There are always new diets designed to help people with weight loss. Multiple weight loss plans recommend cutting calories to reach your goals.
600 calories are only a fraction of the daily recommended intake for adults. According to the US National Institute of Health, an adult needs 1600-3000 calories a day.
Diets such as these are called Very-Low-Calorie Diets (VCLD). Sometimes doctors can recommend it to people with obesity who want to lose weight but can’t get bariatric surgery.
VCLDs can also be used before laparoscopic surgery which is a surgical diagnostic procedure used to examine abdominal organs. Reducing fat can help reduce the risk of blood loss.
They can also help people with obesity reduce high blood pressure, high cholesterol in the short-term.
This article will help you know how much weight you can lose by eating 600 calories a day.
However, the highly restrictive diet has a lot of risks involved.
IS IT OK TO EAT 600 CALORIES A DAY?
A diet where you’re only eating 600 calories a day is highly risky. It should be done under medical supervision.
If you’re doing it without a medical professional, here are some of the restrictions to consider:
1. RISK OF NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCY
Eating 600 calories a day automatically reduces the number of nutrients you’re taking in. This diet isn’t recommended for people who have reduced nutrient absorption in the small intestine such as older adults.
Research shows that zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss. Low iron can lead to anaemia.
A low intake of calcium and Vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis.
A deficiency of vitamin niacin increases the risk of a heart attack.
Gallstones are hardened deposits of bile that can form in your gallbladder which is a small organ found behind the liver.
According to WebMD, when the body experiences a calorie deficit, it starts to break down fat for energy. The liver then secretes more cholesterol and when combined with bile, can form gallstones. They can block the bile duct and cause abdominal pain.
Obesity, fasting for long periods, rapid weight loss, pre-existing gallstones and repeatedly fluctuating weight can increase the risk of gallstones.
Research shows that losing more than 1kg in weight a week can lead to gallstones.
However, studies have shown that VLCDs with a higher fat intake can help prevent gallstones.
Eating foods high in fibre and reducing refined carbs and sugar can also reduce the chances of gallstones forming.
3. GOOD FATS DEFICIENCY
Fats contain high calories so they may be removed entirely when you’re eating 600 calories a day.
Unsaturated fats are highly beneficial to you. Avocados, salmon and olive oil are rich in them.
Having no unsaturated fats in your diet increases the risk of poor absorption of antioxidants. You can also fail to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin E.
4. MUSCLE LOSS
Only eating hundreds of calories a day leads to muscle loss. Once your body burns its fat reserves it turns to muscles.
Muscle loss can appear like losing weight. However, to be healthy you need to burn fat, not muscle.
5. ALTER YOUR METABOLISM
Consuming lower calories will change your metabolism. Eating a very low number of calories will make your metabolism slower.
This is because when your body gets used to receiving a few calories, it will change to consume fewer calories therefore slowing your metabolism.
Eventually, this leads you to burn fewer calories. When you leave the diet, your body will regain the weight it had lost during the highly restrictive diet.
You can lose fat and lean muscle mass but regain fat. This is known as the yo-yo effect.
Other side effects you may experience eating hundreds of calories a day include constipation, nausea and diarrhoea.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU WANT TO TRY EATING 600 CALORIES A DAY
VLCDs tend to use shakes, drinks and food bars instead of meals at different times of the day.
You should consider the following things if you want to go on a 600-calorie diet.
1. DO IT UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION
A doctor will only prescribe eating 600 calories a day if it’s critical for you to lose weight. The medic will compare your health concerns with the complications of drastic calorie reduction.
It’s highly recommended that you don’t do this diet if a doctor hasn’t recommended it.
2. THE 5:2 DIET PLAN
According to Healthline, some people try eating 600 calories a day due to the recent popularity of the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet plan.
Under this plan, you eat the Mediterranean Diet which has 2000 calories a day for five days a week then limit yourself to 500-800 calories low-carb diet for the final two.
The two low-calorie days are not consecutive.
There is no evidence showing additional weight loss benefits for the 5:2 intermittent fasting over daily calorie restriction diets.
3. WHAT DOES EATING 600 CALORIES A DAY LOOK LIKE
Eating 600 calories a day looks highly restrictive.
BBC Good Foods has a list of 600 calorie meals. They are recommended for a part of the meals you eat in one day.
They include dishes like two beef skewers, a piece of chicken with one serving of brown rice or a chicken breast with one serving of couscous.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT DO YOU LOSE ON A 600-CALORIE DIET?
According to LiveStrong, if you are moderately active, you need about 2000-2800 calories a day. If you start eating 600 calories a day you will lose about 1.1 kg a week.
However, the exact amount of weight will vary from person to person. Age and amount of physical activity during the diet will determine how much weight you lose.
Unfortunately, most of that could be lean muscle mass. Strength training could help dissuade muscle loss but a 600-calorie diet will provide too little energy for a workout.
The Centre for Disease Control recommends only losing 400g a week.
It’s also not recommended to physically exert yourself on VLCD.
Research shows that consuming too few calories puts your health at great risk.
Eating 600 calories a day increases the risk for malnutrition, fatigue and feeling unwell. Further studies show that such a restrictive diet sabotages your health.
A gradual weight loss program where you restrict a healthy number of calories such as 500 calories combined with exercise is the best way to become physically fit.
Changing your lifestyle rather than using rapid weight loss regimens is better for your body.
Meal replacement diets are not a solution. They can also be highly expensive. The meal bars that people consume VLCDs are costly. There are also formulas made with the exact number of low calories.
You should refrain from VLCDs if you have heart disease, type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney disease, gout or gallstones.
You should not do the VCLD longer than your doctor recommends.
Eating 600 calories a day should also be avoided if you are in your teens or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding or over 50 years old.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]