VLCDs (Cambridge, LighterLife, Lipotrim)

What They Say: “The Cambridge Diet has developed from its origins as a very low calorie diet (VLCD) and is now used as both a VLCD and as the foundation for a range of weight management programmes from 415kcal to 1500kcal per day. All the programmes are based around a nutritionally complete formula food providing 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of all vitamins, minerals and trace elements available in a range of flavours in powder, liquid and bar form.” – from cambridge-diet.co.uk

My Experience: The Cambridge Diet is basically Slim Fast redux. It’s a meal replacement shake which you have three times per day. And that’s all.  You can choose from many flavours of powdery goodness, but my preference was for the pre-mixed juice box sized shakes which came in either chocolate or vanilla. Also there were powders you could mix with hot water for soup. And there were meal replacement bars, as well, though you were restricted to one per day, and even that was enough to give you terrible gas and diarrhea.

Like Lighter Life and Lipotrim, The Cambridge Diet is pretty much guaranteed to work, as it takes away all food choices and gives you only about 400 – 600 calories per day in the core stage. Average loss is around 14 lbs per month. And it works, too! Doctors recommend it for the severely obese, and I can personally attest to the fact that it will take the weight off efficiently. My problem with any replacement system is the simple fact that without having to learn eating habits, weight loss is not managable long term. Yes, the plan has a management phase which reintroduces food slowly and over a period of time once you’ve hit your goal weight. But honestly, I couldn’t stick to the diet long enough to get to my goal. When you need to lose over a hundred pounds, even at 14 lbs a month, it means 7 – 8 months eating NOTHING but three small juice boxes per day. And while I’ve seen for myself that people make it work, I’ve also noticed in my 6 or 7 attempts at the diet that there is a startling number of people who put the weight back on.

ISMe Rating: 7/10 – requires INTENSE willpower, but has almost guaranteed results