Understanding How VLCD Works: What’s Safe and What’s Not

People who are obese need to take drastic action if they truly want to lose weight and change their lives. Just cutting back on soft drinks a little or taking a walk every day isn’t going to make a difference, as good as those things are. They need significant change, and one way to effect that change is with a very low-calorie diet (VLCD).

At the Institute for Health Management Aesthetics in Petaluma, California, Dr. David Chapell and his team know what it’s like to struggle with your weight. Losing the weight and returning to a normal lifestyle on your own isn’t an easy job. That’s why they created a VLCD program that they supervise to help you achieve dramatic weight loss in just a few months.

Here’s how the program works:

What is a VLCD?

Most diets work by restricting your calories to 800-1,500 a day. The idea is that the fewer calories you eat, the more weight you lose. If you’re obese, however, you need to lose even more weight, so a VLCD limits you to 500-800 calories per day.

Some VLCDs call for you to eat a lot of the same low-calorie food, but our program is a combination of meal replacement shakes and supplements that provide the nutrients you need without the excess calories. This is basically a modified fasting approach that helps most people lose 3-5 pounds a week.

Most people follow the program for about 12 weeks, during which time they can lose about 45 pounds. A VLCD works best for patients who have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, along with weight-related medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. All of these can be significantly helped by losing weight.

Are VLCDs safe?

VLCDs are safe when they’re done under the supervision of an experienced weight loss doctor. This isn’t something you should try on your own — side effects can include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not try a VLCD, and they’re not designed for kids, teenagers, or older adults. Anyone attempting a VLCD should also be aware that consuming only 800 calories a day may not give you the energy and stamina you need for daily life.

Make sure you’re under the care of a physician like Dr. Chappell before you undertake a VLCD. This kind of diet isn’t a sustainable, long-term solution, so your doctor should also be able to help you build the kind of healthy lifestyle — including diet and exercise — to help you keep the weight off once you’ve finished the VLCD.

And there’s another important reason to tackle a VLCD under the care of a physician: You’re more likely to follow through and not revert to old habits that caused the problem in the first place.

Take the first step to changing the rest of your life by contacting the Institute for Health Management Aesthetics today to set up a consultation. Call or request an appointment online.


We will do our best to accommodate your busy schedule. Request an appointment today!

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