Calories are where it's at when it comes to weight loss. However, an 800-calorie diet is a very low-calorie diet, and limiting your calories to such extremes may make it difficult for you to get all the nutrients your body needs for good health. You should only follow an 800-calorie diet under the close supervision of your doctor; if you're dieting at home, aim for a higher daily calorie counter for safer weight loss.
About Your 800-Calorie Diet
An 800-calorie diet can help you lose weight fast, up to 5 pounds in a week, according to the University of California at Los Angeles. However, such a low-calorie diet should be followed only by someone who is severely obese, which means a body mass index 35 or greater.
If you eat fewer than 1,000 calories a day, your body thinks it's starving. While the first few days of the diet may be very difficult because of the hunger pangs, they usually disappear by day four or five. You may also feel tired and have issues with constipation, nausea or diarrhea. Also, fast weight loss on a very low-calorie diet may cause gallstones, especially in women.
Getting Your Nutrition
It's very difficult to get all the nutrients you need when you follow an 800-calorie diet. Most often these diets include a liquid supplement to help meet protein, vitamin and mineral needs. Talk to your doctor about a supplement that fits your diet and needs. If you're unable to get a fortified liquid drink, you might want to discuss the need for multivitamin and mineral supplements with your doctor. When you have so few calories to work with, protein should be your priority. Aim for 65 to 75 grams of protein a day. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water. Water helps you feel full and keeps you hydrated.
Food Choices on 800-Calorie Diet
To help limit calories and maximize nutrient intake, focus your food choices on lean low-calorie sources of protein and healthy low-cal carbs such as fruits and vegetables. Good protein options include white meat poultry, white fish such as cod or flounder, tuna packed in water, egg whites, shellfish such as shrimp, scallops and lobster and beans. A 3.5-ounce portion of roasted white meat chicken has 173 calories and 30 grams of protein, one egg white has 17 calories and 4 grams of protein, and four large cooked shrimp has 26 calories and 5 grams of protein.
Veggies are lower in calories than fruit and may help keep you full without making you go over your daily calorie limit. Good options include leafy greens, broccoli, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, summer squash, peppers and cauliflower. For fruit, stick with those that have a high water content so you get a larger portion with fewer calories, which includes watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, strawberries, blueberries, oranges and plums.
Transitioning Off Your 800-Calorie Diet
You may lose a lot of weight following an 800-calorie diet, but regain is common, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Weight control for someone who's lost a lot of weight requires a lifetime commitment. Continuing a doctor-recommended calorie-controlled diet along with regular exercise after you've lost the weight is essential for long-term success. It's also important that you continue to get support. Regular follow-up with your doctor for weight monitoring and assistance with your diet is essential to success.
- University of California at Los Angeles: Very Low Calorie Diets
- University of Rochester Medical Center: What is Morbid Obesity?
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Very Low-Calorie Diets
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- University of California, San Francisco: Dietary Guidelines After Bariatric Surgery
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool: White Meat Chicken, Egg Whites, Shrimp