Do Low-Calorie Diets Work? Yes, The Top 5 Reasons Why!

By Lily •  Updated: 08/21/21 •  9 min read

Low-calorie diets are all about reducing the number of calories that an individual consumes. The goal is to create an overall caloric deficit to lose weight.

This can be done by changing eating habits and/or through a combination of dieting and exercise.

But, do low-calorie diets work? Yes, however, rather than a diet, it needs to become a lifestyle. And if you do it right, this should be no problem at all!

This blog post will cover the top 5 reasons low-calorie diets are so successful and teach you the best strategies to stick with it!

Do Low Calorie Diets Work

Why Do Low-Calorie Diets Work?

Here are 5 reasons why low-calorie diets work:

  1. Low-calorie diets do not require you to stop eating your favorite foods. Just learn to eat it in moderation and plan your meals in advance, so you know you aren’t overeating.
  2. Low-calorie diets are really effective at reducing appetite. This is because as you start to lose weight, your stomach will shrink, and you will feel satisfied with less food in general.
  3. Low-calorie diets do not restrict your food choices. They do not require you to cut out food groups such as carbs or fats. For example, I have never heard of anyone becoming fat from overeating fruit. Such diets are unhealthy and unsustainable.
  4. Low-calorie diets do not require you to change your lifestyle and forget about your social life. You can still enjoy going out with friends to eat. Just always be smart with your food choices. For example, you can still order the hamburger, just not the side of fries and soda to reduce your caloric intake. Low-calorie diets teach you to be aware of everything they are putting in their mouth.
  5. Low-calorie diets are sustainable for the long term. Because you can enjoy the food you love, this diet is so much easier to follow. All you ready need to do is learn some tips and tricks to help you stay in a calorie deficit.
  6. Bonus: Low-calorie diets do not require expensive supplements or special equipment that might be hard for you to get your hands. In fact, it is often low-calorie food such as vegetables and oatmeal that is the cheapest to buy. Anyone can do it!

How Many Calories Should I Be Eating To Lose Weight?

Eating fewer calories than your body needs is essential for weight loss. This is often called a caloric deficit or simply “calories in, calories out.”

There are formulas that will help you figure out how many calories you need to eat per day to lose weight. This will depend on factors such as your height, age, and activity level.

Do not follow diets that tell you to specifically eat 1,200 calories a day. Everyone is different.

Check out my blog post, “How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight,” to learn your magic number.

On average, you need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day. This will help you lose about 1 pound per week.

Depending on how much weight you are wanting to lose, 500 calories can seem like a lot. In that case, you might need to be ok with having your weight loss journey take longer, or you might want to increase your activity level.

We often think that we need to starve ourselves of food until the desired change is achieved. The reality is much different – we should be focusing on eating healthy meals in the right portions. We should also ensure that those meals are full of nutrients our body needs to fuel it each day!

What Happens To Your Body On A Very Low-Calorie Diet?

When you consume fewer calories than you are burning, it goes into your fat storage and uses it for energy. This is when you start to lose weight.

How Long Can You Stay On A Very Low-Calorie Diet?

You can stay on a low-calorie diet for as long as you need to achieve your goal weight. Stop thinking that you are on a diet; diets are temporary, which is why they don’t work.

Instead, think of it as a lifestyle because even after you reach your weight loss goals, you will always have to be on maintenance mode if you do not want to gain the weight back.

A tip that will help you stick with a low-calorie diet in the long term is to not do anything too drastic when starting a weight-loss plan but instead do a gradual change over time.

Also, low-calorie diets are more than just about cutting calories, but about changing the way you think about food and about changing your eating habits. You need to have a mind shift.

Do Low-Calorie Diets Work Well For Weight Loss In The Long Term?

Yes, low-calorie diets are unlike other diets that invariably lead to dieters wanting the food they’ve been resisting so much even more.

This rebound effect leads to overeating, bingeing, and a lot of guilt, which causes most diets to fail within the first few weeks, if not days!

However, you can stay on a low-calorie diet for the long term with no deprivation. You can also eat your favorite foods, just at smaller portions (or healthier alternative versions).

