4 Of The Best Very Low Calorie Diet Plans For Rapid Weight Loss
If you’re looking to maximize your fat loss results, you might find yourself considering a very low calorie diet plan (VLCD). Very low calorie diet plans promise the allure of rapid weight loss results and do have their fair share of fervent supporters.
But before you hop onto a very low calorie diet (defined as being 800 calories or less) and thinking you’ll melt away the lbs with ease, there are few key things to consider.
Let’s go over what you need to know about very low calorie diets.
What They Aim To Do
First, it’s important that you understand what very low calorie diets are trying to do. These type of diets are going to put you into a state called ketosis, where your body switches over to running off ketone bodies as a fuel source rather than glucose.
When this happens, hunger is almost non-existent and maintaining a very low calorie intake becomes incredibly easy for most people. This is best accomplished by removing carbohydrates from your diet and focusing on lean proteins with a very small amount of good fat added (nuts, seeds etc), along with your leafy vegetables.
The goal is to help you lose weight as rapidly as possible by creating such a large total daily calorie deficit. It is crucially important though, that while doing this you still provide your body with the essential nutrients that it needs; an area where many VLCD’s fail to deliver.
Side Effects You Might Experience
Now, there are a number of drawbacks to these plans.
- Slow Your Metabolic Rate (rate at which your body naturally burns calories when resting) – VLCD’s are going to cause your metabolic rate to slow. Anytime you dramatically reduce your caloric intake, your body is going to fight back and start to conserve fuel to prevent starvation from setting in.
- Weak & Dizzy – Many people do often find that they feel rather weak and dizzy on these diets and some may start to feel ‘foggy minded’. This is the adaptation process taking place and sometimes will reside, while other times it won’t.
- No Exercise – On such a very low calorie diet plan, exercising is almost out of the question due to not taking in enough calories to support any physical exertion. This is another negative side effect of these plans, though I know some of you reading this will be jumping for joy – a diet that requires you NOT exercise!
- Lose Muscle – This might not seem like such a drawback to most but if you do begin to lose lean muscle mass from using a very low calorie diet, you are going to find that maintaining the weight loss achieved is much more difficult as your metabolic rate will have slowed down further as a result of losing muscle.
In my opinion, over the long term, these diets aren’t an ideal route for fat loss success. Specifically, if used for 2+ months, they almost always cause nutritional deficiencies.
So When Could You Use A Very Low Calorie Diet Plan
Seeing as these diets should only be used on a temporary basis, they’re most commonly used (and recommended) for a VERY short amount of time, such as:
- Before a holiday
- Leading up to a wedding
- For a specific reason such as the Newcastle diet for diabetes.
Choosing Your Very Low Calorie Diet Carefully
If you are going to try out a very low calorie diet, it’s important you choose wisely. If you aren’t careful, you may put yourself on a plan that can cause long-term damage.
A few very low calorie diets that, when used over the very short term, can produce some good results are:
This very low calorie diet is widely used and consists of 3 phases. Intensive, Transition & Maintenance.
The intensive phase is only for very overweight people with BMI of 30+ and in this phase you replace all 3 meals with an Optifast product – usually people go for the shakes (men might need 4 shakes). You also need to have at least 2 cups of low starch green veg and a tea spoon of oil.
Diet jelly and sugar free sweets can be used if you really have to give in to a craving. Total calories are <800 and you can stay on this phase for up to 12 weeks. Expect to lose more than 4 pounds per week.
In the Transition phase you replace 2 out of 3 meals per day with Optifast shakes and is for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight but not to the extremes of the intensive phase.
You should have 2 shakes per day and a low calorie meal consisting of about 400 cals along with your 2 cups of veg and tea spoon of oil.
You can also have 2 portions of fruit of around 70 cals each and 1 portion of dairy of around 100 cals bringing the total calories for this phase to 800-1000 cals per day. Expect to lose 1-2kg per week.
In the Maintenance phase you’ll replace 1 meal per day with an Optifast shake and have 2 other low calorie meals consisting of around 400 cals each along with your 2 cups of veg and teaspoon of oil, 2 portions of fruit and 1 portion of dairy. Total calories for this phase is 1000-1200 cals per day.
After this and when you are happy with your weight you can replace the 1 remaining optifast shake with another 400 cal meal. You should also drink around 2L of water daily.
The below video explains when to transition:
There are actually around 70 different meal replacement options available with Medifast, the most common or well known being the meal replacement shakes. This VLCD also consists of 3
phases: a “weight loss phase” a transition phase and a maintenance phase. There are no counting calories or grams of fat or anything but you must get all the food products branded as Medifast as they have already worked all this out for you.
The weight loss phase is 5 & 1 meaning you have 5 Medifast products and 1 healthy low calorie meal. All the Medifast meals have around the same nutritional value so you can actually choose any 5 to have throughout the day, 2-3 hours apart.
For your own meal choice you have a “Lean & Green” meal where you choose 5-7 ounces of a lean protein together with up to 3 portions of veg and 2 portions of good fats.
You can have your meal and the 5 Medifast meals in any order you choose as long as you have 5 Medifast meals and your lean and green meal and that’s it for the weight loss phase! Simples! Total calories will be around 800-1000 per day.
The Transition phase is started after you reach your weight loss goal – then, you’ll slowly introduce healthy foods back into your diet over the course of 6 weeks, eventually taking your total daily calories to around 1500 per day.
Week 1 you add in an additional serving of non green veg such as corn or potatoes.
Week 2 you add 2 servings of fruit while cutting your Medifast meals down to 4 per day.
Week 3 you add a portion of low fat dairy like fat free milk or yogurt.
Week 4-6 you cut back to 3 Medifast products per day and add a serving of whole grains and a 4-6oz portion of lean meat.
The Maintenance phase consists of 3 meals – a meal being a lean protein with veg – and 3 healthy snacks or Medifast products if you prefer. You can also continue to eat fruit, low fat dairy and whole-grains as in the transition phase. If you start to put weight on reduce your calories.
Two More Recommended Low Calorie Diets
- Alternate Day Diet – This plan is actually very simple and basically restricts calories every other day and by doing so activates a “skinny gene” which reduces inflammation, helps improve insulin resistance and helps promote weight loss. Rather than products, this is actually an inexpensive book so if you’re interested in learning more about low calorie diets, then I’d just spend a couple bucks and get the book. If nothing else it will be an interesting read.
- Protein Sparing Modified Fast Plan – This is a fasting type of diet that also incorporates a minimum amount of proteins and vitamin and mineral supplementation. The protein will help to preserve muscle mass and provide some calories while the supplementation will ensure your body has some level of vitamins and minerals to function and help with safety.
All the above very low calorie diets will provide some protein and nutrients to the body, helping to preserve lean muscle mass and minimize deficiencies and health issues.
On the other hand, a few very low calorie diets that you’ll want to stay away from (that don’t generally provide enough nutrients to the body) include:
Non Recommended VLCD’s
- HCG Diet
- Cabbage Soup Diet
- Grapefruit Diet
- Master Cleanse Diet.
So keep these points in mind. If you’re considering using a very low calorie diet, it’s important you know what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time. They’ll always be extremely difficult to complete and should only be used on a temporary basis… yet you’ll undoubtedly lose a lot of weight very quickly.
Remember, do all your homework, make up your OWN mind (don’t let anyone pressure you) and always check with a doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.