Can You Survive On 500 Calories A Day?

There are different ways to look at eating only 500 calories per day.

Some fashion models stick to the regime for a large part of their careers simply to remain in the industry and keep exceptionally slim.

Can You Survive On 500 Calories A Day?

However, the 500-calorie diet has been around in various forms for years.

Whether it is for you has to be researched properly before trying to work out how you can split the calories between your various meals.

In this guide, we will look at what a 500-calorie diet is, surviving on the 500-calorie diet, and the factors to consider.

The 500-Calorie Diet

Put simply, 500 calories is set as the limit for a daily intake of food though the plan does have an upper limit of 800 daily calories.

The diet can be classed as a very low-calorie diet or VLCD which can be prescribed by doctors.

The main reason for the diet is to provide some order to an individual’s intake of food, typically to assist people with obesity if they cannot have bariatric surgery.

A 500-calorie diet is also useful for anyone before undertaking laparoscopic surgery as simply losing fat can reduce the operation time and many complications.

Surviving On The 500 Calorie Diet

It is possible to survive on just 500 calories a day but it is not recommended, certainly not without medical supervision.

The restrictive diet should only be considered as part of a program under a doctor’s recommendation.

Even then, the plan may only be followed for a few months at a time as complications can occur so it should not be considered as a long-term regime.

The diet is beneficial to those who aim to lose a large amount of weight and typically require supplements in the form of meal replacement shakes so it should be noted that there are other diets available that may be worth considering.

The Factors To Consider With The 500-Calorie Diet

Before anyone undertakes the 500-calorie diet there are various implications. The diet should only be attempted with a doctor’s supervision.


The 500-calorie diet does come with implications for a heightened risk of gallstones.

These are formed in the gallbladder and can cause abdominal pain and block the bile duct.

A lot of the factors that increase the risk of gallstones can come from embarking on such a restrictive diet.

These include putting on then losing weight repeatedly, quick weight loss, extended periods of fasting, and simple obesity.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Put bluntly, reducing a calorie intake to just 500 per day, or even 800, can increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Without as many calories, fewer nutrients can enter the body from the small intestine.

This can weaken an individual’s energy so they find it hard to do their daily activities.

Fewer Healthy Fats

Fewer Healthy Fats

Fat has the most calories above protein and carbohydrates so reducing your intake of calories may deprive the body of healthy fats.

The unsaturated fats that can be found in avocados and salmon are very beneficial to the body.

Without those healthy fats, the body also risks how vitamin E is absorbed as well as antioxidants.

Muscle Loss

Should an individual decide to begin such a restrictive diet, they may end up losing muscle rather than fat.

Without so much muscle, the body’s metabolism rate can be adversely affected. In turn, that would reduce an individual’s ability to prevent injury and burn calories.

Bone Health Decrease

Over a long period of time, restricting the body’s intake of minerals and nutrients will have an effect on bone health.

Bones can become weakened over time if they fail to receive those essential components and it may take a while to build back up.

Final Thoughts

A few diets should only be considered once several other options have been exhausted. The 500-calorie a day diet is certainly one of them.

The diet plan is typically considered by a doctor for an individual to lose as much as possible, typically prior to an operation.

By restricting the number of calories, the body will likely be deprived of the nutrients it needs to keep healthy and that can lead to serious complications.

Very low-calorie diets such as 500 a day can lead to fatigue but also nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and gallstones.

An individual can suffer muscle loss and bone health decrease too which can take some time to recover from.

It is possible to survive on 500 calories a day but should only be attempted under medical supervision.

An individual with liver disease, heart problems, kidney disease, or blood clotting problems should not be recommended to live on 500 calories a day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should Happen If I Only Eat 500 Calories A Day For A Whole Month?

As part of a recommended diet from a doctor, eating 500 calories a day for a month should see some significant weight loss.

This can range from between eight and 20 pounds in total by the time you reach the end of the month.

However, this does depend on an individual’s maintenance calories (the calorie intake to remain at a reduced weight) and their levels of activity.

The more activity an individual does, the more calories they are set to lose.

Does A Reduced Calorie Intake Make You Feel Tired?

Should you begin a regime of limiting your calorie intake to just 500 a day then you may start to experience low energy levels.

This is largely due to calories being classed as units of energy that your body requires to function.

Without enough of them, your body will not have the energy to perform as it usually would so you should expect to feel tired a lot of the time.

The number of required calories for those basic body functions every day is known as your resting metabolic rate, which would be set to increase with exercise.

Jenna Priestly