Effects of Crash Diets

Karen Frazier
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When you have a big event coming up and you need to lose weight quickly, a crash diet may seem like a good idea; however, there are a number of negative effects of crash diets of which you should be aware before you go on one. You could be putting your health at risk.

What Are Crash Diets?

Crash diets come in various forms. They may be a liquid fast, eating very low calories, not eating in combination with large amounts of exercise, or something else. Essentially, a crash diet is any extreme diet you undergo in order to lose a large amount of weight very quickly.

Negative Effects of Crash Diets

Crash diets are typically not very safe. They neglect your body's nutritional needs. While weight can be lost, the effects of crash diets may linger long after the weight has returned. There are several negative effects from crash dieting.

Lost Weight is Quickly Regained

Crash diets don't allow you to learn a new, healthier way of eating. As soon as you resume anything close to a "normal" eating pattern, your body puts the weight on very quickly, and may add even more weight than you started with in the first place. Not only that, but you may add additional water weight and bloat as your body re-adapts to a normal eating pattern.

Deleterious Effects on Your Metabolism

Crash diets may have a negative overall effect on your metabolism. If you go for a period of time depriving your body of its nutritional needs, a number of responses kick in that prepare your body for the famine that it has detected it is in. These effects include a slowed metabolism and fat conservation. The body begins to conserve all food and conserve fat for even leaner times. Instead, your body uses lean tissue, which it can burn quickly and efficiently.

This loss of healthy lean body mass can lead to an even more sluggish metabolism than you originally started out with.

Increased Cravings

While you are starving yourself, your brain may temporarily shut down your food cravings the longer you are in starvation mode. As soon as you begin to feed your body again, however, the brain goes into overdrive. It has now received a signal that there could be more times of famine ahead, and so the brain begins sending more and more signals to the body to eat while food is readily available. This can lead to a pattern of long-term overeating that sabotages your future efforts at weight loss.

Nutritional Deficiencies

During a period of crash dieting, your body is not getting the key nutrients it needs. In the presence of nutrient deficiencies, a number of things can happen including leaching minerals from your bones (which can lead to osteoperosis and fractures), the leaching of iron from your blood (which can lead to anemia), and any other large number of nutrient deficiencies.

Beauty Effects

If you are one of the lucky ones whose crash diet pays off in significant weight loss, it may be true that you've dropped a few pounds, but how about the rest of you? Your skin can become dull and droopy, causing you to look older. Your hair may become lank and lose its luster. Starvation doesn't do much for your breath, either. Bacteria associated with starvation can cause you to have constant halitosis. With all of these effects to your appearance, is it really worth the quick weight loss?

Effects on Energy

Another thing that happens with crash diets is that you very quickly lose energy. Again, this is mostly related to your body's preparation for famine. Since food is your body's energy source, when you deprive it of adequate amounts of that energy, your body starts to conserve. You may find yourself exhausted and lacking the will to complete even the simplest of tasks.

Weight Loss Is an Illusion

Much of the weight lost in a crash diet isn't fat. As stated above, it is lean body mass. A large amount of water is also lost during diets of this type, as well. As soon as you return to your normal eating, the weight and water come back.

A Healthier Alternative

As you can see, crash diets are never a good idea. The effects on your body linger long after the weight has been lost and regained. One single crash diet may be enough to lead to a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, so if you haven't already jumped on the crash diet wagon, you'll be doing yourself a favor if you never do.

A healthier alternative to a crash diet is a safe, nutritionally adequate diet and exercise program that allows you to lose weight at a safe rate of one to two pounds per week. Check with your health care provider or a nutritionist to find out the plan that will work best for you.

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Effects of Crash Diets