right multivitamin for men and women.

Next up was the omega issue. I’m allergic to fish, so I can’t eat it. I do see the value in an omega supplement though, so I look this one….

Finally, I wanted to take a greens drink that doubled as two things… a breakfast drink and an extra dose of multivitamins and minerals. I like both Athletic Greens and Lean Greens, but opted for Lean Greens on account of price alone…

So that’s my vitamins and minerals sorted. You may argue it’s overkill and in reality, it probably was. Still, I saw it as insurance, following good practice and a case of better being safe than sorry. It worked too, as we’ll go into later in the article.

The 1000 Calorie Diet Strategy

I think it’s important to have a plan when you go into anything like this – it’s such a dramatic change in practice that it can be really, really difficult if you don’t have a strategy before you head into it.

I had to balance two main issues…

  1. Give myself enough energy to train and recover well.
  2. Eat only enough to hit close to 1000 calories, but try to avoid hunger.

I wasn’t counting my macros, but I was counting my calories. I did that using My Fitness Pal and by checking the labels on food.

Given it was only ever going to be a short-term experiment (5 days), I was happy to occasionally go with decent quality ready meal options such as soups etc, mostly because it took the work out of counting the calories for me. I’m a sucker for the convenience, so that won out in the end!

On a normal week I’ll train around 5 times and according to my heart rate monitor, I’ll burn anywhere between 500 and 1000 calories per workout, depending on the session. I was willing to accept that and still only eat 1000 calories, given part of the nature of this experiment was the extremity of it all.

I needed fuel to train and recover, so decided to base my meal strategy around my exercise – essentially splitting my food intake across two meals, a small one before training and the larger one afterwards. Physiologically and socially, this approached really worked for me during the experiment. Here’s why….

  1. I don’t really eat breakfast. I’ve never been a big breakfast fan, unless I’m on holiday and can relax into it. Usually I’m up early, we’ve got kids to feed/wash/dress/transport and I start work early. Breakfast is an afterthought in at least 80% of cases, which meant eating only two meals was easy. I was having a greens drink in the morning, so ‘breakfast’ was covered.
  2. I can’t train very well on a full stomach. I like to eat some food before training, but not a huge amount. Basically I want enough to get me through a workout and not much else. My training doesn’t really require it either.
  3. Immediately post-training, I’m usually not very hungry. I can leave eating a big meal for good while after exercise. I’ll usually have a small snack, but not sit down to a big meal for a good few hours afterwards.
  4. I like to eat something substantial in the evening, so saving more of my calories for the end of the day works for me. It’s also when Rach and I eat our biggest meal, so it made life socially easier.

My general meal guideline was that it needed to contain protein, but also had to be generally healthy because that gave me more volume of food per calorie, something that I later learnt to be key in the success of all of this.

What happened when I ate a 1000 calorie diet….

Day 1 on a 1000 Calorie Diet

The first day was easy – I was already fuelled from the day before, plus I hadn’t ‘endured’ a few days of low calories, so in reality it felt like a single day of eating only 1000 calories, which is exactly what it was.

Day 2 on a 1000 Calorie Diet

At this point I had to think a little more. I was hungrier, but it wasn’t too bad. I learnt that if you keep plenty of water handy, you can get away with a little more distance between meals.

Day 3 on a 1000 Calorie Diet

I wasn’t especially hungry, but I was giving my food choice a LOT more thought. It made my eating far more conscious. When I was picking my early meal it was based purely on volume – which choice would give me the largest volume of food for the lowest number of calories.

Day 4 on a 1000 Calorie Diet

This was when it started to get tougher. I play football on a Thursday, so knew I was going to need some energy. It was by now that I was missing the snacks I’d usually eat throughout the day and it took some serious willpower (despite me thinking it’s a myth) to not eat the snacks.

Day 5 on a 1000 Calorie Diet

The last day was easier again, probably because I’d found a way to make it (kind of) work for me. Also the fact that the end of the experiment was in sight made it psychologically easier too. My weight loss was quite apparent by this point.

The Results of the 1000 Calorie Diet Experiment

There are three ways to look at the results of a 1000 calorie diet…

  1. Weight loss effects
  2. Performance effects
  3. Behavioural effects

Each of them are valid in their own right and are relevant depending on the lens through which you assess the virtues of a nutritional plan.

I didn’t have a bias beforehand – I was simply doing it as an experiment to test accepted wisdom. Thanks to this, I feel like I can offered a balanced opinion on the three effects I experienced.

