How Does 500 Calorie Diet Works: Power Packed Info With Interesting Facts

The 500 calorie diet may appear like a recent evolution, but it has been around various types for many years. A new diet appears each year to deal with the global issue of hiking obesity rates. In this article, you will learn why some people consume the 500 calorie diet and whether or not it is safe.

You’ve probably heard of “going on a diet” before. It might be you’ve even given a try to a “diet” yourself at some stage in your life. But what are diets really, and what purpose do they serve? In simple words, a diet is a defined eating plan to help you lose weight, decrease your body fat, or enhance your health differently.

Read Also: 30-Day Fasting Weight Loss

So, Have you ever thought about how a person could go on a diet and lose weight without feeling starving, or how those who only consume 500 calories a day can balance their weight? It may appear impossible, but with the correct diet, it is entirely possible. Today, I am here to talk about a well-known diet, the 500 Calorie Diet. This diet is entire as it sounds — you consume only 500 calories daily.

This is Amreen; as I hold a diploma in nutrition and health education, I am pretty aware and possess good knowledge of the trending topics of health and fitness. After thoroughly researching and consulting with healthcare professionals and nutritionists, I developed this 500 calorie diet and its related knowledge. I have been continuously exploring this respective area since 2017.

Individuals on a 500 calorie diet target to eat only 500 calories daily, nearly a quarter of the daily suggested consumption for adults. The upper limitation on a diet is 800 calories per day.

Diets like the 500 calorie diet are termed very-low-calorie diets (VLCD). However, doctors have prescribed VLCDs for several years to cure some medical conditions; consuming so little does come with harm.

Doctors may suggest the 500 calorie diet to aid people with obesity who could have bariatric surgery. VLCDs are also vital before bariatric and laparoscopic surgery. Losing fat could decrease operative time, blood loss, and the risk of difficulties.

What Is a 500 Calorie Diet?

A 500 calorie diet is a diet that limits your calorie consumption to 500 calories per day. This is a very low-calorie diet and is frequently used as a fast way to lose weight. It is also sometimes termed a calorie-limited diet or a low-calorie diet.

This strategy enables you to eat a balanced diet that contains veggies, fresh fruits, nuts, cereals, grains, etc., of roughly 2000 calories five days a week and then restrict yourself to 500 low-carb calories the other two days. Generally, the two “fasting” days are not progressive.

This is a very utmost option to look for, tried mainly by people at risk of health problems due to obesity or being overweight. This type of meal plan or diet plan is called VLCD, which stands for a Very low-calorie diet. This comprises the replacement of your regular diet routine (2000 calories a day for women and 2500 calories for men) with a highly low-calorie diet consisting of only 500 to 1000 calories a day.

Table of Contents

Who Can Follow This?

Don’t try this if you are going for a step to lose weight rapidly and see quicker results. This is a big NO because it has health hazards, too, which we will explain later on.

 If your doctor recommends that losing weight is essential for you, he or she will prescribe a 500 calorie diet. 

They obtain this by examining your overall health problems against the dangers and probable consequences of extreme calorie limitations. For your health safety, do not practice this until your doctor has not recommended a 500 calorie diet. A diet like this comes with risks and precautions. While on this diet, you must be supervised by a doctor.

Read Also: Gluten-Free Diet Plan For Weight Loss

Who Should Avoid a 500 Calorie Diet?

If one has particular medical concerns, they must not try this diet. These clinical concerns are mentioned below

  1. Kidney diseases
  2. Gallstones
  3. Diabetes  
  4. Gout (accumulation of uric acid in joints)
  5. Heart disease

Read Also: 6-Week Weight Loss Meal Plan

Health Risks on 500 Calorie Diet

One of the most familiar dieting strategies is to eat 500 calories fewer than your daily suggested amount. This could result in a vital calorie deficit, which is planned to lead to weight loss. Although, limiting 500 calories a day is not as easy as it may appear. It needs a lot of planning and foresight, which could be challenging for people who eat whatever they desire without much thought.

