How Crash Diets Can Affect Your Health

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Ever been tempted to go on a really strict diet to drop some pounds quickly? Sure, you might drop a dress size or two pretty quickly but this can come at a big cost. Intense diets that significantly restrict your calorie intake may lead to some weight loss but they can also do a lot of damage to your health.

The statistics for weight regain is crazy! Within 1 year of drastic weight loss, 40-70% of people have gained all the weight they lost back. With in 3 years, 70-95% of people regained all the weight they lost on the crash diet. Actually with rapid weight loss, your body will remember that and activate a “self-defense” mechanism to “protect” itself from doing it again. In fact the number of times a person diets is actually associated with weight gain, not weight loss. The more times you crash diet the more resistant your body becomes to weight loss. Here’s why slow and sustainable weight loss wins out over crash diets.

You don’t get enough nutrition

The lack of calories goes hand in hand with a lack of nutrition. When you’re taking in very few calories, there’s a lot of potential for not getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy. This becomes an even bigger problem if you’re following a restrictive diet that cuts out certain food groups completely. For good health, you need to be getting nutrients from a range of food groups so it’s not hard to see how crash diets can impact on your wellbeing.

A low calorie intake also affects your energy and leaves you feeling exhausted and weak. It may also lead to dizziness and make it difficult to concentrate and remember things.

At its worst, this fatigue can leave you lacking in the energy you need for day-to-day life. Your body needs a certain amount of calories to function as it should and with a restrictive diet, this isn’t being met. Think of it this way: crash diets mean that you’re not taking in nearly enough calories to keep your body functioning properly. Doesn’t sound quite so good now, right?

Your immunity can be low

One of the downsides of this lack of nutrition is poor immunity. For most people, this is going to mean that you get sick a lot more often.

You can get dehydrated

A lot of the weight you lose in the early days of a crash diet is actually water, not fat, and this can lead to dehydration. Your body needs a certain amount of water to help it to function and chronic dehydration can become dangerous.

Losing weight is more difficult

From a weight loss perspective, crash diets make it harder to keep losing weight and for it to stay off afterwards. This is why most people find that they put all of the weight back on (and often more on top) once they stop heavy dieting. Crash diets are incredibly difficult to keep up with so it’s inevitable that you’ll revert back to different eating habits and you can expect to gain back everything that you lost and a bit more.

Your heart can suffer

One of the really scary things about doing crash diets is the fact that it can damage your heart. According to experts, it can damage the blood vessels and make you more likely to experience cardiovascular problems, including blocked arteries and heart attacks.

The lack of nutrition can mean that you’re deficient in key electrolytes linked to a healthy heart rhythm such as potassium, sodium and magnesium. Crash diets can also affect your blood pressure and this can also have an effect on your heart health.

Mood problems are common

Given how restrictive crash diets are, most people who follow them spend a lot of time thinking about food. Apart from making you feel miserable, this can also affect your mood, especially with poor nutrition too.

Your skin can suffer

 On a more aesthetic note, crash dieters often have pretty bad skin. This is partly due to lack of nutrients but is also linked to the pattern of continuously losing weight, regaining it and losing it again. Some of the problems you might experience include fine lines and saggy skin. Your hair can also be affected and many people find that they suffer from hair loss on restrictive diets.

What to do instead

Slow and steady weight loss won’t have such drastic or quick effects but it’s by far the best option for both your health and sustaining a healthy weight. Aiming for 1 to 2 pounds weight loss in the average week is recommended through a combination of good nutrition and regular exercise.

If you have questions shoot me an email at jessica@crossfitrife.com