400 Calorie Fix

By Jim F


Prevention Editor-in-Chief Liz Vaccariello (remember the Flat Belly Diet?) is back with the 400 Calorie Fix.

If you read Prevention you are probably aware of the 400 Calorie column – which focuses on menus and meals that total up to 400 Calories.The diet was featured on the Rachael Ray show,

“I was pleasantly surprised when I actually looked at the meals and realized how much food 400 calories can be. Getting used to eating on the plan was easy as far as my hunger was concerned, but as a busy mommy, the planning was a little tough for me in the beginning.”

Why 400 Calories?
“We came up with that amount because registered dietitians say that’s the amount in a meal that you’re going to remain satisfied, you’re not going to get cravings, you get a variety of tastes and textures and you’re going to get enough disease-fighting nutrients so you stay healthy.” – Liz Vaccariello.

Don’t confuse this with a 400 Calorie Diet!
Three main meals would total 1200 Calories, plus extra for snacks. Given that the average intake is around 2700-2800 Calories per day, this is a good figure to shoot for.

The focus of the book is to take aim at the “calorie creep” that has occurred over the last thirty years. The author wants to “start retraining your mind to see food the 400-calorie way”.

Click here to purchase this book for a discounted price (Amazon).


  1. Donna

    Can Fruity Bran Muffins in the book be frozen?

    • Ted

      I’m sure they can. It wouldn’t change the nutritional quality, but they might not taste as fresh once thawed.

  2. Gem

    My first thought of this book before I actually started reading it was that I would be learning about all these bland 400 calorie meals that I would begrudgingly force myself to eat. Not true! I found myself drooling over the material. The meals are very creatively put together with more than enough of a flavorful variety to stay on track. Much of it is about portion control which we Americans do seem to have the most trouble with. In fact, they even include numerous fast food (i.e. McDonald’s breakfast – yum, Wendy’s, Chinese take-out and more) and dessert options (of every kind) that make the cut. 400 Calorie Fix has absolutely helped me to make smarter and healthier choices which have helped me to gain more energy and confidence overall.

  3. KAH

    Amen! I am with you on this one. Moderation is the key along with discipline. Throwing in a little exercise doesn’t hurt either. Love is in the kitchen!

  4. KM

    Yes, you can follow this diet. I am 5’4″ and last week I was 149 lbs. I am down to 145 after only one week and amazed at how well this seems to be working. I am a working mother and I have to say the recipe’s in this book are fantastic! Easy to plan and make and also realistic. My family really likes them. Sometimes I substitute other carbs for things like “lettuce wraps” for my kids though. If you follow a healthy diet, i.e. eating lots of fruits and veggies, you will not go hungry. This diet will not work if you eat a lot of junk for each of your 400 calorie meals because you’ll just spike your blood sugar and be starving again in two hours. However it is flexible enough to eat it once in a while. Yesterday I had some birthday cake and didn’t feel like I’d blown my diet. I just made sure not to take a huge piece. I’ve paired this diet with daily exercise, 30 -45 minutes, 6 days a week. I am also taking a daily multivitamin and probiotic supplement. I feel great! I am very motivated by the outcome so far and feel positive about reaching my goal of losing 15 lbs. Good Luck!

  5. Alissa Pittman

    I get eating 400 calories,3or4 meals.But what are the meals suppose to be under what 8or5gms of fat,whats the fat intake per meal aloud.

  6. James Reno

    You might be suprised to find that if you stick to fresh fruits and vegetables how much you can eat, and still stay under 400 calories!

    James Reno

  7. Jenny

    I started this diet about 5 days ago. I have lost 3 pounds already doing the quick start part of the book. I have done Weight Watchers on and off for the past few years and the most I ever lost in one week was 1 pound. I feel like this diet is so realistic. I went to a Thai/Sushi place with my husband last night and ate a great meal without feeling deprived. I actually eat more for breakfast now than I ever have in the past. I love all of the meal ideas that the book has to offer. Just as on any diet, you can have a bigger volume of food the healthier you eat, but I love that if you find yourself in a situation where you want to eat “junk” food than it’s okay, you don’t feel like you’ve blown your diet.

  8. michele

    I am only supposed to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight. I’m 5’1″ and 160 lbs. Can I follow this diet?

  9. MJ

    Well put Jennie;-)

  10. Jennie

    I have dieted for many years, and tried more diets than there is room here to list. I have lost about 135 lbs total. In my experience, the number one thing that derails any diet is the social aspect of life – spending time with family, going out for dinner, office lunches, hectic schedules, etc.

    I have tried eating “clean” and eliminating everything that isn’t good for me. But the reality is there are times in life where clean eating just doesn’t work. I have drank water at parties because I shouldn’t have alcohol, and diet drinks are unhealthy, and fruit juice has too much sugar. I have passed on going out for dinner because I knew the restaurant wasn’t going to have anything I could eat besides a side salad and didn’t want to be picking at my lettuce leaves while everyone else was enjoying their meals. I would bring my own snacks and desserts for gatherings with friends because I knew the hostess would only be serving “forbidden” food. I missed out Christmas dinner because I was on a “detox”.

    Then, I had an awakening. What was the point of doing all of this if I was missing out on so much? I would rather live to be 75 years old and be able to enjoy food and socializing than to live to be 100 and spend most of my life feeling deprived or left out. There is no doubt eating healthy is the way to go. If I do nothing but eat cheeseburgers, fries, pizza, and cake, I won’t even see 75. However, there needs to be a balance. That is what appeals to me about this diet. It encourages eating healthy, but also teaches people how to be responsible about their choices when they do decide to splurge. The key is MODERATION. You can still enjoy the things you love, just don’t go crazy. Also, at 1600 calories per day, it isn’t encouraging people to drop too much weight too fast. About a pound a week is perfect.