1. Nutrition Deficit

When you limit your calories, your body naturally limits particular processes to survive. Although, when you eat less food, you might not be getting the right amount of nutrients your body requires to work at peak performance. This could cause several health issues, including fatigue, reduced immunity, and even weight-related concerns. This is where a nutritional deficiency comes into action. Additionally, the blood concentrations of vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc were primarily lower in obese adults who go for a low-calorie diet for more than 12 weeks.

500 calorie diet
500 calorie diet

2. Decrease in Bone Mass When on Vlcd

As people lower their calorie consumption, the body follows by reducing the size of the muscles and bones to ensure that the body gets enough energy to perform its essential functions. 

As a result, people could experience a reduction in bone mass. This is particularly prevalent in women, as estrogen is needed to maintain bone mass. In men, reduced estrogen production can cause osteoporosis, premature aging, and an increased hazard of bone fractures.

3. Gallstones

Following such a diet may cause a risk of formation of gallstones. These are a hardened accumulation of digestive fluid in the gallbladder. The following factors enhance a person’s risk of gallstones:

  • fasting for extended periods
  • obesity
  • Rapid weight loss
  • pre-existing gallstones
  • Repeatedly losing and gaining weight, observing VLCDs with a higher fat consumption could help avoid the development of gallstones.

Consuming fiber-rich foods and decreasing refined carbs and sugar consumption can also help prevent gallstones.

4. Health Fat Deficient

Reduce needless calorie intake; a low-calorie diet lacks beneficial fats. Eating healthy fats in moderation provides satiety and helps with weight management. An extremely low-calorie diet with limited healthy fat intake reduces the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, resulting in a shortage.

5. Changes in Metabolism

Consuming a low-calorie diet can lead your metabolism to slow down. On a low-calorie diet, your body burns fewer calories, and, consequently, you bear to gain weight more rapidly than usual when you return to a regular diet. This is so your body is less able to burn off the calories you consume, which results in weight gain. Some people declare that following a low-calorie diet could help you lose weight. Still, in general, this is not the situation.

6. Loss of Muscle

Lose fat, not muscle, when dieting. If you adopt a VLCD for an extended length of time, you will lose slightly more muscle mass than fat mass. Skeletal muscle loss could be caused by a highly low-calorie, low-carb, low-protein diet. This could give you a “slim-fat” look and lead your skin to turn loose and saggy.

7. Lack of healthful fats

Out of the three fat macronutrients, protein, and carbohydrates, fat is the maximum in calories. As fats contain many calories, it is tough to eat enough of them while on a 500 calorie diet. Unsaturated fats, like those in salmon and avocado, are highly vital to the body.

A low-fat diet also enhances the risk of deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin E, and poor absorption of antioxidants.

8. Doctor supervision is necessary

Poor quality of foods and the risk of nutritional deficiencies could make a 500 calorie diet hazardous. It is significant for people to get recommendations from a doctor and a dietitian before following this diet.

9. Meal Replacements Are Not a Long-Term Solution

Individuals sometimes utilize meal replacing for one or two of their daily foods while on a low-calorie diet. However, these could be useful, but eating them for an extended period could harm a person’s health.

Vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and phytochemicals all have significant interactions in the body when a person is consuming whole foods. Artificial foods cannot substitute these essential interactions.

10. It Could Be Costly

Even though an individual on the 500 calorie diet consumes more diminutive, the cost per pound of food is higher than on other diets. The cost of meal substitute foods, like Optifast, is often relatively more than the equivalent amount of whole foods.

Most programs also recommend weekly consultations with the supervising doctor.

11. Lifestyle Changes vs. A Quick Fix

Anyone trying a VLCD must take care to start other healthy weight loss strategies as well. These may contain nutrition counseling and physical activity. Being on a VLCD does not develop good health behaviors, as the diet is not supportable over the period. It is better to make small but lifelong changes that are easier to maintain.

12. Prefer the 5:2 or Alternate Day Diet

Other low-calorie diets comprise the 5:2 diet, time-restricted eating, or alternate-day fasting (ADF). These diets give opportunities for eating higher quantities of veggies, fruit, whole grains, and healthful fats.

On the 5:2 diet, a person consumes a regular amount of healthy calories on 5 days of the week, then restricts their calorie consumption to 500–600 calories for 2 non-consecutive days.

