Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs)
High Risk Diets
Very Low Calorie Diets are diet plans which are based on restricting calories to as little as 500 a day. Due to the health risks of such dietary reduction, no one should follow a very low calorie diet plan without medical supervision. Candidates for very low calorie diets are usually restricted to those suffering from moderate to severe obesity who are at risk from additional weight-related illness. This will not include children, adolescents, pregnant or breast-feeding women, for whom very low calorie diets are not appropriate unless part of a specialized obesity treatment program.
Unhealthy and Counter-productive for Weight Loss
Although these diets may lead to dramatic weight loss, they may be unhealthy and counter-productive.
- These diets can lead to muscle loss as well as fat loss which is extremely unhealthy.
To lose heart muscle, for example, is potentially fatal.
- These diets don’t change long-established bad eating patterns and cause the body to slow down significantly so when the dieter returns to a more normal eating pattern their slower metabolism generally leads to increased weight gain.
Drawbacks of Very Low Calorie Diets
In the early stages of a very low calorie diet (up to 16 weeks), dieters may experience a few minor side effects such as fatigue, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. These diet side effects may disappear within weeks. Unfortunately, there are other more serious side effects that are associated with this sort of rapid weight loss regimen, including the development of gallstones.
A very low calorie diet, (if medically supervised) may provide significant benefits for obesity sufferers who need short term rapid weight loss. However, in the absence of special factors, successful treatment of obesity requires a long term commitment to improved dietary and exercise habits. So these very low calorie diets are not likely to be effective.