Following a low-calorie diet is a smart strategy for weight loss. In fact, MayoClinic.com preventive medicine specialist Donald Hensrud, M.D. notes that cutting calories is even more effective for slimming down than regular exercise. Depending on how many calories you currently eat and how active you are, switching to a 1,400-calorie daily diet could help you lose more than a pound per week. Use a calorie counter to help you cut calories.
Basal Metabolic Rate
The rate at which you'll lose weight by cutting calories depends on how many calories you use per day. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you would burn on a daily basis if you were completely inactive, and it's a measure that's dependent upon your sex and age as well as your body size. For example, according to HealthStatus.com, a health assessment website, a 25-year-old male who is 6 feet tall and weighs 175 pounds burns about 2,650 calories per day. But a 60-year-old woman who is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 115 pounds burns only about 1,550 calories per day.
Your activity level also determines the amount of weight you can lose by following a 1,400-calorie diet. If you're very active, you might burn up to 500 calories or more with exercise every day, which could help you lose an extra pound per week. However, even if your lifestyle is sedentary, reducing your daily calories will help you to slim down at a more gradual pace.
The amount of weight you lose can be expressed in a "calorie deficit" that you build up through cutting calories and working out. You need to reach a deficit of 3,500 to lose each pound. That means that if your basal metabolic rate is around 2,000 and you begin eating just 1,400 calories per day, you'll build up a weekly deficit of 4,200 calories, or enough to lose about 1.2 pounds per week. If you also burn about 300 calories per day through exercise, you'll lose a total of closer to two pounds per week. To get an accurate idea of how many calories you're taking in, use an online calorie counter and record everything you eat and drink.
Always get your physician's approval before starting a low-calorie diet. If you don't follow an eating plan that is balanced and varied, you could suffer nutritional deficiencies, experience fatigue or develop other health issues. A 1,400-calorie diet may not be safe for you if you're very active or if you're young and haven't finished growing and developing. According to the National Institutes of Health, the minimum daily caloric intake recommended for men and women is 1,500 and 1,200 calories respectively. To drop lower than those numbers, you may need to discuss the possibility of following a medically supervised, very low-calorie diet with your doctor.