I achieved a goal weight of 135 pounds on Weight Watchers, have put 30 pounds back on and then some.

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I am trying to get in shape thru exercise, diet, and lifestyle. In 1987, I had achieved a goal weight of 135 pounds on the Weight Watchers program. Over the course of the last 10 years, I have put the 30 pounds back on and then some, (currently 181 pounds.).

I have had 5 friends go through a hospital-based, fasting, liquid diet. (Originally developed by Ross Laboratories- however, I think they have recently sold this division.) who seem to have maintained their weight loss (too soon to tell – 3 are still in process). The beverage is 600 calories, the body goes into a state of ketosis and the average weight loss is 3 pounds per week. Blood is drawn every other week and for the first 7 weeks, urine is tested for ketones. So, I am thinking about trying this program to get the weight off fast and reintroducing exercise habits into my life.

My husband has just been diagnosed with high triglycerides (474) and cholesterol (314) and is 20 pounds overweight. Our body composition is 36% fat for me, 26% for him. The YMCA selecting 23% body fat as healthy for me and 16% for him.

I was just reading under your FAQ’s for fertility that it is not recommended to try this drastic a diet prior to planning a pregnancy. (We want one more AFTER I get this weight off.) Both pregnancies I was 160 pounds starting and 210 pounds ending. Is this a really bad idea? What health risks might I encounter?

The first step you should take in planning weight loss is to determine a realistic weight goal. Check out the Healthy Body Calculator® to find a healthy weight range for you. Since you did not provide your height, I do not know if the goal you have set is a realistic goal.

I encourage you to continue exercising. People who combine exercise and healthy food choices are more likely to lose body fat and less likely to regain their weight back. Physical activity also helps to control appetite and increases your basal metabolism or how many calories you burn per day just lying still. Besides exercise, there are many ways to incorporate more activity into daily routines: park in the back of parking lots, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to a neighbor’s house instead of calling them, or forgo a television show with a walk around the block with your hubby. Remember that regular exercise is more effective in managing weight than short bursts of hard exercise.

Liquid diets, like the one you described, fall under the category of very-low-calorie diets (VLCD) for weight loss. VLCD do promote rapid weight loss and may be beneficial for some very obese people, but these diets do have health risks and should only be used under the supervision of a physician and nutrition counseling by a Registered Dietitian. Possible health risks of VLCD include: formation of gallstones and kidney stones, liver inflammation, nausea, abdominal discomfort due to constipation, decrease in white blood cells, lowered immune response , dehydration, development of ketosis which causes body and breath odor, loss of lean body tissue (muscles and organs), mineral imbalance, loss of protein, vitamins and minerals, headaches, fatigue, dry skin, and sleeplessness. Dieters completing VLCD sadly regain the weight loss without some long-term lifestyle changes including a healthy eating plan and exercise.

If your husband loses weight, exercises, eliminates all sugar, sweet desserts, and alcohol, his triglycerides, and cholesterol should come down to normal ranges. Triglycerides seem to respond faster than cholesterol, but depending on what nutrition therapy his dietitian recommends, both could be in normal ranges within a few months. With his medical history, your husband should see a Registered Dietitian.

The body fat goals recommended by your YMCA seem reasonable for you, but a bit low for your husband which for adult males is around 18 %. This lower body fat is due to male testosterone hormone. Depending on your age, a range of 22% to 25% is considered healthy. Low body fat does not decrease fertility in men, but when women’s body fat drops below 18%, often their menstrual cycles become irregular or disappear which could affect your fertility.

When contemplating a pregnancy, it is important to have adequate stores of nutrients up to 2 years prior to becoming pregnant. A drastic change in your nutritional status could deplete your body’s storage of fat-soluble vitamins, which can potentially harm a developing fetus. This can include the development of birth defects, such as spina bifida) due to lack of folacin. Liquid diets would not have bread, pasta, or rice which are required in the U.S. to be fortified with folic acid.

In achieving a healthy weight, lifelong changes need to be made. A healthy weight loss plan should be very similar to a weight maintenance plan. Just a few more calories with slightly increased portion sizes. A positive approach to weight loss maintenance includes healthy eating, physical activity, and healthy food behaviors. Don’t think of it as a diet, but an eating plan for life.