Dietary options after the VLCD programme
I already presented low-carbohydrate diets as the recommended continuations for the VLCD programme. The basis for this is that these dietary models make it easy to keep your blood sugar steady. Secondly, the body has become accustomed to using fats as an energy source and producing ketone bodies from the abundantly released fat reserves during the VLCD programme.
The production of ketone bodies may also remain at some level if the intake of carbohydrates does not become very high.
Thirdly, the low-carbohydrate diet that I am recommending is altogether healthy, very close to the Mediterranean diet that is currently considered to be the healthiest diet among the experts.
Low-carb and ketogenic diets
These diets both share the aspect of low carbohydrate intake, especially for the ketogenic model. In a low-carb diet, sources of carbohydrates may be consumed more freely.
Whereas on the ketogenic diet, it is absolutely essential that the intake of carbohydrates does not rise above 60 grams per day. This significantly limits the sources of carbohydrates but does not make the diet difficult to follow.
High-protein diets are not only for athletes. They are also suitable for weight loss and weight control. Why are high-protein diets recommended after the VLCD programme? Protein-rich food is known to increase the feeling of fullness. At the same time, the breakdown of protein consumes a lot of energy, more than the breakdown of carbohydrates or fats.
Diet with a normal amount of carbohydrates, but with selected sources
The VLCD programme may be followed by a high-carbohydrate diet if it resembles a Mediterranean style diet. This means that the sources of carbohydrates include berries, selected fruit, wholegrain products as porridges, bread, etc. Foods to be avoided include sugared foods, juices, pastries, sweets, jams, polished rice, potatoes and refined flours, such as wheat flour and products made from it, such as macaroni, pasta, etc.
The Mediterranean diet includes white wheat breads, which can be left out from the recommended diet. These can be replaced with 100% oat or rye breads.
The Paleolithic diet loosely refers to the diet our ancestors had before farming and dairy cattle husbandry. People on Paleolithic diets have different levels of restrictions on their sources of nutrition. At least some of them aim to eat wild game and foods that have not been processed at all. After the VLCD programme, leaving out grains and foods made from them can make the Paleolithic diet almost low-carbohydrate, especially if the consumption of fruit is restricted. Leaving out dairy products, on the other hand, does not really affect the diet following the VLCD programme. Avoiding dairy products respectively increases the need for other sources of protein.
Intermittent fasting, 5:2
The most famous form of intermittent fasting is probably the 5:2 diet. This means that on two non-consecutive days of the week you either eat nothing or, in our case, consume Express Diet products the same way that you do during the VLCD programme. On the other five days, you eat normally without restrictions.
This intermittent fasting has been studied and compared to several weight loss diets, and it has been found to be at least as efficient as many other programmes. In light of this information, intermittent fasting is a very suitable continuation for the VLCD programme for weight control.
Periods of consecutive fasting, or fast mimicking diets
These models have entered the market as similar solutions as the VLCD programme, but lasting only a few consecutive days, for example five days. These periods can be repeated a few times a year as needed.
These five-day VLCD programmes also produce health benefits, as well as significant energy deficit.
This model is good for at least those whose weight starts rising easily. The more often you have these periods of fast mimicking, the easier they are to start. After a few times, the first VLCD days will already go well or moderately well. The body becomes accustomed and flexible in these kinds of programmes. Flexibility means that the body does not react drastically even if you do not eat for a whole day once in a while.
This means restricting your eating within specific consecutive hours. So, in practice, night fasting is prolonged. An example could be eating your first meal of the day at 12 noon and the last one at 8 pm. In between, you would eat the third meal of the day. This would give you an 8-hour window for eating and a 16-hour period of fasting.
These time-restricted eating models have several versions ranging from 12:12 to 18:6 hours. You can begin time-restricted eating for example with the model of 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of eating and gradually lengthen the time of fasting.
These diets have received good feedback for the control of eating and maintaining steadier blood sugar levels. Alertness during the day has been considered good with these programmes.