Last Updated on July 25, 2021 by Michael Brockbank
Thinking about trying a 600 calorie diet to lose some weight? Some people have a hard time restricting themselves to such small numbers. In fact, consuming less than 1000 can be very bad for the body.
However, my diet is more focused on “net” calories. It’s much different as it focuses more on food versus activity. Let me explain.
What is a Net 600 Calorie Diet?
Net calories are what you have when you take the amount of food you eat minus your physical activity. The more active you are, the more you can eat. This is because you’re burning the foods you consume as well as fat.
You’ll burn calories simply sitting at your desk. For me, it’s about seven calories every five minutes. When you’re not active, your body doesn’t require a lot to maintain itself which means you can eat less.
You shouldn’t starve yourself when trying to go on a diet. This is especially true if you’re restricting a lot of the foods you enjoy. If you don’t believe a diet will work, there is a good chance it won’t.
A lot of people will feel weak and exhausted when trying to maintain a 600 calorie diet. A lot of the time, this is because you’re essentially going into shock. You’re burning up more than your body can accommodate.
Without nutrients to keep a balance, you simply won’t have the energy for sustaining everyday tasks.
This is why I focus more on net calories and not total consumption. I still lose weight while enjoying the foods I love, I just eat far less of them.
How to Succeed at a Net 600 Calorie Diet
So, let’s get to the meat of this article. Succeeding at a 600 calorie diet is easy, as long as you’re motivated and determined to make it work. Here are the steps I take to continue to lose weight.
Step 1: Begin Tracking Your Food Intake
You can use a spreadsheet or a pad and pen. However, I prefer to use MyFitnessPal to track all of my food. This not only keeps a recording of the calorie count, but it also will break down the nutritional value of your day.
I was blown away when I started using it as I saw my sodium intake was three times higher than the average person.
No, this isn’t an advertisement and I am not endorsed by Under Armour. I just really love using this free tool to track my food and fitness progress.
Anyway, track every single morsel of food you eat, even water. You need to get a gauge about how much and what you’re actually consuming throughout the week.
When you start recording your food, set your goal to only eat 600 calories worth of food. This is one of the reasons why I use MyFitnessPal. I get a display of how many calories I have left even on my phone.
Step 2: Begin Tracking Your Physical Activity
Here’s where apps like MyFitnessPal and Fitbit demonstrate their convenience. While tracking your food, start monitoring your exercise throughout the day. This can be anything from walking around the neighborhood to actual aerobic classes if you wish.
You need to know how many calories your body is burning for these activities. This is so you can subtract the calorie burn from the food you eat every day.
Now, MyFitnessPal provides an averaged estimate regarding each activity and adjusts your calorie allotment accordingly. However, these numbers are often skewed and may be completely different from what you’re actually burning.
For instance, someone who is obese will burn more calories over a shorter period than someone who is fit.
Personally, I use my Fitbit Charge 4 to track my activity. The heart rate monitor gives an accurate portrayal of how many calories I burn in any given day and sends workout data to MyFitnessPal automatically.
Why is this important? Because a net 600 calorie diet plan involves subtracting your activity from the food you eat.
For example, if you had a cupcake at 200 calories, you could walk for about 45 minutes at a fast pace to burn off those carbs and sugars. And yes, this does work. I lost my first 20 pounds while still eating pizza and cookies for two months.
In reality, you’ll eat closer to 2,000 calories throughout the day if you keep yourself active. The more active you are, the more you can eat.
I will burn about twice the calories I eat throughout the day doing this Net 600 Calorie diet…if I maintain it on a daily basis.
Step 3: Plan Your Meals Accordingly
With 600 calories to play with, you need to be logical when it comes to your meals. You don’t have to keep yourself to a 200 calorie breakfast, lunch and dinner if you are sure you can burn the extra calories off with physical activity.
Here is how a typical day goes for me:
- Breakfast: Two eggs and two turkey sausage links: 227 calories
- Lunch: Varies, but normally around 300 to 350 calories
- Dinner: Also varies, but usually as high as 450 calories
As you can see, the meals total up to 1,027 calories. However, I offset the extra by making sure I am active enough throughout the day.
For example, I take four 10-minute walks around my yard every day during my work breaks. That alone burns up to 600 calories as I maintain a pace of nearly four miles per hour.
You will need to reduce your food intake if you want this to work. If you’re used to loading a plate up with steak, eggs, biscuits and gravy, you’re not going to succeed. You need to be logical about how much you’re consuming and be realistic with planning your activities for the day.
