Crash Dieting: Good or Bad to Get Your Summer Body?


crash dieting to lose weight

The summer is just around the corner and many people are looking at dieting options. Crash diets are often the go-to options. They help people lose a lot of weight in a short space of time. Yet, there is a lot of information out there that points to them being bad for the body. Are they any good for losing weight?

What Are Crash Diets?

There are lots of different terms for these types of diets, but in short they are ones that help people lose a lot of weight in a very short space of time. Some will claim to help people lose as much as 30lbs in a month; that is 1lb a day!

In most cases, people have to reduce their calorie intake by a ridiculously large amount. For example, some of the Cambridge Diet plans reduce the calorie intake to 440 calories a day; the recommended amount for an average woman is 2,000 per day!

The diets are often extremely restrictive. With the cookie diet, dieters are told to eat nine specially designed cookies and then a meal that is under 700 calories each day. No alcohol is allowed and there are various other restrictions to see a weight loss. Individuals can lose a large amount of weight, but is it worth it to be restricted so much?

are crash diets safe for weight loss?

Are Crash Diets Safe?

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, crash dieting is not safe or effective, especially for the long term. Experts recommend losing up to 2lb per week by following a healthy and balanced weight loss plan to see long term success.

The main reason is that crash diets are so restrictive that people find it almost impossible to stick to them for the long term. Most are used when people have a short term goal of a summer body or getting to an ideal wedding weight, and will then go back to eating as they used to do in the future. The short term dieting does not give the person chance to change his or her mindset.

It takes six weeks for a habit to fully form. That means it will take six weeks for one change to become habit. That one change could be replacing chocolate treats with fruit or it could be going for a five-minute walk instead of reaching for the snacks at 3pm. Short term crash dieting does not give people that six week time period for one change, let alone long enough for various change to create a healthy and balanced diet.

The NHS goes on to report that there are many health risks to the diets, as they not only restrict  daily calorie intakes but cut out important food groups. They are nutritionally unbalanced and can make people feel unwell. Crash diets can:

  • Slow the metabolism
  • Stop the body from getting necessary nutrients
  • Cause heart disease
  • Cause high cholesterol
  • Increase the risk of stroke

Crash dieting can also affect the metabolism. Under eating on a regular basis slows the metabolism down, as it goes into a starvation mode. The brain believes that the body is not going to get enough calories, so slows the metabolic rate so it no longer needs as many. This deprives your body of the required nutrients, and can also make it more likely you will gain weight in the future; sometimes more than you had to lose in the first place! The jury is out when it comes to how many or which crash diets will cause this. One is not likely to be too bad, but constant yo-yo dieting will make it difficult for the body to regulate your metabolism.

What Is the Best Diet?

Rather than a diet, a lifestyle change is highly recommended. For weight loss, mixing food and exercise plans will help, and the food plans should be nutritionally balanced.

There is no need to cut out one food group. In fact, cutting one out completely can lead to health problems. Too many dieters cut out carbohydrates, but they are a necessary source of energy for the body. They help to balance out the protein and fat, which can cause the high cholesterol levels.

The best way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit; eating fewer calories than your body burns during the day. This encourages the body to burn the calories already stored. By doing exercise, your body burns more calories but also builds muscle, helping the body burn more calories throughout the day.

Adding exercise is also beneficial for the overall health, especially the mental health. It helps to release chemicals in the brain to boost natural pain relief and positive feelings. We also feel better in the way we look, as we get trimmer and firmer in areas that no change to food would help with. In other words, it makes dieting easier because people are more likely to feel better about themselves. Positivity breads positivity and vice versa.

For those who say exercise does not work, this is a myth. It does work but many people “reward” themselves after a workout; and I have done it in the past believing I have burned more calories than I really have. The best thing to do is make exercise an additional part of the diet, rather than a reason to eat more food.

There is not a “right” diet for individual people. Dr. Sally Norton says that crash dieting is not helpful. Losing weight requires hard work and effort. It took time to put the weight on, so it will take time to get it off again. She encourages people not to diet—as 85 percent of people gain the weight back after a year—but to make a few changes to a healthier lifestyle.

Dr. Norton also goes on to say that the scales can lie. The figure gives you the overall weight of your body, but does not take into account different breakdowns. Water retention and muscle growth can lead to weight gain, but that does not mean the diet or exercise program are not working. The best way to measure weight loss is through taking inch measurements around the waist.

The experts say that crash diets do not work. They are not safe and not the best way to get your summer body. When it comes to weight loss, making small changes and focusing on a healthy and balanced diet is the best way to go. Not only will you lose weight and find it easier to keep it off, but you will also feel better in yourself.

Images from Unsplash / Pixabay and skeeze / Pixabay

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