Are Low Calorie Diet Shakes all they’re cracked up to be?

Everywhere you go you find a new weight-loss/meal replacement diet shake that will give you the quick-fix weight-loss. These VCLD (very low calorie diet) shakes have been on the market for a few years now and there are over 10 different brands now, all competing with each other. A few familiar names include Optifast (the original), Celebrity Slim, Tony Fergusson, Ultra Slim, Biggest Loser, Kick Start, Optislim and Fat Blaster, just to name a few.

These meal replacement shakes are a way to help you control your calorie intake without having to worry about what you should be eating and counting calories. Although they are extremely low in calories, comprising of around 800 calories per day, they are nutritionally balanced and contain all the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals. They are usually recommended by your Doctor for people who need to rapidly lose weight and whose BMI is above 30.

There are both pros and cons to following a weight-loss plan such as the VCLD. The short term benefits (or Pros) can include rapid weight-loss, keeping temptation away, and having a quick and convenient way to prepare your meals in the go. The negative aspects to such a program are: minimal carbohydrates (which can affect the body in the long term); not learning how to eat properly; normally weight is put back on after you stop consuming the shakes; not enough fibre through lack of fresh fruits and vegetables; you can be left feeling hungry; the diet can be expensive.

Unless specified by your Doctor, these shakes are usually consumed twice a day (normally for breakfast and lunch), followed by a small protein and low GI vegetable-based meal. It is also recommended that you consume 2-3 snacks throughout the day of around 100 calories each, and a minimum of 8 glasses of water to maintain adequate hydration.

There are some people for whom this sort of weight-loss plan may not be beneficial, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, children or adolescents, type I diabetics, people with kidney, liver or CV disease, and people who are lactose intolerant (due to skim milk powder contained in this product). However, people with type II diabetes may benefit from this under their Doctor’s supervision. There are also possible side-effects some people may experience while taking this product, including headache, dizziness, bad breath, constipation, nausea and diarrhoea. Please be aware of these and cease following this program if they become apparent.

Overall, taking these low calorie diet shakes will help you lose a few quick kilos but such a lifestyle is unsustainable and not teaching you how to eat properly for your body. I believe that it is essential to provide support and education to individuals who want to start taking diet shakes, but they need to learn how to eat healthily for themselves and how to keep their excess weight off, through both diet and exercise.

2 thoughts on “Are Low Calorie Diet Shakes all they’re cracked up to be?

  1. Jo Smith


    I have been on the weight loss journey since the beginning of the year and while it has been a slow process I am slowly reaching my goal. Was just wondering if I was to begin taking the shakes for 12 weeks and could teach myself once the time has finished on clean eating daily and continuous exercise. Would a situation like this keep the weight off, providing I continue being as dedicated as I am??

  2. Luke Scott

    Hi Jo,

    This approach could work. However ideally getting the weight off with a clean diet and exercise would be the ideal way to do things.
    As always though weight loss is an individual process and what works for one may not always work for all.

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