Liquid diets – How effective are they? Fad diets and more fad diets; every day, a new restrictive diet takes over the consumer market. Some tell you to dangerously limit your carbohydrate intake while others tell you to eat no fats at all. Liquid diets are no different. The main objective of a liquid diet is to restrict all types of solid foods. They may look attractive owing to the fact that they seem really restrictive and deliciously dangerous! But the better question is, do they even work?
Coming to terms with a liquid diet is like forgetting nutrition! To simply put it in a nutshell, nature intended man to eat, chew, masticate and digest. Restricting yourself onto a liquid diet is like going against nature. The first problem with liquid diets is that you can’t stick to them for long periods of time without facing side effects. Even if the liquid diet is a versatile one with various juices and fluids, it is utterly impossible to stick with one for over a week without noticing any side effects. The first problem is weakness. Even if you’re consuming adequate calories through the juices, the fluids don’t account for various other nutritional components. One example would be protein.
Protein deficiency often occurs when you’re on a liquid diet. Even if the liquid diet tells you to go for protein shakes; you would require around 3 – 4 servings to make up for the protein that you’re missing through normal food intake! The interesting fact is that most liquid diets don’t cover protein at all; not even through protein shakes. This results in impairment of muscle tissue repair for which the protein is mostly responsible. But protein deficiency is just the start of your problems! Another problem is that you’re not taking any fiber. No fiber in the diet means that you’ll somehow or the other, mess up your normal working of the GI tract. You can either have serious constipation or you will either have Diarrhea at one stage of the diet. Another problem with liquid diets is that you will be constantly hungry. Even if you consume large proportions of juices, you will still end up with an empty stomach. Here’s the medical reason why:
Your stomach has a one way valve that connects it with the small intestine (Lower end). This valve is called Pyloric Sphincter (Fancy name for a stomach valve!). The great thing about this valve is that it closes when the stomach is full of food. More accurately, it closes when there is solid food in the stomach that needs to be broken down before it is sent to the small intestines. On the other hand, liquids having density closer to water pass right through this valve. Your hunger signals are partially dependent on how stretched your stomach valves are. Since most liquids will pass right through when you’re on a liquid diet, your stomach will be empty pretty much all the time. Thus, the hunger signals will persistently bother you!
The only upside (If any) to these liquid diets is that you get plenty of vitamins and minerals since you are mostly consuming vegetable and fruit juices. Other than this fact, I don’t see any other upside to liquid diets. They may come with extravagant meal replacement drinks and sludge but this isn’t a permanent solution to the problem of weight loss. This makes liquid diets unrealistic and impractical.