Weight loss on a 1000 calorie diet

I started the week weighing 94.5kg and I ended it weighing 90.7kg, so I dropped 3.8kg, or just over 8lbs in old money.

1000 calorie diet

It’s important to point out that this wouldn’t all have been fat, it would mostly be water weight. My motivation wasn’t weight loss, as I’ve said before. It’s an interesting outcome, but anyone using the approach to simply lose weight would probably be better off with a slower, more long-term approach which would see more fat lost.

Once I reverted to my normal eating, I regained some weight, but only around 1kg. With that in mind it’s probably appropriate to recommend this as a kick-start to weight loss, rather than a long term approach.

I’ve had a few people ask me how accurate my weight loss was, and I can tell them honestly it’s pretty bang on – I used these scales from Archon and have tested them with kettlebells and dumbbells that I know to be accurately weighed and they read the same figure…

Performance effects on a 1000 Calorie Diet

I expected there to be a dramatic effect on performance with the 1000 calorie diet and there was – to a degree.

Most of my training is quite explosive, with the vast majority of my training consisting of weight lifting and it’s variations. I do cardio in the form of football (which is very high intensity), but most of the training I do is quite glycolytic (anaerobic or ‘without oxygen’). Basically this means the effort is short, but very high intensity.

For this kind of training, I don’t need huge sugar/fuel reserves, so I noticed that as long as I had some fuel on board, I was fine.

It was much tougher playing football on the 1000 calorie diet as the fuel reserves required are much higher, so that was a real slog! I coped, but I knew that it really wouldn’t be a good idea for someone who trains using long duration cardio such as running or cycling.

Behavioural effects of a 1000 Calorie Diet

This is perhaps the most interesting area to me lately. Following on from my recent no sugar experiment, I’ve become more interested in the behavioural choices we make around food, because essentially it’s just a series of decisions we make each time we come to eat.

When following the 1000 calorie diet, I was forced into making different choices. Anyone who is familiar with macronutrients will be aware that when dieting, it is still important to maintain a high protein intake, especially if you are active. With this in mind, I had to ensure my food options were (relatively) high in protein yet low in calories. This isn’t easy.

Next up was a volume issue – I had to ensure that I was eating enough to feel as though I actually had something in my stomach. There are tricks to this, such as making sure you drink plenty of water so you stay full etc, but it’s still something you have to consider.

Flavour is key too. If you are already eating low calorie, you have to have a least some enjoyment from your food, so I found myself opting for things that at least tasted good! It opened me to a few new options I’d never have really considered before, such as vegetarian curry snack packs – they averaged around 200 calories but contained a lot more food than the meat versions, ticking the volume box!

Uses for a 1000 calorie diet

My initial thoughts are that it’s idea for anyone looking to kick start weight loss. Most people wouldn’t cope on it for the long term, but as a short term fix it certainly has its uses. I dropped over 8lbs in 5 days using it.

I also think it’s a great behaviour change tool. If you respond well to strict rules around your diet, sticking to 1000 calories is a simple but easy enough one to follow. You don’t have to count macros or follow meal timing rules, you just eat 1000 calories and try to keep your protein high.

Who shouldn’t follow a 1000 calorie diet

If you are a competing athlete with a high training volume, then the 1000 calorie diet isn’t for you. It’s basically impossible to maintain a high training volume on such a low intake of energy.

Cardio bunnies would also struggle. By nature of their exercise, anyone who is running, cycling or swimming multiple times per week would really struggle with the 1000 calorie diet.

1000 calorie diet, swimrun nutrition strategy

Manipulating the 1000 calorie diet for the long term

I have given this some thought and think manipulating a 1000 calorie diet for long term use is both possible and practical for anyone looking to lose weight or body fat.

The diet would look like a modified 5:2, with the daily base line calories being 1000, from high protein sources. On training days, calories would be spiked relative to the activity and the rate of weight loss, but would revert to the 1000 calories on non-training days.

The diet would have to be individually tailored, but I think that approach would work. I can’t think of a reason it wouldn’t, but I’ll spend more time on my thinking/experimenting around the topic before I use it as a tool or suggestion for personal training or ABC Programme clients.

Training and a 1000 calorie diet

When you’re trying to sustain yourself on a 1000 calorie diet, you can still train but the type of training that you do needs to fall in line. If you’re expecting to run marathons or cycle for 50 miles on such small amounts of food, you’re going to find it impossible.

What you need to do instead is focus on short, sharp bursts of effort. Weight lifting, weight training and some HIIT protocols will work. The kind of workouts I was doing on my 1000 calorie diet are the ones in my HIIT eBook.

