VLCD vs. LCD- Which is better for long term Weight Management

There are several types of ‘diets’ trending in the nutrition world that are coined to help lose weight. Out of these, the two diets that focus on carbs and calories- Low calorie diet and Very low calorie diet are two of the most commonly used ones.  In this article you will learn what does each one offer.

Being on a low calorie diet could mean a diet that ranges between 850-1500 kcals per day. This is so designed with the aim of losing about half to 1 kg per week. The alternative to this is a very low calorie diet which is designed for short term weight loss goal, and is more commonly used with people with a BMI over 30 (obese category).  Here, the calorie restrictions go from 800 to lower kcals per day.

What do the LCD and VLCD diets do?

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A LCD is seen as a long term diet that will produce results at a slower pace but will help lose weight at a steady rate. Instead of achieving rapid loss of weight, it works by building on the weight loss week by week. The calorie intake is to be restricted to 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day for men. Women should not restrict themselves to fewer than 1,000 calories per day and men to fewer than 1,200 calories per day without consulting a healthcare professional.

Whereas, a VLCD is based off 800 kcals or less per day (depending on person to person, based on requirements.) Unlike LCDs, VLCDs are majorly made up of liquid diets, soups, bars and meal replacement shakes that replace your normal meals and give fewer calories while being nutrient dense. This type of diet is used to promote quick weight loss, often as a way to jump-start an obesity treatment program.

What are the risks?

In a LCD, the diet having fewer calories than you normally eat, it is likely that the body will go under starvation mode. And in such a condition it is natural for the body to look at other sources of energy other than food (like muscles and fat) for energy. This may make you lose some amount of muscle mass from the body, initially. However, to overcome this you will need to ensure that the diet you eat is balanced, has ample amounts of protein and is not going to leave you starving.

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A VLCD is usually meant as a clinically supervised diet that needs close monitoring. Please do not try this adventure on your own, without medical supervision. The risk of being on a VLCD for too long may result in digestive problems, fluctuations in energy levels and in some cases, cause gallstones as a result of rapid weight loss, which may need to be removed surgically.  However, this is more likely to happen in an unsupervised kind of a diet which is why it is to be avoided be persons who are not obese or need severe restrictions in diet. This type of diet is strictly meant as a starting push for people who are obese or grossly obese and have no luck in losing weight otherwise.

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