People who are interested in going on a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) should first consult a physician. A very low-calorie diet is any diet plan that allows 800 calories or less in a day; and the diet is overseen by a physician. The length of such a diet is relatively short, usually between 3 and 6 months. Any longer and serious health complications may arise.
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Low-calorie diets and very low-calorie diets
As you can see, a VLCD is different from what a person might casually call a "low-calorie diet," which would commonly consist of 1500 to 1800 calories per day. If you're interested in something less aggressive, there are plenty of diet plans that will allow for more moderate calorie restriction.
Consult a Physician before trying a very low calorie diet
People who usually go on a very low-calorie diet are seriously overweight or suffer from severe obesity, often defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. Children, adolescents, and pregnant women should not go on this diet. Participants usually lose 3-5 pounds per week or a total of about 50 pounds in 12 weeks. The specifics of the diet are hard to describe as the diet should be formulated by your physician to address your individual needs. Often regular food is eliminated from the diet in favor of meal replacement supplements prescribed by your doctor. You and your doctor will map out what to eat and when, as well as an overall strategy. As part of a very low-calorie diet, a physician will often prescribe behavioral therapy and physical activity.
Side Effects of the low-calorie diet
Dieters may in fact experience a number of side effects including fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. However, the side effects do tend to disappear over time. There are also more severe complications that may arise such as gallstones if you lose weight too rapidly, so be sure to consult your doctor for an appropriate plan.
You should consult a physician before trying any diet like the one described above. It's just brainless to try and it won't likely work. There are some weight loss plans that achieve the goal of cutting calories through portion control rather than starvation. These include the Mediterranean Diet and the South Beach Diet.
More on these diets below...