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Low Calorie Diet

For many years, before the advent of the Atkins and other low carbohydrate diets, reducing the intake of calories was the traditional way to lose weight. Now low calorie diets for weight loss are becoming popular again.

Low calorie diets work on the simple principle that calories give us fuel for all the activities and functions our bodies undertake. Therefore, if you reduce calories to less than the body requires, it will burn fat to replace them.

How to Start a Low Calorie Diet

Equip yourself with a calorie counter
Nowadays there are many books and publications with information on the calories contained in all kinds of food, both natural and ready meals. There is also extensive information online.
Work out how many calories you are going to eat each day.
Usually this is around 1500 to 1800 for a woman per day with a sedentary lifestyle, a similarly inactive man would probably need around 2000-2200. If you are a very active person, though, you would need to increase your calorie intake by as much as 600 to 800 calories per day.
Get into the habit of reading the labels on food
Many include the number of calories. Check whether the figure quoted is per pack, or by weight, or per portion.
Work out which foods you can enjoy on your diet
Read your calorie counter and and stay within your calorie limits. It might help to work out a menu for the first week or two.
Keep a food diary
It is so easy to say "Low calorie diets don't work for me" or "I can't lose weight, it must be my metabolism (or glands)" when the simple truth is that you forget to count the doughnut you had for elevenses or the icecream you ate to cool down and maybe the bar of chocolate you had because you were feeling a bit depressed. Take your food diary around with you and write down every single thing you eat, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Then, at the end of the first week, examine it carefully. Remember YOU are the one who wants or needs to lose weight so, if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.
Use a smaller plate than usual
It will make you feel less deprived and stop you putting too much food on your plate when serving out meals.
Don't feel guilty if you don't 'clean your plate'
There are worse crimes than not eating everything you are served.
Staying on Your Diet

Don't go on a very low calorie diet. You won't stick to it and if you eat less than 800 to 1000 calories a day your metabolism will slow down and you will consume lean muscle not fat. When you inevitably give up the diet, your body will react as if a famine had come to an end and busily start storing all excess calories as fat - this is how you get yo yo dieting. The only exception to this is when you are put on a very low calorie diet by your physician and you are under medical supervision.
If you are eating fewer calories than your body needs so forcing it to burn fat, you are inevitably going to feel hungry. Additionally, your stomach is probably accustomed to large portions. Eating smaller amounts is not going to satisfy you until your stomach becomes used to the new regime. You just have to grit your teeth and live through the hunger pangs. If they are really unbearable, eat some fruit. Just tell yourself that if you are hungry, your body is being forced to burn some fat so you will lose weight.
Don't make yourself a martyr, it's boring for other people and you set yourself up for failure.
Make sure you eat a good variety of food from all the main food groups but go easy on fats. Don't avoid bread and potatoes. Fibre rich carbohydrates fill the stomach and take longer to digest so delaying those hunger pangs.
Weigh your food and work out the calories, don't guess because you will probably guess wrong and end up eating more calories than your allowance.
Don't beat yourself up and then give up your diet when you succumb to temptation. First of all, it is the total calories consumed over a period of time - a week, a month - that determine whether you lose weight. Second, if you come off the diet because you ate a forbidden bar of chocolate or doughnut, you certainly won't lose weight. Forgive yourself and take note of the circumstances and try to avoid putting yourself in that situation again.
A calorie controlled diet is an ideal opportunity to reform your eating habits. Because you can eat almost anything you like as long as you don't exceed your calorie allowance, you can work out a diet that you would be happy to continue, with somewhat increased portions, when you reach your target weight. This is essential because it was your old eating habits that led to weight gain.


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