Let's say you want to lose weight, and you want to lose it fast. You're not afraid of cutting major calories if it means you can drop 10 pounds in a month. But before you go about planning an 1,100-calorie diet, there are a few facts you should consider about calorie restriction and weight loss.
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Maintain or Lose
Calorie needs vary depending on a person's age, sex, height, weight and activity level, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. Adult women might need anywhere between 1,600 and 2,400 calories, and men might need anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 calories. You can use an online calorie calculator, such as the one provided by the American Cancer Society, to find out how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight.
Read more: 7 Easy Ways to Cut 300 Calories From Your Daily Diet
How much weight you lose on an 1,100-calorie diet will depend on how many calories you need to maintain your weight. This is because a person must create a 3,500-calorie deficit, either through diet or exercise, to lose 1 pound of fat. If a person wants to lose 10 pounds of fat in a month — which averages to about 2.25 pounds a week — a person must create a deficit of 1,250 calories a day.
However, the American Academy of Family Physicians emphasizes that restricting calories too much is harder to do long-term and should not be done without a doctor's guidance to avoid malnourishment. Women should not go below 1,200 calories, and men should not go below 1,800 calories.
Examining an 1,100-Calorie Diet
Let's say you still want to go the low-calorie route and you're wondering how to put together a healthy, nutrient-dense 1,100-calorie meal plan. What sorts of foods would you want to include? Here's a breakdown of the calories in a serving of a variety of foods. All of this totals approximately 1,100 calories:
- Breakfast: 1 cup of skim milk (83 calories), 1/2 cup shredded wheat (95 to 100 calories)
- Snack: 1 small oat bran muffin (178 calories), 1 medium banana (105 calories)
- Lunch: 1/2 cup of beans (149 calories), 1 medium sweet potato (103 calories)
- Snack: 1 small apple (77 calories), 1.5 ounces of provolone cheese (149 calories)
- Dinner: 3 ounces salmon (99 calories), 1/2 cup of mixed vegetables (59 calories)
Make the Most of Calories
If you go the route of a low-calorie diet, even as low as 1,100 calories a day, be sure to focus on foods that are nutrient-dense, as quality of food is just as important as quantity. Unprocessed whole foods, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein, will ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need even if you are limiting the number of calories you consume.
Those 1,100 calories a day from lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables will help your body function better than the same 1,100 calories a day from highly processed foods. It is also important to bear in mind that people who restrict their calories too much and lose weight too quickly have a greater chance of gaining back the weight they lost. Losing 1 to 2 pounds a week by cutting 500 to 1,000 calories is the healthiest route.
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level
- American Cancer Society: Calorie Calculator
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Low-Calorie Diets
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Best Diet: Quality Counts
- Mayo Clinic: Breaking Down Calories