1000 calorie diet

I did some of these workouts on 4 of the 5 days I was eating the 1000 calorie diet and found them to be tough, but I could cope. It’s because the nature of the workouts are that they are short, but intense – perfect for when you’re only eating 1000 calories per day!

The 1000 calorie diet, final thoughts

The first conclusion to draw regarding the 1000 calorie diet is that yes, it’s totally possible to live on 1000 calories. There are performance issues, but if you have weight/body fat to lose, it’s very much an approach that can work for you.

I safeguarded by dramatically increasing my micronutrient (vitamin and minerals) intake, so I felt great doing it.

A lot of our behaviour around food is purely habitual, so forcing a dramatic change in your behaviour around food makes you really think about the choices you make.

As a long term dietary approach, it’d need some manipulation in order for it to be a suitable long term option, but I honestly think with a level of self-control and discipline, it’s something that could work for most people. As long you ramped-up calories around activity, it’s a diet that would prove very effective for many.

By the way, if you subscribe to the Hoyles Fitness mailing list you’ll receive a free eBook containing 101 Health and Fitness Tips, plus offers and news exclusive to Hoyles Fitness subscribers. Click the image below to download…
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HoylesFitness

Owner of www.hoylesfitness.com. Personal Trainer, Father and fitness copy writer. Working hard making the world fitter and healthier!

70 thoughts on “What Happened When I Followed a 1000 Calorie Diet…”

  1. Hello,

    Many thanks for posting this informative article. I’ve a lot of weight to lose (~30 lbs), and plan to follow the advice in the article to do it.

    Plan to skip breakfast and eat calories over 2 meals, fuelling workouts.

    Will see how it goes!

    Cheers, Stewart

  2. No problem, Stewart!

    Glad the article has been informative for you. It certainly helped me to lose some extra weight, plus it re-framed how I looked at food.

    If you need any help give me a shout!

    Steve

  3. Hi there!

    Looking to do this post Xmas and new year for a way to get back on the healthy eating track! And also have a holiday in 3 weeks. Won’t lose the amount I need to but I think it will help lift me!

    My main problem is sugar addiction though. How would you recommend getting through it when I feel weak from not eating the sugar?
    I’m also on low impact exercise due to a problem with my neck and symptoms in my right arm with mild weakness (it’s slowly getting better!)

    Regards
    Deb

  4. I skip breakfast & feel super energized during my workout. Eating beforehand doesn’t work for me.

  5. That’s interesting, Kimberly. A lot of people report that. Personally I think I’m better off with a little food on board before I train, but not too much. Saying that, I know people who train on an empty stomach all of the time!

  6. I’ve been told b y many people that dropping under 1200 calories is bad for health but I did a 1000 calorie diet as well. For me this diet was long is term (4 months if that’s long term) and I will say with the right balance it worked for me. I counted my macros and ate my vitamins and in the end lost 53 lbs in the time span. Most of which were fat and some water. I do not recommend this diet without at least some exercise because I muscle mass is easily lost, I’m not saying do a full on work out 4-5 days a week more like go for a walk and do some yoga. You cannot be a couch potato! Personally I went to the gym to lift weights/do upper body workouts once a week and did half an hour walk in the afternoons 2-3 days a week. It’s nice to see that someone else agrees that it’s not as dangerous as people think.

  7. Hi Taylor!

    I wouldn’t listen to what those people say and go with your own experimentation. If you feel good when eating lower calories and it’s working for you (as it sounds like it is doing), then stick with it. I think occasional re-feed days where you eat more calories will be a good idea too.

    It’s certainly not dangerous, as long as it’s done for the right reasons!

    Well done!

    Steve

  8. I have been on a 1000 calorie diet for 2 weeks and will continue to be on it for about 9 weeks longer. I started at 6 feet 5 inches 310 pounds. Wide athletic frame (I played lineman in college at a D1 school).

    My workout consist of light weight lifting 3 times per week with an interval 30 minute walk/jog prior

    My diet and intake is the same food every day.

    Breakfast:
    Dannon Light and Fit Yogurt – 70 Cal
    Medium Banana – 105 cal
    1 1/2 hard boiled egg whites – 24 cal

    Lunch:
    Canned tuna: 110 cal
    Mayo: 90 cal
    1/8cup of diced celery: 2 cal

    Dinner:
    3.75 oz grilled chicken: 171 cal
    1 cup of white rice seasoned with lime and cilantro: 242 cal
    1.5 cups of broccoli florets : 30 cal

    Two snacks throughout the day:
    2 fiber one 90 cal brownies
    (Maybe an extra egg white if I’m up late to curb hunger at 16 caps)

    Total: 1,040 calories

    The biggest key to keeping this diet is WATER WATER WATER. NO SUGAR DRINKS EVEN IF DIET. ONLY WATER. Also if you’re going to cheat don’t do it. You have to commit to this diet in order to maintain it lot a long a long period. The other key, PORTION CONTROL. Prep for 2 weeks at a time and sit there and measure and weigh every piece of this meal.

