Why Crash Diets Don’t WorkKen Bendor
Going to a wedding, prom, party or the beach? Need to lose weight quickly? Does this sound like an advertisement for a diet that doesn’t work yet? If you’ve ever read a diet that promised quick results in time for a big occasion, it probably doesn’t work. These diets, also called crash diets, basically force you to starve yourself in order to rid your body of unwanted weight quickly. So why are they so bad? They’re unhealthy, leave you without energy and don’t result in any permanent weight loss.
For a crash diet to deliver a large amount of weight loss in a short period of time, you will be forced to drastically cut your calories, sometimes below 500 per day. The reason why this is unhealthy is because when you restrict yourself that much, it will be close to impossible to get all the nutrients you need for your body to function properly.
For example, your brain can only use glucose (carbs) for energy and its appetite runs at around 400 calories per day. On a crash diet, your brain will be competing with your body for the small amount of energy that’s available. As a result, your physical as well as mental performance will suffer. If you have a test to study for or a job to perform, these crash diets will make your life very difficult.
At 500 calories per day, what can you even accomplish? If you plan on exercising, forget about it. If you plan on doing any sort of physical activity (housework, yard work, car work) you can scratch that off your list too. With 500 calories per day, you will have absolutely no energy and won’t feel like doing anything, even with some extra coffee.
Temporary Weight Loss
So what about the weight that you lose with these diets? Isn’t that a reason to use them? No. The reason why you will lose some weight on these diets is because of salt. Since you won’t be eating anything, your intake of salt (sodium) will also decrease. Salt works to hold water. When you eat a lot of it, your body will hold some extra water. When you go on a low sodium diet, your body will get rid of the water and you will lose weight. Crash diets take low sodium to an extreme. You will lose plenty of water weight but as soon as you take a bite out of any food, the weight will come right back on.
Won’t you lose a little bit of fat weight? No. When you eat under 1,200 calories, your body’s metabolism will start to slow down. This is part of an evolutionary tool our ancestors used when food was limited. The body will enter what’s known as starvation mode to conserve energy because it thinks food won’t be coming around for awhile. What this means for you is that it will burn less calories. With this slower metabolism, even with sever calorie restriction, you won’t lose as much weight as you had hoped for.
The Bottom Line
Crash diets will never work. Yes they may help you lose a few pounds quickly, but as soon as you go back to eating normally, the weight will come right back on within a few days. The real way lose weight is through moderate calorie restriction combined with exercise. This way, you will lose weight in a healthy and permanent manner through changes that are a lot more manageable. You will have energy and be able to function normally. Weight loss is a healthy goal. Don’t ruin it by fasting in hopes of losing a few extra pounds to look good. It isn’t worth the long term risk to your health.