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Is A Low Calorie Diet Good For You?

In one of the most celebrated weight-loss feats in recent memory, television talk show host Oprah Winfrey shed 67 pounds in four months on a very low-calorie liquid formula diet. If it worked for her, will it work for you?

Maybe. But the more important question is, “Will it be safe?” Experts are finding that these diets may be dangerous for many people, especially those who are only mildly obese. A mildly obese person has less lean body mass or muscle, and cannot adapt as well as an obese person to the drastic reductions in caloric intake.

Very low-calorie diets may attract individuals who are mildly obese and who could achieve their desired weight in a few weeks. When a person reduces calorie intake, the body responds by breaking down muscle. After a few days the body begins to burn more fat than muscle. It turns out that the more overweight a person is, the easier it is to adapt to burning fat.

Too much loss of protein in a mildly obese person may increase the risk of damaging the heart and other organs. It will also slow the metabolic rate, making it harder to maintain a desirable weight.

Very low-calorie diets should be reserved for people who are at least 50 percent overweight and who are proven failures on more conventional diets.

Some people, especially those who are very obese, may find these liquid diets helpful in losing weight quickly. However, the obese person who has been unable to lose weight on conventional diets may wish to use a very low-calorie liquid diet – 450 to 600 calories a day.

These very low-calorie diets should be used only as prescribed and supervised by a physician. The powder formulas are mixed with water and consumed three to five times a day. No other food is allowed.

But experts warn that even an obese person may encounter problems with the liquid diets. Health complications can occur when a person goes off the diet and begins to eat solid food. Overeating or engaging in binge eating during this early refeeding state may cause dangerous shifts in salt and potassium level, as well as excessive fluid retention.

There are also long-term hazards to very low-calorie diets. Someone who has gone on a very low-calorie diet is, after a few years, likely to come back to a higher weight than before. Because of that, the person will probably have a negative sense of self-worth and will probably have more trouble trying to lose weight the next time.

To be successful at dieting a person must be able to keep the weight off. That means collecting bad eating and exercise habits. Most people think it’s over when the thin lady sings, but that’s when the real work begins. For any diet to be successful, a strategy is needed to maintain the weight loss.

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