Very Low Calorie Diets and Meal Replacements for vegetarians


Many people are attracted by the idea of meal replacements - purchasing a specific product with completely known quantities of calories and nutrients - as part of a weight loss strategy. There are a very wide range of products and intentions to choose between.

Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs) are defined medically as diets of less than 800Kcal per day, and should always be taken under supervision - either by a doctor, or a trained counsellor/distributor of your chosen product.

The diets on offer vary, but generally consist of pre-formulated, nutritionally-complete liquid meals, often based around sweetened 'milkshake' style drinks. They tend to be extremely low in carbohydrates, but contain recommended daily levels of vitamins, minerals, protein and essential fatty acids. Other 'meal replacement' style diets offer 'real' food (often highly processed it's true, but looking and feeling more like actual foods), in higher calorie levels than VLCDs but still rigidly controlled and providing complete nutritional content (recommended daily amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc). It's a tough regime to follow, so if you're doing a VLCD be sure to read our tips page! Do they work? Well, study after study indicates that these diets are very effective in rapid weight loss, including in substantially overweight/obese people, as well as helping to stabilise Type 2 diabetes.

For vegetarians, many products and programmes are suitable - please see links below for reviews of various diets in more detail.

Sound too good to be true? Well sticking with the extremely strict regimes are far from easy - although the different programmes offer varying types of individual, group and online support. A number of criticisms of the approach exist from medical and nutritional experts, although studies repeatedly say that very low calorie diets and food replacements represent some of the most rapid non-surgical weight loss approaches.

Exante is a relative newcomer to the market offering a flexible range of solutions,

The Cambridge Diet was one of the first on the market and still going strong, with distribution networks around the world.

Lighterlife is a very low calorie diet programme taking off significantly in the UK, which combines the supervision of food pack distribution with structured group support sessions.

Nutrisystem is well established meal replacement programme across the US and delivers food packs containing 'real' meals, under a variety of programmes.

There are various other meal substitute and 'vlcd' products and programmes available around the world as well. We are researching them constantly for effectiveness, edibility as well as - of course - veggie-friendliness. To keep up to date with the new programmes we assess, as well as receiving general weight loss news, inspiration and recipes, please sign up for our new monthly ezine...!

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