    I’m not sure of my weight loss as of yet because I refuse to step on the scale until I hit my goal of 9 weeks. But I can tell you it does feel so much better living and eating this clean.

  9. Well done Cameron! Sounds like you’re doing really well!

    I’d love to hear how much weight you’ve lost when you do step on the scales again – my guess is it’ll be a lot!

    Steve

  10. Hey Steve! So nice to read on actual people. This plan is speaking to me. I have to lose weight and have about eight months to do so. Basically planning on the 5:2 or maybe 6:1 and the one being a cheat day. I have been feeding off of fast-foods for a while now and need to shed all this laziness away NOW.

    Thanks so much on including the importance of multivitamins, I am also working ordering and becoming healthy.

  11. Good luck, Joan!

    If you have 8 months there’s plenty of time to make a significant difference to your weight!

    Are you thinking of going with 1000 calories as a plan? It’s something I coped with (even with a pretty intense exercise regime), but you do need off days to cope with it.

    As long as you stick to your plan, stay strong you’ll be fine!

    If you need any help, just ask!

    Steve

  12. I like this diet, personally I find it better than 5:2 as you do similar each day. For me that day to day consistency is easier to maintain.
    My approach for the 1000 is kind of standardised too …
    Brekky = cereal bar 200 cals
    Lunch = salad with chicken or tuna 400 cals
    Dinner = M&S ready meal “fuller for longer” 400 cals
    Pretty easy to do and defo not hungry.
    If it’s a training day I look to add calories to roughly match the burn.

  13. I unintendedly changed my eating behaviour 2 weeks ago into a ~1000kcal diet and wanted to thank you for this article. Was a bit scared when I did the math today. Felt no disadvantages at all, not hungry etc.. Just a pretty fast weight loss (1,80m / 102kg to 96kg in 2 weeks) without any cardio/lifting sports.

    A friend of mine showed me how much vegetables, rice and chicken you can eat compared to a bag of chips – so I started cooking for myself, stopped eating sweets and chips, changed to diet coke when i feel the need for something sweet (getting more and more rare). I eat the same amount of food but only take in ~30% of the calories.

    Right now it’s mostly just throwing everything into a big frying pan with some olive oil while cooking some rice and it works great for me. Trying out new vegetables is a great experience since I am not a picky eater. I don’t know if this is a worldwide thing but here in Germany we have Uncle Ben’s rice that is microwaveable, works like a charm, so you can cook in under 5 minutes with only veggies and 10 minutes with some chicken/meat.

  14. Hey Martin! Thanks for your lovely words about my article – glad it in some way has helped you!

    Great to hear about your rapid weight loss. If you’re feeling healthy and not hungry then it shows it’s an approach that’s working for you.

    Yes, we have Uncle Ben’s rice here too. They do a lot of great flavours, plus it’s so quick and easy. It’s a tip I think a lot of my readers would like to know, so thanks for sharing it!

    Congratulations again on your weight loss and new healthy lifestyle!

    Steve

  15. I am so relieved that someone finally says 1000 calories are ok to lose weight. I kept the 1200 years ago and it worked fine but i was trying to see now if 1000 calories are better. Need to lose some weight fast as is giving me the boost to continue working out etc…i mean fast results to not be descuraged. Thanks again , loved your article.

  16. Hi! Thanks for your article, it’s very informative.

    I am a woman with 35 extra kilos. I started a 1000 calorie diet 4 days ago. Today, I noticed that I lose 1.5 kg, but I gained 1.1 fat% and lost 0.8% in muscles.

    I must admit that I did not workout. I was very sedentary.

    I appreciate very much your advice.

  17. Hi

    Thank you for the article. I’m a female 5’8 with around 20kg extra weight on me.
    I have a sugar and flour addiction and even though I want to lose weight more than anything, I have this fear of going on a low-calorie diet and exercising. I fear to feel fatigued or go hungry. But it just shows how much I’m afraid of letting go of food.
    But now that I’ve read this article and other peoples’ experiences, I feel so much better for trying 1000-1200 calorie diet and hitting a gym 3-4 times per week also.