Time-restricted eating exerts the nighttime fast to between 12 and 16 hours. Meaning that a person could only eat during specific hours of the day. For instance, they could fast at night and only consume between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

When a person performs ADF, they alternate their daily calorie consumption, consuming 500 calories one day and eating a structured figure of healthful calories the next.

A current meta-analysis and systematic review found that people observing ADF achieved relatively higher fat loss than those using VLCD. They also appear to have a lower risk of muscle loss.

ADF or the 5:2 diet could help a person achieve the same weight loss or health benefits as utilizing a 500 calorie diet while also being much easier to adapt.

13. Muscle Loss

Losing weight rapidly could put a person at risk of losing muscle instead of fat.

A reduction in muscle mass can negatively affect a person’s metabolism. This is uncontrollable because it decreases a person’s ability to burn calories and avoid injury.

Building lean muscle while consuming a healthy diet is often a better method for sustainable weight loss.

14. Missing Out on Social Events

Consuming out could be tough on a 500 calorie diet. Many restaurants don’t bring the total calorie count of their meals.

Being on the 500 calorie diet could also cause anxiety about placing orders for food or dining with family and friends.

15. Not Suitable for People With Specific Diseases

Doctors do not suggest VLCD and meal substitute products for people who are overweight or have obesity with particular medical conditions.

Individuals with the following case must not try the 500 calorie diet without a doctor’s recommendation and supervision:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 1 diabetes 
  • Thyroid disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Gout
  • Gallstones

16. Possible Decrease in Bone Health

The long-term impact of a VLCD on bone health is unknown as people don’t utilize the diet for extended periods.

Although, a lack of vital minerals and nutrients could weaken bones over time.

What One Can Eat

Broccoli, carrot, beetroot, scallions, cabbage, lettuce, and parsnip are a few examples of non-starchy veggies. These are high in nutrients and low in calories too. They would force you to decrease weight without hazarding your health.

Salads, sautéed, stir-fried, and blanched foods are all alternatives. These decrease the disruption of powerful enzymes and phytonutrients.

Yogurt with full-fat milk.

Fruits and freshly squeezed juices Make an effort to prevent high GI foods like mangoes, pineapple, and grapes.

Salad topping made with olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Chicken and shrimp are already cooked.

Pre-washed veggies.

Many items are low in calories or highlighted as low or zero-calorie drinks or snacks. However, they are damaging to one’s health. Consequently, if you’re on a 500 calorie diet, you must know what to eat and what to avoid.

These were some food lists you could prefer when on a 500 calorie diet, but do you know what to avoid?

When on a 500 Calories Diet But You Know What To Avoid?

Foods that have been processed, such as sausages and salami.

Canned vegetables and fruits, for example.

Energy drinks, soda, and fruit liquids in a bottle

Fruits dried.

Cake, pastries, pancakes, and sweets are examples of sugary foods.

Example of Meal Plan for VLCD

  • EXAMPLE 1

Breakfast: Non-fat yogurt only1 bowl serving. Calories count: 137

Lunch: Carrots serve only 2 cups. Calories count: 172

Dinner: Easy hard-boiled eggs.Calories count: 143.

  • EXAMPLE 2

Breakfast: whole wheat toast only1 served. Calories count: 71.

Lunch: 2 bananas. Calories count: 210.

Dinner: Tomato soup with only 1 serving. Calories count: 200.

What to Consume in a 500 Calorie Diet Plan?

Breakfast – Go for any one of the options

Food ItemQuantity
Low-fat cottage cheese with a small banana½ cup
Hard-boiled egg with a whole wheat toast1
Unsweetened cereal + low-fat milk¾ cup + 1 cup
Decaffeinated tea or skimmed milk230 ml
500 Calorie Diet Breakfast

You could also go for low-calorie fruits such as – melon, grapes, oranges, etc. For sweetening tea or milk, prefer saccharin or stevia. Don’t forget to drink abundant water, as keeping yourself hydrated is more than significant.

Lunch – Go for any one of the options.

