A very low-calorie diet may contribute to longevity, according to the Weight Control Information Network, especially when used by those who need to lose a significant amount of weight. The definition of a very low-calorie diet is 800 to 1000 calories per day, making 300-calorie menus of interest. It's necessary that these meals concentrate on highly nutritious, low-calorie foods that create a sense of satisfaction and prevent hunger between meals.
Plan a whole week of 300-calorie meals in advance because random eating at this caloric intake can result in missing essential nutrients. Start with a blank sheet of paper divided into seven columns and three rows to make 21 boxes, one for each meal. If you want to add additional calories, add a fourth row for a daily snack.
Add a source of protein to each box on your menu plan. Thinking in terms of 100 calorie units will make this easy. That can be 3 oz. of chicken or turkey without the skin or one large egg. But it's advisable to make at least two of your three daily selections a 3-oz. serving of cold-water seafood, such as tuna or salmon, or 1 oz of walnuts. Any of these will supply omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Measure whole grains carefully but do add them to each meal. The 100-calorie portion size of foods such as brown rice, oats, quinoa and tabbouleh is 1/3 cup cooked, prepared with water. Whole grains such as these supply many minerals and vitamins as well as fiber. To make them even more beneficial, considering adding 1 tablespoon turmeric while cooking. This spice, a product of the Punjab region of India, is known to decrease inflammation in the body, which lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease and abdominal obesity, according to Dr. Yoshinori Mine in his book, "Nutrigenomics and Proteomics in Health and Disease."
Select fresh, low-carbohydrate vegetables for at least two meals a day. Three cups of most salad greens and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula and watercress contain 100 calories. These can be steamed lightly and added to a one-egg omelet for breakfast, eaten as a raw salad for lunch or stuffed into a tomato along with 1/3 cup of brown rice before baking it for dinner. If one of the day's servings is a dark green leafy vegetable, another should be a 100-calorie serving of another low-calorie, low-carbohydrate vegetable such as bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, zucchini or broccoli.
Drizzle olive oil mixed with vinegar or lemon juice on salads or mix the two ingredients in an atomizer and spray it lightly. For items like omelets that require creating a non-stick cooking surface, use a noncaloric spray and a teflon pan. Generally a 300-calorie meal won't leave any room for fats, even healthy ones.
Bite into a piece of whole, fresh fruit with its peel at least once each day, either as a snack or as part of a meal. For example, a medium apple or pear provides 100 calories and slathered with 1 tablespoon of walnut butter accompanied by 1/3 cup of tabbouleh, creates an interesting 300-calorie lunch.
Never restrict calories this severely if you are pregnant or recovering from surgery and seek medical guidance from a physician or health coach before starting any very low-calorie diet.