    For some people, spending half their life in the gym and never eating anything they shouldn’t works. For me, not so much. I love the idea of eating balanced, nutritional meals most of the time, but still getting to participate in life.

  11. MindyHermannRD

    As the co-author and registered dietitian for 400 Calorie Fix, I helped to create meals that could fit into a balanced, satisfying and realistic eating plan. We advocate healthy foods — fruits and veggies, high fiber, lean protein, good fats. But if you do want, say, Oreos or a fast-food burger, we show you how to right-size your portions.

  12. Sandy

    How does this 400 Calorie Fix differ from the Flat Belly Diet? Sound very similar

  13. Garrete

    It seems just about every weight loss program requires you eat their food which, as many of you would agree, are not the most preferred foods out there. Most diets, it seems, involve either starvation or massive amounts of expensive supplements. Some diet programs send participants running for personal loans just to keep up.

  14. helpful

    I remember reading somewhere that you should figure on consuming 10 calories per pound to maintain your weight if you are not active (e.g. 120 pound person minimum consumption 1200 calories). The math is easy to figure, anyway, if using this as a starting point.

    I think one problem with calculating how many more calories you should add/subtract to/from the base figure is that people overestimate how much exercise (including any kind of activity that burns calories here as well) they do.

    Also, in regards to the “400 Calorie Fix”, what will make a difference in how fast you feel hungry again is partly a result of the type of food you’re consuming–Oreos vs. say broccoli or some other food with fiber or a lot of water in it. Grapes vs. raisins, anyone?

  15. Mike Howard

    “Most diets are just ways to fool people into eating less anyway… Intermittent fasting, Paleo, Warrior, Atkins, South Beach, etc”

    Well said TonyK!

  16. E.

    I’m sure that most readers here aren’t relying on diet blog comments for their nutritional advice, but on the off-chance there is someone here who is, I would just like to elaborate on Spectra’s statement above that 1600 calories may be reasonable for a woman who is not too terribly active.

    Whether or not it is reasonable depends on a number of things (the age, weight, height of the woman) and whether or not she is trying to maintain or lose weight.

    For me, based on the above factors, 1600 calories is enough for me to lose a little under 1/2 pound a week sitting in my cube. Everyone is different, and I know that I would often get frustrated reading these 1200 – 1600 calorie eating plans and wondering why I was always so hungry.

  17. TonyK

    Most diets are just ways to fool people into eating less anyway… Intermittent fasting, Paleo, Warrior, Atkins, South Beach, etc.

    It’s nice to see a diet whose principles are based on the actual dynamics behind weight loss instead of some mysterious, secret macro-breakdown or nutrient partitioning via manipulation of your body’s p-ratio, blah blah blah. Having this kind of flexibility will lead to a greater rate of success in people sticking to the diet.

  18. botgurl

    I can see where both Spectra and O. are coming from.

    I have not seen the book but I think it might appeal to someone who is not ready to make only occasional visits to McDonalds.

    Some people prefer portion control because they might not have to make drastic changes to their current diet. For example if they want to go to McDonalds every day for breakfast.

  19. Spectra

    Ok, I’m not trying to villainize Oreos or anything…it’s ultimately all about calories. And if you love Oreos, it’s great Liz shows people how to eat them so you can still lose weight. Like, eat 2 Oreos not 8 of them. I was just trying to clarify that the plan doesn’t focus on certain foods or nutrient ratios; it focuses more on portion control.

  20. O.

    I just saw your comment Spectra 🙂

    It kind of sounds like you don’t believe moderation followers are really eating healthy.

    I can’t speak for all moderation diet followers, but I can explain an example of what I do.

    Yes I eat healthy. That is what I call the BASIS of my diet, or my day in day out regular way of eating.

    I probably eat some of the say things you do. I love soy milk, Kashi brand foods, Amy’s vegetarian entrees, I diligently eat freash steamed veggies, fresh fruit, and so forth.

    BUT, I do have a “meal off” Usually once every 2 weeks, where I eat whatever I like. It “calms” that other side of myself, and in the long run keeps me on track.

    I addition some of my “basis” meals are “normal food” but portion controled. Like I go to KFC, get one chicken breast, bring it home and have it with some steamed veggies.

  21. O.

    Wow! I just got done watching Rachael’s show a half hour ago, and I am usually not watching tv at this time of day. Glad I caught this.

    I totally loved Liz today. The thing that really stuck in my head is when she was talking about the lady who was trying out the plan and Liz said “She can still have Oreo’s and milk with her kids.”

    I don’t know if Liz is a dietitian , but Liz get’s “it”.
    She gets us food lovers.

    While never having a personal session with a nutritionist, I have tried to follow the general advice they give on tv and in magazines, and I swear it made me yo yo for years.

    The “moderation not deprivation” method is what works for some people. And while some long term weight loosers have sworn off certain foods, nutritonists need to realize that the some people can’t be scared into never going to McDonalds again. But that doesn’t mean they can’t live a healthier lifestyle.

  22. Spectra

    From what I saw on the show, it’s a plan that’s mostly about portion control rather than eating specific foods. She mentioned that you can “eat Oreos and milk with your kids as one of your 400 calorie meals”. I think it’s more geared toward people that don’t want to change WHAT they eat; just how much.

  23. Jody - Fit at 52

    I will have to check it out more. I would be curious what the make-up is in terms of protein/carbs/fat calories.

  24. Spectra

    Actually, she was on Rachael Ray today and said you’re supposed to eat 4 400-calorie meals a day for a total of 1600 calories, which is very reasonable for a woman who isn’t terribly active. I would think it’d be easy to add a few calories here and there if you’re more active. It seems like a pretty sane plan, especially if you are one of those people that eats sporadically all day long and doesn’t really get a sense of when they are full.