Food ItemQuantity
Grilled chicken/fish and Mixed greens85 gms and 3 cups
Vegetable soup made with cabbage, Broccoli, spinach, or any other leafy vegetables1 bowl
Turkey rolls with lettuce and mustard + whole-grain fat-free crackersUp to 55 gms turkey + 2 Crackers
Greek yogurt and blueberries (high-protein lunch option)1 cup
500 Calorie Diet Lunch

Have at least 470ml water during lunch. Prevent using oils for topping in salads. Instead, you could use lemon juice, soy sauce, or apple cider vinegar.

Dinner – Choose any one of the options

Food ItemQuantity
Raw vegetable salad1 bowl
Shrimps + Broccoli tossed in cocktail sauce15 Shrimps + 1 cup
Stir veggies, including bok choy, carrots, beans, celery, and tofu.1 bowl + 2 tbsp broth mixed with 1 tsp soy sauce

Egg White Omelette


Spinach


Mushroom

Low-fat Cheddar Cheese

4 Eggs

½ cup

½ cup

15 gms

500 Calorie Diet Dinner

Getting starving pangs between meals during the 500 calorie weight loss diet plan is expected. Be strong and don’t surrender to temptation. You could snack on –

  1. Celery
  2. Cucumber
  3. Unbuttered popcorn
  4. Fresh juices (without sugar)
  5. Roasted peanuts

Make a good food choice by consuming low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods throughout the day. Don’t forget to have water at regular intervals. You could indulge in calorie-free foods such as –

  1. Black coffee
  2. Sugar-free lemonade
  3. Sugar-free gelatin and ice popsicles
  4. Fat-free broth

Benefits of 500 Calorie Diet

The prime benefit of the 500 calorie diet is that it aids in rapid weight loss. Being on a VLCD could help reconstruct your metabolism. It excels in fat oxidation, aiding you in losing weight. It is excellent for those who must lose weight to avoid health hazards.

But what if you follow this diet even if you don’t require it? Or what if you are on a 500 calorie diet for three weeks or more without being recommended by a doctor? Here’s what could happen.

How Does the 5:2 Diet Work?

It’s simple. For two days each week, you take not more than 500 calories. For the other five days, you eat usually. You must lose around 1.5lb a week – more if you have a lot of weight.

The two days of fasting also aid you in eating, usually on other days. Normally carry on with the plan, using 5:2 diet meal plans, until you’ve accomplished the weight you’re happy with. You could maintain weight at this stage by having a 500-calorie daily weekly.

On the days you eat. Usually, you must opt for about 2,000 calories a day. Still, you need not worry if you have a blowout several times a week, like going out for dinner and/or drinks.

Your 500-calorie days would help to balance your insulin levels and hunger. You must find your appetite is smaller on regular days, so you need not work so hard to remain around the 2,000 calorie level.

“The 5:2 diet is significantly calorie-restricting, which adapts a structured program based on days of the week. Significantly, the basic rules go something like this: for two days a week, if you are a female, consume just 500 calories, or 600 if you are a man. These foods can be taken anytime and comprise any food you prefer. Then, consume and drink as you usually would for the remainder of the week.

“The concept looks simple and indeed it is, but over the week your body has generally been contradicting around 3000 calories. The concept also makes inherent sense, in that through those days of low-calorie consumption, the response of our body is to reduce levels of insulin thereby leading to stored sources of sugar in our fat cells to be utilized as energy.

As a result, we lose weight if we allow our insulin levels to go down, and in theory, if we enable the insulin levels to let down far enough and for long enough, we shed off our fat. Although, compared to consuming less every day in a controlled manner, both strategies seem to deliver the same weight loss outcomes.”

Is the 5:2 Diet Healthy?

Fans of the 5:2 diet suggest that not only will it aid you in losing weight but that it can enhance your lifespan and protect against diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Although fasting could have some worse side effects, mainly dizziness, lack of energy, irritability, headaches, and trouble sleeping, ensure you’re prepared for this.

While it’s viewed that the 5:2 diet could also help avoid type 2 diabetes, it is unsuitable for people who already have diabetes and require it to maintain their glucose level.

