Crash Dieting

Crash Dieting

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Crash dieting has become a very problematic component of the weight loss and health industries.  The issue is that the promises associated with this type of strategy are extremely appealing.  This can make us want to take on extreme efforts that we wouldn’t otherwise use as a part of our lifestyles.  While we may see some results at first, the impact on our long term weight management can be disastrous. 

For this reason, it’s very important to understand what crash dieting is before we fall victim to its drawbacks.  Learn how to identify this type of diet – it isn’t always as obvious as you may think – and why you should avoid it.  When in doubt, it’s always a very good idea to speak with your doctor.  You can discuss any lifestyle changes you plan to make in the name of weight loss and come up with a better strategy to reach your goals.

What is Crash Dieting?

Crash dieting refers to a type of weight loss strategy that is typically designed to be short term and relatively extreme.  This is particularly true when it comes to restricting your food intake.  The goal is always to drop your weight as fast as you possibly can. It can involve having to eat only tiny amounts of food, only specific forms of food, or even skipping food altogether.  There are even some more dangerous types of crash diet that require you to eat non-food items to fill your stomach instead of food. 

Crash diets are typically unhealthy and are rarely - if ever - recommended by doctors or dietitians. Since they are actually a form of starvation, crash diets can lead to malnutrition, and are not a recommended means of weight loss. Even worse, this type of eating strategy can be catastrophic to your metabolic rate.  By crushing your metabolism, you can set yourself up to make it much harder to burn through body fat and much easier to regain anything you lose.

Crash Dieting and Weight Gain

Rapidly regaining weight after crash dieting is among the most common drawbacks for people who use this type of extreme dieting.  This can be extremely hard on physical health and can cause substantial harm to a person’s motivation to keep up healthy weight loss efforts – or any weight loss efforts at all. 

After a person discontinues a crash diet, the "yo-yo effect" is often seen. This can come in many forms.  For some people, it means that they feel strongly inclined to eat far more than normal, causing them to regain both the weight that was lost due to the diet as well as additional weight.

On the other hand, some people don’t eat more than they normally would but still experience weight gain as a result of this type of diet.  The reason is that starving yourself slows down your metabolism.  Once your metabolism has slowed, it can take a lot longer to speed it up than it did to slow it down.  Therefore, even if you eat the same amount of food that you used to, you place yourself at a substantial risk of gaining weight.

Your Body Evolved to Work Against Crash Dieting

The slowed metabolism and increased weight gain risk from crash dieting is caused by an evolutionary trait of most mammals – including humans - that historically only took effect in times of famine.

During the famine, the body would slow its processes – including the metabolism (the rate of calorie and body fat burning) – in order to conserve energy when food was scarce. After a famine ended, people's bodies naturally craved to regain both the weight that was lost, plus additional weight as well, in order to protect themselves in case of another famine.

Starving your body on a crash diet is not only very unhealthy, but in most cases people who have a rapid weight loss by crash dieting or other unhealthy means usually gain it all back. This is because crash dieting does not help you to change the habits that have led to your weight gain. Instead, take a more gradual approach to weight loss and develop a weight management strategy that you can maintain for a lifetime. This will help you lose the weight and give you the power to keep it off.