  18. Hey man, great post. Glad you added the “after” part, when some weight comes back. People generally are scaring each other with low calorie diets, that you are going to get all the weight back, it’s true, to some extent, you’ll get probably 5 out of 15kgs (generally it’s the 1/3) and if you eat below maintenance, the amount will be fewer. Eating that amount of calories it’s way better than waiting months for some results. Kickstart is the keyword, great post once again!

  19. Hi Monika

    I can understand your issues – I work with a lot of people who have issues around food. You’ve made the important first step though, which is make a plan.

    Once you’ve psychologically decided to shift the weight, you’ll do it. The whole process begins with the mind, so remember to keep your focus on what you’re doing any why you’re doing it!

    Good luck on your journey.

    Steve

  20. Glad you liked the post Manuel!

    I think it’s important to show people a ‘real’ version of events and not the edited one. Yes, you’ll gain a little weight, but nothing like people report or imagine. This 1000 calorie diet is a perfect way to kickstart your weight loss I’ve found.

    Steve

  21. I gained massive weight after a 3 year crisis in my personal life. Went from 110kg to 170kg (yes, that’s KG). Because I was sitting 7 days a week for pretty much 3 years straight, barely moving around and eating shit because of bad mood and exhaustion.

    Before that I was very active and worked out very regular.

    Now that this crisis was averted, successfully I might add 🙂
    I’ve been eating between 1,500 – 2,000 calories per day, started by walking fast on a treadmill for an hour every day. Always increasing intensity and speed, and also started body weight exercises again. I’m losing 2-3Kg per week now for the past 3 months and I feel wonderful. Full of energy, better mood. I can see myself being back to my original weight in a couple of months, and back to my fitness level from before in about a year if I keep going at it and always increase intensity.

    I think most of the stuff you hear in gyms about eating isn’t true.

    Eat healthy low fat meals with plenty of veggies and good protein (fish, chicken, egg whites etc), count calories burned and calorie intake and then even with a big big deficit you will be fine.

    I don’t even see sagging skin or anything. Sure won’t be an underwear model with perfect skin, but it won’t hang either 🙂

    Remember, you can always bounce back even if life puts you down, hard.

  22. Marc, that’s brilliant – well done for turning your life around like that! It’s so impressive!

    Would you like to be interviewed for an article on this website in future?

    Keep it up!

    Steve

  23. I lost 8 stone with in a year. I was 20 stone and got down to 12. I had between 800 and 1000 calories a day and cut out starchy carbs in most meals not all. No gym just walking in the fresh air!! I was a greedy sod during pregnancy and now he’s 2 and Ive put 4 stone back on I’m now back in that mind set. To get the 4 stone back off. This method works for me. I have to be strict. If not I don’t stick to it!

  24. Stacey, that’s AMAZING! Seriously well done – 8 stone is a huge amount of weight to lose and is absolutely life-changing!

    Yes, you’ve gained some weight but you know what to do. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. Good luck!

    Steve

  25. Hello !! I’m 5’10 , 186 lbs and currently around 13 percent body fat , for the last couple of weeks I have been eating around maintenance just to give my body a break , I have been dieting for close to 15 weeks now and dropped around 13 pounds. I go to the gym 7 days a week , although I only lift weights 5 of them. I want to do this 1000 calories a day diet for at least 6 days to see if I can drop 6 pounds and get to around 12 or 11 body fat percentage. I’m planning on eating around 120 g of protein per day which I know it’s not enough and I’ll probably lose 1 or 2 pounds of muscle but I’m fine with that. Could you give me your thoughts on this ? Thanks , appreciate it !!

  26. Hi Roberto

    I think it’s OK, but you’ll probably need to look at your training levels – 7 days per week may not be a good idea when you double up with the lower calories. Keep your weight training going – it’s really important to maintain as much muscle as you can, otherwise the muscle will drop really quickly. If you train too often you’ll end up really hungry and that makes this approach much more difficult.

    Perhaps look at adding a post-workout whey protein shake (mixed with water, not milk to keep calories down), make sure you’re getting plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet too.

    If you can cope with the short term hunger, you’ll do really well on it!

    Steve

  27. I’ve been on this diet for a week now, I do light exercise almost every day of the week but nothing crazy. I’ve realized I can stick to this without cheating. How long do you think it’ll be before I see some results on my lower back and love handles? I am 5’11 162 pounds.

  28. Hi Jason!

    You should see results quickly – certainly you’ll notice weight loss within the first week. If you can increase your exercise intensity slightly and include some weight training, it won’t take long at all.

    It’s important you keep the calories low. Stick with it and you’ll see the results!

