Medical Weight Management Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Information

(608) 265-7090

UW Health's Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program offers a safe and effective medical option for weight loss through our Modified Very Low Calorie Diet and Lifestyle programs.





What is ketosis?

Ketosis occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body needs to function and break down stored fat to supply those calories. As a result, you lose weight.

What are the shakes and bars used in the program?

The shakes and bars are designed to give low calorie intake and promote ketosis, which prompts weight loss. The bars and shakes consist primarily of protein, with small amounts of carbohydrate and fat, which help you stay healthy and allow for the greatest amount of fat tissue loss.

What are the medical risks of the Medical Weight Management program?

Ketosis does not come without some risks and side effects, including:

  • Aggravated existing health conditions
  • Palpitations (heart rhythm changes) and electrolyte imbalances
  • Fatigue/weakness, dehydration and lightheadedness
  • Thirst, headaches, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, muscle aches or cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance
  • Menstrual changes
  • Mood changes
  • Fruity breath
  • Hunger

Most of these side effects are more pronounced in the first weeks of the diet and decrease over time.

How long can I do the Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)?

It depends on your weight loss needs and response to ketosis. Most people with be on the VLCD for approximately 12 weeks or longer. While you are losing weight you will be monitored to determine best timing of the transition to the Modified VLCD and then the Lifestyle Program.

What will I be eating on the Modified Very Low Calorie Diet?

You will be eating a combination of products shakes, bars, soups, and crisps, plus lean meats, vegetables and fruit.

How much weight will I lose on the Lifestyle Program?

It depends on your starting weight, activity level and how committed you are to making lifestyle changes. Most people will lose one to two pounds per week.

Why do I have to attend classes?

The classes provide you with the education and support to facilitate weight loss. These classes are taught by a registered dietitian, physician assistant and health psychologist, and the class setting will help you understand your own weight issues.

Couldn't I just do this with a nationally known weight loss program?

While other programs can be helpful, our program uses a team approach intended to help you with all aspects of your weight struggle. Our goal is to help you manage your weight without having to diet any more.

How long can I come to the classes?

Class duration ranges from eight to 10 sessions (Lifestyle Program) to six months. Once you complete the classes we offer an ongoing support group that you can attend.

Can children participate in the medical weight loss programs?

Our programs are designed for adults 18 years and older. For information about pediatric weight loss, please contact UW Health's Pediatric Fitness Clinic.