The hypocaloric diet is one in which there is a reduction of daily calories or foods with high caloric density usually in order to aid weight loss. The diet varies according to the requirements of each person because everyone has a different metabolism, for example: a growing child, an elite athlete, an elderly person or a pregnant woman. A hypocaloric diet should always be balanced between what is ingested and what energy is expended on daily physical activity.
What does it involve?
This diet is based on a reduced daily calories total to create an energy deficit that will generate progressive weight loss. The number of calories allowed takes into account the individual’s metabolism, their age, sex and existing level of physical activity.
For example, a 40-year-old woman with a basal metabolic rate of 1500 who partakes in moderate exercise (activity factor 1, 2) would need about 1900 kcal to maintain her weight. If she intends to lose weight, she would need to follow a diet of approximately 1300 Kcal creating a deficit of 600 Kcal per day. The body therefore consumes stored body fat to make up the 600Kcal and thus leads to progressive weight loss.
Duration of the hypocaloric diet
In a hypocaloric diet, an ideal target weight should be established, always taking into account the body build and factors such as the person’s height. There is no established duration for a hypocaloric diet. Instead, milestones are set. So for example, a person who must lose 15kg will set a short-term goal of achieving the first 10, then we will introduce certain foods limited from the beginning of treatment to reach the ideal weight marked. The dieter has to learn to combine food, control rations, and eating all kinds of food. This phase tends to last for 5-6 months.
It is a diet in which the fundamental thing is not to just achieve the target weight loss, but also to keep the weight lost off. For this you must always follow a controlled diet.
Dieters are always recommended to increase their daily physical activity; a diet should be accompanied by an increase in exercise. Specialists teach the dieter to eat. We analyse the existing diet to identify excessive carbohydrates, over-consumption of sugar or fat the hypocaloric diet restricts these types of nutrients.
The results of the hypocaloric diet
The average healthy weight loss is usually 2-2.5 kg per month. But the initial weight loss in the first month is liquid/fluid, since there is a detoxifying effect at the renal level that causes the elimination of retained liquid.
We must take into account that without being exact, for the loss of one pound of fat there must be a deficit of 7000kcal (every 10-12 days). Losing more weight, more quickly is not advantageous because the dieter does not acquire the correct eating habits, the body does not get used to the change of metabolism and can create excessive weight gain after stopping the diet.
Weight loss should be progressive and controlled, that is, little by little so that the patient does not suffer anxiety or starvation, otherwise the rate of abandonment will increase, increasing the appetite resulting in the lost weight being regained.
What are the characteristics of the hypocaloric diet?
The ideal is 5 meals a day. It has been shown that every time we eat there is an increase in glucose and an insulin discharge to compensate for that glucose. These sudden discharges of insulin create hunger, so when we eat three large meals a day, binge eat, or simply that we are very hungry, the discharge of insulin is much higher, causing a shorter time between feeling hungry.
However, if we break up the meals into five, we will discharge some insulin, but not an exaggerated amount, and it will help us to maintain ourselves without the peaks and troughs of hunger and satiety.
Meal plans for the hypocaloric diet take the following into consideration:
There should be a robust breakfast, as it is the first meal of the day and it should be abundant and varied (fruits, cereals, some dairy, etc.). By midmorning, we introduce a portion of fruit or some dairy (made from skimmed milk).
Carbohydrates (pastas, rice, potatoes and vegetables) which release energy more slowly are introduced at lunchtime, so their energy is available for consumption later in the day.
The ideal snack is a small portion of seasonal fruit. Dinner should be also light, because there are fewer hours for the body to burn fat. In this way, insulin and glucose levels are managed.