If you’re dieting to lose weight, you should try to diet on as many calories as possible as opposed to as few. Your body will adapt to fewer calories and start to slow your metabolism to compensate. You want to delay this as much as possible.
You can diet effectively without ever being excessively hungry or lacking in energy. Sure, some hunger and energy issues may arise but you don’t have to starve yourself or feel miserable. Suffering is not the goal!
All calories are not created equal! You can gain or lose weight on the same number of calories a day depending on where those calories come from. 2500 calories of cake, cookies, pizza, and soda will have a different effect on your system and how your body responds and progresses than 2500 calories of grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed vegetables.
Not eating enough calories can stall your progress. While overeating can cause you to gain weight, under-eating can keep you from losing weight. Make sure each meal has an adequate serving of protein plus enough complex carbs and/or healthy fats to get the calories and nutrients you’ll need for nourishment and to keep your metabolism from slowing down excessively.
In terms of a fitness diet, every meal should have a minimum amount of protein depending upon your current lean body weight and goals. Generally speaking, 20-25 grams a meal at the lower end for lighter individuals and 30-35 (or more) grams a meal for larger, more muscular individuals (depending on activity level, eating frequency, age, goals, etc.) would be ideal. The protein is slow digesting and will help stabilize your blood sugar levels, help build/maintain muscle tissue (in conjunction with proper training), and help maximize your metabolism.
You should have your first meal within 30 minutes of waking in the morning and then try not to go longer than 3-4 hours between meals after that. Fasting is not necessary or beneficial for long-term diet success. Your “diet” also needs to properly nourish your body. Think of your diet as a permanent eating lifestyle, not something you can’t wait to get off of.
You don’t have to stop eating by a certain “magical” time of night. It’s more about what you eat than what time you stop eating.
Water is a key nutrient for fitness, health, and weight management. Getting enough water each day is essential!