While detox or cleanse liquid diets fall under the term "fad" and are not recommended, legitimate liquid diets do exist. They're only recommended when you have more than 25 pounds to lose and when traditional weight loss approaches have failed. It's always recommended that you follow this type of diet under medical supervision. Generally, to qualify, you must have a body-mass index of 30 -- classified as obese -- or a BMI of 27 with medical risks. To find out if you're a good candidate, schedule a consultation with a reputable weight-loss clinic. Don't attempt a liquid diet on your own, or you risk negative side effects and nutrient deficiencies.
Lack of solid food is a drawback, but if you can commit, liquid diets may reduce the need for bariatric surgery, according to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Medical supervision is recommended because these programs are very low in calories and because people who are obese often have medical issues like high blood pressure or diabetes. In addition, medically supervised liquid diets include comprehensive nutrition education to teach you how to eat healthy and change behavior patterns that contribute to being overweight.
The typical program involves about 12 weeks of full meal replacement before gradually transitioning to a maintenance diet. The program may be extended until you reach your goal weight, however. Average weight loss varies from 2 to 7 pounds per week.
On a full plan, you get all of your meals from specially formulated products in the form of meal-replacement shakes and sometimes other foods that have a liquid consistency, such as soups and puddings. Calorie intake may range from 600 to 1,000 per day depending on your starting weight and gender. The products are formulated to supply enough nutrients while being low in calories, carbohydrates and fat. With some programs, no extra vitamins or minerals are needed. On certain programs, however, you'll take a nutritional supplement daily.
On a partial plan, you replace all of your meals with specially formulated products. Most of your meals will come from specially formulated liquids like shakes and soup. But you'll have the option of a few solid foods like bars, cereals and oatmeal. Like the liquids you'll eat, the solid foods are specially formulated products you get from the clinic, so they're low in calories and carbohydrates. Some people need the sensation of chewing, so having a few solid-food options helps.
Modified plans are a good option for people who feel they won't be able to adhere to a full liquid plan. On a modified liquid diet, you replace most of your meals and snacks with liquid products and have one regular meal that you prepare yourself. The clinic dietitian will give you guidelines to follow when choosing your self-prepared meal. In general, this regular meal must be low in carbohydrates and fat and contain a specific range of calories.
- Jefferson City Medical Group: New Direction: A Medically-Supervised Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)
- Clinical Nutrition Center -- Denver Medical Weight Loss: Optifast Full Meal Replacement Program
- Ideal Weight Loss Clinic: About Ideal Protein Weight Loss Method
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: Liquid-Diet Regimen Might Trim Need for Bariatric Surgery