Many different intermittent fasting diets sug
gest limiting your intake to 500 calories a day on your fast days.
One of the biggest challenges with these types of diets is figuring out how to eat 500 calories a day and feel full.
In this article we’ll look at how you can plan your food so that you’re not starving hungry despite only consuming 500 cal on your fast days, including:
- The types of food you should eat
- Spacing of meals
- The most effective way to eat
How to eat 500 calories a day and feel full
This can be broken down into three simple components that we’ll look at in turn; what you eat, when you eat and how you eat.
What you eat…
The key to feeling full during your fast days is eating foods that are high in volume, but with low calorie density. With that in mind, getting plenty of water and staying properly hydrated is also really important.
Some things to keep in mind include:
- Calorie free drinks – Water, black coffee, green or Oolong tea are all great options that will keep you feeling full during the day without consuming any calories. Calorie free or diet sodas are also useful in this regard, but it is not advisable to drink lots of soda due to other negative health impacts. The ceremony of going to get a coffee is also useful when you start to feel hungry as it’ll stop you thinking about food for a while.
- Soup – As much of the content of soup is liquid and vegetables, it is a really great way to keep you feeling full. If you want to be extra calorie conscious, you can take a regular can of low calorie soup and water it down to increase the volume further and make it last longer. For inspiration, check out these low calorie soup ideas.
- Vegetables – You’ll be amazed at the amount of vegetables you can eat without getting anywhere near 500 cals, so this is a key part of the diet. 100g of boiled broccoli contains only 24kcal, and the same weight of celery only 7kcal. While this doesn’t make for a very exciting meal on its own, adding a low calorie sauce can completely change the meal.
Remember, the point of these diets is to lose weight, and while the taste of your food is important, you have to be willing to compromise a bit if you want to see great results. And the 500 calorie diet results speak for themselves.
Having a full, 500 calorie a day diet menu written out will be a big help with this and keep you focused. Knowing what foods you can’t and can’t eat removes any last minute decision making and the possibility that you’ll end up eating something that is very calorie dense.
When you eat…
To feel full throughout the day you need to plan exactly when you will eat and what you will eat at different times. This will vary for each individual depending on work and other commitments but some tips include:
- Try to avoid eating first thing in the morning – A healthy breakfast is a great way to kick start your metabolism, but when you’re restricting to only 500 cals a day, you won’t want to burn through them too quickly. You may find that you can skip breakfast without really missing it at all, which means you can eat more later in the day. Many people are surprised to learn that skipping breakfast actually has many benefits.
- Eat regularly – Snacking on healthy food will keep you going longer than saving it up and eating a single large meal. Using the foods suggested above, you’ll be able to eat lots of small meals, which keeps you physically full, but also psychologically you’ll feel like you’ve eaten a lot as well.
- Get an early night – If you can, try to get to bed early on your fast days, sitting up watching television makes you more likely to want to snack. Not only is sleep great for you anyway, but it means there is less time that you’re awake and thinking about food.
As above, having a 500 calorie meal plan written in advance is really useful. When you’re starting to feel hungry, it is encouraging to know that your next meal isn’t that far away.
How you eat…
It might sound silly, but even how you eat can have a major impact on how full you feel. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Have a glass of water before your main meals – As we’ve already noted, drinking water makes you feel full purely because of its physical volume. Drinking water before you eat a meal will make you feel like you’ve had far more to eat than you’ve actually had. Research suggests drinking a glass of water 30mins before you eat is best.
- Eat slowly – Rushing your food means you eat more than you need to before your brain has time to register that you’re full. By eating slowly, and making sure that you enjoy every bite, you’re giving your stomach and brain time to catch up, meaning that you might feel full even before you’ve managed to finish your plate of food.
As we said from the outset, the results from this kind of diet speak for themselves, and for inspiration it is worth looking into some of the success stories. Knowing that it can be done will give you a really good boost when you’re finding it hard.
And remember, you don’t have to diet forever. Sticking to this diet for even just a few days can have a really big impact on your weight, check out this 500 calories a day weight loss calculator to see what kind of results you can expect.