Fitting into old clothes is one of the most remarkable feelings after losing a significant amount of weight. The problem is that majority of people gain the weight back up. In this article, I will help you decide if eating 1000 calories a day is the right fit for you. And if so, how to use it to lose weight and keep it off.
Can you lose weight eating 1000 calories a day?
In general, you can lose weight by eating 1000 calories a day. 1000 kcal intake is below the average basal metabolic rate for both men and women. So eating around this amount will guarantee to get into the calorie deficit. Some people may do it every day, but others can find this approach unsustainable.
So first let’s see how does a 1000 calorie day looks like.
What To Eat on 1000 Calories a Day?
As a general rule, on 1000 calorie a day diet you should prioritize protein intake. Eating 50-60% of your total calories from protein will suppress muscle protein breakdown, increase energy expenditure, maintain lean body mass and help to keep you fuller for longer.
During a calorie deficit, your body enhances catabolic processes. Your protein breakdown exceeds protein synthesis that leads to losing muscle mass. With lower muscle mass
- metabolic rate plummet
- your fat loss plateau
- your energy drops
- your strength diminish
Studies show that having a high-protein intake during a calorie deficit enhances body composition by decreasing fat mass while preserving muscle mass (source).
How Much Protein On a 1000 Calorie Diet?
For best results, eating around 35-50% of calorie intake from protein is enough on a 1000 calorie diet to provides weight loss and can prevent weight regain after. Apart from stimulating protein synthesis that helps against catabolic reactions, they increase satiety signaling, leading to reduced food intake.
So you’re looking at 350 – 600 kcal from protein on your 1000 kcal days. If you split 1000 calories into two meals of both 500 kcal each, this gives you 150 – 300 kcal from protein from each meal, and knowing that 1 gram of protein is around 4 kcal, you’re looking at 2 meals with
40 – 75 grams of protein per meal
That’s how you start building your meals on 1000 calorie a day diet. All the rest comes from either fat or carbs. For better satiety and lower appetite choose high-fiber foods and foods that have a high-satiety score. This will lower your hunger and keep you full, even on a 1000 kcal diet.
Some of the top satisfying foods include
Now once we got that out of the way, let me help you decide if that approach is the right fit, and if so, how often should you do it.
Is Eating 1000 Calories a Day Safe?
Generally, eating 1000 calories is safe as long as the adequate amount of protein and essential nutrients is met. Some people may find it unsustainable to do it for seven days a week because of the discomfort from calorie restriction and hunger feeling.
How well you tolerate hunger and discomfort from not eating will determine how often you can do 1000 calories a day. Some people feel really uncomfortable with dieting seven days a week. Others thrive on calorie deficit.
Feel free to experiment. It’s ok to start slow, even from one day a week. Check with yourself if you’re ready to go one step further. Here on the graph below, you have the example of self-evaluation.
That’s how you personalize your approach. You don’t follow cookie-cutter methods. You test it on yourself. That’s the only way to know what is gonna work for you.
How Do You Know If Can Move On?
Simple. Look for cues. Easiest approach is to use scale of one to ten.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being the least and ten being the most), how do you feel right now?
You can track things like
- Sleep quality
- Mood quality
- Pain perception
- Energy levels
- Hunger level
- Appetite level
- Fullness / Satiety
- Stress perception
- Willingness to exercise
You assess and measure whatever feels right and useful for you. When you find yourself that you feel worse than before, that is a red flag. You want to either add more calories or reduce the number of days.
But once you feel like you can do more, move on.
You keep going until you find the sweet spot where you are happy with your results, and you do not compensate with your energy, sleep, or mood.
As you can see, it’s a process. But that’s how you know what is right for you, not for someone else. You look for cues and you stay self-aware of how does this affects your body.
Step by step.
That’s how you create progress that last.
Reminder: Progress is never linear. Some weeks you will feel like you just cannot think straight when you’re on a calorie deficit. Other weeks you will do just fine. This fluctuation varies depending on what else is going on in your life right now.
Why Can’t I Lose Weight On 1000 Calories A Day?
Now once you know how to find your sweet spot, let’s do some troubleshooting. Will you be surprised if I tell you that there are only a handful of reasons why people gain the weight back after they lost it?
In general, people can’t lose weight on 1000 calorie a day diet usually because of overeating, miscalculating calorie intake, having too high expectations, or already lost a significant amount of weight. The most accurate way to find the root cause is by keeping a food journal to track food intake.
I will break those down for you.
Have you ever been in a situation where you surgically measured your calories and reduced them down to your limit? Maybe you even tried intermittent fasting? And after few days of iron willpower, you find yourself scraping the bottom of the ben and jerry ice cream.
Yup. We all been there.
And what happens after, we all know.
And another box of cookies.
That is typical when we focus on the food as a numbers game and we completely neglect the fact that humans are not spreadsheets. And the food is not just the macros.
Many of us use food as a way to deal with daily problems. We manage our stress by eating. So even going on the diet, without working on new ways to regulate emotions and reduce stress, is not gonna move the needle.
The first step to realizing if you’re overeating is to increase your self-awareness. If you find yourself eating past the point of being full, or you keep snacking when you’re not hungry, then you are overeating. The second step is to ask yourself why you eat if you’re not really hungry.
You see, overeating is not the real issue. The issue is the issue.
Also feeling hunger in itself is considered a negative feeling. Some people freak out when they feel slightly hungry. To learn more about how to stay in the calorie deficit without feeling hungry, check out my article.
So you see.
For people who are used to use food as an emotional buddy, starting 1000 calorie a day diet (or any diet in that case) will be so much harder to sustain.
Solution: Simply being aware of why you’re reaching for food, even when you’re not hungry, is gonna be a game-changer. Find new ways to deal with problems that are something different than food.
- Social gathering
- Getting a dog
- Strenuous exercise
Those are all scientifically proven ways associated with emotional resilience (source). The more you choose to break a sweat or call your friend instead of a tube of ice cream, you will feel better.
Miscalculating Calorie Intake
The food trackers and online BMR calculators can be off by even 20-30%. That’s a lot. Plus they don’t take into consideration things like:
- Some foods changes calorie density after cooking
- Processed food is digested differently than whole foods
- We burn different amount of calories to digest different foods
- Current GI health can affect how many calories we absorb from the food
So it can be very difficult to “know” exactly how many calories we eat. Even with calorie trackers.
Too High Expectations
Some people believe that you can lose 20 pounds in 20 days because Dr.X from YouTube said so, or some IG influencer did it. Which is clearly unrealistic. And the moment we don’t achieve anything close to those results, we think our metabolism is “broken”.
How Much Weight Will I Lose If I Eat 1000 Calories A Day?
In general, you can lose around 1–2.5 lbs of weight if you eat 1000 calories a day. People who are more physically active, have more lean body mass, and consume more proteins will have a much greater total daily energy expenditure and can lose more weight.
Already Lost a Significant Amount Of weight
Initial weight loss is much more significant than losing the last 10-15 pounds. In the beginning, our metabolism is high and we burn more calories.
But as the weight goes down, our metabolic rate drops, we eat less so our thermic effect of feeding decreases, and if we don’t train with weights regularly, our strength and muscle mass decrease, too.
Those are metabolic adaptations. If you wanna learn more about why our metabolism goes down after we lose weight, check out my article about calorie restriction and slow metabolism.
Going on a 1000 calorie diet isn’t easy, and it’s not for everyone. But if you plan it right, and use it as an occasional tool to lower energy intake and improve your hunger tolerance, you will notice that over time even on normal eating days you start to eat less.