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Liquid Diets: Are they all the same?

The term “liquid diet” encompasses a large range of different weight loss plans, from starvation-level crash diets that purport to rid the body of dangerous toxins, to diet plans that use liquid supplements to precisely regulate caloric intake and ensure that essential nutrients aren’t being sacrificed at the altar of shedding pounds.

Some liquid diets may only be get-thin-quick schemes that not only fail to deliver on promises of extreme, rapid weight loss, but may be hazardous to users’ health because of unnatural calorie restrictions that can lead to malnutrition. On the other hand, many safe, healthy programs for fast weight loss incorporate liquid supplements as food substitutes.

So how can people who are interested in how to lose weight effectively distinguish between dangerous liquid diets and those that successfully complement a healthy combination of moderate calorie reduction and exercise?

Liquid diets

Some liquid diets help you cut down on calories by restricting you to a specific number of vegetable or fruit juices or shakes per day. Others outline a plan by which shakes are consumed for breakfast and lunch, followed by a normal dinner. Some medical studies have found that balancing liquids and solids in the diet leads to the most pronounced and sustained weight loss.

There are a number of liquid diets, however, which do not provide a minimum daily recommended amount of nutrients, and which as a result can cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, electrolyte imbalance, and heart problems. A deficit of fiber in the system, meanwhile, can cause gastrointestinal complications, as well as constipation. Some fad diets, such as the HCG diet plan, incorporate low-calorie liquid intake with dubious supplements that are meant to have miraculous fat-burning qualities. But remember—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Consuming a microscopic amount of calories per day, by sticking to a diet of only vegetable or fruit shakes, maybe initially lead to fast weight loss. But long-term weight loss maintenance is bound to become a problem. That’s because extreme calorie deficits cause the body’s metabolism to slow down and burn fat at a much slower rate. When normal eating habits are resumed after the “crash” liquid diet is complete, the lethargic metabolism allows fat to be stored at an increased rate, and rapid weight gain ensues.

Some liquid diets entail only high-protein shakes. However, some in the medical community warn against consuming high-protein shakes exclusively, since this can cause dangerous imbalances in sodium and potassium levels, which in turn can cause fluctuations in amino acid levels. Muscles require a sufficient volume of amino acids to grow and function, and reduced amino acid levels can contribute to atrophied body mass, heart damage, and even cardiac failure.

Best weight loss program: consult your doctor

No matter what liquid diet you are on, calorie consumption should always be closely monitored to make sure proper energy levels are sustained. You should also make sure to check the labels of your liquid supplements to see if they are providing an adequate amount of daily nutrition.

For anyone considering a liquid diet, the unanimous recommendation from health experts is to consult first with a physician. The Center For Medical Weight Loss comprises the largest group of weight loss doctors in the country. They provide customized weight loss programs for each individual client based on his or her unique goals and circumstances. In many cases, special liquid diets or food substitutes may be recommended to patients looking for the best ways to lose weight fast—but only as part of a healthy, nutritionally sufficient meal plan.

The Center’s founder Dr. Michael Kaplan explains that liquid diets may be used “as a tool to break current habits  such as the cycle of food addiciton and to promote lifestyle changes.”  He also notes that such diets should be individualized with the physician counseling the patient.

People who lose weight successfully due to the doctor-supervised program at The Center For Medical Weight Loss report their results: According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, the average patient loses 11.1% of their total body weight within 12 weeks, and nearly 100% of patients maintained some measure of weight loss one year later.

The Center for Medical Weight Loss operates over 450 centers throughout the United States. To see if there is a center near you, enter your zip code into the search box on the right. Special offers are available for first-time clients at select locations.

Get more information about diets that work.