Diet Plan For 500 Calories A Day


Diet Plan For 500 Calories A Day: A low-calorie diet is a diet that restricts calorie intake, without, however, completely eliminating food to promote rapid weight loss. It is possible to lose weight with 500 calories per day if your daily routine includes adequate exercise. However, it takes a lot of willpower!

What Is The 500 Calorie Diet Plan?

The 500-calorie diet is an extreme form of a very low-calorie diet, i.e., it is extremely low in calories. It replaces the normal food routine with liquid supplements, meal replacement shakes, and bars for a specific period.

This restricted calorie consumption will help your body use the stored fuel source, i.e., fat. This, in turn, will help you shed pounds.

This is a type of 5:2 intermittent fasting plan that involves severe energy restriction for two non-consecutive days of a week and consuming 2000 calories on the other five days. This type of modified diet can fulfill 20-25% of energy needs on fasting days.

Studies showed that hypocaloric intermittent fasting could help overweight and obese individuals lose weight. However, these studies are inconclusive, and more research is needed to confirm these findings.

What should your 500-calorie diet plan look like? Scroll down to find out.

Note: Follow this very low-calorie diet (VLCD) only under the supervision of a doctor or a nutritionist.

A 500-Calorie Sample Meal Plan For Weight Loss

As part of the 5:2 diet plan, you need to be on a low-carb diet for two days. But what exactly should you eat?

1. Breakfast

Decaffeinated tea or skimmed milk or black coffee without sugar8 ounces
Small banana + ricotta cheese1 banana + 1 medium bowl
Hard boiled egg + Wheat bread toast1 each
Decaffeinated tea or skimmed milk or black coffee without sugar1 cup + 4 tablespoons + 1 date

Tip: If you feel hungry before lunch, you can drink a cup of green tea without sugar.

2. Lunch

Salad with a light dressing1 medium bowl
Blueberries and Greek yogurt1 cup
Vegetable soup made with cabbage, spinach, broccoli, or any leafy vegetable1 cup
Grilled chicken or fish + Grilled broccoli and carrot3 oz fish or chicken and ¼ cup veggies
Lettuce wraps with fish/mushroom/chicken/tofu1 wrap with 2 oz fish/chicken/mushroom/tofu

Tip: Drink a glass of lukewarm water 20 minutes before lunch to avoid overeating.

3. Dinner

Chicken or mushroom clear soup1 medium bowl
Broccoli and grilled turkey/tofu tossed in a little chili garlic oil1 medium bowl
Egg white omelet with mushroom and spinach2 eggs, 6 mushrooms, ½ cup spinach
Stir-fried veggies with red bell pepper, carrots, broccoli, tofu, and beans1 cup + 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar + chili flakes

Tip: Drink water, and if you feel hungry, have a glass of coconut water or unstrained vegetable juice.

You can choose from these options and create an ideal, customized diet plan suitable for you. Make sure you consult your doctor and dietitian before starting this diet.

What are the benefits of the 500-calorie diet? Find out in the next section.


The main benefit of the 500-calorie diet is that it aids rapid weight loss. Following a VLCD can help revamp your metabolism. It accelerates fat oxidation, helping you shed weight (4). It is great for those who need to lose weight to prevent any health risks.

But what if you are on this diet even if you don’t need to? Or what if you are on a 500-calorie diet for three weeks or more without being supervised by a doctor? Here’s what may happen.

Health Risks

1. Nutritional Deficiencies

Following a 500-calorie diet plan for long leads to nutritional deficiencies. A study published in the Nutrition Journal showed that a very low-calorie diet formula could lead to micronutrient deficiencies.

There was a significant reduction in the serum concentration of vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc among obese people on a low-calorie diet for over 12 weeks.

Low-calorie diets can cause nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, intolerance to cold, menstrual irregularities, and hair loss. Lack of fiber in the diet can also cause constipation. This decreases the efficiency of the immune system and makes your body vulnerable to various ailments.

2. Muscle Loss

Do you want to lose weight? Then, lose fat, not muscle. If you are on a VLCD for a prolonged period, you will start losing muscle mass instead of fat mass.

A very low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, low-protein diet can cause skeletal muscle loss. This can give you a “slim-fat” look and make your skin loose and droopy.

3. Metabolic Changes

Following a very low-calorie diet for a long period slows down metabolism. This ultimately leads to weight gain when you return to the original eating pattern.

A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism showed that a sudden reduction in body weight due to a low-calorie diet plan reduced the resting metabolic rate (RMR), but it was not as expected.

4. Decrease In Bone Mass

Weight loss due to following a calorie-restricted diet for a long time decreases bone mineral density and weakens bone strength.

A study showed that low-calorie diet-induced weight loss is accompanied by a loss of bone mass. Another study on 48 adults showed that calorie restriction (CR) reduced bone mineral density and bone mass.

