A total diet replacement programme is one of the fastest ways to lose weight, recent research finds.
Almost half of the people in the study lost over 15 percent of their body weight in 12 weeks.
It worked at three times the speed of ‘normal’ dieting.
A total diet replacement programme involves replacing all foods with soups, shakes and bars.
This cuts calorie intake to just the essentials: around 1,000 per day, including vital vitamins and minerals.
People also consume an additional three pints of water or other non-caloric drink each day.
In addition, people may take a fibre supplement, such as benefiber or fybogel, to prevent constipation.
Professor Susan Jebb, the study’s first author, said:
“In the past we have worried that a short period of rapid weight loss may lead to rapid weight regain, but this study shows that nine months after the intensive weight-loss phase, people have lost more than three times as much weight as people following a conventional weight-loss programme.”
The study included 278 people who either followed the total diet replacement programme or who went to their doctor’s normal weight reduction clinic.
The results showed that total diet replacement led to weight loss of 24 pounds.
The ‘usual care’ group lost 8 pounds in comparison.
Professor Paul Aveyard, study co-author, said:
“Losing weight and keeping it off is hard and we know that people welcome support from their GP.
This study shows that GP referral to a total diet replacement programme in the community is an effective intervention which GPs can confidently recommend, knowing that it leads to sustainable weight loss and lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
This model of care can be safely offered by GPs in routine primary care.”
Total diet replacement programmes are safe for most people.
However, some people may be at risk, so should consult their physician before starting an extreme diet.
A total diet replacement programme should not be followed for more than 12 weeks.
Normal food is gradually reintroduced at the end of the diet phase.
The study was published in the British Medical Journal (Astbury et al., 2019).