If you’re one of the many dieters who give up halfway because your diet is too hard to maintain, then our 500 Calorie Diet is for you. It’s simple, very effective, and will fit easily into your lifestyle.
What is a calorie?
You’ve decided to go on a low-calorie diet, and from now on you’re going to measure the calorie value of the food you eat. Have you ever wondered what constitutes a calorie, and how it affects your weight?
Simply, a calorie is a measurement of heat or energy which the body can obtain from a given amount of food. If you eat food that provides more calories than your body needs or can use, then the surplus is stored as fat.
A low-calorie diet forces the body to use up its excess of stored fat.
Before embarking on a drastic diet (say you have to lose three stone) consult your doctor. An undertaking such as this would mean a marked change in your eating habits and medical supervision would be necessary.
But if you’re dieting for fashion’s sake, if you feel a few pounds lost would make a world of difference to figure and appearance, this can be achieved quite simply by cutting down your calorie intake for a month or two.
Learn to like low-calorie foods (and look at the wide variety of delicious low-calorie dishes we’ve suggested in this feature) and you will not only lose weight, your skin will become clearer, you will have a buoyant feeling of well-being.
Understanding the 500 calories a day diet
The food is easy to organize, whether you’re at work or home, and not expensive. This is a monotonous diet, as far as food variety is concerned, but it’s a diet that really works! If you want to lose weight for a special occasion, this will do it for you.
This is a 14-day diet – no longer! Of course, you may want to lose only a few pounds, in which case, 7 days on the diet will give you the desired results.
Friday is a good day to start the diet if you can organize a quiet weekend ahead. Because this diet contains only about 500 calories a day, you may feel a little tired on the second or third day. Just rest, take things easy if this happens, it will have passed by the fourth day. Do not do any strenuous exercise while on this diet.
- Check with your doctor before going on the 500-calorie diet, or any other diet.
- Take a multivitamin tablet after lunch each day.
- Eat the food listed in any order you like, but you must eat it all.
- Eat slowly, chew well, and enjoy your food.
- Take things easy while on this diet; avoid strenuous exercise.
The more overweight you are, the quicker the weight will melt away. Weigh yourself every morning, and the marked weight loss will give you the incentive to carry on the diet.
Everyone will have a different weight loss pattern, but generally speaking, you can expect to lose up to 3 pounds, or even just over this amount, on the first day. This is excess fluid loss. From then on, it is excess weight or fat coming off.
You could lose up to 8 pounds in the first 7 days. The weight loss pattern could then slow down for a few days, then probably speed up again.
500 Calorie Meals
You are allowed, 500 calories each day, the following: two eggs, two tomatoes, two oranges, one slice wholemeal bread, 125g fish or chicken, or cottage cheese.
You must eat each item. Certain vegetables are allowed, in addition. Details of how the items can be eaten are set out below.
1. Two eggs
These can be eaten boiled if you like to have them for breakfast with wholemeal toast, or hard-boiled if you want to take them to work. It is better to make two meals from the eggs. You can also have them poached, in water; or made into an omelet; or scrambled eggs, using water instead of milk, but these must be cooked in a non-stick pan; definitely, no butter, margarine or oil is allowed.
Don’t forget you can make an omelet or scrambled eggs more interesting with food from the permitted vegetable list; such as finely chopped chives, parsley, celery, etc.
2. Two tomatoes
Choose medium-sized tomatoes, eat them raw, to retain as many vitamins as possible, use freshly squeezed lemon juice with salt and pepper in place of a dressing, if desired.
For a change, try placing one ripe tomato in a blender with some celery, cucumber, shallots, etc, season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, a crushed small clove of garlic too if you like, add about ½ cup water, and blend 15 seconds; you will have a filling cold soup or drink.
3. Two oranges
Choose large oranges, eat the whole peeled orange, not just the juice – the pulp from the orange is important roughage in this diet.
4. One slice wholemeal bread
Choose good wholemeal bread, one which is pre-sliced and packaged is ideal. It does away with the temptation to cut thick slices. Keep the loaf in the freezer, and take out one slice a day. Remember, no butter or margarine is allowed; toast the bread if you wish.
You can make a hearty open salad sandwich with your wholemeal bread, one tomato with lettuce, celery, bean sprouts, etc.
5. Main meal
Choose one of these to have each day, either at lunch or dinner, whenever it is most convenient.
- Low-fat cottage cheese: This cheese can be bought in bulk or in 250g cartons; you only require 125g for a meal, which is half a carton. Remember to add some of the permitted vegetables to the cheese to make it more interesting. Do not buy cottage cheese which has other ingredients added.
- Fish: You require 125g fish (cooked weight); buy 185g fresh fish (no canned or smoked fish is allowed), either grill, steam or poach fish until tender, season with salt, pepper, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. A 185g fish will reduce to 125g when cooked.
- Chicken: You require 125g chicken (cooked weight), the easiest way to buy this is to buy a whole large chicken breast, remove the meat from the bones, carefully remove the skin, wrap one of the breasts in plastic food wrap and freeze for your next chicken meal.