5. Development Of Gallstones

Following a very low-calorie diet (500 calories) can increase the risk of developing gallstones.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that following VLCD for over one year resulted in cholelithiasis (the formation of stones in the gall bladder). Many of the adults had to undergo cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder).

6. Deficiency Of Healthy Fat

A low-calorie diet is devoid of healthy fats to restrict unnecessary calorie intake. Consuming healthy fats in controlled portions provides satiety and helps you stay healthy.

Following a very low-calorie diet with restricted healthy fat intake reduces the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, leading to deficiency .

You may be wondering who can follow this diet and who should avoid it. Find the answers below.

Who Can Follow The 500-Calorie Diet?

People with a BMI of more than 30 (from obesity grade I to grade III) should follow a very low-calorie diet under the proper supervision of a doctor or a nutritionist.

Who Should Avoid A Very Low-Calorie Diet?

Generally, doctors do not allow people with medical conditions to follow a VLCD. It is advisable not to follow any calorie-restricted diet under the following clinical conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney diseases
  • Gout (accumulation of uric acid in joints)
  • Gallstones

There are a lot of foods that are low in calories or marketed as low or zero-calorie drinks or foods but are harmful to the body. Hence, you should have a clear idea of what to eat and avoid if you are on the 500-calorie diet.

Foods To Eat On The 500-Calorie Diet

  • Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrot, beetroot, scallion, cabbage, lettuce, and parsnip. These are low in calories and loaded with nutrition. They will make you lose weight without putting your health in danger.
  • Salads, sautéed, stir-fried, and blanched food. These minimize the disruption of valuable enzymes and phytonutrients.
  • Full-fat milk and yogurt. Full-fat versions are more nutritious and will help keep hunger at bay.
  • Fruits and freshly pressed fruit juices. Make sure you don’t consume high GI foods like mangoes, pineapple, and grapes.
  • Low-calorie salad dressing like olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Pre-cooked chicken and shrimps.
  • Pre-washed veggies.

Here’s the list of foods you must avoid while on the 500-calorie diet.

Foods To Avoid On The 500-Calorie Diet

  • Processed foods like sausages and salami.
  • Canned veggies, fruits, etc.
  • Energy drinks, soda, and bottled fruit juices.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Sugary foods like cake, pastry, pancake, and candies.

The 500-calorie diet plan is a very low-calorie diet that is effective in rapid weight loss. It helps boost metabolism and promotes fat oxidation, causing you to lose some pounds within no time. This diet is usually recommended for those with obesity. People who have diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, or gout must avoid it. This diet should only be followed under the supervision of a doctor or a dietitian. Following it for more than a week may result in nutritional imbalances, weakened immunity, fatigue, weakness, hair loss, and gallstones. So, practice caution.

5:2 diet meal plans: What to eat for 500 calorie fast days

5:2 diet meal plans: 500 calorie meal plan

Our 5:2 diet meal plans are easy to follow and are full of inspiration and delicious dishes to help keep you on track while on the 5:2 diet.

From curry to stir fry, from omelette to soup, our 5:2 diet meal plans below will help guide you through your 500 calorie days with ease. Whether you’re hoping to lose weight fast or just want to manage your food a little better, the 5:2 diet is a part-time diet that has grown in popularity over the past few years.

The 5:2 diet being a part-time diet means that you can eat normally for five days of the week, and fast for just two. As you can imagine, this is one of the diets that work fast and it has huge appeal for many people who don’t like the idea of being on a diet full time and not being able to enjoy a good feed from time to time. It’s also a less intense way of intermittent fasting compared to the likes of the 16:8 diet.

On your two fasting days, you can only eat 500 calories per day of your recommended 2000 calories. Because of the very low intake of calories on these two days, it’s recommended that you spread them out, rather than do them consecutively.

The diet works by limiting your daily calorie intake(opens in new tab) to just 25 per cent, but only for two days of the week, which still delivers results.

How does the 5:2 diet work?

It’s simple. For two days each week, you eat no more than 500 calories. The other five days, you eat normally. You should lose around 1.5lb a week – more if you have a lot of weight to lose.

The two days of fasting also help you to eat normally on other days. Simply carry on with the plan, using 5:2 diet meal plans, until you’ve achieved the weight you’re happy with. At this point, you can maintain your weight by having a 500-calorie day once a week.

On the days you eat normally, you should be aiming for around 2,000 calories a day, but don’t worry if you have a blowout, such as going out for a meal and/or drinks, a couple of times a week.

Your 500-calorie days will help to stabilise your insulin levels and hunger. You should find your appetite is smaller on normal days, so you won’t have to work so hard to stay around the 2,000 calorie mark.

We spoke to expert and Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman from the evidence-backed personalised nutrition service Vitamedics about how the 5:2 diet works. He told us, “The 5:2 diet is essentially a calorie limiting diet which follows a prescriptive programme based on days of the week. Essentially, the basic rules go something like this: for two days a week, if you are a female, eat just 500 calories, or 600 if you are a man. These foods can be consumed at any time of the day and consist of any food you like. Then, for the remainder of the week, eat and drink as you would normally.

