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Updated on November 25, 2019

Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD)

A very low-calorie diet (VLCD) is a dietician-supervised diet which uses commercially prepared formulas to promote rapid weight loss in patients who are obese or extremely overweight. VLCD formulas contain the appropriate levels of vitamins and nutrients to ensure that patients meet their nutritional requirements during calorie restriction. VLCD formulas are NOT the same as the meal replacements you can find at the supermarket or pharmacies.

With proper guided-supervision, VLCD will produce significant short-term weight loss when it is a part of comprehensive weight-loss treatment program that includes lifestyle change, physical activity and/or surgery.  Patients on VLCD consume less than 800 calories per day. 

Who should use a VLCD?

  • Patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30
  • Patients with a BMI of 27 to 30 with risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol and need to have rapid weight loss at the start of a weight-loss program
  • Patients undergoing bariatric surgery as part of a weight loss program

Adverse Effects of a VLCD

Patients on a VLCD may get minor side effects such as fatigue, constipation, nausea, or diarrhoea. These symptoms usually improve within a few weeks and rarely prevent patients from completing the program.  There is a risk of getting ketosis and as such, the program should not be done for more than 2 months. 

Maintaining Weight Loss

Long-term results of VLCD vary widely and weight regain is common. Success rates improve if the patients

  • Are highly motivated
  • Do regular daily physical activity
  • Change their eating habits to more healthy choices
  • Adopt a more healthy lifestyle

All patients on VLCD must be monitored by a doctor, dietician or nutritionist.

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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