A very low calorie diet means a diet that is liquid based and it severely restricts in energy allowing an intake of no more than 800 calories or even less than 800 calories everyday.
Such diets are especially for either severely or moderately obese people. It causes quite a lot of, although short-term loss of weight. This diet should not be followed for more than 3-6 months and is recommended only under supervision of medical professionals.
You need medical supervision because they can make sure that only the right candidates start the diet, have adequate nutrition and also to make note of your progress.
Changes associated with a VLCD
Your body will undergo some changes when you go on a VLCD diet.
Your BMR slows down
The body thinks that it is in a state of starvation. As a result, your metabolism will slow down so that the body can conserve energy.
Protein breakdown will provide energy
Your carbohydrate intake reduces and as a result, your body will use protein to gain energy. Protein breakdown will cause lean body mass loss, which includes muscle as well as organ tissue. The lean mass of your body is responsible for speeding up your basal metabolic rate. If you lose too much of it, the fat percent in your body will increase and your metabolism will reduce.
This diet causes a 50-50 reduction of fat and lean tissue, which on the other hand in case of other moderate diets would be about 75-25 of fat and lean tissue.
Water loss and electrolyte loss
Electrolytes are responsible for keeping the balance of fluids in our body. They help to maintain the heart rhythm, brain function as well as muscle contraction. An imbalance in electrolyte and minerals can even be life threatening.
You can lose bone mass, which can be particularly risky if you are a woman.
Side effects for patients on a VLCD for about 4-16 weeks are normal. Constipation, fatigue, diarrhoea and nausea are some of the side effects that these patients suffer.
It takes a few weeks for these side effects to subside or improve.
There is also a risk of developing gall stones
Although such diets are useful for the short term, a more balanced and healthy way should be adopted for weight loss.