The 800 Calories A Day Diet Guide + 800 Calorie Meal Plan

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Even if you want to lose weight and think that following an 800 calories a day menu plan is a smart way to do so, you need to eat a minimum number of calories per day to prevent nutritional deficiencies and keep your metabolism from plummeting.

So, is 800 calories enough to get you through the day? What can you eat on a 800 calorie diet meal plan?

In this diet guide, we will discuss if eating 800 calories a day is enough, the risks of an 800 calorie weight loss diet plan, how to eat 800 calories a day, and some sample 800 calories a day meal plans.

We will cover: 

  • Is 800 Calories a Day Enough?
  • How Do You Eat 800 Calories a Day?
  • What Is the Best 800 Calorie a Day Meal Plan?

Let’s dive in!

A person eating a salad.

Related: Daily Calories And BMR Calculator

Is 800 Calories a Day Enough?

Before we look at how to eat 800 calories a day, we must state the important disclaimer that we do not believe that anyone should follow an 800 calories a day diet plan unless specifically guided by a medical professional.

Eating only 800 calories a day is not enough for a healthy adult to support their nutritional needs.

Essentially, when eating only 800 calories a day, your body goes into starvation mode. You will burn fewer calories by lowering your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Severe caloric restriction can also cause you to start burning muscle mass to reduce your caloric needs, both because your body will need to catabolize protein for energy and because muscle burns more calories than fat.

An 800 calorie diet plan falls significantly below the recommended daily caloric intake for adults according to the 2020-2025 United States Dietary Guidelines

A calorie counting app.

According to these recommendations, adult men should consume a minimum of 2,200–2,400 calories, while adult females should consume at least 1,600–1,800 calories per day.

Still, some people may look at these daily calorie recommendations and think that maybe that works for those who want to maintain their body weight, but eating 800 calories a day for weight loss is not only safe but probably recommended.

This leads to questions like: “Is 800 calories enough if I’m trying to lose weight?”

Here again, even the best 800 calories a day meal plans do not provide adequate nutrition to support your health.

According to Harvard Health, the minimum calories a day adults should be eating unless otherwise guided by a healthcare professional is 1200 calories a day for a woman and 1500 calories a day for a man.

Ultimately, an 800 calories a day diet plan is considered a very low-calorie diet (VLCD, under 800 calories a day).

A nutritionist.

These types of 800-calorie-a-day meal plans are only advised in cases where someone has a body mass index (BMI) that is clinically categorized as morbidly obese (between above 35 kg/m2), is preparing for weight loss surgery or fertility treatments, is being guided to reverse type 2 diabetes, or some other medically indicated need for rapid weight loss.

That said, an occasional day of following an 800 calories a day weight loss meal plan as sort of a metabolic reset—along the lines of alternate-day intermittent fastingcan be a potential approach to weight loss and may even have some benefits.

However, we strongly urge that anyone wanting to eat 800 calories a day speak with their healthcare provider beforehand and consider alternate approaches or work with a nutritionist.

We are not encouraging an 800 calorie diet plan as an ongoing or daily approach to weight loss.

Related: BMI Healthy Weight Calculator

A person stepping on a scale.

How Do You Eat 800 Calories a Day?

Again, if you plan to follow an 800 calories a day meal plan on a daily basis, you should be working with a healthcare provider and nutritionist because there will be certain nutritional supplements that you will need.

For example, experts say that you need a minimum of a multivitamin, 2-3 g/day potassium, and adequate fluid intake on very low-calorie diets (VLCDs: <800 calories a day).

However, if you want to eat 800 calories per day on alternate days or a couple of times per week as a form of intermittent fasting, there are various approaches for how to eat 800 calories a day.

The challenge is trying to limit your calories to 800, which is surprisingly hard because all foods contain calories and often more than you might think. 

The best 800 calories a day diet plans focus on nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories so that you are maximizing the benefit of every calorie that goes in your mouth. 

Fruits, vegetables, a stethoscope and a blood sugar reader.

Related: Body Fat Calculator

For example, instead of high-sugar breakfast cereal, choose a high-protein cereal like Magic Spoon.

Generally, the best 800 calorie diet foods are low-fat and low in carbs foods because fat contains more calories per gram (so the volume of the food is smaller, leading to hunger), and although carbs provide energy, protein is essential for maintaining numerous body systems and muscle mass, so you generally find low-carb 800 calorie meal plans.

In terms of meal timing, there are different approaches for how to follow an 800 calories a day diet. 