“There are several lab studies that highlight this approach to calorie limitation could have a beneficial impact on blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, and there is very little data in humans also verifying these observations.’ as per Clinical Nutritionist Mike Wakeman. “Although the tremendous effects are witnessed in overweight people, and what role the actual weight loss makes to the overall effect is tough to determine. So, yes, most research recognizes it is safe and effective, but how better it is than any other diet to improve significant health parameters is tough to discover.”

What and When Could I Eat on the 5:2 Diet?

While the calorie limitations are strict on the two days spent fasting, the diet is very smooth. It’s up to you what you consume on your fast days, as long as it appears at not more than 500 calories for the whole day. You would require to be committed and pretty determined as you’re limiting your calorie intake by 3/4. Still, if you remain busy and plan what you’re going to take – it’s definitely possible.

Researchers from the University of Alabama organized research looking at the impact of time of eating on the advantages of intermittent fasting. In the controlled eating situation, all foods were fitted into an early eight-hour period of the day (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) or stretched out over 12 hours (between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.).

“However this diet had a no different impact on weight loss in comparison to consuming at ‘normal’ times in the 5:2 diet, just altering the timing of meals, by consuming earlier in the day and stretching the overnight fast, majorly benefited metabolism even in people who didn’t shed any weight at all. However, the eight-hour group also had an important decrease in hunger and weren’t as hungry.”

While following 500-calorie days, you could eat whatever you prefer. Still, the following foods are some of the most reliable as they’re less in calories, so you could eat more throughout the day than if you take smaller, high-calorie foods:

  • Lots of vegetables
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Small portions of lean meat
  • Soups

You could fragment your 500 calories as you want, into one meal, two, or three, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – but the best and healthy way is to consume little and often throughout the day.

While it’s permitted, filling up on a crescent roll at breakfast will utilize most of your calorie allowance, and you’ll be hungry for the rest of the day. Practice a little with what times function well for you on your fasting days. You could find skipping breakfast and having two small meals for lunch and dinner functions well for you. Or having a more extensive, more satiating food in the evening and a few snacks throughout the day could be better – it’s really down to personal choice.

“Importantly, take a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, legumes like beans and lentils, whole grains, and healthy fats and protein sources. Not only will these be healthiest, but they would also likely be more sustainable as well. “Try to restrict refined grains and sugars and don’t munch between meals. Prevent eating and snacking at nighttime, specifically on the days when not fasting. Remain active throughout the day, and look for some aerobic and anaerobic exercise programs, preferably personalized, to increase your metabolism and optimize the impact of your diet.

“Prefer using a multivitamin alongside your dietary routine. There is good proof that highlighting being overweight is linked with a lower than optimal micronutrient position and even if the diet is altered to a healthier version, shedding weight won’t quickly improve this scenario. So, eating a multivitamin would help correct this and doubtlessly aid higher energy levels, specifically if it is rich in B vitamins.”

What Could I Drink on the 5:2 Diet?

You could drink as much water as you prefer on the 5:2 diet, and you must try to drink as much as possible during your fasting days; it’ll remain hydrated and could help you stave off hunger for a bit longer.

You’ll require to watch out for drinks with milk in, as these will utilize up calories that could be, if not put towards a meal.

  • Black or herbal teas
  • Black coffee
  • Diet drinks
  • Try the calories of the hot drink counter if you’re not sure

Can You Exercise on a 5:2 Diet?

You could still exercise on the 5:2 diet plan, too – and you must. Exercising 500 calories daily could sound intimidating, but it could increase weight loss and enhance overall health and fitness. Some individuals even witnessed that exercise removes hunger pangs.

Research highlights fasting has no negative impact on the tendency to do little activity. Even so, it’s important to listen to your body. Also, practicing cardio could aid your body stopcock into its fat stores and enhance the benefit of your fasting days.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) could be your perfect decision (check with your GP if in doubt), as short shots of intense exercise have been considered efficient, with the fat burning going for hours after the workout is completed. HIIT could be as simple as running in the quick spray while jogging. And try preserving some calories even after your workout.

Is the 5:2 Diet Productive for Weight Loss?

One of the most known reasons for going for the 5:2 diet is to lose weight. Some people could opt for the 5:2 diet just to consume a little healthier and balance their food better but shedding weight on the 5:2 diet is quite common if you follow it rightly.

