How to lose weight: Are liquid diets dangerous?

Michael Mosley discusses the improved quality of liquid diets

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If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s realistic to aim for a loss of one to two pounds a week. Eating a lower calorie diet than usual – alongside regular physical activity – is the best way to achieve weight loss. But you might be considering something a little harsher, such as a liquid diet. Legendary cricketer Shane Warne died from natural causes recently, while reportedly on a 14-day liquid diet. Are liquid diets dangerous?

On Friday, March 4, it was announced that Australian ex-cricketer Shane Warne died, and was reportedly following a liquid diet for two weeks before his death.

Although the autopsy indicated that the cricket great died of natural causes, Warne experienced chest pains prior to his death and it is suspected that he had a heart attack.

Just days before his death, Warne tweeted an old picture and captioned it: “The goal by July is to get back to this shape from a few years ago.”

The ex-sportsman’s friends have said he was following a regime he’d tried several times before, and there was no evidence to link his death to the liquid diet.

Although some people are absolutely fine when they follow a liquid diet, it’s not a safe way to lose weight for everyone.

A liquid diet means that you’re getting all (or at least most) of your calories from drinks.

Sometimes a doctor will suggest that you follow a liquid diet before a medical procedure or if you’re having digestive issues, but these diets should never be done without medical supervision.

Liquid diets followed for weight loss normally involve replacing your regular meals with fruit juices, vegetable juices, smoothies and shakes.

Are liquid diets dangerous?

Liquid diets aren’t only dangerous, but they can also be ineffective.

The aim is to cut down on calories while getting lots of nutrients at the same time, but that’s not always possible.

Of course, if you’re eating less food, then you’re going to be consuming fewer calories and losing weight.

However, the results will only last as long as you keep up the liquid diet and you will gain the weight you lost when you eat solid food again.

On top of that, you won’t be getting the vital nutrients you need for your body to function at its optimum.

Signe Svanfeldt, nutritionist at Lifesum said: “If you have the ability to eat food, it should be the number one thing to do in order to get enough nutrients and energy during the day.

“When following a liquid diet, it can be challenging to get enough energy and nutrients from your daily diet.

“Plus, the variety of food and nutrients from a liquid diet is probably not as varied as it might be if you were eating foods.”

WebMD pointed out that missing out on essential nutrients can lead to nasty side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, heart damage and constipation.

You might think that following a liquid diet for a week will help you to ‘detox’ after eating unhealthily or drinking alcohol, but there’s no need to ‘detox’ in the first place.

Signe said: “Many people believe that detox diets with only liquids or juices cleanse the body.

“However, the reality is that humans have perfectly functioning organs (kidneys and the liver) that clean our bodies from toxins every day.

“The key to health is rather to eat a balanced and varied diet in line with your energy requirements.”

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