Every so often a new fad diet comes around that claims that substituting one or more meals a day with a liquid substitute is the way to lose weight fast.
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Sometimes the substitute is a natural concoction of a specific mixture of fruit, vegetables and fillers, while other times it is a powder derived blended liquid which has been fortified with a concoction of supposed 'nutrients' and 'supplements' to assist you in losing weight.
It seems logical that eating less should lead to weight loss, so many people buy right into they hype that a liquid diet can help you shed unwanted pounds fast.
While it may be true that a short-term 'detox' program can be quite cleansing for the mind, body and liver, liquid diets are no lasting plan for weight loss, and in fact even most detoxes are misused by people who continue their normal routines on insufficient nutrients and caloric intake instead of resting and rebooting as they should.
Before you engage in a liquid diet, please read the following points below as to why they are dangerous, devastating and just don't work.
1. Those 'Mystery' Ingredients
If you have a friend pushing a liquid diet he or she tried that 'worked wonders' and never left him or her 'feeling hungry,' this should set off a little red warning light in your mind that a liquid substitute, especially one that comes from a pre-packaged powder or liquid, is having such an effect.
Liquids are digested much more easily and quickly than solid foods, meaning another force is at play. Just like any other packaged or processed food, such diet products should be avoided like the plague if you are looking for long-term results. There can be any number of side effects from malnutrition to developing dependency on the appetite suppressants and other chemicals added to your 'liquid' diet drink.
2. The Body's Natural Reaction to Starvation
It is difficult to substitute one meal a day with a liquid supplement and still be consuming the right amount of good nutrients. It is not impossible, but it does take quite a bit of planning and preparation to achieve meal substitution with liquids, which is against the reasoning behind why many people choose a ready-to-drink liquid diet; liquid diets are fast, easy, no-brain-ers that take no time, energy or thought.
That being said, if you are substituting one, or more (as many liquid plans recommend) meals per day it is likely your body has interpreted this as going into 'resource conservation' mode, so to speak. The body will conserve as many calories as it can in order to have enough until you eat again- simply put, this means the body keeps more fat.
Thank your evolutionary ancestors- who did not always have a regular food source as hunters and gatherers- for that. What could be worse? Many programs recommend having a liquid substitute for breakfast and lunch… meaning the only time you are consuming a large number of real food calories (and it's usually double what you would normally eat because you are starved at the end of the day) is right before bed.
The body has no use for that many calories right before it settles down for R & R meaning you just earned yourself some instant fat.
3. Not Sustainable
Even if you do lose weight, it's likely you aren't feeling your best while on a liquid diet. If the right nutritional balance is not achieved, most participants feel groggy, grouchy and generally unwell. As soon as you go back to eating as per normal, you will realise you have not learned anything about how to eat for long-term weight loss, and the weight will go right back on.
Tied in with the above, many people think they can get their full range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients eating only one or two meals a day. Ask any nutritionist and you will learn that it's hard enough to get all the necessary bits in even with 3 to 5 small meals a day.
5. Doesn't Mix Well with Activity and Exercise
Activity and exercise are fundamental to weight loss… full stop. If you go to the gym having only consumed two pre-prepared liquid meals in a day you will not have enough energy to exercise, you will be unable to build muscle as the muscles are malnourished, and you will be far more likely to injure yourself (possibly permanently) due to the body's weakened state.
Are there any benefitsto liquid substitutes in moderation?
Is it possible to consume the equivalent of an entire meal's worth of nutrients and calories in as a liquid? Of course. Are there plans and recipes out there which truly do have viable liquid substitutes for eating a solid meal? Yes. Are there many health professionals and nutritionist who utilise blends of fruits, vegetables, protein powders, whole grains, and more to supplement their daily dietary intake?
That being said, rarely will you find a good and qualified health professional who recommends this be a substitute for an entire meal, but rather a source of nutrients and energy before a workout, as an energy-charged snack between meals, or as a short-term method of encouraging good digestive health.
If you would like to try a liquid diet do not go it alone. Use recipes and methods qualified by real professionals if you are simply looking it up online, and whenever possible first consult a qualified health professional.
Jessica Josh is an Australian freelance writer and blogger. She writes about fitness & excercise articles and reviews on companies such as http://www.northshorehealth.com.au