    Steve

  29. Hi!,

    A very interesting diet and I agree that it can work. I’ve been dieting on my own for 6 months and have lost 1 stone 11 pounds on between 1,200and 1,300 calories a day and using a exercise bike for 20 mins 3 times a week. I just need to lose 5 pounds to reach my target weight.

  30. Hey!

    So I’ve been eating around 1000 calories a day for the last three weeks. (Started before reading this article). I’ve only lost about 3 pounds. I run everyday and I am definitely measuring everything correctly. Even over estimating it sometimes. I really just don’t understand how you lost so much so quick.

  31. Hi Dan!

    Well there’s a couple of things to consider….

    1. I have a high BMI (around 3000 calories), so by eating 1000 and training most days, I was in reality in about 2500 calories of deficit per day.
    2. I track my training data, so I know how many calories I burn per session.

    Try these and see how you get on!

    Steve

  32. Im 25 years old , 5.6′ height, and currently at 203 lbs. i have been hitting gym for 2 weeks now with 3 hours weight training and cardio. Hoping to get to the 180s range in 60 days. I am gonna try the 1000 calorie diet hoping that would show results pretty quickly.

  33. Hi Alex! If you keep that routine up you’ll certainly drop weight very quickly. If I may make a suggestion – cut your training time down, but increase your intensity of exercise. Focus on quality, not quantity.

    Steve

  34. Hi there,
    In the last 1,5/ 2 years I put on some 12-15kgs. Lost my mum to cancer and that dragged me into a depressive state. Stopped sports and didnt care about what I ate.
    I feel now is time to claim my life and body back and I started dieting and execrcising more. For the last 10 days I have been counting religiously my calories and going to the gym 3 x a week plus doing hot yoga 2 times and some home yoga. I lost 2.5kgs.
    My question is: I am on a average 800 calories / day. I feel good, dont feel im starving.
    However, I started reading that Im putting my body in starvation mode and it is not healthy. So today Im considering upping it to 1000calories.
    You said it is ok 1000 calories / day, but you are a man. As women need less calories will I be under a huge risk if I stay on 800/day?
    Im 1.70 / started at 75kgs and Im now at 72.5. My goal is 62kgs.
    Than you.

  35. Hi Mary

    Sorry to hear about your mum, but I’m glad you’ve reached a point where you can start to think about yourself again now.

    With regards to the 800/1000 calorie debate, I’m not a huge believer of the starvation mode theory, but I think an occasional ‘re-feed’ where you up your calories to 1500-1800 for a day or two every three weeks is a good idea.

    If you don’t feel hungry and are seeing good progress, go with it. As long as you’re healthy and your body is doing what it should, I’d go ahead as you are.

    Any questions, just give me a shout.

    Steve

  36. Ive lost 17 kg eating 1200 calories for a year… but now my weightloss is slowing down ( im 156 cm and weight now 56 kg ) so im thinking of doing the 1000 calories for a few weeks, like 2-3 weeks to test it out. Is it safe? will I gain weight when I start eating 1200 calories again? 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!!

  37. Hi Celina!

    Well done on your weight loss – that’s fantastic progress!

    The 1000 calories is certainly safe, but you already sound lean – are you sure you need to lose more weight? I’d suggest you do 2-3 days of higher calories to give your body a break, then you could try the 1000 calories for 10 days, see how you feel and what the results are and then decide whether or not to carry on.

    Steve

  38. I accidentally started a low-calorie diet in May and have kept caloric intake to under 1,000 per day (typically at 875) for two months. I feel great, do light cardio and weights, and have dropped weight rapidly (~20lbs). I look better than I ever imagined I would ever again. I’m wondering how long I can sustain this. I’m terrified to gain the weight back!

  39. Thanks for posting this!! I accidentally started a low-calorie diet in May and have kept caloric intake to under 1,000 per day (typically at 875) for two months. I feel great, do light cardio and weights, and have dropped weight rapidly (~20lbs). I look better than I ever imagined I would ever again. I’m wondering how long I can sustain this. I’m terrified to gain the weight back!

  40. Hi Jess!

    Well done on the weight loss!

    You won’t re-gain the weight if you’re careful. Once you’ve reached a target weight/physique, gradually increase your calorie intake to a point where your weight stabilises. That’ll be pretty easy to do and may even feel really quite indulgent, especially if you’ve been on low calories for a while!

