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Modified Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD) is a strict, low carbohydrate way of eating. When the body is using mostly fat for energy, it makes ketones. This plan includes 2 protein shakes per day, along with 2 moderate protein, low carbohydrate meals. It is essential to drink enough water and take a multivitamin daily. If you experience constipation, consult with a registered dietitian to discuss fiber.
2 protein shakes
2 Meals/DayLean Meat
3-4 ounces (deck of cards size) or 2-3 eggs
No breading or fried foods
Up to 1 Tbsp Low-Calorie sauces (see last page)
1 cup cooked (1.5 cups raw)
Up to 1 Tbsp Low-Carbohydrate dressing (see last page)
No potato, corn, peas, or winter squash
Breakfast: 8 am - 2 eggs with colorful vegetables
Snack: 11:30 am - protein shake
Snack: 3 pm - protein shake
Dinner: 6 pm - 3-4 oz protein, 1-1.5 cups colorful vegetables
100 oz water (or more). This is in addition to the water in shakes.
This may include some low-calorie drinks such as Crystal Light (< 5 calories/serving).
Little or no caffeine.
Sugar-free gum (up to 6 sticks/day)
Sugar-free jello (up to 2/day)
Sugar-free popsicle (up to 2/day)
Multivitamin: (make sure it has some magnesium) 1/day.
Fish oil: 1000-2000mg twice daily (if you still have your gallbladder).
You may continue any other standard vitamins you may be taking.
Medicine Changes (while on VLCD)
Fish (salmon, tuna, cod, haddock, perch, herring or sardines)
Skinless chicken, turkey
Lean pork, beef, ham
Low fat cottage cheese
Low Carbohydrate Vegetables
Beans (green, wax, Italian)
Greens (mustard, kale, turnip, Swiss chard, spinach)
Salad greens (lettuce)
2 eggs scrambled with diced vegetables, ham, and ½ oz cheese.
2-egg omelet with 1 oz chicken breast and spinach, a few crumbles of feta cheese.
3 oz taco seasoned chicken breast over 2 cups of lettuce, 2 Tbsp of salsa, 1/2 oz cheese, diced tomatoes and peppers.
3 oz tuna with 1 tsp of Hellman’s® Dijonaisse with diced onions and celery, wrapped in lettuce leaf with sliced onions and tomatoes: with ½ cup cottage cheese.
4 oz chicken breast baked with 2 Tbsp of Hunt’s® Canned Tomato Sauce with Italian seasonings and a side of 2 cups of cooked broccoli florets with 1 tsp of lemon juice and crushed black pepper.
4 oz tilapia topped with paprika, and 1 tsp of olive oil baked with a side of sautéed zucchini, carrots, onions, garlic, and 1 tsp of olive oil.
4 oz chicken breast baked, cooled, and sliced on top of 1 cup of spinach mixed with 1 cup of Romaine lettuce, some cherry tomatoes, a few coins of fresh carrots and 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette.
4 oz pork loin sautéed with ½ cups of onion and bell pepper. Mix in 1 tsp of avocado oil, seasoned with chili powder, black pepper, cumin, garlic powder and red chili flakes topped with 2 Tbsp of salsa.
Seasonings and Spices
Beef: dry mustard, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, sage, thyme, pepper, bay leaf
Pork: Onion, garlic, sage
Lamb: mint, garlic, rosemary, curry
Poultry: paprika, mushrooms, thyme, sage, parsley
Fish: dry mustard, paprika, curry, bay leaf, lemon juice, mushrooms
Eggs: pepper, green pepper, mushrooms, dry mustard, paprika, curry
Asparagus: lemon juice
Green beans: marjoram, lemon juice, nutmeg, dill seed
Broccoli: lemon juice
Cabbage: mustard dressing, dill seed
Tomatoes: basil, oregano
Low Calorie Sauces
Walden Farms® Dressings – 0g carb
Frank’s RedHot® Sauce – 0g carb
Hellman’s® Dijonnaise – 1 tsp = 1g carb
Yellow/Brown Mustard – 1 tsp = 0-1g carb
Low Sodium Soy Sauce – 1 Tbsp = 1g carb
Lemon Juice – 1 Tbsp = 1g carb
Salsa – 2 Tbsp = 2g carb
Ortega™ Taco Sauce – 1 Tbsp = 2g carb
Canned Tomato Sauce (Hunt’s®) – 2 Tbsp = 2g carb
Extra-virgin olive oil (cold pressed).
Avocado oil is a good all-purpose cooking and frying oil and great for high heat cooking.
Who to Call
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at the phone number listed below.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH)
You can also visit our website at: www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.