“The concept sounds simple and indeed it is, but over the week your body has typically been denied around 3000 calories. The concept also makes intuitive sense, in that during those days of low-calorie intake, the response of our body is to lower levels of insulin thereby causing stored sources of sugar in our fat cells to be used as energy. Hence, we lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down, and in theory, if we allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough, we burn off our fat. However, compared to eating less every day in a controlled manner, both strategies appear to deliver the same weight loss outcomes.”

Is the 5:2 diet healthy?

Fans of the 5:2 diet say that not only will it help you to lose weight but that it can increase life-span and protect against diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. However, fasting can have some nasty side effects, notably, dizziness, lack of energy, irritability, headaches, and trouble sleeping, so make sure you’re prepared for this.

While it’s thought that the 5:2 diet can also help to prevent type 2 diabetes, it is not suitable for people who already have diabetes, who need to regulate their sugar levels.

“There are a number of laboratory studies that demonstrate this approach to calorie restriction can have beneficial effects on blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, and there is some limited data in humans also confirming these observations.’ says Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman.  “However, the most dramatic effects are seen in overweight individuals, and what contribution the actual weight loss makes to the overall effect is difficult to determine. So, yes, most studies identify it is safe and effective, but how much better it is than any other diet to improve important health parameters is difficult to ascertain.”

What and when can I eat on the 5:2 diet?

While the calorie restrictions are strict on the two days spent fasting, the diet is actually very flexible. It’s up to you what you eat on your fast days, as long as it comes in at no more than 500 calories for the whole day. You will need to be committed and pretty strong-willed as you’re cutting your calorie intake by 3/4, but if you keep busy and plan what you’re going to eat – it’s definitely achievable.

We asked Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman when is the best time to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner(opens in new tab). He says; ’Researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study(opens in new tab) looking at the effect of time of eating on the benefits of intermittent fasting. In the controlled eating scenario, all meals were fitted into an early eight-hour period of the day (7 am to 3 pm), or spread out over 12 hours (between 7 am and 7 pm).

“Although this regime had no different effect on weight loss compared to eating at ‘normal’ times in the 5:2 diet, just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didn’t lose any weight at all. Moreover, the eight-hour group also had a significantly decreased appetite and weren’t as hungry.”

On your 500 calorie days, you can eat whatever you like, but the below foods are some of the most sensible as they’re low in calories so you can eat more throughout the day than if you eat smaller, high-calorie foods:

  • Lots of vegetables
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Small portions of lean meat
  • Soups

You can split your 500 calories as you wish, into just one meal, two, or three, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – but the healthiest way is to eat little and often throughout the day.

While it’s allowed, filling up on a croissant at breakfast will use up most of your calorie allowance and you’ll be starving for the rest of the day. Experiment a little with what times work well for you on your fasting days. You might find skipping breakfast and having 2 small meals for lunch and dinner works well for you. Or having a larger, more satisfying meal in the evening and a few snacks during the day might be better – it’s really down to personal preference.

“Essentially, eat a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, legumes such as beans and lentils, along with whole grains, and healthy fats and protein sources. Not only will these be healthier, but they will also probably be more sustainable as well,” says Mike. “Try to limit refined grains and sugars and don’t snack between meals.  Avoid eating and snacking at night-time, especially on the days when not fasting. Keep active throughout the day, and participate in aerobic and anaerobic exercise programmes, preferably personalised, to enhance your metabolism and optimise the effect of your diet.

“Consider using a multivitamin alongside your dietary regime. There is good evidence that demonstrates being overweight is associated with a lower than optimal micronutrient status and even if the diet is changed to a healthier version, losing weight won’t immediately improve this situation. So, taking a multivitamin will not only help correct this but also probably contribute to higher energy levels, especially if it is rich in B vitamins.”

What can I drink on the 5:2 diet?

You can drink as much water as you like on the 5:2 diet, and you should aim to drink as much as possible during your fasting days, it’ll keep you hydrated, and may help you to stave off hunger for a little longer.

You’ll need to watch out for drinks with milk in, as these will use up calories that could be otherwise put towards a meal.

  • Black or herbal teas
  • Black coffee
  • Diet drinks
  • Try our hot drinks calories counter if you’re not sure

Can you exercise on 5:2 diet?

You can still exercise on the 5:2 diet meal plan too – and in fact, you should. Exercising on 500 calories a day might sound daunting, but it can speed up weight loss and improve overall health and fitness. Some people even find that exercise alleviates hunger pangs.

Research shows fasting has no negative effects on the ability to do moderate activity. Even so, it’s important to listen to your body. Also, doing cardio can help your body tap into its fat stores, and maximise the benefit of your fasting days.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) could be your best choice (check with your GP if in doubt), as short bursts of intense exercise have been shown to be hugely effective, with the fat burning lasting for hours after the workout is finished. HIIT can be as simple as sprinting in short spurts while jogging. And try saving some calories until after your workout.

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