Those who have done even a little bit of research on weight loss methods will have heard of crash dieting. Maybe you know of someone who tried it, or read about a celebrity who lost an inspiring amount of weight in a short time by going on one. Eating just a few hundred calories a day is difficult, but it’s a sure-fire way to shed some pounds.
The very term ‘crash diet’ doesn’t exactly inspire confidence though, does it? It makes you think of some accident where something has gone horribly wrong. If you do it wrong, it can indeed go that route, as you’ve probably seen or read in many dieting horror stories.
“There’s no scientific definition [of a crash diet], but it is a semi-starvation state wherein very few calories are being consumed with the aim of losing weight quickly,” explains Pamela Laiz, a registered nutritionist-dietitian and Masters in Public Health graduate.
But wait a minute—if it allows you to lose weight quickly, then it can’t be all bad, right? We got to thinking whether it’s possible to do a crash diet safely just to lose those stubborn few pounds. We sought out Laiz’s expertise to get the real score.
“I don’t think there is a safe way to do crash dieting,” Laiz reveals, much to our pot-bellied dismay. “Our body is not designed to undergo sudden starvation. A crash diet entails a lot of health consequences: weakened immune system, loss of muscle mass, and even dehydration.”
Aside from those negatives, Laiz also noted that crash dieting can result in poor concentration and mental functions, which can lead to depression and all sorts of hormonal disorders. Yikes.
Laiz adds: “It’s not advisable to undergo a crash diet. All food and food groups are essential. [Weight loss] is more of controlling portions and avoiding unhealthy ones. Carbs, protein, and fats all play important functions and you cannot choose one over the other.”
Aside from the detrimental effects on your health, crash dieting also has another problem: longevity. How many times have you seen or read about a crash dieter who ended up putting all the weight on again once they stopped? Oh, and you risk losing your hard-earned gym gains, too.
“[Crash diets] are not sustainable,” Laiz notes. “Most of the dieters will only sustain this diet for quite some time, then go back to their regular eating habits. They become victims of a vicious cycle of losing and gaining weight, or the yo-yo effect. This yo-yo effect has implications on all our bodily functions, which makes you prone to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Crash dieting forces the body to lose not just your fats but mostly your muscle mass, which results in malnutrition and again subjects you to other health issues.”
So there you have it. There are no shortcuts to weight loss, ladies and gents. “If you want to lose weight quickly, eat right and double-time on your exercise,” Laiz recommends.