12 Dangers of Crash Dieting from 12 Dangers of Crash Dieting

12 Dangers of Crash Dieting

Full Story

Shutterstock

12 Dangers of Crash Dieting

Crash diets don’t have a formal definition but they are often perceived as an attempt to quickly lose weight by drastically cutting down on the amount of calories consumed for a short period of time. “A crash diet is not defined by a specific number (e.g. 1200 calories), rather by the length of time it is followed, perception of it being a ‘quick fix,’ and requirement of making drastic changes to the diet all at once,” Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, Corporate Dietitian, Medifast, says. Any diet that has a “miracle” food or ingredient or one that focuses on very few foods or food groups, such as the grapefruit or cabbage soup diet, is often a red flag,” Miller says.

Thinkstock

Unsustainable changes

Crash diets involve drastic changes in the diet that can only be followed for a short period of time. “In other words, these changes are unsustainable,” Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, Corporate Dietitian, Medifast, says. All nutrients are essential to life. Each one has a specific purpose in the body; a purpose that supports health and wellbeing.

Thinkstock

Inadequate nutrition

“The drastic reduction in calories can leave people vulnerable to inadequate nutrition to support health and wellbeing,” Miller says. Nutritional status is extremely important in wound healing, especially the major wounds, studies show. The stress response to injury and any preexistent protein-energy malnutrition will alter this response, impeding healing and leading to potential severe morbidity. 

Thinkstock

Long-term poor health

“Crash diets are nutritionally unbalanced, which can lead to long-term poor health,” Miller says. “They are often extremely difficult to follow and may make you feel unwell.” Balanced nutrition, which may entail controlling the intake of a certain nutrients, ensures your body receives the nourishment it needs for optimal health.

Shutterstock

Slower metabolism

Metabolism is the process through which the body converts what a person eats into energy. “If we eat too few calories, our metabolism can slow down in an effort to conserve energy; it feels ‘starved’ so it slows down the metabolic rate to preserve energy,” Miller says. The vital process is dependent on everything from the types of foods you eat to the amount of sleep that you get each night. Ways to speed it up include eating high-quality protein, having enough Vitamin D, and having frequent meals.

Shutterstock

Overeating later

“Not eating a lot may make someone more susceptible to overeating later in the day as the body feels it needs to compensate for the lack of calories,” Miller says. Treating yourself to your favorite guilty pleasure will not ruin your diet, or figure (or life), but it can sabotage months of hard work training and following a healthy nutritious regimen. By overeating you are teaching your body to accept unhealthy behaviors.

Shutterstock

Losing lean muscle

When crash dieting, you’ll likely lose a combination of water, fat, and muscle. “This is true to some extent for any type of weight loss,” Miller says. “That said, proper nutrition and a balanced diet can help reduce loss of lean muscle and promote greater loss of fat mass.” Key factors for building muscle include doing less cardio and more lifting, focusing on more compound exercises, and eating protein-rich meals.

Thinkstock

Cravings

Complete elimination of a nutrient means elimination of food groups from the diet and can lead to cravings, Miller says. They would be welcome if they made people eat celery, apples, and tomatoes. Several ways of fighting them include drinking water when you think you’re hungry, brushing your teeth, eating protein with every meal, and not skipping meals.

Thinkstock

It’s bad for the heart

Crash dieting repeatedly increases the risk of heart attacks, research suggests. Women with a healthy weight who went on yo-yo diets on a regular basis to lose extra pounds have more than three times the risk of dying suddenly from a heart attack, according to a new study. If you cut healthy calories for a long time from your diet, your heart can lose muscle, causing tears.

Thinkstock

Increase risk of eating disorders

People who have a more perfectionist personality or have set routines are more vulnerable. All the stress of reaching the goal can trigger or exacerbate an eating disorder, thus leading to more people being diagnosed and seeking treatment for an eating disorder around this time of year, according to Dr. Rebecca Wagner, Clinical Director of Eating Recovery Center, Houston.

Thinkstock

Depression and stress

An extreme food regimen that depletes nutrients may lead to mood swings and depression. Research subjecting mice to yo-yo dieting found that the rodents had increased levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and displayed depression-like behavior. Several genes important in regulating stress and eating had changed.

Thinkstock

Weaker immune system

The diet supplies the body with nutrients needed for a healthy immune system, such as vitamins C and D. Crash diets typically miss entire food groups depriving the body of important nutrients. “Therefore, a person may not get the right amounts of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system,” Miller says. “Further, such a drastic change in diet can place a stress on the body, which may affect the immune system as well.”

Shutterstock

Short-lived results

The eating habits associated with crash dieting are short-lived; therefore, the results are, Miller says. “On a crash diet, you drastically change your eating habits in a manner that is unsustainable. After a few weeks on an unrealistic diet, most people get frustrated and give up.” As soon as the diet stops they go back to their old eating practices, which often leads to weight gain, she adds.

12 Dangers of Crash Dieting