The pros and cons of a liquid diet
One of the many weight loss tricks these days is a liquid diet. The goal is to lower your daily caloric intake by consuming nothing but liquids for one or all of your meals. Over-the-counter weight loss drinks are available for anyone to buy or you can work with your doctor using a medically supervised liquid diet plan. Made popular by Slim Fast, Medifast, Slender Now Thick Shake, HMR, and Optifast, liquid diets claim to provide all the nutrition you need in delicious, filling shakes.
Can you really drink your way thin? Does this sound too good to be true? Read on to find out.
Does a Liquid Diet Work?
Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. So if you eat and drink fewer calories, you’ll lose weight. Liquid diets play off this formula by drastically reducing the number of calories in your diet. Many liquid diet plans start out at only 400 to 800 calories a day. Replacing meals with high protein shakes eliminates excess calories and fat from your diet and leads to weight loss. When you reduce calories and remove the option of food, you can expect to lose three to four pounds a week.
The route of going liquid isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to be motivated and disciplined to stick with it. As with any diet, the more overweight you are, the more weight you can expect to lose.
Will It Last?
One of the downsides of liquid diets is the slim chance that you’ll be able to keep the weight off long-term. Along with an initial weight loss, a drastic reduction of calories will slow your metabolism, as it forces your body into starvation mode.
When this happens, your body holds onto as many calories as possible to conserve energy. Stop your liquid diet and return to eating normal amounts of food, and you can expect to regain all your lost weight. In fact, a depressing 95 percent of people who lose weight with a liquid diet can expect to gain it back.
Dieters will have the most success at keeping weight off long term if they eat some meals liquid and some meals with food. Studies have shown that the liquid diets that are most successful are those that combine meal replacement shakes with regular exercise and classes on lifestyle modifications and weight loss support.
These results aren’t just for liquid diets, but for all diets. There are multiple ways to effectively lose weight, but if you don’t make a long-term change in your eating habits and lifestyle, you can expect to gain the weight back.
Is It Safe?
Restricting calories to as few as 400 a day can be dangerous for your health. Those who plan to go this route should be supervised by a medical professional. Remember—too few calories means not enough nutrients. Without adequate nutrition, you may experience dizziness, fatigue, hair loss, electrolyte imbalance, gallstones, constipation, anemia, menstrual problems, loss of muscle mass, and even heart damage. So make sure you’re getting enough calories for energy and nutrition to avoid serious long-term consequences. Also, if you’re pregnant or nursing or have diabetes, you should never go on a liquid diet.
Before beginning a liquid diet, speak with your doctor. Choose a plan that lets you eat one or two normal meals a day and that coaches you along the way with healthy lifestyle habits. Make sure your shakes contain 100 percent of the recommended vitamins and minerals you need. Follow the directions of your liquid diet plan, and aim to lose weight gradually over a 12-week time frame.