Introduction to very low calorie diets
Any diet with an intake of about 800 calories per day is a very low calorie diet. Such a diet should only be followed for a relatively short term (3-6 months) and only under medical supervision. Medical supervision is essential for several reasons: (a) To ensure only suitable candidates follow the diet; (b) To ensure adequate nutrition; (c) To monitor progress.
Who can benefit from a very low calorie diet
People suffering from moderate to severe obesity who are at risk from additional weight-related illness. 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.
Does it work
As indicated, this diet is designed only for obese individuals under medical supervision. Under these conditions, it typically produces significant short-term weight loss amounting to 3 to 5 pounds per week, or about 44 pounds over 12 weeks. This can improve obesity-related conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. If combined with behavioral therapy and exercise, such a diet may also retard weight regain.
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, but these side effects usually improve or disappear entirely within a few weeks. However, there are other more serious side effects with this sort of rapid weight loss regimen, including the development of gallstones.
Anyone suffering from moderate to severe obesity is at an increased risk of developing serious disease. Therefore, any medically supervised diet, even if very low in calories, is capable of producing significant benefits for the individual sufferer. However, statistics suggest that obesity does not respond well to short term diet plans. It requires a long term commitment from both patient and doctor.