Eating 700 calories a day might not kill you, but it is not without its risks. To opt for such a weight loss plan, you have probably tried everything else without success. Finding a weight loss plan that works for you can be frustrating. It is why we are demystifying the 700 calorie diet for weight loss. Want to burn 700 calories a day? We have some news for you too.
The 700 calories a day diet is often misunderstood. Most people hop on the trend without understanding its risks and end up impeding their weight loss. On the other hand, burning the same amount of calories through exercise is an achievable feat. So, should you go the diet or exercise way? Here is what you need to know about eating or losing 700 calories in a day.
Eating 700 Calories A Day For Weight Loss
Eating 700 calories a day falls under very-low-calorie dieting (VLCD). According to the NHS UK, a very low-calorie diet is a clinically supervised diet that requires one to eat less than 800 calories in a day (11). It is recommended for:
- Severely obese people with a BMI over 30 and 40;
- Those who need to quickly lose weight to prepare for surgery;
- Obese people living with diabetes;
- Those preparing for fertility treatments.
VLCD should not be used without medical supervision. One should also not stick to it for more than 12 weeks. Sudden and extreme reduction of calorie intake sends your body into starvation mode which impedes weight loss. Later in this article, we address the frustrating paradox that is calorie restriction without medical supervision.
How The 700 Calorie A Day Diet Works
Medically supervised VLCDs use meal replacements. These are drinks, bars, or soups that have a controlled number of calories and nutrients. They include the right amount of vitamins and minerals to sustain bodily functions.
If you take on a 700 calorie a day diet at home, which is not advisable, you must count calories. The diet requires a high level of discipline as it is not easy to follow. You must make healthy food choices that ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients. Unmonitored VLCDs with unbalanced nutrients can result in sudden death due to starvation or cardiac arrest during refeeding (8).
VLCDs result in rapid weight loss under medical supervision. An obese person may lose approximately 3 to 5 pounds per week on such a diet. Over 12 weeks, the figures might get to 44 pounds (11).
As a result of significant weight loss, some of the medical conditions related to obesity may improve. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure may be resolved through a combination of VLCD and medication (10).
The long term results of going on a 700 calorie diet vary. Weight regain is possible. However, when combined with exercise, therapy, and follow up treatment, medically supervised diets have long-lasting effects. If you go on a low-calorie diet, you must be willing to change your lifestyle after you achieve your target weight.
Read More: 6 Effective Ways To Burn 500-700 Calories
What Happens In Your Body If You Eat 700 Calories a Day?
When you start eating 700 calories a day, you will experience some side effects. The most common ones are:
The symptoms are brought on by changes in your body. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult needs 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day. Although the exact number of calories needed vary based on age and physical activity, 700 is very low.
A 2-year-old who engages in minimal physical activities needs at least 1000 calories in a day. So, when you go on the 700 calorie diet, your body will go through several changes. These changes may produce unpleasant symptoms that go away after a few days. Below is what happens to your body on a VLCD.
You Get Dehydrated
When you restrict calorie intake, your body turns to glycogen stores for energy. Glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver. Each gram of alcohol is stored with water; burning it results in water loss.
Medically controlled VLCDs emphasize water intake. So, if you want to go on a 700 calorie diet it is important to drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated makes up for the water loss caused by glycogen depletion.
Your Blood Sugar Levels Change
In a study by Newcastle University, 11 people with diabetes reduced their daily calorie intake to 800 per day for 8 weeks (10). After three months, 7 of the 11 participants were diabetes-free. During the study, it was noted that the participants’ pre-breakfast blood sugar levels were close to normal. Generally, the blood sugar levels for those on calorie restrictions were lower than those in the control group.
The study found that VLCDs prompt the body to use up fat clogging the pancreas. As a result, it helps revive insulin-producing cells in people with type 2 diabetes (10). Consequently, blood sugar levels decrease.
Depending on the diet you are following, you might not get a steady supply of macros during the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Cleanses are notorious for causing blood sugar spikes and drops due to the regular intake of juice with high sugar and low fiber content. Over time, the fluctuations result in insulin resistance.
The stability of your blood sugar and insulin levels while on a 700 calorie diet depends on what you eat. Eating healthy, balanced meals, albeit small portions can help prevent negative outcomes.
Your Muscles Are Broken Down
Rapid weight loss results in loss of muscle mass, according to research. So, if you go from consuming more than 1200 calories to only 700, your muscles break down (12). It is because your body first burns glycogen, then protein for energy, in the absence of carbohydrates.
Do not underestimate the dangers of muscle loss. Your heart is a muscle that can be affected by rapid weight loss. This emphasizes the need for balanced nutrition while on a 700 calorie diet.