One approach isn’t necessarily better than any of the others; rather, you should experiment and see what works best for you when eating 800 calories in terms of feeling energized without feeling starving, all while trying to balance your blood sugar.

Here are a few suggestions for how to eat 800 calories a day for weight loss:

  • You can eat three meals a day, either splitting your calories evenly or partitioning something like a 250-calorie breakfast, a 250-calorie lunch, and a 300-calorie dinner.
  • You can eat two meals a day, either by intermittent fasting and extending your overnight fast so that you have a 400-calorie lunch and 400-calorie dinner or a 400-calorie breakfast and then wait until dinner for your second 400-calorie meal.
  • You can follow the one meal a day (OMAD) diet and have one 800-calorie meal and then fast for the remaining 23 hours.
  • You can have very small meals spread out throughout the day, like four 200-calorie “meals” (“meals” that are 200 calories may be a bit of a stretch for meal vs. snack!).
A spinach salad.

What Is the Best 800 Calorie a Day Meal Plan?

There is no single best meal plan with 800 calories a day; your food preferences and ideal meal timing will affect the best 800-calories menu plan for you.

We have created two sample 800 calorie weight loss diet plans. 

The first one provides three small meals a day (roughly 225-calorie breakfast, 250-calorie lunch, and 325-calorie dinner), and the second one includes two 400-calorie meals.

800 Calorie High-Protein Meal Plan: 3 Meals a Day

Breakfast: 235 calories, 38 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of net carbs

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of plain nonfat Greek yogurt (100 calories, 17 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs) and 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds (55 calories, 3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat)
  • Egg white scramble with 1.5 cups of baby spinach (7 calories per cup) and 3 egg whites (17 calories per egg white from a large egg, 4 grams of protein) calories: 80 calories, 18 grams of protein, 3 grams of net carbs 
  • 8 to 12 ounces of water
Greek yogurt, berries and granola.

Lunch: 245 calories, 5g of carbs, 37g of protein, 7g of fat

  • One 3-ounce can of light tuna in water, 2 celery stalks chopped, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard: 100 calories, 20 grams of protein, 2 grams of net carbs 
  • Spinach salad with 1.5 cups of spinach, 2 tablespoons of walnuts, the egg whites of three hard-boiled eggs but just the whites, 1 plum tomato chopped, lemon juice and dash of extra virgin olive oil: 145 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams net carbs, 17 grams protein 
  • 8 to 12 ounces of water

Dinner: 326 calories, 35 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of fat

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Over Spiralized Zucchini Noodles (294 calories, 33 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbs, 16 grams of fat)

Recipe:

  • 8 oz deveined shrimp
  • Salt to taste
  • Serrano pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp lime juice and zest
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (62 calories, 7 grams of fat)
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • Served over 1 cup of spiralized zucchini noodles (32 calories, 2 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber)

Total: 806 calories, 110 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, 28 grams of fat.

Zoodles.

800 Calorie Low-Carb Meal Plan: 2 Meals a Day

Breakfast: 396 calories, 35 grams of carbs, 10 grams of fat, 48 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber

  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, (134 calories, 1 gram of fat, 23 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber)
  • 1 cup of Magic Spoon cereal (140 calories, 7 grams of fats, 13 grams of carbs,14 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber)
  • ½ cup raspberries (32 calories, 7 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein)
  • 1 scoop of PB2 Almond Protein Powder with Madagascar Vanilla (90 calories, 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber)
  • 12 ounces of water
  • Black coffee or unsweetened tea
A person drinking a glass of water.

Dinner 405 calories, 24 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber, 36 grams of protein 

  • Pecan-crusted tilapia with 1/4 cup of chopped pecans, 4 ounces of tilapia, cumin, and black pepper to taste, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (290 cal, 1 g of net carbs, 20 g of fat, 28 g of protein)
  • Spinach and broccoli salad with 2 cups of baby spinach, 1/2 cucumber sliced, ½ cup mushrooms, ½ cup of broccoli florets chopped, lemon juice to taste, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup of tomatoes, ½ medium bell pepper, 7 radishes sliced, lemon juice (115 calories, 4 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 11 grams carbs, 6 grams of fiber)
  • 12 ounces of water

Total: 801 calories, 47 grams of carbs, 34 grams of fat, 84 grams of protein, 17 grams of fiber

For a more sustainable weight loss diet plan, check out our guide to what a week of healthy clean eating looks like here.

A variety of clean foods such as grains, vegetables and fruits.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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