Everyone knows that the key to weight loss is calorie reduction: the fewer calories you eat, and the more you burn, the more weight you’ll lose. Thus, diets that severely restrict calorie intake seem like a great idea on the surface. One example of this program is a liquid diet. Liquid diets partially or entirely replace solid foods with liquids, leading to a significant reduction in calories. Some versions of the diet replace all meals with juices or shakes, while others allow for a balanced dinner or snack bars. But does the liquid diet work? And is it safe?
Do Liquid Diets Work?
Overall, purely liquid diets do not help people lose weight over the long term. Yes, liquid diets can help people reduce their calorie intake to as low as 500 to 800 calories daily, but the body quickly compensates for this reduction. Going into “starvation mode,” the body slows the metabolism to conserve what little energy it is fed. Thus, weight loss will eventually plateau.
Worse, once the user goes back to a normal diet, he or she will gain weight quickly because the increased calories will far outpace the calories burned by the slowed metabolism. However, people who use diets that combine both solid and liquid food can see long-term success, as the calorie reduction is less severe. Moreover, this kind of diet is much more sustainable than a liquid-only diet — eating only shakes and juices all day, every day is unpleasant and is not sensible as a long-term lifestyle change.
Are Liquid Diets Safe?
Many liquid diets claim to provide the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for a healthy diet. Others, specifically very-low-calorie diets, do not meet these minimum requirements. A dieter who doesn’t ingest a varied diet containing the nutrients their body needs may experience a myriad of health problems caused by malnutrition.
Despite the drawbacks, liquid diets can help people with certain health conditions, particularly those conditions that affect the digestive system. Anyone interested in liquid diets should consult with their doctor and a dietitian to construct a balanced and healthy program. In sum, diets consisting solely of liquids are neither effective nor safe. However, using liquid meal replacements to safely reduce calorie intake may help dieters achieve their weight loss goals without threatening their health.