Very Low Calorie Diets for Rapid Weight Loss
Here we will go with the mythical 500 calorie plan. The warnings from nutritionists are clear. Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) are potentially dangerous. It goes without saying that a VLCD is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and are not appropriate for children or adolescents except in specialized treatment programs.
The challenge is to construct a VLCD eating plan which, when followed for any reasonable length of time, does NOT lead to nutritional deficiencies. The nutritional deficiencies we worry about concern both macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. The necessary micro-nutrients are easily obtained from supplements. The macro-nutrients come from food, and this requires some planning.
Macro-Nutrients for VLCD – food
So what is the nutritional concern? As a human, we do have nutritional needs other than energy production. Remember that of the macro-nutrient classes, proteins, fats and water are essential for our survival. Of those three, water is the least problematic, and almost the most essential. Drinking water on a VLCD is a good idea as it helps flush out toxins that may get liberated from stored fat as the fat is used for energy. In addition, it helps with hunger and cravings.
Of the other two, protein is more critically important than fat. Our bodies have a constant need for protein to stay healthy. Most americans on a standard diet are likely to be somewhat protein deficient. To get an idea of what your daily protein requirements (in grams) are, here is a protein calculator. There are internet resources to help you find out what the protein content is of certain foods. So for example beef, provides 21 grams of protein per 100 gram serving (232 cal), and chicken tenders have 16 grams (293 cal). So, for satisfying your protein requirement, beef (steak) appears to be the better bet. Richer protein sources are egg whites and canned tuna. There are a lot of options for meal planning, but make sure you check the food composition and calories so you stay around 500 cal for a day.
What about fats (and oils)? From a health perspective, most fat is neutral although some fats are pro-inflammatory and some are anti-inflammatory Even so, fats and oils pack a caloric punch at 9 cal/gram, so we will avoid most fatty foods and oils on our VLCD. The exceptions are Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) to sprinkle on a salad and Virgin Coconut Oil, which can be used as a spread. Of course, we do need our Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), and we recommend (and use) a high quality supplement.
The two non-essential classes, carbohydrates and alcohol, should be avoided. Now we will likely incorporate some vegetables and fruits, in limited quantities (carbohydrates). But there is an ABSOLUTE NO-NO on alcohol and refined carbohydrates and starches. So NO bread, NO rice, NO paste, NO potatoes, NO wine, NO beer .. etc.
Micro-Nutrients for VLCD – supplements
I believe that supplements should be taken even when NOT on a VLCD. A 500 cal diet presents extra challenges however. Below is a (partial) list of supplements I take while on this regime.
- Energy enhancer: NADH is a cellular energy enhancer. It also act as an appetite suppressor and reduces hunger. NADH 10mg first thing in the morning. Do NOT eat or drink anything else (other than water) for the next 30 minutes.
- Anti-oxidants: Vitamin C and NAC
- When you burn fat for energy, toxins that are stored in body fat can get liberated in the blood stream. Vitamin C 1,000 mg 30 minutes after the NADH
- Said toxins will present a load on the liver, so I take 1,200 mg of n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC).
- B-Vitamins: B vitamins are water soluble and not stored. They are essential for optimum cellular function. I take a B-Complex in the morning with the Vitamin C and NAC.
- Essential Fatty Acids: VLCD are very low in fat. I take a softgel of omega-3 fatty acids containing EPA (180mg) and DHA (120mg) twice a day after a meal.
This is a partial list, as I may take other supplements during the day. The list above I consider essential while on this diet though.
Good Health and Live Young