What is a Very Low Calorie Diet?


Very Low Calorie Diet

(VLCD) is a diet with extremely less calories. It is technically defined as a diet with about 800 calories or less for a day. These diets are administered under medical supervision and are specifically meant for the obese and morbidly obese people. In the United States alone, there are about 40 million obese and 3 million morbidly obese people.

Morbid Obesity

These diets are recommended for a short period of time in obese and severely obese people to improve the situation with diseases that co exist with extreme body weights. VLCDs are scientifically devised, nutritionally wholesome meals which are generally advised to patients whose Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is more than 30. It contains the daily requirement of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and proteins. It is generally high in protein and fat with lesser amounts of carbohydrates.

It is devised as a powder which is mixed with water or any other extremely low calorie drinks. It is normally administered as a liquid diet and is offered at meal times as a meal replacement.

The idea is to achieve rapid weight loss. The duration of the diet varies from case to case. The average weight loss achieved in the period is 10 to 12lbs. If it is coupled with exercise the weight loss could go up to 20lbs.

Health Benefits of a Very Low Calorie Diet

  • It can bring about an improvement in the Type 2 diabetes in obese people. The glycaemic control improves because of improved insulin sensitivity. The quality of life improves significantly in morbid obesity.

Health Hazards of a Very Low Calorie Diet

  • Studies have shown that this particular diet leads to impaired bile production and can cause gall stones to evolve. The gall stones are generally small and are without any symptoms. The gall stones problem generally settles after normal diet is resumed. It is important to drink at least 5 liters of water to reduce the formation of gall stones.
  • Some of the short term side effects reported by people on the diet is fatigue, constipation, diarrhea and nausea.
  • This diet is strictly not advised for children, teenagers, pregnant women or anybody with a serious medical condition like cancer, kidney disease, liver disease etc. It is of utmost importance that the patient is under medical supervision and is recommended various supplements to ensure that no nutritional depletion takes place.


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