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All-Liquid Diet for Weight Loss

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All-Liquid Diet for Weight Loss

by GIANNA ROSE Last Updated: Jul 18, 2017

Gianna Rose is a registered nurse certified in hospice and palliative care, as well as a certified wellness coach. She completed Duke Integrative Medicine’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course in 2009. Rose also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Woman s feet on scale Photo Credit Igor Stepovik/iStock/Getty Images

Sticking to a diet isn’t easy, especially when you are faced with a multitude of choices and decisions about what to eat and how much several times each day. You might be considering an all-liquid diet so there are no decisions to make, and you need only reach for a portion- and calorie-controlled liquid at mealtimes. Consult a physician first to find out if a liquid diet is right for you.

All-Liquid Diets

An all-liquid diet, also known as a very low calorie diet or VLCD, is weight loss program that’s prescribed and supervised by a doctor, and that uses a nutritionally complete liquid formula to replace all food. This is not to be confused with over-the-counter diet shakes that sometimes instruct you to replace two meals with the formula and have a healthy dinner; these formulas are not suitable to use for an all-liquid diet. An all-liquid diet might be right for you if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, are preparing for weight-loss surgery or are at risk for health problems due to excess weight.


The VLCD was introduced in the 1920s, and grew in popularity until the mid-1970s, when it fell into disfavor due to Dr. Robert Linn’s Last Chance diet, which supplemented dieter’s meals with a low quality collagen-based liquid protein drink made from slaughterhouse leftovers, including hooves and hides. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians notes that several people died from starvation that lead to heart failure and cardiac arrest. Make sure any liquid diet beverage you use has a track record of safety. Liquid meal replacements are considered dietary supplements, so they’re not regulated by the FDA.

Choosing a Physician

Choose a competent bariatric physician, — one who specializes in the treatment of obesity — to determine if an all-liquid, VLCD is right for you, and who will monitor you throughout the diet. Even the best physicians often lack experience with these diets, according to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. All-liquid prescription diets average 800 calories per day, and dieters lose an average of 3 to 5 lbs. per week. Despite a doctor’s supervision, dieters may experience hair loss, dry skin, cold intolerance, fatigue, menstrual irregularities, disruption of normal heart and liver function, gallstones and gout. If you take lithium, are pregnant, have type 1 diabetes or have recently had a heart attack or stroke, an all-liquid diet isn’t right for you.

After the Diet

Most people regain the weight they lost while dieting simply because they resume eating more calories. Meal replacements take the weight off if, but they don’t teach you the ongoing lifestyle changes you need to make to keep the weight off. Learn about healthy eating habits before your liquid diet is over so you can maintain your new weight.

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