Obesity is increasing in America at an alarming rate. Almost 60 million Americans above 20 years of age are obese. With the increasing rate, the popularity of various diets which give better and faster results is also on the rise. You may have heard or seen a few health-conscious individuals adopt diets which allow as few as 500 calories in a day, and having achieved excellent results in the process. That may very well be true, but that does not mean that such diets are suitable for everyone. Very low calorie or restrictive diets are to be followed only under complete supervision of a healthcare professional.
500 Calorie Diet
A 500 calorie diet is recommended to individuals who are obese (Body Mass Index more than 30). It is followed under complete supervision of a healthcare professional. While following the diet, dieters deviate from their regular meals and limit their diet to soups and veggies. The diet helps the dieter lose up to 5 pounds a week, thereby resulting in improvements in obesity-related medical conditions like PCOS, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Nowadays, the diet is also being used to promote weight loss in individuals with a BMI below 30. The hCG diet, Sacred Heart diet, Cabbage Soup diet and Grapefruit diet are similar diets. Although the diet plans are very different from each other, they follow the same principle of allowing no more than 500 calories to the dieter. For example, during the hCG diet, breakfast consists only of black tea or coffee with just 1 tbsp. milk and no sugar. Lunch and dinner allow only 1 serving of vegetable, 100 grams of lean meat and 1 bread stick or Melba toast. Fruits like grapefruits, apples and oranges are allowed for in-between meals.
However, following such restrictive diets, without consulting a doctor or dietitian, is extremely dangerous. When a diet is recommended to a patient, it is ensured that the nutritional requirements are met with the help of supplements and other medication. When done on a personal level, though, the nutritional requirements go undermined. The diet has become popular due to the fast weight loss results experienced by dieters. Since very few calories can be consumed, the weight loss is obvious. But the weight loss is more water loss and less fat loss. And since water loss is difficult to maintain, people end up gaining all the weight after getting back to their normal eating habits.
Here is a list of dangers that are associated with the 500 calorie diet:
500 calorie diet does not meet the body’s nutritional requirements. Cutting down on calories means reducing the intake of important nutrients like fats, carbs, proteins and fiber. Due to lack of fiber, dieters experience constipation and diarrhea. Insufficient intake of carbs causes dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Lack of protein makes the dieter’s skin and hair dull, whereas lack of carbs causes low energy and poor concentration levels.
Such a diet can ‘trick’ your body into believing that it is being led towards malnutrition or starvation. In such circumstances, the body conserves its fat reserves and uses stored fats to produce energy. This is called the state of ‘ketosis’ which results in a change in the body’s metabolism due to which important tissues can also be lost; if the body does not have enough fat storage.
If the diet is followed repeatedly, an individual might find it very difficult to adjust to normal eating habits. The diet does not focus on healthy eating habits and the dieter may develop eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, due to mere confusion of what to eat.
Serious Side Effects
Since people lose weight very rapidly, it causes an imbalance of bile salts and cholesterol in the gallbladder. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of developing gallstones. Gout can also be caused in these individuals due to change in uric acid levels.
Who Should Strictly Avoid This Diet?
▸ Pregnant Women
▸ Lactating Women
▸ Individuals above 50 years of age
▸ Individuals with cardiovascular disease
▸ Individuals with kidney dysfunction
If you are an overweight person, you should definitely lose weight; there are no two ways about that. But the resultant weight loss should be a healthy weight loss. What that means is, that the reduction in body weight and body fat should not be achieved at the cost of your own health and overall well-being. So, when it comes to weight loss, opting for a well-balanced diet plan, devised by a dietitian and exercising regularly, is the best solution.