    Steve

  41. I have put on nearly 5 stone since I was in real good shape around 3 years ago but let myself down and stopping training. I have been doing this for a few weeks and I’ve lost a total of 15kg so far! I’ve had the odd week we’re I didn’t follow it but other than that I feel great! I train 4-6 times a week (weights) and also been trying a hour walk a day. If I was to follow this plan 5:2 would you say there’s a chance I could be losing a lot of muscle?

  42. Hi Andrew

    As long as you’re still weight training, muscle loss wouldn’t really be much of an issue. You’d lose a small amount, but really not anything to worry about. You’d still be losing fat as long as you kept your protein intake high and were strength training hard and with a high enough intensity.

    Well done on the weight loss by the way!

    Steve

  43. i am 5″2 inch in height and weight is nearly 70 kg .. is it good for follow 800 cal diet.. is it safe . i heard 800 cal diet makes some effects like hairfall and weakness. i can maintain 800 but is it safe or not .

  44. Hi there

    It’s certainly safe, but I’d make sure you increase the amount of vitamins and minerals you take in. Perhaps take a really good multivitamin supplement and a fish oil.

    Also, make sure your calories come from good sources, not junk food.

    Steve

  45. What do you do if you can’t lose much/any weight on 1000 calories even with a low dose diet pill from my doctor. I can’t exercise right now because I have some muscle disease and the need to make sure my muscle aren’t deteriorating before I can start again. I have started walking a mile a day 3-4 times a week just because after 20 years of exercise and diet to keep off the 90lbs I lost I can’t sit and di nothing. I’ve gain 35lbs back since thet told me so stop exercising and I really need to lose it but it doesn’t come off. I need something to try I can’t lower calories any more. Susan

  46. Hi Susan

    To be honest your case sounds more complicated than most, so I’d refer yourself to your doctor. I wouldn’t be comfortable making suggestions to someone with a pre-existing condition that I know nothing about.

    Good luck – I’m sure you’ll find a solution.

    Steve

  47. I’m currently on a diet. I slightly upped the calories averaging 1250 cals a day. I can see that for me living on 1000 a day would cause tiredness issues.

  48. Thanks for a really use full site Steve & great to see other people doing this.

    1000 Calories a day while exercising.
    I started 27th July & my Starting weight was 213lb Male 6ft in my late 40s
    Planning your meals & making sure you don’t get too hungry in the first few days helps you get into the swing of things. I do train (insanity workout) first thing in the morning, but at a steady rate so not to burn out. Some walks & the odd little jog chucked in. I get 7-8 hours sleep a night & drink plenty of water.

    I weighed in at 205lb (5 Aug) today & generally feel pretty good. I guess I’ve lost a little water so looking for a more gentle reduction in weight now.

    I rarely feel hungry in the day & try and keep my diet as balanced with a couple of protein shakes & vitamins . Meals include veg, salads, tuna, chicken (the usual good stuff). I’m feeling fuller quicker & think about food less by the day.

    This diet works in that it makes you more aware of what you do consume in the day, you see results quickly which helps to keep you motivated and is a great starter for people who want to start today making a difference to themselves.

    My workouts do suffer, but in time I’ll slowly increase the daily intake of calories to suit what I need but still keeping in a deficit, so will still lose weight but over a longer period.

    I’m going to re-evaluate this Saturday to see if anything needs changing.

    Keep you posted.

    Peter B

  49. I find this article very interesting as I did this with research of my own much coming from the Mayo Clinic. I didn’t go straight to 1,000 calories a day but over a period of time. I started in December of 2018 and as of August 2019 have lost 76lbs from 310lbs to 234lbs. I’m a male aged 36 and 6’4” tall. On the weekends now I do bump up as I’ve taken up running, I run with a friend/ training partner running around 5 miles a day Saturdays and Sundays at a pace of 10 minute miles. I’ve only been running for about a month now but it’s been great! I have noticed on the weekends my weight goes up about 1 to 2lbs but I think that’s due to higher water intake. I normally consume about 50 to 60 fluid ounces of water a day except on the weekends when I almost double that amount of water to stay hydrated. I also use MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun to track everything.

  50. Hi Peter!

    That’s a fantastic, inspirational story. It shows exactly what you can achieve when you put your mind to it in a sensible, rather than drastic way.

    The food you are eating is high quality, your exercise approach is well-balanced and appropriate for you goals and you’re starting to see the results.

    It’s a lifestyle change rather than a quick-fix and it’s working for you. Well done!

    Steve

  51. Hi Marty!

    That’s great to hear – I’m glad you enjoyed the article and I’m even more happy that you’ve used the approach to lose so much weight. What an achievement!

    Running is a huge calorie burner, so you’re doing the right thing by adding more calories when you go for a run.

