These liquid diets involve replacing all solid foods with liquid ones and only spending a limited amount of time for drinking your meal, which usually consists of soups, shakes or different nutritive drinks.
This way, your body will be provided with a specific quantity of calories each day, in order to produce weight loss. It also diminishes the temptation of eating the wrong foods, because you don’t need to choose anything else but the necessary liquids.
Although this may seem like an easy option, the working mechanisms behind these diets can cause the diet to be more or less efficient. Many people these days have started using liquid diets in order to lose the extra weight and that is mainly due to the convenience of these programs. However, the ingredients of these liquid meals are various, and if you don’t know which one to choose, many of them can prove to not be very an efficient way of losing weight.
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Many liquid diets that are available on the market, such as Optifast are well-structured, containing the necessary amounts of protein, sugars and lipids, in the appropriate proportions but also some supplemental vitamins, minerals and oligoelements. These microelements play a very important part because, after a normal liquid diet the body will have the amount of energy to function, but will lack some nutrients that have important functions in cell metabolisms.
Numerous other liquid diets have a various content of carbohydrates, which causes them to have a sweet taste and be easy to drink; however, it is not necessary for them to have a low caloric content. These liquid diets can be more helpful in supplementing other aliments for people that have a very restrictive diet and require some nutrients and vitamins.
Most of the times, a liquid-diet serving (a drink) contains an amount of approximately 220 calories. Each day, the patient needs to consume 4 of these drinks instead of solid meals in order for the body to have the necessary energy to function, but not enough, so it starts burning the fat for more. Such diets can work in producing weight loss for a short period of time only. That is due to the fact that the body will not be able to function properly for a long period of time based on liquid diets only.
If you desire long-term weight loss with the help of liquid diets, you can replace 2 or 3 of your meals with a liquid-diet shake. The rest of your meals, 1 or 2, need to have a low content of fat, low amounts of calories, but still be nutritious. For that, you will probably need the help of a nutritionist, so you can establish which meals are appropriate.
There are other alternative liquid diets that can have good results with weight loss, one of which is the milk-based diet. Such diets can be very simple and low-cost, but can only be used for losing weight within a short period of time.
You can use the Optifast liquid diet weight loss (from Novartis Nutrition Corporation), because it represents a medically supervised program that can produce great weight loss results and that uses a liquid drink formula and also some other products (shakes, bars) to reduce body weight. Participants purchase the OPTIFAST brand of prepackaged liquid meals and nutrition bars. The program boasts of high-quality, the pre-portioned products providing complete nutrition and freedom from having to make a food choice.
Places to buy Optifast
The dieter will eat five Optifast products each day, which consist of liquid meals and in rare cases even solid ones, depending on the particular Optifast center in which he will undergo this diet. Each product has been specifically designed to provide exactly 160 calories.
So, the five meals that need to be consumed per day will provide not more than 800 calories. This procedure will be continued for a period of 18 weeks during which a high amount of body fat needs to be lost. The overweight individuals will need to consume only Optifast meals for a period of 12 weeks. No other solid or liquid meals outside the Optifast program are allowed during this period.
Each serving of the liquid meals will provide your body with 14 g of protein, approximately 20 g of carbohydrate, and 3 g of lipids. You will probably attend weekly group lifestyle modification classes that last between 60 and 90 minutes.
During the second phase, some types of traditional food will be gradually reintroduced, after which you will enter the third phase—weight maintenance. Starting with the 13th week dieters will undergo a slow transition that includes only 4 OPTIFAST meals and a single regular meal per day that needs to contain a maximum amount of 4 ounces of meat. You can also choose vegetal protein source or non-starchy vegetables instead of the meat. During the 15th week, the regular meals will continue just like during week 12, with the same basic elements but also adding a vegetable or a fruit.
At the end of the program, around week 17, you can add to your diet either a fruit or a vegetable (do not chose the same one you added to your meals after the 15th week).
You will need to continue with the amount and structure of the meals you’d been consuming during the final week of the program in order to maintain your weight on the long-term. This would basically mean that you will consume a formula for breakfast and the lunch and dinner will need to sum not more than 1250 calories/day.
Optifast is an 18-week-long low-calorie diet that offers the overweight individual full control over his caloric intake, making this a very efficient working mechanism.
For example, if we refer to a 35-year-old woman who is 5‘3″ tall and weighs 175 pounds; the Optifast diet program will be able to provide her with a diet containing an amount of calories with less than 740 which means about 1/3 of her normal energy needs. From this diet she will be able to take about 800 calories which include approximately 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 28% protein, and 20% fat.
The rich content of the Optifast products that also include micronutrients can suffice the Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamins and minerals if 5 products/ day are consumed (excepting natrium and potassium). A product contains about 25-30% of the Recommended Daily Allowance, so the consumption of 5 products/ day provides people with 100% of the dosage needed. Optifast does not require any additional intake of minerals or vitamins, unless the doctor advises so. The liquid meals do not contain dietary fibers, so a fiber supplement can be used to suffice that need. In terms of hydration, it is also recommended that dieters drink a minimum of two quarts of zero calorie or very-low calorie liquids every day. Any excitant beverage such as coffee, green tea or even soda needs to be limited to 2 cups/day.