What Are The Best Low-Calorie Foods?

Foods that are low in calories are usually non-processed or very minimally processed. Some examples of low-calorie foods are:

  1. Fruits and vegetables
  2. Whole grains
  3. Egg whites & plant-based milk
  4. Greek yogurt
  5. Popcorn
  6. Powdered peanut butter
  7. Liquids that have 0 calories, such as sparkling water and tea.

On the other hand, avoid food that is highly processed and high in fat or sugar. Some examples are:

  1. Junk food such as chips and cookies
  2. Dressings and sauces
  3. Oil
  4. Soda, alcohol, and juice
  5. White bread
  6. Fatty meat and processed meat
  7. Sugary, refined cereals

Also, keep to a minimum healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and dark chocolate as they are very high in calories. At least until you reach your goal weight.

Can You Exercise On A Low-Calorie Diet?

Yes! In fact, you should exercise even if you are not on a diet as exercising has many health benefits.

Also, the more calories you burn exercising, the more you can eat while still staying in a calorie deficit.

That said, you don’t need to exercise if you don’t want to. In fact, low-calorie diets are mostly suited for people who do not have the time nor inclination to do much exercise.

What Are The Risks And Side Effects Of Going On A Low-Calorie Diet?

Dieting, in general, is not recommended for those with eating disorders or those who are underweight as it may do more harm than good.

Very low-calorie diets do work, but there are some serious side effects. The most common is the depletion of essential vitamins and minerals needed for your body to function normally.

This can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and many other problems over time. So, if you began to feel symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, and headaches, stop whatever diet plan you are following.

Do Low-Calorie Diets Slow The Metabolism?

Yes, but only if you do not eat enough calories to sustain your body. The body needs food for fuel to do anything, so if you make it think that it will not have enough food to survive, it will go into “starvation mode.”

If you actually didn’t have enough food to eat, this would be a healthy response from your body. Your body would slow down your metabolism and get very efficient at storing energy; you would then not need as many calories and possibly save your life.

But because you are not starving and you just want to lose weight, this is not good! You do not want your body to slow down how fast it burns fat. This would lead to weight gain.

For more information, click the link to read my full blog post called “Do Low Calorie Diets Slow Down Your Metabolism?

What Are The Benefits Of A Low-Calorie Diet?

The primary benefit of a low-calorie diet is that it can help a person lose weight and keep it off for good! Here are some other potential advantages of following a low-calorie diet:

  1. Create healthy food habits.
  2. Learn to maintain an appropriate calorie intake.
  3. Reduce cravings for high-calorie foods.
  4. Improve your overall health.
  5. Improve mood and self-esteem.
  6. Set up a sustainable lifestyle for long-term weight management.

Once you have ripped all the benefits of a low-calorie diet, share all the knowledge you gained with friends and family members who ask you for help!

Why Am I Not Losing Weight On A Low-Calorie Diet?

If you aren’t losing weight on a low-calorie diet is because of one of the following 2 reasons:

  1. You are not in a calorie deficit (even if you think you are).
  2. Your calorie intake is so low that your body is slowing your metabolism down as a survival mechanism.

Suppose you are sure that neither of the two above reasons applies to you. In that case, you might have an underlying health condition, such as thyroid problems. Consult your doctor.


If you are looking for a diet that is not restrictive and allows you to continue eating your favorite foods, then the low-calorie diet may be right for you!

The amount of calories needed depends on your specific body type and goals.

Try eating minimally processed food like fresh fruits and vegetables instead of packaged treats. Exercising should help make this low-calorie diet easier.

One last tip is to follow Youtubers like Greg Doucette and Nicole Collet, who advocate a low-calorie/anabolic diet. They offer easy recipes and lots of tips on how to lose weight.

Are you ready to try a low-calorie diet? If you are, then check out the rest of my blog posts for tons of more information!


Hi, I'm Lily! Like you, I have struggled with my weight. It was not an easy journey but I was able to lose 40 pounds and have kept it off for 14 years. My goal is to share with you all the research, tips, and tricks that I have learned over the years to help you lose weight also.

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