Remember ages ago when Oprah Winfrey dropped 67 pounds on an all liquid diet? At the time – in the early 90’s – it seemed like the best way to lose weight, and do it fast. When America’s biggest celebrities shrink their frames right before our very eyes, it’s hard not to be intrigued – but can liquid diets work miracles for weight loss, or are they unsafe? Some purport to detoxify the system, cleansing the body of all impurities, while others simply pledge to whittle the waistline through reduced calorie intake.
In the big picture, a liquid diet may not be practical for long-term results with weight loss. After all, when diets make claims that seem too good to be true, they usually are. Whether you opt for protein shakes or a raw-juice cleanse diet, there are some pitfalls and concerns you should take into consideration.
What is a liquid diet?
Liquid diets take many forms; some have you downing vegetable juices throughout the day, while others are high protein shakes designed to keep you feeling sated. Most are do-it-yourself diets, where you replace at least two of your main meals with liquids, while others may be doctor-supervised plans offered in a clinical setting. In most cases, liquid diets use shakes as total meal replacements, occasionally permitting some type of solid food.
Despite their various manifestations, all liquid diets have one aspect in common: severely restricted calories. Most are limited to 800 calories a day at most. When the body is starved of nutrients and energy, it quickly begins using its own fat stores, resulting in rapid weight loss. But as soon as the diet is stopped and solid foods are back on the menu, those lost pounds start creeping back on. This is exactly what happened to Oprah after her famous foray with an all liquid diet, prompting her to admit the downfalls of such a plan.
Potential dangers of an all-liquid diet
While some liquid diets that combine both food and nutritious shakes can be helpful under a physician’s supervision, these are typically last resort approaches for the seriously obese. For the majority of dieters – those who need to lose just a small portion of their body weight – liquid diets can actually be hazardous to your health. Extremely low-calorie diets can lead to a host of ailments, and should never be undertaken alone. When the body is deprived of vital minerals and nutrients, it can suffer from any of the following complications and side effects:
- Cold intolerance
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Hair Loss
- Heart Damage
- Loss of Clarity
However, some studies suggest that liquid diets may help alleviate symptoms associated with certain medical conditions. As an example, people who have Crohn’s disease, which causes a chronic inflammation in the GI tract, may benefit from a periodic liquid diet that is high in calories. In some patients, this can help curb some of the more painful side effects.
Looking for the best way to lose weight?
There’s no denying that a liquid diet can melt extra pounds quickly, but can it keep them off for good? Dr. Michael Kaplan, medical director for The Center for Medical Weight Loss, the nation’s largest network of weight loss physicians, points out that some low-calorie liquid diets actually slow the metabolism, creating a yo-yo effect as soon as the program is finished. Kaplan states, “While the results seem impressive at first, once normal foods enter the equation, those unwanted pounds return, and many dieters actually gain more weight than before.”
If you’re still contemplating a liquid diet, Dr. Kaplan contends that it’s best to do so under the guidance and watchful eye of a physician who can ensure your program is nutritionally sufficient. There are more than 450 Centers in the US; the physicians offer customized programs designed to meet each patient’s needs, preferences, and weight loss goals. To learn more visit centerformedicalweightloss.com.