Is it safe to not eat anything but liquids?
This type of diet can be very effective in producing weight loss, but it is not recommended to be tried at home. The amount of calories your body needs has to be individualized during the diet, so a professional opinion in required.
This is why the Optifast diet is only available in specialized medical centers that have the ability to closely supervise your rate of weight loss and health state. In order for that to be acquired, Optifast centers will provide you with specific teams which include a dietitian, a physician, and if it is considered necessary, an exercise physiologist. Depending on the Optifast center where you decide to go, the exercise programs will be especially tailored to meet your individual needs and interests.
There is no danger in using the liquid diet weight loss if it is closely monitored and adjusted for each individual. The number of calories will be established so your body will have just the right amount in order for the weight loss process to be able to begin. Beware of similar programs and products that are available without medical supervision. Don’t ever put yourself go through any diet that provides fewer than 800 calories a day. Even this quantity of 800 calories may be too low for most people for more than a day or two, probably because your body can’t get all the nutrients it needs at that calorie level and needs further supplementation.
Optifast is considered a medical program, even if its goal is to only produce weight. The first step of the program is always a medical evaluation. After this evaluation, the program will offer you a three-step meal replacement and also some lifestyle adjustments to help you enhance the results even more.
Once the program has been initiated the patients are seen by physicians on a regular basis and will undergo periodic laboratory tests and will be offered support, counseling, and lifestyle education. The program also includes some one-on-one counseling with a physician and small group discussions with a counselor. You will have activity plans established and customized for your needs and time constraints. Most people lose the highest amount of weight during the first phase of the program (the first few weeks).
Still, it is possible for this very-low caloric diet to put some people at risk, especially if they suffer from some previous conditions like diabetes and this is what explains the physician monitoring.
Scientific foundation and efficiency of Optifast:
Optifast has reportedly been used by a large number of patients (statistics approximate over 700,000) since it has been practically introduced first during the early 70’s. The diet usually lasts up to 16 weeks, but the final phase is not time-limited and can be continued throughout your entire life.
The program can show the greatest results in people with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 and is not usually used in people who only need to lose a little amount of body weight. The program claims that 1 out of 4 participants will be able to maintain approximately 3/4 of their lost weight within a two year period after finishing the program. Optifast Diet promises a significant reduction in weight: an average weight loss of 21 lbs. in over 20000 patients.
This is probably why the safety and efficacy of the Optifast Diet Program have been extensively studied in order to prove whether this diet really works. The major focus was on the short- term and long-term change in body weight of the subjects submitted to this diet.
An overall evaluation including 517 participants who were undergoing the 26-week of Optifast Core Program revealed that approximately 54% of men and 56% of women were able to complete the entire program. Males and females who managed to complete the treatment had lost an average of 32.1 and 22.0 kg, respectively, compared with 20.0 and 14.3 kg, respectively, for males and females who were not included in the Optifast program.
A follow-up evaluation exerted after one ear on a total number of 18 patients showed that they had managed to maintain approximately 15.3 kg of their original 24.8-kg weight loss.
After another follow-up evaluation that was done after 3-5 years on the individuals treated with the Optifast Core Program showed some moderate weight regain pattern.
That means that after 3 years from finishing the program, for example, male participants had regained an average of 20.2 kg of their original weight loss (34.3 kg), while females had gained an average of 14.1 kg of their initial weight loss (23.7 kg).
Other aspects of the initial weight loss have also been researches, such as the number of individuals treated with the Optifast diet who had managed to maintain a reduction in their initial body weight of 5%. This has shown a higher rate of success revealed by the Institute of Medicine expert panel. After 3 years from finishing the program approximately 73.3% of males and 55.1% of females has managed to maintain a weight loss of 5%.
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Still, it is recommended that data reported by Weight Watchers on the long term efficiency of the diet, must be interpreted with caution, because is it possible for this to represent a “best-case scenario.”
The number of 566 patients evaluated at the 3-year follow-up represented only a part of the initial number of patients (44% of the 1,283 patients who originally enrolled in the programs). This means it is still possible for the patients who did not participate in the follow up to have regained some of the weight.
The diet also promises a risk reduction in the comorbidities associated with overweight and obesity, targeting disorders such as Type II diabetes (30% reduction in blood glucose), increased levels of cholesterol (14% decrease in seric cholesterol) and increased BP (11% decrease in blood pressure).
So far, the Optifast diet has proven to be quite efficient, probably because of the supervision that the patients undergo and the strict caloric intake. However, its efficiency can be diminished during the last phase of the diet when the patient is allowed to also eat some of the normal meals. This might tempt the patient into choosing a meal that is not that low in calories and is not recommended during dieting.