Crash diets are one of the most detrimental things you could do if you want to see long-term results.
Yet, because of flashy marketing full of empty promises, people who want to lose weight make this easy mistake over and over again. They all promise fast results but, when the weight comes off that fast, chances are it’ll come back just as quickly. And, in some cases, they add on a few extra pounds to their starting point. There are a few characteristics common to crash dieting, which are important for you to recognize first. Only then can you know what to stay away from.
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How to Identify "Crash Diets"
The first telltale is that they are very rigid – either in terms of making you count every calorie you eat and severely limiting the number you are allowed or by making you cut out many different types of foods or whole food groups at a time. They also tend to sell you pre-made meals or meal replacements. They might even tell you not to exercise. This, alone, should be a big red flag that this diet is definitely not a healthy approach to eating or weight loss. Finally, they may require you to use supplements to replace the nutrients you would normally find in whole foods, turning your pantry into a pharmacy. These diets are not supportive of long-term progress because they cause malnutrition and don’t teach dietary habits that can be maintained for a long time.
The main problems with crash dieting:
- They shock your body and cause your metabolic rate to plummet. This makes it impossible for you to lose weight after about the first 2 weeks. When your body senses that it’s going into starvation mode (which is what a crash diet simulates), it clings on to its fat stores even more. It’s the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
- You’ll be starving! These diets ask for restricted calorie counts of 1500 or less per day. That’s not nearly enough energy for most people’s daily activities, let alone exercise! They make you constantly tired and moody. Without enough calories and regular exercise, it also makes it harder to fall asleep, which just adds to the vicious cycle of fatigue. Too little calories in the long term can also lead to the absence of menstruation in women, among other medical problems.
- They do not provide balanced nutrition. Depending on which diet you choose to follow, it may be deficient in protein. Without protein intake, you won’t be able to maintain lean muscle mass and you get weaker with time. They are insufficient in minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and potassium. Imbalances in these can lead to problems with bone strength, muscle contraction and proper functioning of the heart.
- They don’t encourage healthy food habits. This leads to you gaining the weight back once you come off the diet. This also means that eating disorders are more likely to occur.
As much as you want to lose weight as quickly as possible, crash dieting is not worth it. It simply is not going to bring you the success you’re looking for, at least not in a sustainable fashion.
More often than not this type of diet will cause you to regain all the weight, and then some, after it ends. Choose a more moderate diet approach that provides wholesome nutrition and enough energy to get you through your day, like the one used in the ringMD Vitality program. It should also have guidelines and meals that you can actually stick to. You’ll see far better results, enjoy the process more, and once you reach your goal weight, you’ll be more likely to stay there.
This guest post is written by Ireland-base Dr. Denise Karlyn Hee, a medical doctor practicing nutrigenomic medicine and certified integrative nutrition health coach. If you’d like to find out more about this topic or consult with Dr. Denise, feel free to message her via her RingMD profile (profile here).
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