Although the 500-calorie deficit diet may help overweight people shake the extra pounds after failing on multiple meal plans, it does not come without risks.

For a long time, doctors have recommended the very-low-calorie diets (VLCDs) to obese and overweight people as a way of fastening weight loss, especially after they have failed in multiple food plans. While the VLCDs limit calorie intake to 800 units a day, the 500-calorie diet has 500 calories as the upper limit, making it an extreme form of VLCDs. Instead of taking whole meals a day, such a diet has meal replacement shakes and bars you need to eat, at least for two meal sessions a day. Although it might work to help you lose weight, it has many risks associated with it. Here is all you need to know about the 500-calorie diet, and this information should help you decide whether to subscribe to the plan or consider other alternatives.

i.                    Don’t start the diet alone

As mentioned at the outset, the 500-calorie diet is an extreme form of the very low-calorie diet, and with 500 calories as your daily upper limit, many risks are surrounding it. A sudden change in calorie intake and the drastic reduction may shock your body, which is why you need not do it unless advised by a doctor. Health experts usually assess your condition, and after comparing the severity of your health situation against the likelihood and severity of the complications of drastic calorie reduction, they can prescribe it. Besides, the diet requires supervision by a doctor throughout, which is why doing it alone is unwise.

ii.                 The 5:2 intermittent fasting may work for you

Many people employ the 5:2 intermittent fasting as a technique for losing weight, although there is little to no scientific evidence that supports this diet plan. It is whereby a person takes 2,000 calories for five days a week but limits his food to 500 calories from a low-carbohydrate diet for two days. An important reminder for this plan is that the two days in which you fast must be non-consecutive.

iii.               Your body still needs nutrients

Many people struggle with the 500-calorie diet because it does not limit you on the fats you take. Imagine that a glass of milk and a chocolate pound cake are enough to constitute the 500 calories you need for the day. The big question is whether such a diet is enough to sustain you and provide your body with the needed nutrients. The clear answer to this is no, confirming that a healthy diet is more than just calorie counts. Therefore, it would be best to include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet because you need the nutrients.

iv.               How much or little are 500 calories?

The other question you need to answer to make the diet work is how much (or little) are 500 calories. While a whole apple may only contain 80 calories, just a piece of pizza (pepperoni) contains 250 calories. Besides, a piece of fried chicken averagely boasts 200 calories, while two handfuls of peanuts contain about 250 calories. These figures were established by USDA, and you can look them up against the calories you burn in a day. According to the same organization, you can lose as many as 72 calories by sitting down for one hour for a meeting if you weigh 185 pounds.

v.                  The looming peril of nutritional deficiencies

One reason the 500-calorie diet is undesirable except when direly needed is the looming danger of deficiencies. According to the World Health Organization, a person needs at least 1,200 calories a day to meet his vitamin and mineral requirements, and you can just imagine how limiting your calorie intake to 500 units will affect you. Studies have shown that many individuals who signed up for the 500-calorie diet suffered many deficiencies and experienced serious side effects. For instance, lacking vitamin B complex may lead to low energy levels, dizziness, and interrupted blood transportation, as well as hemoglobin manufacture. Iron deficiency leads to anemia, and not having enough zinc mineral fastens hair loss. Calcium, magnesium, silica, phosphorus, and manganese deficiencies are more serious and lead to an increased risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis later in life.

vi.               It may put you at risk of muscle loss

People who sign up for the 500-calorie diet lose muscles in no time. While you may be enjoying losing weight and celebrating the small wins in reduced pounds, you may be unaware that you are losing muscles. When the body is done utilizing fats for energy, it eats into muscles, which is quite unhealthy. Remember, not all weight is bad, and muscle loss has more far-reaching risks than benefits. This, coupled with vitamin and mineral deficiencies characteristic of the 500-calorie diet, spells your own doom. Consequently, healthier alternatives that build muscle mass are a must-include for you to remain healthy.

vii.             The diet comes with metabolic changes

The human body is a unique system that has a way of reinstating things and adapting to changes. This means that any sudden calorie reduction ultimately leads to metabolic changes. For instance, when you take many calories, you equally burn many for a balance. However, a long-term reduction in calories results in changed metabolism, in the sense that your body will now start burning fewer calories. In addition, you will require fewer calories to maintain the new weight you have attained. What does this mean? The diet can fail more than it can succeed, and one may gain more weight after crossing the original weight. Besides, because of its restrictive nature, people are set for relapses, and the moment you go back to your old eating habits, you gain weight faster than you lost it. What’s more, you might lose fat and lean mass but only gain fats, making you only fatter- quite disappointing, isn’t it?


The 500-calorie diet is not everyone’s cup of tea, and you should only try it when advised by a doctor. Even as you do so, remember that your risk for suffering mineral and vitamin deficiencies is high, and relapses are characteristic of such a restrictive diet. Consequently, healthier alternatives like reducing food portions, being mindful of eating habits, and featuring a lot of fibers would help you shake off the extra pounds and maintain it just where you want.

For the past years, Tatyana has worked as a sex blogger and a relationship advisor. She has been featured in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue. Vice, Tatler, Vanity Fair, and many others. Since 2016, Tatyana has focused on sexology, attended various training courses, participated in international conferences and congresses. “I wish people would address sexual issues in a timely manner! Forget shyness, prejudice and feel free to see a sex doctor for help or advice!” Tanya enjoys pursuing her flare for creativity through modelling, graffiti art, astronomy, and technology.

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