To drop pounds and trim your waistline quickly, you may be considering a liquid diet. In fact, liquid diets, when followed carefully, can help you lose weight and lose excess fat. Because they cut your caloric intake to the bone, you'll drop that excess weight more quickly than you would if you followed a diet that allows more calories. However, because liquid diets cut back so severely on calories, they may lead to the loss of muscle tissue, not fat tissue. Liquid diets also pose health risks, some of which can be serious. Before starting any diet, especially a very low-calorie liquid diet, make certain to talk with your doctor about your options and your overall state of health.
When you follow a liquid diet, you'll replace all or most of your meals with commercial protein powder shakes. These shakes, which you can buy pre-made or make yourself using commercial protein powder along with juice, milk or water, also contain vitamins and minerals that will help you maintain your nutritional needs while you're losing weight. You can choose the liquid-only approach, in which you'll drink shakes three or four times per day, or you can decide to replace only breakfast and lunch with the shakes. If you choose the second option, you'll eat a small, low-fat dinner each evening.
Liquid diets work to help you lose weight because they provide so few calories each day. If you've decided on the liquid-only diet approach, you'll consume just 600 to 700 calories each day -- enough to lose 3 lbs. or more per week. If you decide to eat a small dinner as part of your diet, you'll still be consuming just about 1,000 calories a day, which should lead to weight loss of about 2 lbs. each week.
When beginning your diet, most of your weight loss should come from your fat stores. However, you'll run into problems if you continue your diet for a month or longer. Unfortunately, when you excessively restrict calories for long duration, your metabolism slows and your body may begin to break down muscle instead of your fat stores. To combat this problem and lose as much fat as possible while sparing your muscle tissue, exercise regularly as you follow the liquid diet.
Liquid diets used for weight loss and fat loss pose health concerns, especially if you follow one for more than a few weeks at a time. Most alarmingly, very low-calorie diets, such as liquid diets, can affect the electrical signals that control your heartbeat, potentially leading to dangerous heartbeat irregularities. If you've ever been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia, you shouldn't follow this type of diet. In addition, liquid diets can cause constipation and other gastrointestinal upsets, dizziness and gallbladder problems, including gallstones. You also may feel more tired than normal while following a liquid diet since you won't be consuming the calories you need to keep up your activity level.
To guard your health while still reaping the weight-loss and fat-loss benefits of a liquid diet, you may want to consider enrolling in a medically supervised liquid diet program run by a physician or by a major medical center. These programs combine prescription liquid diet products with medical screening and monitoring, counseling, support groups and exercise so that you safely lose as much weight as possible. The programs cost more than commercially purchased diet shake products; the diet program at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center, for example, costs around $600 a month. However, the extra support and supervision they provide could make the difference between weight loss success and failure.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.