I got an email from a reader today explaining that she is following a diet plan, doing great eating veggies and fruits and lean meats, packing her lunches and grazing all day long, but finding that at the end of the day she still has 200-300 calories in her “budget” but she’s just not hungry.
She asked if she needed to force herself to eat something anyway, because her target was about 1700 calories.
Here are my thoughts, and please, keep in mind that I am not a doctor, so these are just my thoughts.
The real danger encountered with reducing intake too low is gallstones. Gallstones are a concern for people following Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs). A VLCD is defined as a diet of 800 calories per day or less. So, I wouldn’t think that eating 1500 calories would present any problem whatsoever.
I hesitate to get into this, but it’s my blog, so here we go: My metabolism never “slowed down” when I was on a VLCD consuming 500-800 calories a day for over 6 months. I know that the common diet-industry party line is that if you don’t eat enough your metabolism will slow down and you’ll stop losing weight. I lost 80 pounds on 500-800 calories a day, and it never slowed down in 6 months, any more than you would expect based upon my BMR. So, if I roll my eyes when some “expert” tells me that if I deficit too much my metabolism will slow down and I won’t be able to lose, now you know why.
I never would have attempted such a diet without medical supervision, obviously, but I highly suspect that if such a regimen caused people to stop losing weight it would not be the most common and accepted method used by doctors to get weight off people quickly for medical reasons. My doctor recommended this method. The doctors I met with every week while on the program obviously endorsed it. Anybody who claims it doesn’t work is selling something. I also suspect that if the claims I regularly hear regarding the impossibility of ever maintaining a loss attained in this fashion were true, I would not be posting in a blog called “Keeping Off 200 Pounds” today.
Here is the root of what I have learned through my experience: It doesn’t matter how you lose the weight, as long as you are willing to make the lifestyle choices necessary to protect it. Lose it slow if that appeals to you, lose it fast on a VLCD if you want to and your doctor approves it (obviously this only applies if you are extremely overweight – not for losing 10 or 20 pounds). I chose to lose the last 100 fast because I felt that I had a medical problem that required a medical solution. I was willing to do the 18 months of weekly behavioral modification maintenance courses required by the program I chose because I figured if I was going to make that much of an investment to lose the weight, it was worth it to protect my investment.
At the end of the day, if I gain back all the weight it’s not because my metabolism slowed down, it’s because I ate more calories than my body required. It’s my responsibility to manage myself every day, and make sure I have the tools to do it every day. And my best tool is a calculator.