December 22, 2018 4 min read
By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
People are opting for crash diets a lot these days; in fact, many articles online talk about how they works wonders in helping to reduce weight. The unfortunate reality is that while crash dieting shows immediate results, it leads to more weight gain in the long term.
Crash dieting is actually a restrictive meal plan that drastically limits the amount of calories consumed daily. People limit their calorie intake to 1,000 or even 500 calories each day. Some crash dieters drink only juice or eat one or two foods in a week! The length of time could differ, but the result is the same. If you opt for a crash diet by drastically reducing food intake, you will lose fat as well as lean muscle and tissue, which leads to a drop in the basal metabolic rate.
When you’re losing weight, it’s essential to maintain proper metabolism. With crash dieting, the you are deprived of key nutrients, which causes the overall metabolic rate to plummet. This in turn causes your body to go into survival mode and it starts using both fat stores and muscle for fuel. As you lose muscle, your metabolic rate slows further in an attempt to preserve what you have left. If you continue this diet, the energy levels diminish fast and fatigue sets in.
In a nutshell, crash diets aren’t sustainable, so if you keep on eating a diet that provides your body with the required amount of calories, it results in hormonal imbalances in ghrelin and leptin, which are responsible for regulating hunger. You will experience overwhelming hunger pangs that cause binging on foods you wouldn’t normally crave. It isn’t possible to function without food for energy. It doesn’t make sense that you wreak havoc on your metabolism just to lose a few pounds temporarily.
When you embark on a crash diet, you risk creating severe deficits of important minerals and vitamins needed by the body. Since calorie and nutrition requirements aren’t being met for extended periods, the immune system weakens, reducing your ability to fight off disease and. Cutting out all fatty foods from your diet isn’t advisable as you need fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, all of which support the immune system.
Crash diets are also bad news because they lead to severe depletion in energy levels. The immediate weight loss might make you happy, but most of it occurs due to reduction of water stores and glycogen. Since you aren’t eating nutrient-rich meals, the body can’t generate sufficient energy, making you feel lethargic and weary. Crash diets also activate the release of corticosterone from the brain, which makes us vulnerable to increased levels of stress and tension, depression and irritability. Poor focus and disturbed sleep are other adverse effects.
Reducing carbs in your diet might sound like a good idea, but when they drop super low, fatty acids are broken down to produce ketones that come with side effects like nausea, bad breath and liver or kidney problems.
When you lose weight due to elimination of water from the body, it can adversely affect your health. Glycogen stores, which are a source of energy that binds water, are depleted faster than the fat cells releasing the water (when you are juicing). After you start eating, the body will replenish the water stores and glycogen, so you regain weight and are back to square one. However, the dehydration can cause dizziness and headaches.
Why invite tummy trouble? Not getting the right nutrients in your diet can cause irregular or inconsistent bowel movements. Although it seems unpleasant, checking the consistency of your stool can reveal whether your diet is healthy. If you‘re constipated or your stool is too runny, it’s time for a dietary change.
The bottom line is that you should avoid crash dieting at all costs. Consult a professional dietician to work out a proper meal plan that includes essential nutrients. Exercise regularly and be patient, and you will surely notice results. It is vital not to give in to the pressure of losing weight rapidly as it tampers with your health. Set a realistic timeframe and follow a healthy weight-loss plan that ensures you will lose weight, while remaining fit and happy.
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