A liquid diet is a way to lose weight quickly while also giving your digestive system a break. Broths provide protein with very few calories, and tea is a zero-calorie liquid that can boost your metabolism and help you burn fat. If you include pureed fruits, vegetables and nonfat yogurt in a liquid diet, you can meet many of your nutritional needs and lose three pounds per week.
Nutriition in Broths
A cup of homemade chicken broth contains 40 calories, 1 g fat, 5 g protein and no carbohydrates. The same amount of canned chicken broth contains fewer calories – just 15 – but also less protein, 2 to 3 g, depending on the brand. Store-bought beef broth contains 30 calories,1 g fat, 5 g protein and 2 g of carbohydrates. If you drank four cups each of commercial chicken and beef broth daily, you would be getting 48 percent of your daily needs of protein, 12 percent of your daily needs of carbohydrates and 240 percent of your daily needs of sodium.
Fat-Burning Power of Tea
Natural teas – black, green, oolong and white – contain no calories but an abundance of antioxidants that effectively burn fat. You will get the most metabolism-boosting benefit out of tea if you brew it yourself from loose leaves. Green tea contains 3.5 times as many antioxidants as black tea in loose leaf form – about 130 mg per cup – but the amount drops dramatically if you drink decaffeinated, flavored or bottled tea. You would need, for instance, to drink 10 cups of bottled green tea to obtain the antioxidants found in a single cup of tea brewed from loose leaves. Oolong tea contains nearly as many antioxidants as green tea. White tea, rarer because it is picked from tea buds unreached by chlorophylls, contains the most antioxidants.
You could increase the nutritional value of a broth and tea diet by including pureed vegetables among your liquids. Broccoli, for instance, is a good source of calcium, vitamins C, E and B6 as well as sulphoraphane, a cancer-fighting agent. Other vegetables rich in vitamins and antioxidants include kale, burdock, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. You could cook the vegetables in chicken or beef broth and put in a blender to puree. Or you could put the vegetables in a juicer without cooking them.
Calcium to Lose Fat
If you added fruit smoothies with low-fat yogurt, you could add additional nutrition and get the weight loss benefits of dairy products. A smoothie made with 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup peaches would add 250 calories to your diet but give you good supplies of calcium, vitamin C, potassium and beta-carotene. This may seem like cheating on a broth-and-tea diet, but consider the weight-loss potential of calcium: people whose diets included 1,100 mg of calcium daily lost 22 percent more weight and 22 percent more body fat than people who consumed 500 mg of calcium in their daily diet. In the study, conducted by Michael Zemel and colleagues at the University of Tennessee, all participants followed reduced-calorie diets, but the most successful losers included three servings of yogurt a day in the 12-week plan, according to results presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego in 2003.
If you followed a liquid diet that included 4 cups of chicken broth, 4 cups of beef broth, 2 cups of pureed vegetables and 1 cup of a yogurt-based fruit smoothie, you would be consuming 550 calories daily. You could meet all your vitamin needs and about half your protein and calcium needs on such a diet but would get none of the six servings of grains recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture. This is an extremely low-calorie diet; most women need 2,000 calories to maintain their weight and most men several hundred calories more. You would lose about 3 lbs. per week on such a diet. Some people also lose water weight on liquid diets but gain it back when they resume eating solid foods. You are more likely to regain weight lost on extreme diets than moderate eating plans because your body's metabolism slows down when it is undernourished. You should consult with a physician before beginning a liquid diet. Any very low-calorie diet is best followed with medical supervision.