Lighter Life is an expensive, extreme, mainly liquid-based Very Low Calorie Diet; for those with the willpower to stick with it, you will have one of the quickest weight losses possible. There is no calorie counting--you simply eat the soups, shakes and bars provided and lose tons of weight. In many ways, Lighter Life is similar to the Cambridge Diet, though it has a greater focus on counselling and is about twice as expensive. Over 100,000 people have successfully lost weight on the program.
Lighter Life will only take serious people willing to sign up and commit to the 100-day Foundation phase. You must have a BMI of at least 29 (basically, 3 stone or more overweight), and before you begin, you need a Lighter Life Health Questionnaire Form to be completed by your GP. This is a clinically supervised weight loss program, and you will need your GP to perform a health check every 28 days. The average weight loss for the first 14 weeks (the Foundation Programme) is an impressive 44 pounds for women, and 39 pounds for men.
Again, this is a serious diet, and the side effects should not be underestimated--you may experience headaches, weakness, mood swings and perhaps nausea, though these should pass if you drink plenty of water and as your body gets used to the concentrated nutrients in the Foodpacks. In about 4% of people, Lighter Life note you'll see a noticeable, temporary hair loss, as the body diverts limited energy to more essential uses. Your hands and feet may feel cold and your skins can get dry for the same reason. Women may also notice disruptions to their menstrual cycles, though this is reportedly temporary, and in the long run, losing excess weight may improve menstrual regularity and fertility in future. Very rapid weight loss also has a chance of leaving you with loose, saggy skin--your skin doesn't have time to adjust to your new body shape.
Within a few days you'll go into a state of ketosis (when the liver starts converting fats into ketone bodies which can be burned for fuel), which should reduce hunger pangs from a physiological standpoint. Since a significant element of "hunger" is emotional and a habit, you will still need the willpower to resist these psychological tendencies. A useful monitor for the diet is to purchase a set of ketone sticks (£4.55 on Amazon ), so you can check your urine for ketone bodies to verify you're in ketosis. Lighter Life is difficult to stick with because food is so integral to many social situations--temptations especially abound when you're out. And even at home you can face major temptations if your spouse or children are eating normally. Many people also miss the action of eating, but the bars go some way towards this.
When you join, you'll be attending weekly, single-sex group meetings about an hour long, led by your Lighter Life Weight Management Counsellor. The counselors have excellent training and their support is cited by many on the diet as the thing that kept them going. There is also a bi-monthly Lighter Life magazine which explores case studies in weight loss, as well as low-calorie recipes.
Lighter Life also offers a means to avoid regaining the weight through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and transactional analysis techniques. These techniques help to challenge your irrational thoughts and beliefs that led to you gaining weight in the first place, hopefully reducing the likelihood of gaining weight in the future. This is one solid advantage over the similar, but considerably cheaper Cambridge Diet, which focuses more on simply losing weight quickly--though many pile the pounds back on afterwards because their eating beliefs and habits have not changed.
Doctors in the obesity field do believe there is a place for Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs) like Lighter Life, but only for certain people with long-term problems losing weight and only under periodic physician supervision. The National Obesity Foundation recommends staying on a VLCD for no more than 12-16 weeks given the potential side-effects. Lighter Life's Foundation Phase is a suitable 14 weeks, but we would be very hesitant about staying on the full-on plan longer than that, even if you have more to lose. We believe it is better to shift to the higher calorie maintenance phase for a time to see you consolidate and keep those pounds off before leaping into further extreme losses.
Menu: The diet is simplicity itself--simply have four Foodpacks every day (any combination of soups, shakes, and one bar)--these provide all the nutrition your body needs, and total around 530 calories. They also contain some 50g protein, 14g fat, and 50g carbs plus over 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. The shakes and mousses come in chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, and caramel flavours; the soups come in mushroom, chicken, vegetable and Thai chili flavours; and the bars are nut crunch, lemon, fruits and toffee flavours. A hand blender is essential for this in our experience. You may also have black tea or coffee as well as various Lighter Life Water Flavours.
Over four decades of research have gone into the Lighter Life food development, and they are suitable for vegetarians. You need to drink 4 litres of water per day, which aids the sense of fullness.
Prices: Lighter Life is among the most expensive diets at £66 per week--there's no getting away from that--but if it's your last resort and you stick with it, then for for some it will be worth it. By comparison, it's about twice as much as the similar and older Cambridge Diet. However, the behavioural therapy aspects, mandatory doctor monitoring, and such are an added value which may help you keep the weight off. Obviously, as a meal-replacement diet, you won't need to buying any food for this diet, so take this into consideration in weighing up the costs.
To reiterate, we would only consider a VLCD like Lighter Life as a last resort only for those with serious, continuing weight lose issues and after consultation with your GP.