    The weekend weight gain is almost certainly water, plus the few extra calories probably adding to glycogen stores.

    Do you have a target weight?

    Steve

  52. 1000 Calories a day while exercising.
    Mon 12th August. Day 17. Current Weight: 201lb. Total loss. 12lbs.

    Thanks Steve for your kind words, that’s really appreciated.

    Holidays are coming. I’m off to Cuba in 16 days, so if all goes well I’ll be popping into Matalan to buy some smaller Bermuda shorts.

    My wife & I have a pretty good daily routine now which makes life so much easier to keep under the 1000 calories.
    We buy fruit & veg which is high in fibre & meats that are lean, which does include sausages, burgers, but mainly chicken & fish.
    I’m still exercising in one form or another every day. The majority of days is a light run (20 mins) and Insanity Workout, but I had a day off from that and went for the hour walk into work and back to help my body recover.

    My wife has lost a pound more than myself. However, she looks after our 1 year old son in the day, so is always on the go. She is really happy with her results and says that fatigue doesn’t affect her as much now. Mind you we are getting an extra hour sleep each night.

    A couple of extra items I’ve bought to help was some digital kitchen scales to help weigh portion sizes & new scales for weighing us, but also records the results to our phones.

    I’ve also kept a log (Spreadsheet) of meals, exercise, weight etc from day one to help me keep track, but also to help keep me motivated of where I started from.

  53. Peter, you’ve really got this approach nailed! Congratulations on the results too – shows what can be done when you put your mind to it! The exercise is sensible and the food quality is great – that’s going to be really important going forward.

    I bet you can’t wait to go on holiday! Are you planning to relax the diet a little whilst away?

    Steve

  54. Hi
    I did almost this (1500kcal/d) for 10d and it worked quite well. Dropped from 75kg to 72,5. I noticed the same thing as you; i was more tired when training in gym. Atleast for the last few days. I felt great doing it though. I also noticed that it took me almost a week to recover from this and getting my basic gym routine back on.

  55. That’s interesting, Sam. Maybe once every 5 days or so you could do a re-feed day where you up your calories again?

    Also, did you make sure you were taking a lot of extra vitamins and minerals?

    Steve

  56. 1000 Calories a day while exercising.
    Day 27 Current Weight: 198.6lb. Total loss. > 14lbs (1 stone)

    Not much weight loss in the last 10 ten days but I’ve achieved over a stone (14lb) in a month, despite having 3 days off the diet to visit relatives for my wife & kid’s birthday. Interesting though, I still couldn’t eat a large meal & didn’t have the usual cravings.

    At work people have noticed my weight loss & have been asking questions. The shear horror on their faces that I’m sticking to a 1000 calories a day. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about, the first few days are the hardest but it does become the norm. I guess it depends on how much you want to become lighter & fitter.

    We have a wide variety of food in the fridge, but those baby biscuits do look good. Temptation hasn’t got the better of me yet. This is probably because there are alternatives available & I am eating regularly throughout the day.

    6 days to go till Cuba.
    Good question Steve about the holiday regime, & tbh I’ve been thinking about that every day.
    It is an all inclusive resort with a gym & a pool, and because i’ve been jogging daily it’ll be easy to take my trainers & still do the same there. We can’t drink too much as we have our little boy to look after, but calorie control will be more difficult with not knowing what is in many of the dishes.
    I’m thinking that if I keep my meal sizes down, avoid high carb foods, cocktails & deserts while having a daily jog & weight training. It won’t be too bad.

    This diet has trained me in so many ways, it has changed my attitude towards food, I’m fuller quicker, I feel lighter, fitter & people have noticed. Not a bad start in less than a month.

    I’m going to carry on till I go away next week. I’ll record the end results & post them up.

    Cape Verde in November so an action plan is needed.

    Thanks for your support Steve.

  57. That’s fantastic progress, Peter! A stone gone is no joke – that’s a solid amount of weight lost.

    The cravings will get easier and in time they’ll go away. If you’re struggling with the cravings, what I’d suggest is splitting your calories over two meals of 500 and treat it like an intermittent fast – there are two reasons for this…

    1. It’s binary. You’re either in a fast, or eating. It’s easier for some people to mentally shut off cravings if they’re fasting.
    2. A 500 calorie meal is more satisfying than say, a 300 calorie meal. It’s more like you’re eating actual food.

    If you’ve got a gym on site, use it. Just go hard on the weights and keep the calories under control with the lower carbs and you should be fine.

    I’m enjoying hearing about your progress!

    Steve

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