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Very Low Calorie Diet For Obesity


A liquid based diet that is severely restrictive in energy with an intake of about 800 calories or less per day is considered a very low calorie diet. These diets are an alternative method that moderately to severely obese people may consider for significant, short-term weight loss. Such a diet are recommended  for a relatively short term (3-6 months) and are to be followed only under medical supervision.

Medical supervision is essential:

(a) To ensure only suitable candidates follow the diet;
(b) To ensure adequate nutrition;
(c) To monitor progress.

Traditional weight loss methods include low-calorie diets that allow between 800 to 1,500 calories a day and encourage regular exercise.

The average weight loss in this period of time is 10 lb(4.54 kg) to 12 lb(5.44 kg). If exercise is made part of the weight-loss program, the average weight loss increases to about 20 lb(9.07 kg).

Changes that take place within your body while you are on a VLCD include:

Who can benefit from a very low calorie diet?

VLCDs are generally safe when used under proper medical supervision in patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. BMI is a mathematical formula that takes into account both a person’s height and weight. Use of VLCDs in patients with a BMI of 27 to 30 should be reserved for those who have medical complications resulting from their obesity.

This does not include children, adolescents, pregnant or breast-feeding women, for whom very low calorie diets are not appropriate unless part of a specialized treatment program. Also, people over 50 may not tolerate the side effects associated with VLCDs because of preexisting medical conditions or need for other medications.

These diets are not recommended if you have heart problems, blood clotting problems, bleeding ulcers, liver disease, kidney disease, or cancer or if you have had a stroke.

Benefits of VLCD

A VLCD may allow a severely to moderately obese patient to lose about 3 to 5 pounds per week, for an average total weight loss of 44 pounds over 12 weeks. Such a weight loss can improve obesity related medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Combining a VLCD with behavioral therapy and exercise may also increase weight loss and may slow weight regain.

However, VLCDs are no more effective than more modest dietary restrictions in the long-term maintenance of reduced weight.

Side Effects of VLCD

Many patients on a VLCD for 4 to 16 weeks report minor side effects such as

but these conditions usually improve within a few weeks and rarely prevent patients from completing the program.

Although VLCDs are efficient for short-term weight loss, they are no more effective than other dietary treatments in the long-term maintenance of reduced weight. Therefore, obese patients should be encouraged to commit to a long-term treatment program that includes permanent lifestyle changes ofhealthier eating, regular physical activity, and an improved outlook about food because without a long-term commitment, their body weights will drift back up the scale.

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