Liquid diets have become popular quick weight-loss regimens, without much evidence to back them up. A five-day liquid diet may jumpstart your weight loss goals, but the results won't last.
Not getting enough calories and nutrients can have negative effects on your health, energy level and your ability to avoid junk food cravings. Your best bet is to eat a healthy, calorie-reduced diet of whole foods that leaves you feeling satiated, not deprived.
Liquid Diets Lack Nutrition
Liquid diets come in many varieties. Juice fasts, cabbage soup diets, bone broth diets, clear liquid diets, plain old water and so on. The only type of liquid diet that is considered safe is one prescribed by a doctor for a morbidly obese patient whose health is in danger if the weight is not rapidly reduced. These diets are medically supervised.
Most other liquid diets contain too few calories — often less than 800 — so it is impossible to obtain adequate nutrition on any of them. Men and women need about 1,200 to 1,800 calories a day to lose weight, depending on their body weight and activity level. Those calories should come from whole foods packed with fiber, protein and other nutrient-rich, satiating ingredients.
Some liquid diets, such as the Master Cleanse, promise far greater weight loss results — up to 20 pounds in two weeks. But a great deal of the weight loss is water weight, which will come back as soon as you start eating your regular diet again.
The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, involves drinking a minimum of six cups a day of a beverage that contains water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. The diet provides minimal nutrition and calories, most of them from the sugars in the maple syrup. Living on water, lemon juice and maple syrup for five days is not healthy. You will feel hungry and will likely feel fatigued from not getting enough calories.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of a Juicing Cleanse?
Juice diets provide greater nutrition. These diets involve drinking liquefied versions of a lot of vegetables and some fruits. Choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables will increase your nutrition quotient.
Some juice diets are more healthful than others. Technically the Master Cleanse is a juice diet, and it is not healthy. Juice diets derived from fresh, whole vegetables and fruits are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and a much better choice.
Depending on which juice diet you choose and how many glasses of juice you drink each day, you may get enough calories and nutrients to feel healthy and energetic for the five-day duration.
But you will likely still feel hungry. Juices lack the fiber of whole fruits and vegetables. Fiber keeps you feeling full for a long time after eating, so you feel less hungry. You will also be missing out on another satiating nutrient — protein. Protein is crucial for curbing hunger and maintaining and building muscle.
Liquid Protein Diets
Liquid protein diets involve drinking commercially prepared or homemade drinks that feature milk, whey or plant-based protein. Liquid protein diets may keep you feeling full longer because foods high in protein are more satiating, according to a review of research published in Trends in Food Science & Technology in 2015.
Liquid protein drinks are also often fortified with other nutrients, either from whole foods or synthetic sources. However, many liquid protein drinks on the market are also high in sugar and artificial ingredients that are not good for your health or weight loss. Drinking a high-quality, low-sugar liquid protein diet makes it more likely that you will meet your nutrition needs.
Weight loss depends on eating fewer calories than you expend each day. This is pretty easy to do just by eating healthy, whole foods and avoiding junk and processed foods, sweets and sugary beverages.
Liquid diets sound good but are incredibly hard to stick to. Unless you have iron willpower you will most likely give into hunger pangs. The food choices people make when they are that hungry tend to be high in fat and carbs — and calories.
Instead of limiting yourself to a liquid diet, increase your intake of fresh vegetables and lean protein. The fiber and protein will help you feel satiated, not deprived. Snack on carrot and celery sticks whenever you feel hungry, drink plenty of water and exercise each day. If you want to, you can replace one meal a day with a nutrient rich drink or smoothie, but your other two meals should be healthy and well-rounded.