1,400-Calorie Food Plan

Overview

A low calorie diet encourages weight loss reports, states lead researcher Frank M. Sacks, M.D. in the February 2009 issue of the “New England Journal of Medicine.” For most women, a 1,400-calorie-per-day food plan represents a reduced calorie diet. This number of calories promotes a safe rate of weight loss without extreme deprivation–while the National Institutes of Health recommends men eat at least 1,500 calories per day to provide adequate energy and nutrition.

Function

Weight loss occurs when you burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. The amount of weight you lose on a 1,400-calorie meal plan depends on your current daily activity and basal metabolic rate. The average 35-year-old 150-pound woman, who lives a sedentary lifestyle, burns just about 1,900 calories per day. In this case, 1,400-calories per day would yield a 500-calorie-per-day deficit, resulting in a one pound per week rate of loss. You may determine your own daily calorie burn at caloriesperhour.com. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that this one pound per week rate of loss increases the likelihood that you will keep weight off for the long term.

Strategy

Approach your 1,400-calorie meal plan by distributing the calories throughout the day. The way you distribute the calories is largely up to personal preference–three 400-calorie main meals and two 100-calorie snacks or five 280 minimeals are two possible strategies. No scientific research suggests one method of divvying up your food works better for weight loss. Learn to properly portion your food to stick to your daily calorie allotment.

Types of Food

A 1,400-calorie plan that emphasizes nutritionally dense foods provides optimal nutrition and energy while encouraging weight loss. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends making meals that include lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats. Try skinless chicken, lean cuts of beef, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil and avocados. A one-cup serving of oatmeal with a half cup lowfat milk, a teaspoon of almonds and a half cup of blueberries makes a good breakfast. Three ounces of grilled chicken over two cups of baby spinach, an ounce each of feta cheese and avocado and a half cup garbanzo beans with balsamic vinegar-olive oil dressing is an approximately 400-calorie lunch. Dinner may include broiled flank steak with a small sweet potato and two cups of steamed broccoli. Snacks like air-popped popcorn, fresh fruit and hummus offer satisfaction and nutrition.

Considerations

Adhering to a 1,400-calorie food plan can be challenging, especially if you eat out often. Strive to prepare meals at home when you can to control ingredients and calorie content. Carry snacks with you to resist temptation. A 1,400-calorie food plan should provide enough energy to support exercise, but if you tend to exercise more than two hours per day, you may find 1,400 calories inadequate to support your needs.

Caution

Do not skip meals to “save up” calories during the day. This usually leads to overeating at your next meal because you are overly hungry. Avoid filling your 1,400 calories with junk foods that are devoid of nutrition. An occasional treat is fine, but sticking to nutritionally sound meals keeps your hunger at bay and promotes health.

About this Author

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.