Imagine losing enough weight to ditch your blood pressure medication.
What if you could put your diabetes into remission? How much better would you feel every day if your blood sugar level wasn’t out of control?
It’s not hard to envision these healthy changes when you talk to people who have overcome obesity at Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute.
For years, patients have dropped excess pounds – and learned how to keep it off – through the Institute’s very-low calorie diet program.
“It’s wonderful to watch people regain their health through weight loss,” said Crystal H. Rhoads, program coordinator at Bon Secours Hampton Roads Medical Weight Loss. “Patients almost immediately improve their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It’s a very helpful program for people with type 2 diabetes.”
Unlike fad diets you might read about on social media, which can put your health at risk whether you have any medical conditions, the very-low calorie diet provides direct medical supervision so patients can lose weight safely. It’s a weight-loss option for people who may not qualify for a bariatric procedure or who want to try losing weight without surgery.
The program uses a high-protein meal replacement system called New Direction to restrict calories to 800 per day. The meals include shakes, puddings, soups and bars.
“You get 100 percent of daily vitamins, minerals and electrolytes,” Rhoads said. “Every calorie is nutrient dense. You’re really getting everything your body needs daily to function properly and lose weight safely.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise to patients is how the diet suppresses their appetite. By not eating very many grams of carbohydrates, your body doesn’t crave them, Rhoads said.
During the first phase of the program, patients eat four meals every day. The majority of them stay on the very-low calorie diet 12 to 16 weeks, dropping two to four pounds each week. While they’re losing weight, patients attend education classes taught by a Registered Dietitian to learn about nutrition and how to keep the weight off for good.
Once patients have met their individualized weight-loss goals, they slowly wean themselves off the meal replacement program. Working with a Registered Dietitian, they learn how many grams of protein, carbs and fat they can have throughout the day to keep from gaining their weight back.
Another benefit to working one-on-one with a Registered Dietitian is understanding how your metabolism works and knowing how many calories you need to add to your diet when you start exercising.
“Our comprehensive, individualized approach gives each patient the specific tools they need to maintain their weight loss,” Rhoads said.
To qualify for the program, patients need to have a body mass index of 30 or a BMI of 27 if they also have weight-related health problems such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute offers free educational seminars for anyone interested in learning about its medically-supervised program. In Hampton Roads, call 757-673-5990. Richmond area patients can call 804-287-4528.