Very Low Calorie Diet: Total diet replacement options

Achieving rapid weight loss with a balanced diet replacement programme can be very motivating, but sticking to a low calorie diet can be difficult too. If you are eligible for the NHS Pathway to Remission programme your care team will provide regular follow up and support.

Most people will follow an 800 calorie total diet replacement programme consisting of soups, shakes or snacks. When following this type of programme it is important to make sure you still eat a nutritionally balanced diet.

The 800 calorie a day Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) course normally lasts for 24 weeks: 12 weeks spent replacing all your meals with soups, shakes and snacks from a specially formulated diet plan, and then 12 weeks gradually reintroducing normal food.

This approach is challenging and not for everyone, but it offers the highest chance of achieving significant weight loss over a short period.

We strongly recommend that you speak to your health team before following any of these approaches, particularly if you are on insulin, sulphonylureas (such as gliclazide) or SGLT-2 medication (drug names ending in gliflozin), or have complications such as heart or kidney problems.

Some commercially available resources are listed below.

Cambridge Weight Plan

Cambridge Weight Plan

The Cambridge Weight Plan (now The 1:1 Diet) products include: Shakes, bars, soups, meals, desserts, smoothies, meals, a very low sugar range and a vegan range.

All products are nutritionally complete, approx 200 kcal, high in quality protein, with essential fatty acids and meet the current European Standards.

At present products are distributed through a network of independent consultants.

Exante diet


Exante's products include: Shakes (17 flavours), bars, soups, meals, desserts, weight loss drinks, bundles, a very low sugar range and a vegan range.

Cost for 12 weeks is £239.40 using 2 week boxes at £2.85 per day

The products are nutritionally complete and meet the European Standards being introduced from 2020.



LighterLife offers a wide range of weight loss Foodpacks as TDR, Very Low Calorie/Energy Diets (VLCD) and Meal Replacement products. 

Cost for 12 weeks is £504 using Total Diet Replacement Foodpacks ranging from £1.50 - £2.50 per meal (minimum £6 per day).

The LighterLife Foodpack product range is nutritionally complete and meets EU regulations.



Optifast Total Diet Replacement products include a range of instant shakes and soups.

Each serving contains approx 200kcals and 20g protein. Four portions per day provides all the required vitamins and minerals in an adult diet. 

Cost for 12 weeks is £336 using 4 shakes per day (£4 per day)