- Permitted vegetables: Eat as much and as many of these vegetables as you like; use them to make the other foods listed more interesting: lettuce, parsley, chives, fresh herbs, shallots, cucumber, celery, red or green peppers, radishes, fresh bean sprouts, raw zucchini, watercress. Season salads with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and crushed garlic, if desired.
Drink water or mineral water, or black tea or coffee. If you wish, use a sugar substitute in tea or coffee. Iced tea is refreshing with a slice of lemon. No sugar, milk or canned or bottled drinks, even those labeled “low calorie”, are allowed on this diet. No alcohol!
Because there is not much food variety in the diet, you’re inclined to forget, from day to day, just what you have eaten. Use the list above to check off each item of food daily. Remember to weigh yourself daily, and mark it on the chart.
Remember a daily multivitamin tablet with a glass of water after lunch.
How to maintain a 500 calorie diet
Losing weight isn’t a problem. Keeping it off is. To stay slim you must change your eating patterns. To get permanent change, you must alter your eating habits and exercise patterns for the rest of your life, not just for a short time.
Learn your eating habits
You can’t change them until you know what they are. Prepare a diet diary. Keep it for a week and cover the who, what, when, why, and where of your food intake.
Set it up in the following way. Find a notebook and, using a separate page for each day of the week, set up columns with the following headings:
- the time you ate;
- where you ate;
- with whom you ate, or if alone;
- how much you ate;
- what you were doing when you ate;
- how you felt when you ate.
Keeping this record will make you much more aware of what you really eat and the environmental and psychological stimuli associated with your food intake.
Control the stimuli
Normal-weight people eat when they feel hungry, not just because food is there. From a number of laboratory experiments, we know that with overweight people, the very availability of food will trigger eating. As the food is available at many times and in many places, overweight people eat constantly.
It would take superhuman willpower to resist all the urgings, it is far easier to weaken the signals that these stimuli set off. The first step is the reduction of the number of stimuli you associate with the act of eating. This does not require that you stop eating, but that you control where and when you eat.
- At home, you may eat anything you want at any time, but you must always eat in the same place. If you choose your dining-room table, that means you never eat in the living room, bedroom, or standing in front of the kitchen sink.
- When you eat, you may not perform any other act. You cannot read, sew a patchwork quilt, or watch television. If you want a biscuit, eat it at the dining-room table and, when you finish, you may then turn on the television.
- Avoid the purchase of high-calorie foods. Supermarket shelves bulge with many forbidden and enticing items, high in starch and sugar. Keep those foods out of the house. Shop from a list, and bring into the store only enough money to buy the food you actually need.
- Do your food shopping after you have had a full meal. Dr. Richard B. Stuart, a professor at the University of British Columbia, studied behavior among obese women and found that those who shopped after dinner bought 20 percent less than those who shopped before eating.
- Use smaller plates. Make your portion seem larger than it really is. The identical amount of food looks larger on a salad plate than it does on a dinner plate. Or if you crave biscuits, do not bring the box to the table. Take two or three, put them on a plate, and eat them at the table.
- Do not serve high-calorie condiments or sauces at meals. Principle: you keep that stimulus out of the situation. If your children want chocolate sauce on their pancakes, let them get it for themselves.
- Make acceptable foods as decorative as possible. A beautifully curled radish may tempt you. Use a special mat, a decorative place setting, your nicest crystal.
Change your eating behavior
You want to develop special techniques that will help you gain control over the very act of eating.
- Slow down. Take one small bite at a time and put down your fork while you savor it. If you find you still eat faster than others, make sure that you are the last to sit down at the table and the first to leave. Try to keep away from the presence of food.
- Always leave some food, even if just a mouthful, on your plate. This technique begins to break the bad habit of eating just because food is there.
- Make eating of fattening foods as difficult as possible. If you like bread, you must always toast it. When you toast it, prepare only one slice at a time. If you want cake, you must make a homemade angel food cake – from scratch, not a mix.
- Control eating between meals. By taking action on specific behaviors that may seem trivial, you gain control of your general food intake. Save allowable foods from meals for snacks. Keep a quantity of low-calorie foods like raw carrots, celery, radishes, and cucumbers, on hand to use as snacks.
- Search out your eating weakness areas and change them. Many parents gain weight because they eat leftovers from their children’s plates. If you do this, scrape leftovers directly into a garbage bag.
- Monitor yourself. Naturally, the change in eating habits aims to cut down on calorie intake. Keep a calorie record of each day. Every time you eat something, estimate the number of calories in it and keep a cumulative total for each day on index cards. In that way, at any time of the day, you know where you stand with your goal.
- Take steps to control unhappy or unpleasant feelings that produce eating excess. You may maintain your unwanted eating behavior because you think doing this reduces certain emotional reactions.
- Change your exercise behavior. You must make exercise a habit. Eliminate the stimuli to inactivity. Strengthen the stimuli to activity. Take up a new sport. Investigate gym classes and join one. Sign up for things with friends.
Changing your eating habits enables you to get thin and stay thin. Control of eating habits can also make you feel better about yourself. By changing the way you eat, you do more than lose weight. You lose the anger, shame, and self-disgust that make you dislike yourself.