For centuries, liquid diets have been used in religious and cultural practices to cleanse bodies and purify souls. In modern society, liquid diets have become popular quick weight-loss regimens. A liquid diet may jumpstart your weight loss goals, but you may regain all the pounds you lost and, possibly, more — even if you are on the liquid diet for just five days. Some liquid diets provide more nutrition than others.
Liquid Diets Lack Nutrition of Other Weight Loss Plans
Liquid diets contain few calories — usually less than 800 — so it is impossible to obtain adequate nutrition on any of them. Dietitians generally agree that you need about 1,500 calories, derived from a variety of foods, to obtain proper nutrition. A good guideline is the United States Department of Agriculture food pyramid that suggests eating three servings each of fruits and vegetables, six servings of grains, two to three servings of dairy products and 6 oz. of meat. If you choose low-fat dairy, lean meat and obtain some of your protein from fat-free legumes, you can get all of your daily nutrition in 1,500 calories. You would lose about 1 lb. per week on the USDA diet and about 2 lbs. a week on a liquid diet.
Some liquid diets, such as the Master Cleanse, promise far greater weight loss results — up to 20 lbs. in two weeks. But a great deal of the weight loss is derived from the purging effect of the diet, intended to clean out your colon. The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, involves drinking 8 cups of a beverage that contains water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. The diet provides slight nutrition and about 800 calories, most of them from the maple syrup.
Juice diets provide greater nutrition. This diet involves drinking liquefied versions of a lot of vegetables and some fruits. Choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables will increase your nutrition quotient. Citrus fruit and berries contain vitamin C and may also boost your metabolism, according to Leslie Beck, a Canadian registered dietitian. Broccoli, called “a nearly perfect vegetable” by the “New York Times,”may also enhance your immune system and open your breathing passages. Beck also says green vegetables and sweet potatoes provide high levels of antioxidants.
Liquid Protein Diets
Liquid protein diets may keep you feeling full longer. Liquid protein diets involve drinking commercially prepared or homemade drinks that feature milk, whey or soy protein powder. A study conducted by M. Noakes and other Australian researchers found that protein drinks provided greater satiety than beverages consumed in other liquid diets. Participants in the study, published in the “Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 2008, drank either a high carbohydrate drink or a high protein drink. Those who drank protein shakes felt less hungry but lost about the same amount of weight as those who drank the high carbohydrate drinks. The lemonade mixture in the Master Cleanse would qualify as a high carbohydrate drink. Juice diets contain more carbohydrates than protein drinks.
If you have trouble sticking with a liquid diet, this may be a good thing. Your metabolism slows in response to the lowered caloric intake and continues to slow for as long as you remain on the liquid diet. When you start eating normally again, your sluggish metabolism can’t handle the sudden influx, and you are likely to regain weight more quickly than you lost it. Headaches, nausea, jitters and hunger pangs are common side effects of liquid diets. Diets that severely restrict calories should not be undertaken without medical supervision.
- USDA: My Pyramid
- The Master Cleanse
- "The Globe and Mail"; Low Glycemic Load is the Best Diet Road; Leslie Beck; 2006
- “The New York Times”; Food & Fitness: Broccoli’s Bonuses; Nancy Harmon Jenkins; 1986
- “New Straits Times”; Benefits of Vitamin C; Trissia Chandra; 1995
- “The Daily Telegraph”; The Big Squeeze – Exotic Juices May Be the Key to Curing Winter Ills; Anastasia Stephens; 2002