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Mythbuster: Following a very low-calorie diet is the best way to lose weight

A carefully monitored diet that calls for consuming no more than 800 calories daily is known as a very low-calorie diet. They are occasionally taken into account for obese and very obese persons who are treating their diabetes, getting surgery, or getting ready for in vitro fertilisation.


The diet often entails substituting low-calorie smoothies, soups, bars, or milk-based oatmeal for regular meals.


Adults who seem to be obese and seriously obese—defined as having a BMI above 30 and 40—who need to reduce weight rapidly should follow very low-calorie diets. They shouldn't be used frequently and aren't the best solution for managing obesity.


Very low-calorie diets must only be followed for a total of 12 weeks when under medical care. Follow an extremely low-calorie diet only if your doctor has advised.


Benefits of a very low-calorie diet:


It's vital to understand that while maintaining a 1,200-calorie diet may offer certain health benefits, these advantages are often linked to calorie restriction and not just to 1,200-calorie meal plans.


Regularly exceeding your body's calorie requirements can harm your health in several ways, including weight gain, an increase in cardiovascular disease threat factors, and diabetes. Maintaining excellent general health requires providing your body with the proper amount of calories.


Numerous studies have demonstrated that calorie restriction generally has positive health effects, including weight loss promotion, a decrease in heart disease risk factors including LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as a lowering of levels of blood sugar and inflammation.


There is little doubt that reducing extra body weight improves health, and that the best thing for your body is to stick to your specific calorie demands. But how weight reduction is achieved matters, and following a very low-calorie, restricted diet increases the likelihood that you'll gain weight in the future.


As a result, while lowering extra body weight might improve your health overall, it's crucial to select healthy, long-lasting weight loss techniques over more radical food practices.


Some studies have found that people with obesity or severe obesity who follow low-calorie or incredibly low diets while being closely monitored by a doctor lose weight and improve their lipid and blood sugar profiles, which can improve their overall health.


However, because of their restricted character, these diets are often only followed for a short time and are frequently linked to high dropout rates. But before starting a low-calorie diet to lose weight, it's crucial to get counsel from a certified healthcare professional.


Risks and side effects:


Not everyone should follow a diet with extremely few calories. If you want to know if this type of diet is right for you, go to your doctor.


Very low-calorie diets are often safe when followed with the appropriate medical supervision if your BMI is larger than 30. Very low-calorie diets should only be used by those who are overweight but not obese (BMI of 27 to 30), have weight-related medical issues, and are under a doctor's care.


Extremely low-calorie diets are not advised for women who are expecting or nursing, and they are not suitable for kids or teenagers outside of specialist treatment programmes. In light of the probable requirement for medicine for existing diseases and the risk for adverse effects, they might not be suitable for those over the age of 50 either.


When following an extremely low-calorie diet for 4 to 16 weeks, people can experience mild side effects such as tiredness, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. These issues typically become better after several weeks and seldom keep people from finishing the programme.


Gallstones are the most common serious negative side effect of extremely low-calorie diets. Gallstones are more common in those who lose weight rapidly. The body begins to utilise fat for energy when there are not enough calories in the diet. The liver then secretes more cholesterol, which when combined with bile can form gallstones.




It may be appealing to reduce calories, even more, to lose weight more quickly. However, it is more difficult to maintain a stringent calorie restriction. And you should never carry out this procedure without your doctor's approval. Additionally, studies suggest that those who too restrict calories and shed pounds too rapidly, frequently end up returning the weight they lost.

In general, medical professionals advise against limiting women to less than 1,200 total calories per day. Men should not consume less than 1,800 calories each day.

Medanta Medical Team
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