Overview of Very Low Energy Diets

Overview of Very Low Energy Diets

Very Low Energy Diets (VLED), also known as Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) have been shown to be very effective in the management of obesity, with weekly weight losses averaging approximately 1.0 -2.5kg per week, providing greater initial weight loss than other forms of calorie restriction1, 2.

They are commonly used in medically supervised weight reduction programs for people with a BMI 30kg/m2 (or 27kg/m2 with obesity-related co-morbidities), or for whom rapid weight loss is necessary3.

A VLED is a low carbohydrate, total food replacement for the dietary management of obesity, providing approximately 800 kcal (3300 kJ) or less per day while providing sufficient protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements for safe and effective weight loss.

Reducing energy (calorie) intake to less than 800 kcal per day as well as lowering carbohydrate intake induces a mild ketosis resulting in body fat/lipid stores being utilised as the primary source of energy.  The advantages of a VLED includes the motivating effect of fast weight loss in conjunction with a mild ketosis that may help suppress hunger3.

They have also been associated with improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, serum triglycerides, sleep apnoea and glycaemic control in adults with Type 2 diabetes 2,3.

VLEDs are for the dietary management of obesity.  They are not therapeutic products and do not contain pharmacologically active ingredients.   Recent evidence suggests that management with a VLED does not lead to worse long-term results than other dietary approaches, and individuals maintain more weight loss when the weight loss is achieved using a VLED compared to a low energy diet.

The OPTIFAST Program incorporates a VLED component called the Intensive Level. This is usually implemented at the beginning of the Program, where you replace all three meals with OPTIFAST VLCD products, and is followed for a period of up to 12 weeks. This is then followed by a gradual reintroduction of food through the next three levels of the Program. This will not only help your patients to lose weight, but it will also show them how to make sustainable lifestyle changes that will help keep the weight off long-term. If there is still a significant amount of weight to be lost at the end of the initial 12 weeks, you can keep a patient on the Intensive Level for longer if suitable, under healthcare supervision. Still, we recommend you follow the Active 2 level for a minimum of two weeks before repeating the Intensive Level again.

What is the expected rate of weight loss on the OPTIFAST VLCD Program?

1.    Delbridge, E. and J. Proietto, State of the science: VLED (very Low Energy Diet) for obesity. Asia Pacific Journal Clinical Nutrition, 2006. 15 (Suppl): p. 49-54.
2.    Mustajoki, P. and T. Pekkarinen, Very low energy diets in the treatment of obesity. Obesity Reviews, 2001. 2: p. 61-72.
3.    National Health and Medical Research Council., Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children in Australia. National Health ad Medical Research Council, 2013.