Your Metabolism Slows Down
As your muscle mass decreases, your BMR drops. Daily activities take up less energy. If you feel lethargic you will move around much less. Eventually, your metabolism drops so low that weight loss plateaus. This reaction is partly because your brain registers starvation and triggers your body not to burn more calories. It takes weeks of continuous consumption of fewer calories for your metabolism to slow down in this way.
You Might Get Malnutrition
Following an unbalanced 700 calorie diet for long enough can lead to malnutrition (12). You may not notice that your diet is unbalanced. For example, you may cut out calories from fats to meet your daily target. However, fats are important for the absorption of vitamins. By extension, you have denied your body essential vitamins.
When your body gets to a malnourished state, resuming your diet abruptly can cause the refeeding syndrome. Refeeding syndrome is a drop in phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium levels that results in heart failure.
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Why Am I Not Losing Weight on 700 Calories a Day?
You have been eating 700 calories a day for 2 weeks, but the scale won’t budge. Understandably, you are frustrated. Everyone’s body is different so there it is hard to pinpoint the reason for your weight loss plateau. However, any of the reasons below could explain why you are not losing weight despite being on 700 calories a day diet.
Your Body Has Gone Into Starvation Mode
When you drop your calorie intake rapidly, your mind interprets it as starvation. To keep you alive, it triggers your body to slow down and burn fewer calories (7). On a low-carb diet, the body turns to protein for fuel. This results in loss of muscle mass.
Muscles burn more calories than fat (3). So, if your muscle mass to fat mass ratio is low, you burn fewer calories each day. Each of these factors come together to frustrate your weight loss attempts.
You Do Not Count Condiments
Perhaps you are frustrated because you are not actually on a 700 calories a day diet. Even if you are being extremely careful of your food choices, it is easy to forget that condiments carry calories. A tablespoon of ketchup has 20 calories, a tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories (9). These calories count, especially when you cannot eat more than 700 calories in a day. They could be making you consume much more than you think.
You Dine Out
Dining out while following a very low-calorie diet can distort your calorie consumption pattern. You will never know what exactly is in your meal. Although the restaurant may provide nutritional information, most are just estimates. The restaurant staff does not weigh and measure each ingredient accurately.
You might feel like treating yourself to a nice meal once in a while, which is okay. But never think that while dining out you know exactly how many calories you are consuming. If you are on a very low-calorie diet, you should avoid dining out. Meal prepping and cooking at home is advisable.
You Trust Labels
You discover a fantastic snack that is low in calories. Although the numbers seem too good to be true, you trust labels and include the snack in your daily intake. Unknown to you, the snack has more calories than what the label says. Always trust your instincts when it comes to calorie counting. If a figure seems too low to be accurate, it probably is. Labels are not always accurate (4).
You Are Falling Victim To Portion Distortion
Think you can manage a 700 calorie diet by eyeballing your food? Think again. Your portion estimates could be extremely inaccurate, especially if you do not weigh food (1). Calorie counting requires a food scale, proper meal prep, and preparation.
Your portion sizes could also be distorted by packed foods that claim to be single servings (1). Depending on the calorie count, 1 serving could be 2 or 3. Remember that manufacturers base their serving sizes on recommended daily intakes for healthy adults. For you to see results while eating 700 calories a day, focus on the accuracy of your portions.
You Consume “Zero-Calorie” Foods in Excess
Did you know that companies are allowed to label foods with less than 5 calories per serving as “zero-calorie” (5)? This applies to salad dressings, sweeteners, and cooking sprays. So, you might be consuming a certain food, assuming that it is “zero-calorie” when in reality, it is adding to your daily intake. As always, moderation is key when it comes to food. No matter what the label says, do not eat too much of one item.
700 Calories A Day Meal Plan
Low-Calorie Breakfast Options
The ideal breakfast on a 700 calorie diet is energizing, quick to prepare, and low in calories.
Southwest salsa eggs (150 calories)
- 2 large eggs
- Pam cooking spray
Raspberry Frosty Blended Salad (183 calories)
- 1 ½ fruit (oranges with 2-5” diameter)
- ½ cup frozen raspberries, unsweetened
- ½ cup spinach
- 4 cups shredded lettuce
Apples and Almond Butter (159 calories)
- 2 tsp almond butter
- 1 medium apple (3” diameter)
Egg and Asparagus Scramble (194 calories)
- ½ tsp canola oil
- 2 ½ spears medium asparagus
- ½ medium-sized tomato
- 1 ½ large egg
- ⅛ medium-sized onion
Spinach and Mushroom Scramble (192 calories)
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 clove minced garlic
- a cup of sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup egg white
- 1 cup spinach
Low-Calorie Lunch Options
A filling lunch gives enough energy to carry out daily activities.
