American Family Children's Hospital

Medical Weight Loss: Very Low Calorie Diet Program

Contact Information

(608) 265-7090

(608) 890-7218 (fax)

UW Health's Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program offers a safe and effective medical option for weight loss through our Very Low Calorie Diet program.
How do I get started?
Complete our Very Low Calorie Diet inquiry form. A member of our staff will contact you with next steps.
What is a Very Low Calorie Diet?
Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) is a medically-managed, nutritionally-balanced weight loss program that involves consuming specialized shakes and bars for up to 20 weeks. Daily calorie intake ranges from 700-1,000 calories, which places you in a sustained state of ketosis, or negative energy balance.
Most participants in our VLCD program will lose between three and six pounds weekly.
Three Phases of VLCD
  1. Ketosis/weight loss phase with weekly medical monitoring and classes
  2. Transition back to food with classes and individual meetings with registered dietitian
  3. Maintenance/lifestyle (classes) for long-term management of obesity

Who can participate in the VLCD program?


Participants need to:

  • Have a primary care doctor
  • Have had a complete physical exam within the last year
  • Have a BMI of 35 or greater
  • Be able to purchase VLCD products and vitamins (at least $300 per month for the full VLCD program)
  • Have a goal of losing more than 35 pounds
  • Be committed and able to participate in the required follow-up (clinic/class every week for three to six months or longer
Our programs are designed for adults 18 years and older. For information about pediatric weight loss, please contact UW Health's Pediatric Fitness Clinic.

Who should not participate in the VLCD program?


People should not participate in VLCD if they:

  • Have had a recent heart attack or stroke
  • Have heart rhythm abnormalities (may require cardiology referral and clearance)
  • Have significant kidney or liver disease
  • Are currently undergoing treatment for cancer
  • Have Type 1 diabetes
  • Have significantly uncontrolled mental illness, including active or recent eating disorders (anorexia or binging with purging), that may interfere with weight loss

People who are incompatible to the VLCD program may be eligible for the Modified VLCD or Lifestyle tiers of our Medical Weight Management program.