I've had a lot of people ask me questions about the MNP program, like "How many calories do you get a day?", "Is it safe?", "How do you get all your carbs/protein/vegetables/vitamins/minerals?", and most frequently, "How long are you going to be on it?" I've endeavored to answer those questions below. If you have a question you'd like answered, let me know and I'll add it to the FAQ.
1. How many calories do you get a day? Most days I have about 650 calories. Each shake is about 130 calories, times 5 per day (spaced 3 hours apart). However, we are allowed to have extra shakes if we're feeling hungry.
2. Don't you get hungry? Surprisingly, most of the time I'm not hungry. When I do get hungry, especially if it's not at a mealtime, it's a cue for me to look at what's going on for me that has possibly triggered an emotional response that I would normally have addressed with food. Today's a great example: it's been a long day spent talking about domestic violence in my clinical training program. I'm hungrier than I normally would be, because of my emotional response to the subject matter. But since beginning the program, I've learned that this kind of cue deserves a non-food response because it's not a nutritional need.
3. Is it safe? Absolutely yes. If I thought there was even a slight chance that it would not be safe, I wouldn't be doing this program. The reason we have bi-weekly doctor visits is to ensure that there are no detrimental effects from being on the VLCD. This is not to say there aren't risks, but the doctor visits are designed to monitor and address any potential risks before they become serious problems.
4. How do you get all your carbs/protein/vegetables/vitamins/minerals? The shakes for the program are designed to have 1/5 of my daily needs for carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. In addition, the shakes are designed to encourage the body to go into an optimal fat-burning mode while providing enough nutrients to keep your heart and organs healthy.
5. How long will you be on it? Until I've lost all the weight I want to lose, around 150 lbs from my initial weight. But it's hard to say exactly, because it depends on how quickly my body releases the pounds; it could be anywhere from 9 to 12 months. The average rate of weight loss for women is 3 pounds a week, while the average weight loss for men is 5 pounds a week. My average weight loss right now is about 4 pounds a week.
6. Don't you get bored of the shakes? There's 4 shake flavors and 3 soup flavors that count for the program. Of those, I like the chocolate and vanilla shakes, the tomato soup and the chicken soup. Still, sometimes I get really bored of 'em. Thankfully, we're allowed to use sugar-free flavorings as well as seasonings to change the flavors up a little bit.
7. Can't you eat even a little regular food? Sure, I could. But it would probably send me to the hospital with a gall bladder attack, so I prefer not to.
8. What happens after you've lost all your weight? There will be a 4-week period where I work with a nutritionist to transition back to regular food and re-learn healthy eating habits. Then I'll enter maintenance, where I'll stay for 2 years while I continue to work with a nutritionist to keep fine-tuning my diet and practicing my non-food self-care behaviors so I don't get stuck in the same trap I was in before I began losing weight.