I know I will burn enough calories to “afford” dinner because I walk during breaks. This is mostly because I have knee problems and sitting too long starts to hurt. Make sure you’re getting up and moving about to keep your calories in the green.
Step 4: Making Healthier Choices
No matter what diet plan you think is best, they all surround making healthier choices – even mine. Sure, I’ll still have Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and pizza throughout the week, but I also add in more veggies and fruits when possible. You’re not going to do well if your 600 calories consists of nothing but cupcakes.
One of my transitions was moving from sugary cereals in the morning to high protein. Besides, I love eggs and sausage in the morning. Sometimes I’ll change it up with Cream of Wheat and add some fresh blueberries to the mix.
You’ll have to make a few changes for a net 600 calorie diet to work right. You don’t have to cut sugar out completely, but realize that too much of it will flood your system with carbs you don’t use.
Cutting out fast food has been greatly beneficial. Instead of a Big Mac, fries and a Dr Pepper for lunch, I now have something like a nice Progresso Soup. This lunch was probably what helped the most when losing more than 10 pounds the first month.
Progresso Soup has a lot of benefits especially compared to various alternatives.
The most important part of this step is to understand how portion sizes actually work. For example, a 16-ounce steak is actually more than five meals worth of meat. Most of us in the United States are grossly overfed especially when it comes to restaurants.
I never throw food away because I make just enough for each meal. Any leftovers are eaten the next day and I produce very little trash. This is mostly because I buy food in bulk from Costco and portion it out accordingly. I’ll do a YouTube video about this process later.
Step 5: Plan Activities According to Your Interests
One of the reasons workout DVDs and exercise machines wind up collecting dust is because people will quickly lose interest in them. This is because you start to get bored with doing the same thing day after day.
I’m a big fan of using the Xbox Kinect to exercise. The games I have keep me focused and engaged while my exaggerated body movements burn through a ton of calories.
I also have an interest in pushing my limits. I set personal records for certain activities and then try to break them. Imagine how jazzed I was when I broke my record of eight push-ups by doing 20.
I also like using Runkeeper to track walks and try to set new speed and distance records.
The point is you need to be active with the things that engage you. Gamify the situation and make the most of it. If you’re not into workout videos on YouTube, you won’t be as focused and are more likely to become bored.
Step 6: Create Realistic Goals
The average human can easily lose about three pounds per week with a good diet and exercise. If you’re obese or overweight, you’ll easily lose more than this. Just keep in mind that you’re not going to drop 100 pounds inside of a month without surgeries.
Set realistic goals for yourself such as ideal weight and how much you can lose in a week.
For instance, my goal is 180 pounds. I doubt I will hit that goal simply because of how my body is built. I am six feet tall and putting on a bit of muscle. However, I won’t be upset if I don’t reach that goal.
I am more focused on measurements and visuals than actual weight.
Don’t get too concerned about what the scale reports. There will be many things that will cause your weight to fluctuate. For example, retaining water and regular bathroom breaks will cause your weight to bounce back and forth by as much as two pounds.
In fact, muscle weighs more than fat and increasing activity will cause your body to create density.
Focus more on how you feel and how your clothes fit on your body. Even though my scale said 233 for the longest time, I had to retie my pajama bottoms twice and move my belt two notches.
Step 7: Take Each Day One at a Time
Don’t focus too much on your end objective. Keep you mind in the day and focus on your goals for the next 24 hours. If you have a bad eating day, just make sure tomorrow is better.
Health and fitness are not instant fixes, and it often takes a lot of work to reach certain goals.
There are plenty of times when I go past my 600 calorie allotment. I just make sure I keep in the green the next day.
Don’t be discouraged in yourself if you don’t see the scale moving drastically over the first week or two. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat per volume.
You might not notice changes until you do something like toss a 50-pound bag of dog food in the shopping cart with less effort or find yourself less winded when walking.
Easiest Way to Wrap it Up…
- Use MyFitnessPal to track all of your food.
- Record activities in MyFitnessPal or connect a Fitbit or other calorie burn device.
- Plan your meals wisely.
- Mix healthier foods into your routine.
- Plan physical activities you like.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Keep your mind on the here-and-now.
Maintaining Your Net 600 Calorie Diet
Diet plans only work if you want them to. Otherwise, you will experience frustration and depression because it’s not working. The best thing you can do for yourself is creating a plan that is perfect for your needs.
The above steps may not help you, then again, you may lose more weight than I have. It’s all a matter of perception and how you approach health and fitness.