Low-calorie diet plans are increasingly popular—just last month Rocco launched his 800-calorie-a-day weight loss program—so we asked Anthony Fabricatore, Phd, vice-president of Research and Development at Nutrisystem, about the safety of this sort of calorie restriction. Here, his thoughts on the trend including where Nutrisystem’s new low-cal jumpstart week, a 7-day accelerated plan called Fast 5—which in-house trials suggest can lead to a loss of 5 pounds in one week—fits in.
“Research shows people who lose weight early on have better success overall. We thought that if we could help customers get the first few pounds off early it would build greater confidence for the rest of the plan. That’s where the jumpstart comes in. One to two pounds per week is a safe rate of weight loss—losing more may put you at risk for gall stones. But our medical expert is comfortable with a 1,000 calorie a day diet for a short period of time–in this case one week–in order to promote a larger weight loss. A 1,000 calorie a day diet is in the safe zone per several obesity studies, which recommend a diet of 1,000 to 1,600 calories a day.
However, the idea is to do Fast 5 for just one week. We don’t allow people to repurchase Fast 5 more than once per month. People will be happy with results they see and may want to continue it but we want to ensure that they follow a program that is safe. So, they if they’d like, people can use Fast 5 once a month as a booster, provided they’re not losing an excess of 3 lbs a week in intervening weeks. Also, we’re not allowing people on Nutrisystem D—the plan for people with Diabetes—to purchase Fast 5 because we’re concerned about not knowing their metabolic needs and don’t want their blood sugar to go too low.”