 The 5:2 diet is efficient for weight loss but likely no more so than other diets that involve calorie limitation.

“Although, any approach requires a plan which gives a healthy dietary consumption of wholesome foods that enhances nutritional content. There is some evolving scientific proof that states fasting around the natural pattern of our body when mixed with both a healthy lifestyle and diet and lifestyle, could deliver an optimized effect in the method to weight loss regulation programs.”

5:2 Diet Meal Plans: What to Consume for 500 Calorie Fast Days

Gaining inspiration for what to consume on the 5:2 diet can be discouraging. These 5:2 diet recipes are filling, yummy, and best to include in our 5:2 diet meal plan.

Conclusion

A 500 calorie diet could be beneficial in the short term for people with obesity or as a pre-operative estimation. Although, people just watching to lose weight must try making sustainable diet and lifestyle changes, like increasing their veggies consumption in all meals. They could also consider the 5:2 diet, time-limited eating, or ADF.

People must not use the 500 calorie diet for longer than a doctor suggests.

The 500 calorie diet plan is very low-calorie and efficient in rapid weight loss. It helps boost metabolism and enhances fat oxidation, leading you to lose some pounds in no time. This diet is usually suggested for those with obesity. 

People with diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, or gout must prevent it. This diet must only be followed under the recommendation of a doctor or a dietitian. Adapting it for more than a week could result in nutritional imbalances, weakened immunity, fatigue, weakness, hair loss, and gallstones. So, practice cautiously.

DISCLAIMER

This article is purposive for intended general information and does not mark individual circumstances. It is not an alternative to professional advice or help. It should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician must be consulted to diagnose and treat any medical condition. Any action you take due to the information on this page is entirely at your own risk and responsibility!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1. What to eat on 5:2 intermittent fasting?

Answer: Prefer a combination of food that contains a total of 500 calories. Like Tomato soup, 2 cups of carrot or 2 boiled eggs or some mixture of veggies with soya sauce is also a good option you can opt for.

Question 2. How much weight can I lose with a diet plan?

Answer: If you go for VLCD, you may lose up to 0.1 kilograms or 1 pound weekly. But it is difficult to follow.

Question 3. How can I survive on VLCD?

Answer: Please do not opt for this until and unless prescribed by a doctor as this can be risky for your health too.

Question 4. Can one follow a 500 calorie diet for 3-4 weeks?

Answer: An extremely low-calorie diet (500 calories) for more than a week weakens your body and decreases your immunity and productivity. As a result, it is critical to consult your doctor and a nutritionist before embarking on a long-term VLCD.

Question 5. How much weight will I lose eating 500 calories a day for two weeks?

Answer: A calorie deficit diet can help you lose up to five kilograms in a week, while doctors recommend aiming for 1-2 kg each week. The idea is to maintain the body in fat-burning mode by combining restricted food with increased physical activity.

Question 6. What is the best way for me to burn 1500 calories each day?

Answer: The 1,500-calorie diet is a weight-loss diet that people may try. People who eat fewer calories and exercise consistently can produce a calorie deficit, which can contribute to weight reduction. Some people may opt to limit their daily calorie consumption to 1,500.

Question 7. Is a 500 calorie diet healthy?

Answer: No, 500 calories are not healthy.

Question 8. Is eating 500 calories a day fasting?

Answer: Yes, eating 500 calories a day is fasting.

Question 9. How can I lose my stomach fat?

Answer: One can lose stomach fat by following steps :

Try eating carbs instead of fats
Think of an eating plan, not a diet
Start moving
Lift weights
Become a label reader

Question 10. What can I eat on a 500 calorie fast day?

Answer: One can have the following food items under 500 calories:
Clear soups, like vegetables or miso.
Nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt.
Nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese.
Cauliflower rice.
Steamed or raw vegetables.
Fish.
Lean meats like chicken or turkey breast.
Tofu.

Question 11. How many calories is the starvation mode?

Answer: Starvation calories are consumption of fewer than 600 calories per day.

Question 12. What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat?

Answer: The five foods that burn belly fat are as follows:
Beans
Salmon
Yogurt
Red bell peppers
Broccoli

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