How Crash Diets Harm Your Health

Phew, what a year! We have just gotten past Christmas and New Year parties, and now, the majority of us are painstakingly putting in some effort to get in shape for the next big festival — Chinese New Year.

Everyone is always researching for new ways to shed a few pounds, and crash dieting is a new fad that has garnered immense popularity year after year. Even though crash dieting is enticing as it promises quick results in a short period of time, did you know that it can actually end up doing more harm to your body in the long run?

1. What is crash dieting?

Crash diets involve consuming a minimal amount of calories to cause rapid weight loss and forcing our body into starvation mode. The principle is based on the fact that the body must burn more calories each day than its intake. These diets strip away the ability to eat whole food groups or limit only a few sources for the body to take in calories generally. 

These diets limit a person to consume around 1,000 calories or less each day, lesser than the recommended daily value of 1,200 calories for women and 1,500 calories for men. To lose a pound of bodyweight, a person is then required to burn 3,500 calories, which means that burning an extra 500 calories daily is equivalent to losing one pound of weight weekly.

However, the way your body responds can result in increased weight gain, causing bone and muscle damage, degenerative disc disease, chronic pain, and other health issues.

Some famous crash diets include: Cabbage soup diet, Cavemen diet, Egg-grapefruit diet, Juicing diet and more.

Why is it not worth it?

• Your metabolism rate will be affected
When your body receives less than the recommended daily intake of calories for an extended period of time, it will recognize this stage as starvation and begin to lower its metabolic rate to preserve energy. Our body’s energy generally depletes after 48 hours, it starts slowing down the metabolism to conserve energy as it can’t tell the difference between food scarcity and starvation.

The body uses more stored energy (glycogen) to upkeep our body tissues and maintain muscles. Due to the lack of energy intake, cortisol levels rise, which causes our bodies to retain more water, making us feel bloated and less lean.

• Attacks the immunity system
Having a strong immunity is vital for our body in order to fight colds, and many other diseases (eg: hepatitis, lung and kidney infection). Going on crash diets means limiting your body from a certain intake of nutrients and calories, which could be the reason for a compromised immunity. For example, by cutting out all fatty food from your diet, it limits the intake of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), which are essentials for good health.

• The effect on muscle, bone, and spine health
Long-term caloric deprivation may result in irreversible damage to your skeletal health. As the body begins to break down muscle tissue to generate energy, it starts losing strength and functionality. Their ability to repair deteriorate and early muscle fatigue will occur as these muscles are not getting the essential nutrients required.

• Trigger lifestyle and health-related issues
With the sudden changes introduced to your body, it can negatively affect your heart health by affecting blood pressure numbers, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. Hence, doctors have advised that people who are prone to heart diseases or have a history of the same are not suitable to adopt such crash diets.

• Damage skin and hair quality
Aforementioned, crash dieting limits the number of nutrients and vitamins that your body needs for optimal function. This lack of nourishment reflects on duller skin and lackluster hair (sometimes even hair falling out!), which can negatively impact your physical appearance.

• Increase ketone production
When a person follows through with a diet, this regime typically consists of very little carbohydrates. Hence, the body starts to go through ketosis; a process in breaking down fatty acids in storage for energy called ketones; natural chemicals that the body produces when it burns fat for fuel.

Some damaging effects include excessive ketone production, which causes nausea, liver, kidney problems, and bad breath.

• Not sustainable results
The motivation behind crash diets are often short-lived. A lot of this ‘lost weight’ is actually water weight due to glycogen being exhausted for energy, and that is why such diets often lead to limited results and failure to upkeep for a long period of time. In time to come, you will face difficulties to keep up with the diet and find yourself binging on food that’s unhealthy.

In actuality, there is hardly an overnight weight loss solution and in this case, crash dieting may sound like a quick fix to your weight problem but in reality, it can cause you to gain back the weight you lost, and you might even gain a little bit extra as well. Adhering to a healthy diet and lifestyle, perhaps complemented with non-invasive slimming treatments as maintenance is the best way to get slimmer.

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