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I’m on a diet and eating 1000 – 1200 calories a day. I’ve lost 10 pounds this month but I don’t want my metabolism to slow down and for the weight loss to stop. Is 1000 calories a day a sufficient amount? Would having a semi-cheat day of 1500 calories be enough to increase leptin production to increase metabolism?

Answer:

Firstly congratulations on your progress so far! I cant give a great deal of specifics, as your profile page was incomplete, so I don’t know your diet/activity levels. However I would say that a 1000 calories a day is low and may lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long term. In the short term you will find some success, but long term you will supress leptin levels. You also run the risk of losing muscle mass which in turn will reduce your metabolism further. Additionally with very low calorie diets, much of the initial weight loss is water weight. When calories are reduced, the body gets its energy from glycogen stores, which are carbohydrates stored in your muscles and liver. Glycogen binds to water, so when it’s burned, it releases water and causes a loss of water weight. To make your diet more sustainable going forward, and in line with your own thoughts, I would suggest increasing to a minimum of 1200 calories a day and that you introduce a higher calorie “cheat” day, perhaps every third day. Its difficult to recommend a target without your background, but I would suggest your cheat day should be higher than 1500 calories so as to make sure leptin levels are normal. Some low calorie diets make use of protein shakes, bars or other processed products, which are fine as a supplement but not as the basis of the diet. If you do choose to continue with a very low calorie diet I would certainly pay close attention to what you are consuming on the low calorie days, and ensure that you consume protein from good quality sources, white meat, chicken, turkey, fish. Consider low calorie fiber rich vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, peppers, pumpkin and spinach. Also try to consume some good fat sources from Olive oil and oily fish such as salmon or sardines. Nutrients should come from food first, but on a low calorie diet you may want to consider a multi-vitamin/mineral complex that provides 100% of your RDA(recommended daily allowance) so as to prevent any deficiencies.

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