What are the Side effects of a VLCD plan

Very Low Calorie Diets are great at helping slimmers lose weight. The weight comes off fast which helps the slimmer with their motivation levels.
However, VLCD’s aren’t for everyone. In this blog post, we will discuss VLCD’s, how they work and the side effects that some slimmers may have.


VLCD stands for Very Low Calorie Diet. Generally a slimmer on a VLCD consumes less than 800 calories per day. A VLCD MUST ensure it gives a slimmer all of their RDA for essential vitamins and minerals or it can not be classed as a VLCD – Unfortunately, there’s weight loss plans available in the UK advertising themselves as a VLCD by using only high protein products and that can be harmful for slimmers.

Generally a VLCD is a Total Food Replacement (TFR). This means that the slimmer would get all of their nutritional requirements in the form of Meal Replacements (MRP). This can be either by eating 3 per day or 4 per day (some companies split the RDA requirement across 3 packs and others across 4 packs).
Weight loss is on average 1 stone a month. However we have to say an average as some slimmers lose more, others lose less. A lot of that weight is lost in the first week due to the body switching into ketosis (fat burning mode).


There are various side effects slimmers can expect (not every slimmer will get every side effect and some do not have any side effects at all). These side effects usually take place in the first 3 days –

headaches (known as carb withdrawal. Usually subsides once ketosis kicks in)
flu like symptoms (again usually subsides once ketosis kicks in)

constipation – this is common to slimmers on a VLCD. It can happen when our bodies don’t have enough water so our body takes water where it can (the waste inside the bowel is wet so it takes the water and dries up any waste leaving us constipated). We would say to combat this, drink plenty 2-3 litres per day. If you do suffer, please don’t put the VLCD first – your health is more important so we would say take flax seeds or dulcolax or dulco ease.
Hair loss – Now this is where it gets confusing. People say that VLCD’s make your hair fall out. They don’t but they do thin your hair because your body will stop certain processes in order to save energy whilst you are in ketosis. One of those processes is hair growth. As our hair growth has several cycles in it (the growing, the shedding etc), you will notice that your hair follicles are producing hair at a slower rate and that’s why hair can become thinner.

Feeling cold – I always say it seems like losing weight on a VLCD is easier in the summer (1 because SMLDiet has so many delicious Meal replacement shakes to choose from) but also because we naturally feel colder on a VLCD . This again is because of energy saving from our body. You may notice your hands and feet really feel the cold. Make sure you drink hot drinks, put on an extra jumper and don’t panic as it will soon go away.

VLCD’s have been used in the NHS and on weight loss plans for over 30 years. They’ve come a long way since they were first introduced. Now there’s more research, more products and more plans. Please choose your weight loss company carefully. Ensure they have the relevant experience and don’t dazzle you with words such as extreme ketosis weight loss plan or Rapid weight loss burn  – they are marketing their plans like that to entice you in as lets face it, us slimmers want to shift this weight. FAST.

Make sure you choose a plan that has experience in their field. If you are looking for a plan that can support you, ensure they have qualifications or know their stuff. There’s too many companies that are hiring ordinary people who then care more about you joining ‘their team’ rather than how you can change your life!

Lastly, think very carefully about your VLCD plan. You can’t stay on it for long and before you know it, you’ll be back in the world of real food. If you go back to your old eating habits, unfortunately the weight will go back on again. However, if you think carefully about the changes you would like to make, then you are more likely to succeed with VLCD weight management.  SML has created the BALANCE PLAN – It’s a VLCD re-feed designed to help you introduce food after a VLCD & looks at the psychological factors around weight management.



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