Crash and Burn: The Truth about Crash Diets

by Max Fitness Hub Staff
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There are a number of diets out there that promise to help you shed pounds fast with little to no effort on your part. They usually require overhauling your usual meal regimen and replacing it with a substantially reduced budget of nutritional intake. These diets typically last for a few days or a week, usually to “prepare” for an upcoming event that you want to lose weight for.

Crash diets are notoriously unsafe, especially when done for an extended period of time or more frequently than originally recommended. Undernourishment is also a huge concern within the barriers of crash dieting, usually caused by a reduced intake of water and essential nutrients.

Intermittent Fasting

Generally speaking, skipping meals is a terrible way to lose weight. It puts your body under undue stress, and the lack of nutrition can cause your body to lower its tolerance to glucose and crash your metabolism. Fasting can also increase hunger significantly, as well as increasing blood pressure and cholesterol.

Intermittent fasting has the potential to create or worsen eating disorders. Because intermittent fasting can promote the mentality of bingeing and purging, it could trigger effects of bulimia or other eating disorders. It can also lead to overeating, which in turn creates feelings of shame, guilt, and self-consciousness. If these problems are already apparent in someone who tries intermittent fasting, these problems could become much more severe.

Fasting also leaves you ravenous, which means that when you break your fast, you are much more likely to eat more calories than you meant to. Usually, you tend to go after much more unhealthy foods as well. These can create a spike in blood sugar which only leads to more cravings and food obsession, but also contribute to food intolerance, digestive issues, and inflammation.

Yo-yo Diets

yo-yo tape measure for yo-yo dietYo-yo dieting tends to happen when someone’s weight cycles between low and high. You are usually successful in the initial weight loss, but do not succeed in keeping it off. When the weight is put back on, you want to lose it again, and the cycle continues. This is great for putting your body through tremendous amounts of stress.

Yo-yo diets obviously lead to weight gain, but they often lead to weight gain even when you are in the “lose weight” side of things. Your body ends up going primeval and does what it can to survive the stress. This means the body stores fat. You are also more likely to overeat during this time.

These diets can also upset your levels of healthy gut bacteria. When you diet, your levels are changed, but as your flip between bingeing and dieting, inflammation and obesity are just around the corner. Even if you reached that ideal weight, the colonies in your gut remain in states of obesity and sped up the gaining of weight after the diet ended.

Yo-yo dieting can also lead to harmful physiological effects. The weight loss in the initial stages tends to come from water loss and/or dehydration. Forcing yourself into periods of deprivation can easily disrupt your aims for a healthy diet. Dieting is different from healthy eating, and yo-yo dieting can easily change your emotional and physical health negatively.

Cleanses and detoxes

The common goal of cleanses and detox diets is to rid the body of harmful toxins, which are claimed to get stuck in the digestive system from food and water. However, there is not much research on what these toxins are and why they are so detrimental to your health.

There are a great many types of cleanses. They are typically categorized based on being a short-term diet to cleanse your system of toxins. Weight loss is not the main goal of a detox diet, though many people see weight loss.

detox fruit juicesOne of the most popular detox diets is the so-called “Master Cleanse,” which was introduced in the 1940s. It begins with drinking only spring water with lemon juice, cayenne, and maple syrup for as long as two weeks. There are other types as well, usually involving liquid-based diets and/or raw foods for up to four weeks at a time.

There are claims that there are benefits to a detox cleanse. Improved liver and kidney function, as well as increased energy are a few of the most common claims. However, there are also significant cons.

  • Detoxes can lead to diarrhea, leading many to believe that the diet is “cleansing” their system.
  • Individuals who are prone to addiction may get a temporary “high” from detoxing, which in turn can lead to the development of eating disorders.
  • There is no evidence of long-term weight loss. Detox diets are meant for short term and the weight that is initially lost is usually regained.
  • There is no evidence that detoxing is better at ridding the body of toxins than the body is on its own.

The Risks of Crash Dieting

Rapid weight loss slows down your overall metabolism, leading to more difficult weight loss in the future. These diets are also good at depriving your body of essential nutrients, leading to cravings and dehydration. You also become more susceptible to heart palpitations, cardiac stress, and a weakened immune system.

Because you get the nutrition your body needs from the food you eat, dramatically decreasing your intake of essential nutrients can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Some crash diets also dangerously restrict the amount of the types of food you can eat, like no-carb, no-fat, etc. This makes it virtually impossible to get complete nutrition. Deficiencies like this can cause a multitude of long- and short-term health problems.

While crash dieting may seem like a great solution for quick weight loss, it is usually more trouble than it is worth. Crash dieting can lead to increased weight gain when off the diet, heart problems, and nutritional deficiencies, leading to more increased risk of health problems in the long-term. The best way to eat is to aim for well-rounded nutrition full of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

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