Many people choose to follow a reduced calorie, low-fat diet to lose weight. While caloric requirements are highly individual and depend on a number of metabolic and lifestyle factors, choosing a 1700-calorie per day diet will produce slow but steady weight loss for many people.
The sample menus below contain about 450 calories per meal and less than 25 percent of their total calories from fat. Choose one meal each from breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as two 150-200 calorie low-fat snacks.
Choose one of the following breakfasts.
| 1/2 cup steel cut oats (dry)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 mini box raisins
1 tablespoons chopped pecans
| 1 whole grain bagel, toasted
2 tablespoons sugar-free fruit preserves
6 oz orange juice
| 1 container (4 oz) low-fat fruit yogurt
1/2 cup granola
1/2 cup blueberries
8 ounces apple juice
Choose any of the following lunches.
| Turkey wrap made with:
| Spicy chicken salad sandwich made with:
| Chopped salad made with:
Choose one of the following dinners.
| Spaghetti made with:
| 4 ounces grilled shrimp
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup brown rice
1 cup steamed broccoli
| Soft taco made with:
Eat two snacks of about 150 to 200 calories per day with 9 or fewer grams of fat per serving. Snacks in this category include:
- 3 tablespoons hummus with celery (150 calories, 9 g fat)
- 1.5 ounces baked potato chips (150 calories, 3 g fat)
- Baked sweet potato with salsa (120 calories, less than 1 g fat)
- Green smoothies (Calories depend on what you put in it - if you keep it to fruit and veggies, it will be around 150 to 200 calories with negligible fat)
- 1 cup fat-free plain yogurt with 1/2 cup fruit (around 150 calories with negligible fat)
- Low fat string cheese with 7 reduced fat Triscuits (150 calories, 6 g fat)
- 2 slice whole wheat toast with 1 pat butter (200 calories, 5 g fat)
Who Can Benefit?
In the United States, the USFDA requires food labeling to be based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Based on this general daily caloric requirement, a 1,700 calorie per day diet creates a slight caloric deficit that will result in a loss of about a half pound or less per week. While this average number may give you an idea of expected weight loss, it varies based on factors including, but not limited to:
- Individual metabolism
- Activity level
- Current weight
Some people may maintain their current weight on a 1,700 calorie per day diet, some may lose weight, and others may notice a slight weight gain.
According to the Mayo Clinic, limiting certain types of fat in your diet can improve your heart health and blood lipid profiles. Eating a low-fat diet can help. Therefore, certain people may be more likely to benefit from a 1,700-calorie, low-fat diet including:
- People who wish to minimize their risk factors for heart disease or improve blood lipid profiles
- People with a higher body mass index who have more weight to lose
- People who engage in regular exercise or have a physically active lifestyle but wish to lose weight
- People who wish to lose weight slowly without severe caloric restriction
- People with a more sedentary lifestyle who wish to maintain their current weight
While this caloric amount can result in slow, sensible weight loss, many people find they reach a plateau after a while and need to move to a 1,500 calorie per day diet to continue losing weight.
The USDA's MyPlate Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming no more than 30 percent of your calories from fat each day. Therefore, a low-fat diet is one in which 25 percent or fewer of the calories come from fat. If this number sounds high, remember fats and oils play key roles in a healthy diet. Eliminating fat altogether may be just as detrimental as eating too much fat.
Likewise, fat is more calorically dense than the other macronutrients. It has nine calories per gram, as compared to four calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein. This adds up quickly as a percentage of your calories eaten, so it doesn't take much fat to reach 25 percent of your calories consumed. Many natural foods contain fat, so the best way to minimize fat is by lowering the amount of added fats and oils.
The following tips can help you be successful.
- Leafy greens are very low in fat and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are a very low calorie food, so you can add them at will to your menus. Enjoy greens including romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, and Swiss chard, which will fill you up without adding a lot of calories. Non-starchy veggies like celery, cucumber, fennel, and zucchini also pack a nutritional punch without adding significantly to the caloric totals.
- Vinegar makes a great low-calorie dressing for greens with about three calories per tablespoon and no fat. Add a variety of vinegars to spice up your food such as red wine, Champagne, balsamic, and cider vinegar.
- Use herbs and spices to spice up foods without a lot of calories. You can also use moderate amounts of soy sauce, Sriracha, harissa and mustard to add flavor without a lot of calories.
- If you enjoy dairy, choose non-fat dairy products to keep fat and calories low.
- Switch highly processed "white" foods such as white rice or white bread for their whole-grain counterparts. It adds negligible fat and calories, but increases fiber and nutrients.
- MyPlate recommends making fruits and vegetables the bulk of every meal. Consider having a salad and a steamed vegetable for dinner, which will increase nutrients and fiber without adding many calories.
- Minimize highly processed foods.
- Choose lean cuts of animal protein such as fish and seafood, lean beef, lean pork, and skinless white meat poultry. For variety, many game meats like venison and elk are also quite low in fat.
- Low-fat and low-calorie doesn't always mean nutritious. Many boxed and canned foods are billed as low-fat or low-calorie, but also contain very little nutrition. Instead, choose nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains so that you get the nutrition your body needs.
- Make exercise a regular component of a healthy lifestyle, particularly if you wish to lose weight on this eating plan.
- Talk to your doctor before starting any diet.
The 1700 calorie low-fat diet is a good moderate way of slowly losing or maintain weight while keeping hunger in check. By eating the nutritionally dense, low-fat foods recommended above, you'll be on your way toward better health.