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Does the Velocity Diet work?

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The promise of the Velocity Diet is enticing: rapid fat loss without muscle wastage, and no complicated rules to follow. The reality is less pleasant. Almost all your ‘meals’ are actually shakes – you drink five a day, with a solid meal just once a week. There’s also a small pharmacy’s worth of dailysupplements (and optional fat-burners). Yummy.

The Claim

Just to fend off any early criticism, this isn’t quackery. Shake-based diets have their roots in medicine where they’re used to treat extreme obesity, and while they cause rapid fat loss, the usual problem is an equally rapid loss of muscle. The Velocity Diet is billed as an evolution of these, quickly cutting fat but supporting or even enhancing muscle mass. Its creator Chris Shugart also claims that as a happy side effect of consuming virtually nothing but shakes, you’ll ‘reprogram’ your food preferences, leading to better food choices at the end of the diet.

The Method

The diet’s gone through a couple of revisions since its invention. I opted for the more hardcore version, which means five protein shakes per day plus a recovery shake after training. Along with these you take fish oils, flax and greens powders, and a fat metaboliser, then once a week you eat a healthy protein-rich meal. You work out the amount of nutrients you need from your shakes using an online Velocity Diet calculator. Then just buy the supplements and get cracking.

The Reality

Velocity is a diet of contrasts. On the one hand it’s very simple – you know exactly what you have to consume and the shakes take literally seconds to make. On the other hand the level of social isolation, the monotony and the physical effects make this diet the toughest I’ve tried.

Sitting in a restaurant or pub with friends who are enjoying a meal as you sip water and down your 19th shake of the week is tiresome in the extreme – not to mention the questions and negative comments, which will seriously tempt you to become a recluse. Eating on the go and at work was simple, but travelling was… problematic. Crossing the border from Hungary to Serbia with a dozen little bags filled with white powder was, perhaps, not a wise idea.

Before long I started falling off the wagon repeatedly, mostly at night. My self-control was simply exhausted. After three weeks and 114 shakes, I replaced half my shakes with whole food meals.

The Results

The diet was hard but the shakes were filling and I wasn’t hungry very often. My energy was OK, possibly due to the caffeine-laden fat burners, but concentration and focus were in short supply. And if I wasn’t great at work, I was useless in the gym. Strength and endurance dropped off quickly from the start, I needed more rest, and short sessions would turn into a long grind.

You get out what you put in, though, and even though I didn’t make it to the fourth week I lost 3.5kg of fat. Week by week I could see the changes in the mirror, especially the chest and abs areas. Muscle mass increased by half a kilo as well.

The blood tests weren’t so positive. Glucose and most other markers of metabolic health remained steady but my HDL, or ‘good’, cholesterol fell to worryingly low levels. As for the claim about the power to change preferences… well, after weeks of protein shakes, broccoli never tasted so good.

The Verdict

The Velocity Diet is a powerful but extreme and short-term fat loss tool, and should be approached with caution. For those looking to lose fat quickly it may be an option, but if you’re thinking long term you may want to look elsewhere, even with its powerful, though possibly short-lived, ability to change food preferences.

This plan not for you? Try this 4-week plan (opens in new tab)

Shake it off

Here’s what Price consumed every day – until he couldn’t take it anymore. His shakes regularly contained 40g protein, 2g fat and 8g carbs.

0800 Shake 

Along with… 1tbsp flaxseeds, 3 fish oil tablets, greens powder, 3g leucine

1100 Shake

Along with… 1tbsp flaxseeds, 3 fish oil tablets, 3g leucine

1300 Shake

1600 Post-workout shake for training days only.

This shake contained 24g protein and 44g carbs. Along with… 3g leucine

1900 Shake

Along with… 1tbsp flaxseeds, 3 fish oil tablets, greens powder, 3g leucine

2200 Shake

Along with… 1tbsp peanut butter, fibre supplement, 3g leucine

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