VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) are specially prepared formulas of 800 calories or less that are intended to replace one’s complete diet for a short-term period under medical supervision.

A very low calorie diet may allow a moderately to severely obese person to lose between 3-5 pounds per week with an average of 44 pounds over a 12 week period. Such rapid weight loss can improve various conditions related to obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). VLCD has however not shown to be effective in the long term unless the patient combines VLCD with dietary restrictions, an exercise regimen and/or behavioral therapy. This helps keeps the weight off in the long term. Behavioral therapy helps patients recognize what behaviors and triggers cause overeating so they can successfully change those behaviors for the long term.

VLCD is generally considered safe when used under proper medical supervision and with people with BMI (body mass index) of greater than 30. Use of VLCD in people between BMI of 27 and 30 should be reserved for those suffering from medical complications arising from obesity. VLCD is usually recommended on a case by case basis by your doctor. VLCD are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women or for children or adolescents, unless in specialized treatment programs.