Nothing Solid about Liquid Diets
Many swear by the quick loss of weight that different liquid diets offer. But if considering one, there are many dos and don’ts that you must follow to the letter
The new year might have had you initiate infinite number of resolutions to stay hale and hearty, visit a gym regularly and go on a diet. Here’s what you should know. A diet is said to be a special course of food to which a person restricts himself. With technology in this fast-paced world, many diets have come to the forefront. Only time can differentiate the classic from the fads, the beneficial from the hazardous.
Amongst all the diet groups, we believe the liquid diet category is the most misunderstood one. News of a certain celebrity on a liquid diet losing oodles of weight sparks a frenzy of people trying their best to follow the same, with disastrous consequences. What most people fail to understand is that a liquid diet is a tough regime to follow and has to be done under the supervision of a registered dietician.
Liquid diets as the name suggests are diets that consist of liquids or soft foods that melt at room temperature. It can both be partial or full meal replacements and help one maintain their electrolyte balance and provide sufficient hydration. Often prescribed for people who suffer from gastrointestinal illnesses or damage, certain types of medical tests or surgeries need one to be on a liquid diet as well. The ‘clear liquid diet’ is one such diet, in which water, broth, plain gelatin and fluids that are easily digestible and leave no undigested residue in the intestinal tract are consumed. Patients undergoing endoscopy or colonoscopy are generally put on this diet to ensure adequate visibility during the procedure.
A popular liquid diet named ‘master cleanse’ involves drinking a mix of water, lemon, honey and cayenne pepper. Originally suggested as a detoxing diet, it results in fast weight loss. However, most people find it extremely difficult to adhere to it, since the diet is a full liquid diet with no solid food.
Most liquid diets have a low calorific intake when compared with other diets. Nutritionally, the diets lack essential macronutrients, but can be rich in vitamins and minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Liquids are easier to digest when compared to solid food, hence require less work from our organs to assimilate nutrition giving it ample of rest.
The liquid diet phenomenon is not a recent one. It is said that Lord Byron, the famous British poet went on a liquid diet in the 1820s. In the 1950s, the cabbage soup diet was introduced, which is a partial liquid diet that has cabbage soup as its main protagonist. Celebrities who have made the liquid diets famous include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, who went on one in 1988 and lost 30 kgs, only to gain most of it back in a few years time. Beyonce admitted to using the master cleanse diet to shed nine kgs for a movie she was doing in 2006.
Even though liquid diets are said to help in the reduction of weight in a span of a few days, the results may not last. Unless you change your eating habits, you are likely to regain all the lost weight once you are off the diet.
Followed for a short period for use before or after a medical procedure, the diet is considered safe as long as the patient follows the prescribed guidelines. Longer period diets bring with them the risk of having a host of side-effects that include possible damage to the intestinal tract, impaired liver or kidney function, and hypoglycaemia. It can also harm the body’s immune system, thus making the body more vulnerable to communicable diseases such as influenza or streptococcus. The diet also is devoid of fibre, hence resulting in constipation. Pregnant or nursing women and people suffering from diabetes shouldn’t go on a liquid diet at all.
Being on a liquid diet does not mean enjoying a 1500-calorie yummy chocolate drink, FYI. Liquid diets generally include soups, fruit juices, coffee, tea and pureed vegetables. Soups that contain noodles or meat are normally not allowed. Milk is accepted; yogurt is restricted, but sometimes allowed.
Without the supervision of a physician, a full liquid diet is not recommended, as we pointed out above. However, an occasional meal replaced by a wholesome liquid one seems a possible and beneficial option. So go ahead, and pour yourself a nutritious liquid that paves for you an occasional, healthy diet option to follow.