What Exactly Are Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD)?
Literally hundreds of different weight loss and diet plans exist out there, and while most may show some signs of weight loss, that doesn’t mean all of them are good plans. Many diet plans are not based on good science, but on unsubstantiated ideas which sometimes even crash the metabolism and lose water weight but nothing else. Because of this, it’s extremely important for people to understand how good diets work and why temporary eating plans that are almost always considered fads should be avoided. In fact, very low calorie diets (VLCD) are among the most common fad diets that you will frequently run across and these are almost always bad ideas.
What the technical definition of a very low calorie diet is can vary depending on what source you look at. I’ve seen three different numbers tossed out, those being at 800 calories, 1000 calories, and 1200 calories. The most common level seems to be at 1000 calories where the line is drawn but there are others who have it at one of those other levels. Basically, while there is some debate over where the “starvation line” is when it comes to daily minimum calories, a VLCD is an eating and weight loss plan that falls below that number.
The problem with this is that your body starts to store fat and lose water weight or even burn muscle instead. This hurts healthy weight loss in the long run and even makes it harder in the short run to lose excess weight. On top of all that, dieters on this type of plan are going to be extremely hungry and because of that are almost guaranteed to either eventually fall off the wagon or they’re going to develop an eating disorder. Both are terrible for overall health and healthy weight loss.
Seeing the “very low calorie diet” tag on an eating plan can help you know early on that most likely it is not a good diet plan and you should look at other options. This can be a clear giveaway and it’s always a good idea for you to know where you’re standing before trying such a plan. If you can avoid all VLCD eating plans for more reasonable and sustainable diet and weight loss plans then that is almost certainly a good idea.
Losing five pounds of water weight doesn’t do any good for the long term, which is why choosing a long and sustainable plan is a far better clue.