There is often a stigma associated with diets that lead to abrupt weight loss. Individuals perceive that this results in negative outcomes once they return to alternate patterns of eating. However, extensive recent research has suggested otherwise.
In December 2017, a study published in The Lancet showed that an 800-calorie diet resulting in an average weight loss of 10kg was able to put diabetes into remission in about half of participants, and they were also able to stop all diabetic and blood pressure medication. Other studies, including one conducted in Melbourne by Dr Jo Proietto in 2014, showed that participants who lost weight rapidly were actually more successful at weight loss and preventing weight regain than people using traditional slow, continuous weight loss programs.
Rapid weight loss is often achieved by following a very low calorie diet (VLCD) involving daily consumption of about 800 calories. VLCDs can be consumed as either a synthetic/processed shake or bar diet, or as a REAL FOOD program such as Be Fit Food, which is doctor and dietitian designed to ensure an adequate balance of nutrients including protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals is achieved.
During or after a VLCD, the individual will enter a state of ketosis, a normal metabolic process that occurs when the body doesn’t contain enough carbohydrates to burn for energy, so it uses stored fat as an alternative. This is generally achieved when our daily carbohydrate intake is <50g.
Once a very low calorie/ketogenic diet is commenced, it will usually take the individual three to four days to get into ketosis. At this stage people might feel some lethargy, fatigue, or even headaches while the body becomes ‘fat-adapted’. During the breakdown of fat, our body produces ketones, a by-product of fat metabolism that assists in appetite suppression and reducing hunger hormones (grehlin).
Expected positive health outcomes for those who can sustain this program for two to eight weeks are improvements in blood sugar levels, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and decreased reliance on related medications.
Here are seven scientifically backed tips for a successful rapid weight loss diet:
1. Don’t cut out whole food groups - when you do this, you are restricting the nutrients your body receives and this will limit your ability to stick to your diet if you are not feeling your best.
2. Cut out processed carbs - if you’re planning on cutting out any food, make it all processed carbs. That way, your body will turn to fat for energy and burn this instead of the carbs if your calories are restricted, and you will lose weight more effectively.
3. Keep up intake of high-quality protein – this will ensure you are maintaining lean body mass during fat loss.
4. Maintain a good intake of saturated fats - they benefit heart health, brain function plus our skin and hair too.
5. Don’t limit low-starch vegetables - these will keep you feeling fuller for longer, are low in calories and are packed with nutrients.
6. If you’re experiencing frequent hunger, try liquids first - hunger can be prompted by boredom, or your cravings might simply be thirst. Have a glass of water and see how you feel.
7. If you’re feeling unwell, you aren’t doing it right - although in the initial stages of a rapid weight loss diet you may feel a little lethargic, after a few days your body will adapt and you should have more energy. If you are experiencing light-headedness, faintness or not feeling well, then most likely you aren’t doing the diet properly and are missing out on essential nutrients, so seek advice from the appropriate health professional.