Curry Tuna Salad (227 calories)
- 1 can tuna
- 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp chopped onions
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp curry powder
Yogurt & Cantaloupe (188 calories)
- 8 oz nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup cubed melons
Cucumber Sandwiches (209 calories)
- 2 slices whole-wheat bread
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash pepper
Banana, Almond Butter, and Raisins (177 calories)
- 5 raisins
- 1 medium banana (7” long)
- 2 tsp almond butter
Hummus on Rye (203 calories)
- 1.4 cup hummus
- 1 slice pickles
- 2 slices rye bread
- 1 slice medium-sized tomato
- 1 leaf outer lettuce
Low-Calorie Dinner Options
Make sure you get enough nutrients by having a light, nutrient-packed dinner.
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Onion and Garlic (214 calories)
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 3 ½ tbsp chopped onions
- 1 dash salt
- 2 cups Brussel sprouts
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 dash pepper
Easy Cauliflower Rice (188 calories)
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ dash salt
- ½ dash pepper
Green Beans with Crushed Almonds (220 calories)
- 1 ⅛ cup green beans
- ¾ tbsp butter
- ⅛ cup whole kernels almonds
- ½ cloves minced garlic
Chicken Soup (222 calories)
- 15/16 cup chicken broth
- 2 oz chicken breast
- ¼ cup chopped carrots
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- 3/16 cup chopped onions
- 1/16 tsp leaves Thyme
- ½ cup egg noodles
Green Beans with Olive Oil (189 calories)
- 2 ¼ cup green beans (½” pieces)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 apple (95 calories)
- Brie cheese on a slice of multigrain bread (204 calories)
- 2 cups strawberries (92 calories)
- 1-ounce almonds (164 calories)
- 1 cup blueberries (84 calories)
- 1-ounce granola (139 calories)
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How To Burn 700 Calories A Day?
Eating 700 calories a day can help you lose weight, but so can burning the same amount of calories through exercise. The exact number of calories you burn through exercise depends on several factors such as age, gender, and weight. According to Harvard Health, these exercises burn the most calories for a person weighing 155 pounds (2).
- Stationary bicycling – 782 calories per hour;
- High impact step aerobics – 744 calories per hour;
- Elliptical trainer – 706 calories per hour;
- Rope jumping – 744 calories per hour;
- Vigorous swimming – 744 calories per hour;
- Martial arts: judo, karate, kickbox – 744 calories per hour;
- Running 6.7 mph – 818 calories per hour.
If doing one activity continuously for an hour seems too boring to you, consider High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT combines short bursts of intense exercise with rest or lower intensity exercise (6). Any workout can be customized to HIIT. For example, a walk can include exercise such as squats every few minutes. Running on the treadmill on an incline, at varying speeds is also a HIIT workout.
HIIT workouts are efficient as they take advantage of the body’s natural fat-burning capabilities. They do not require any equipment, making them easy to do anywhere. Furthermore, they are the key to improving your cardiovascular health (6). Because they split the workout into intervals, they are more interesting than hour-long sessions doing one exercise.
The Bottom Line
Eating 700 calories a day should only be done under the guidance of a medical professional. Your body needs more than 1200 calories a day; consuming 700 is an extreme calorie restriction. Despite being a very low-calorie diet, the 700 diet works. If done correctly, it causes weight loss and manages obesity.
To achieve 700 calories a day weight loss, you must monitor your intake correctly. Avoid dining out and snacking on foods whose labels may not be accurate. Most importantly, be careful to avoid loss of muscle mass and slow metabolism. If the diet seems too complicated for you, try exercise. You can burn 700 calories a day by combining workouts of varying intensity.
Are you struggling to achieve better and faster results? Check up this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Avoid Portion Distortion (n.d., webmd.com)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2018, harvard.edu)
- Changes in fat-free mass during significant weight loss: a systematic review (2007, nih.gov)
- Don’t Let Tricky Food Label Claims Fool You (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Food Packaging Claims (2017, heart.org)
- How to get the most out of your exercise time, according to science (2019, vox.com)
- Relative changes in resting energy expenditure during weight loss: a systematic review (2010, nih.gov)
- Sudden death associated with very low calorie weight reduction regimens (nih.gov)
- The Healthiest and Unhealthiest Condiments (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by eating 600 calories a day (2011, diabetes.co.uk)
- Very low calorie diets (n.d., nhs.uk)
- What Happens to Your Body When You Go on an Extreme Diet (2015, usnews.com)