Medically, a very low calorie diet consists of fewer than 800 calories a day. According to the UCLA Health Center, the body resorts to a state of starvation when it receives fewer than 1,000 calories a day. After four or five days, you are no longer hungry. Since a very low calorie diet, also referred to as a VLCD, stresses body functions and puts you at serious risk of developing complications, you should undertake this kind of weight loss program under the supervision of a nutritionist and physician who also can transition you back to a diet with more calories.
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Educate yourself about food values and how the body utilizes calories and nutrition through classes or consultations with your nutritionist. While you are on the strict diet or consuming only meal replacements, you need to develop a firm understanding of how to eat and exercise properly once you've lost the initial weight.
Figure out how many calories you need to maintain your new weight. According to Healthy Women, you can find the number by multiplying your weight in kilograms by the number 30. One kilogram is 2.2 pounds. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, in kilograms that equals 68.2, so you should eat approximately 2,000 calories a day to maintain that weight.
Add soft foods to your menu after about two or three days. According to MayoClinic.com, your stomach may have trouble digesting dense fiber after its been restricted for a period of time. Eat yogurt and other non-fibrous foods during this time period.
Increase gradually new food and beverage intakes to your daily diet. According to Healthy Women, you should add small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables as you transition off your VLCD program. Soften the fresh food in a food processor or blender if you've been on a liquid VLCD.
Introduce whole grains, meat and unprocessed fruit and vegetables at each meal following the adjustment period until you reach your caloric maximum, and don't rely on supplements or VLC meal-replacements any longer.
Build exercise into your daily lifestyle as part of your transition. According to the UCLA Health Center, you should increase the mild exercise you began during your physician-supported diet so that you are exercising for at least 30 minutes three or four times a week.
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The initial weight loss on a VLCD typically ranges between three and five pounds a week. To maintain the weight loss over time, however, you must undergo behavioral changes, according to the American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Consider enrolling in a behavior modification program or counseling to help you with the psychological challenges that could result from your lifestyle changes. Consider the amount of exercise and activity you perform each day when determining your calorie needs. The Healthy Women formula is designed for moderately active dieters. If you are sedentary, you’ll need fewer calories, or you can add calories to the final figure if you participate in intense sports or exercise regimens.
Before ending your very low calorie diet, you should have a maintenance plan in place. According to the UCLA Health Center, 75 percent of those dieters who don’t have a maintenance strategy regain the weight within one year and 95 percent regain all the weight and more within three years.