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Myths & Facts: Liquid Diets for Weight Loss

Published on: Jun 05, 2023
5 min Read
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Introduction

Liquids, drinks and beverages are an integral part of our diet. Whether we are consuming a lassi or chaas (buttermilk) with our meal, sipping on tea or coffee early in the morning or enjoying a drink with a few friends over the weekend- beverages of different types are tasty and flavourful.

But have you ever thought living on a liquid diet is possible? There is a lot of hullabaloo about liquid diet for weight loss and its many other benefits, but are they really safe?

In this blog, we’ll take you through a liquid diet journey to understand the pros and cons of this diet.

What is a Liquid Diet?

As the name suggests, a liquid diet consists of consuming liquid instead of solid food. This may include homemade or store-bought beverages like juices, smoothies, protein shakes, and other liquid replacements. A liquid diet involves replacing all the solids in meals and snacks with liquids.

Liquid diets are often marketed as ‘juice cleanses’, ‘detox cleansers’, ‘weight loss diets’ and many such names that make them sound healthy. A liquid diet differs from a clear liquid diet as the former contains more flavour and nutritional value. You can eat pureed versions or thicker liquids of your favourite foods.

But are they safe and affordable? Maybe not!

How do Liquid Diets Work Differently From Solid Diets?

Did you know the body absorbs liquids and solids differently? When you consume solid food, you have to chew it. This act of chewing increases the fullness factor.

Solid foods have higher fibre content, slow down digestion and help you stay fuller for longer. However, since liquids lack this high fibre content, they have a low satiety value (less likely to make you feel full).

Why Do People Opt for a Liquid Diet?

Before we understand the pros and cons of a liquid diet, here are some reasons why people may opt for it:

1) Medical reasons

People who have undergone a medical procedure or have difficulty swallowing or an intestinal issue may be recommended a clear liquid diet for the short term to enable them to adjust to solid foods.

They may be given for some time to people who have recently undergone a dental procedure, are unable to swallow or have digestion difficulties.

This diet may also be prescribed for people scheduled to undergo a medical test or procedure (like surgery).  A liquid diet for medical reasons is usually prescribed by a doctor or a dietician.

2) Weight loss and detox

A very popular reason for going on a liquid diet is weight loss. Since liquid meal replacements are low in calories and portion sizes are controlled, they enable weight loss with their high nutritional value and convenience factor.

Liquid meal replacement beverages have been shown to reduce weight loss  as a part of an energy-restricted diet.

Juices obtained from fresh vegetables and fruits are loaded with healthy nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is important to note that the detox claims of these freshly pressed juices are not proven scientifically as yet.

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What Can You Eat and Drink in a Liquid Diet?

Some foods that are permissible in a liquid diet are:

  • Water
  • Fruit juices with and without pulp
  • Butter, oil, cream, custards, pudding
  • Fruit popsicles (ice lolly)
  • Plain ice cream
  • Frozen yoghurt
  • Sherbet
  • Nimboo pani
  • Coconut water
  • Soups
  • Broth
  • Honey
  • Sodas like ginger ale
  • Tea and coffee
  • Milk
  • Curd
  • Rasam
  • Protein shakes

What are the Benefits and Risks of a Liquid Diet?

The aim of a weight loss liquid diet is to give you a balance of nutrients throughout the day while controlling portion sizes and caloric intake. Here are some benefits of a liquid diet:

  • Helps you lose weight
  • Enables better management of health parameters like blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Places less stress on the digestive system but provides adequate flavour and lots of nutrients (if planned well)

However, when a liquid diet for weight loss is not planned well or followed without consulting a nutritionist, it may have some risks. These include:

1) Very low-calorie diets

Most often, following liquid diets provides you with less than 800 calories which lack essential nutrient groups like vitamins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and minerals.

2) Unable to get sufficient fibre

Though a liquid diet ensures you get as much of the fibre from fruits and vegetables, improper planning can result in insufficient fibre consumption, which may result in digestive issues like constipation.

3) Low protein intake

When liquid diets are not planned well, they may be low in proteins, an essential building block of the body. This can result in progressive loss of muscle mass and weakness.

However, if you are on a well-planned liquid diet, you can get your daily protein intake from protein shakes packed with nutrients.

4) Missing out on essential nutrients

If not taken with a consultation with a nutritionist, then your liquid diet will miss out on essential nutrients vital for your body’s functioning.

As a result,  it is common to experience light-headedness, fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, deranged blood sugar levels and cardiovascular conditions.

Besides these risks, a few disadvantages of going on a liquid diet include:

  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Not sustainable long-term
  • Lack of satiety (which may increase craving and unhealthy snacking tendencies)
  • Too expensive
  • Makes you prone to debilitating headaches, hunger and digestive issues

FitterTake!

Liquid diets fall under the category of very low calories diets. These diets, if planned by a qualified nutritionist can provide adequate nutrients with low calories as a part of your weight loss plan.

While there are some studies on the benefits of a liquid diet for weight loss, one must follow this diet only after consulting their nutritionist.

Infact, going on a liquid diet without consulting your doctor and nutritionist can be risky for your health as self-made liquid diets may result in micronutrient, protein and fibre deficiencies.

If you are struggling to lose weight or manage your blood sugar levels in diabetes, we are here for you. At Fitterfly,  our team of expert coaches comprising nutrition experts, physiotherapy coaches and success coaches, all come together to work on a comprehensive treatment plan as per your needs.

Every aspect of your life including you food preferences, lifestyle, personal life, medical history, stressor etc are kept in mind before planning your weight loss journey.

Diet fads like liquid diets may seem lucrative and convenient, but they are not the right way to manage your weight or blood sugar levels.

Speak to us or explore our Diabetes Care Program and Weight Loss Program here!

Disclaimer

This blog provides general information for educational and informational purposes only and shouldn't be seen as professional advice.

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- By Fitterfly Health-Team
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