Very low-calorie diet (VLCD), as its very name suggests, is a diet under which a person is allowed to consume an extremely low amount of calories. In precise terms, it is a diet that allows a person to have not more than 800 kilocalories in a day. Undertaken only under the supervision of a doctor, VLCD typically involves the use of commercially prepared formulas, to aid rapid weight loss in a person. These formulas usually comprise of liquid shakes and bars, which replace the entire food intake of the person in the whole day, over a period of several weeks or months.
No Compromise On Nutrition
Very low-calorie diet is mainly used in case of people who are obese. Though the calorie consumption in the diet is low, care is taken to ensure that the body gets appropriate levels of vitamins and micronutrients. In other words, the nutritional requirements are not at all compromised. The formulas used as a part of VLCD are entirely different from the ones that you would find at grocery stores or pharmacies, for the purpose of substituting one or two meals in a day. Rather, the bars, entrees, or shakes available as over-the-counter meal replacements form a small part of this diet.
Very low-calorie diet is mainly used in case of people who are moderately to extremely obese, to produce significant short-term weight loss. It is used in the initial stages of an overall weight-loss program, which includes behavioral therapy, nutrition counseling, physical activity, and/or drug treatment as well. The diet mainly targets people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 and significant comorbidities. Though VLCD is used in case of patients with a BMI of 27 to 30 as well, the use is restricted to those who have medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, because of being overweight.
Before allowing them to undergo the very low-calorie diet, the candidates are required to go through a detailed examination by their health care provider. This is done to make sure that the diet will not have any adverse effect on their health or worsen any pre-existing medical conditions. This diet is not advised for children or adolescents, except in specialized treatment programs, as it might affect their proper growth and development. Even those over 50 years of age are excluded from the ambit of VLCD, since at this age; people already start experiencing depletion of lean body mass.
Pros & Cons
Very low-calorie diet can facilitate rapid weight loss in moderately to extremely obese people, in the initial days of their overall diet program. This, in turn, helps them improve obesity-related medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The quick weight loss also motivates them to stick to their diet program. Talking about the adverse effects, VLCD might expose the dieting individuals to short-term side effects, like fatigue, constipation, nausea, or diarrhea. It can also lead to gallstones in obese people, mainly because of the increased cholesterol levels that result from speedy weight loss.