For those who fear rapid weight gain after a very-low-energy diet, a new study from Swedish researchers suggests a gradual return to normal food as the key.
For 12 weeks a group of just over 260 patients swapped their normal food for a very-low-energy diet in the form of soups and milkshakes. 169 of the patients lost a lot of weight, averaging 16 per cent of their body weight.
They were then divided into two groups so that they could switch back at different rates from the very-low-energy diet to energy-reduced portions of normal food. One group completed the refeeding in a week, while the other took six weeks.
"After ten months the patients with the six-week refeeding period had gained 4 per cent in weight from their minimum weight, while the patients with the one-week refeeding period had gained eight per cent," said Lena Gripeteg, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy.
Very-low-energy diets have been used for many years in the health service to achieve rapid and safe weight loss in obese patients. While this treatment method is well-studied, there is a risk that patients will gain weight when they start to eat normal food again.
"We therefore want to look at the importance of different treatment advice on the transition from the very-low-energy diet back to normal food, and assess what actually works. A simple tip that seems to work for patients is to revert slowly to normal food after losing weight on a very-low-energy diet," Gripeteg said.