“After significant body weight loss, the heart is reduced in size. Far from being a problem, recent high-quality scientific studies in the Netherlands have shown that the heart then functions better as a result.”
“…when scientists rounded up the results from lots of studies on various weight-loss methods they found that greater losses during the first stages of dieting often led to better maintenance of these losses. So, the diets that require a daily intake of between 500 and 800 calories, or even less, and which consist of specially formulated, nutritionally complete shakes, soups and bars, are good news because initial weight loss is rapid and very noticeable.
Since 1984, proper, medically formulated versions have been available and I have not been able to unearth any heart-related issues with people following these. The hearts of obese people do get smaller when weight is lost, but this is because it has grown in size to support a person’s larger body as they have gained weight. Modern scanning equipment has made it possible to look carefully at this heart shrinkage and it does not appear to be pathologically harmful.
As Professor Anthony Leeds, medical director of the Cambridge Health and Weight Plan, explains: “After significant body weight loss, the heart is reduced in size. Far from being a problem, recent high-quality scientific studies in the Netherlands have shown that the heart then functions better as a result.”
When it comes to overdoing water consumption, I come back to my point about needing to follow the diet as per the manufacturer’s instructions, which suggest ideally having a minimum of 2.25 litres daily and an upper intake of 4 litres, distributed over the entire day and not all in one go.
This is more than most of us need each day because these low-calorie diets cause a natural water loss that must be replaced and because fluid normally acquired from food needs to be found from another source. This may sound odd, but an apple for instance provides 84 grams of water, and even an average-sized steak has 65 grams.
Having enough fluid helps to keep the kidneys working well and to prevent dizziness, tiredness, feeling stressed and constipated, which are the potential side-effects of these diets. Your mum will inevitably also feel hungry in the first four to five days if she embarks on one. This feeling does, I’m assured, wear off once the fat-burning process begins in earnest. But I should stress overall that, if you are thinking of going on a very low calorie diet, you should consult your GP first.