Andrew Berry / October 27, 2013
VLCD stands for the very low carbohydrate diet and is sometimes called a “ketogenic diet” or a “cyclic ketogenic diet.” VLCD’s have been popular for years with variations such as the Atkins or South Beach diet. This diet plan is probably most effective for people that are extremely “carbohydrate-sensitive” meaning that they really have no leeway in the carbohydrate department. In my opinion, this is the nutrition plan that will get you lean the fastest.
The idea behind VLCD’s is that by restricting carbohydrate intake we limit the powerful anabolic hormone insulin. Remember that insulin, while important for building new muscle tissue, also blunts fat loss by negatively modulating a hormone responsible for fatty acid breakdown called HSL (hormone sensitive lipase). By controlling the amount of insulin the pancreas releases though restriction of carbohydrate intake, we can force the body to rely more on fatty acids for fuel in a process known as ketosis. Without a steady intake of carbohydrates, the blood sugar level can momentarily go low causing another powerful hormone known as glucagon to be released. Glucagon, like the catecholamines, positively modulates HSL action causing more fatty acid breakdown and transport through the bloodstream to the mitochondria where they will be burned as fuel.
The meal plan will consist of proteins, vegetables, healthy fats and the trace amounts of carbohydrates in these foods. Additionally, there will be a “refeed” or “cheat day,” typically once every 7 to 14 days. More on this after going over the diet plan and provided samples.
My version of the VLCD will utilize a higher protein intake compared to other diets such as the South Beach Diet or Atkins. Additionally, your fat intake will primarily come from mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. To set up your diet follow these guidelines:
Figure out your protein requirement and divide it evenly by the number of meals you eat each day. My recommendation is 6 meals but 5 will suffice if need be.
Calculate your fat requirement and divide it evenly throughout your meals.
Add in green, leafy cruciferous vegetables to fill you up. You can have these at any meal!
You might need to make some variations to these calculations depending on rate of fat loss and caloric needs.