Friday, May 31, 2013

What's Wrong With Crash Diets?

It seems that most of my adult life I have been either starting a diet or falling off the wagon. At the end of all this, I am still overweight. This got me to thinking what am I doing wrong. I have been dieting on and off for 20 years and am still considered overweight. I have read those articles about this celebrity or that one losing weight quickly doing this or that and have wondered: What is wrong with crash diets? And why do they have such a bad reputation?

The most obvious problem with crash diets is that the weight loss is almost always temporary. I can definitely attest to that, I have lost and gained back the same 20 lbs more times than I can count.

 If you suddenly change to a restricted diet, your body will respond by storing less water. You will lose weight and be less bloated, i.e. thinner, but you will not necessarily lose any fat. When you end the diet that weight will go right back on.

Of course, you may lose some fat too, depending on the diet and how long you follow it. However, the body often goes into starvation mode during these diets. It thinks a famine has hit, and it should slow down the metabolism and store as much fat as possible to guard against the hard times ahead. When you increase your food consumption, even if you do it in a healthy way, that famine metabolism can persist and lead your body to gain some or all of the weight back.

Added to that is the psychological effect of breaking a crash diet. Whether this happens at the end of the planned diet or in the middle out of desperation, it tends involve overeating. For this reason alone, many people who follow crash diets find that a month later, they are heavier than they were before the diet.

In addition, there are some significant health issues with crash diets. First, diets that focus on losing weight fast are usually very restrictive in the types of foods that you can eat. Many foods (and sometimes whole food groups) will be cut out. This is not something you could do in the long term without suffering from deficiencies. It is not good for the body in the short term either.

On many crash diets you will not be getting the nutrients that the body needs. It is true that you can take supplements, but many supplements rely on substances in whole foods to make them work most effectively. Nutrient deficiencies lead to cravings, making it harder to stick to the diet and more likely that you will break out in a binge. At the same time, you may be getting more of some nutrients than is healthy.

To summarize, crash diets can only ever be a temporary solution, for example for a situation where you need to lose a little weight for a particular event, and you do not mind if you gain it back - and more - afterward. The healthiest option for losing weight is to make changes that will allow you to lose weight slowly on a healthy eating plan that does not ban any foods completely, but allows you to incorporate occasional treats. In the long term, people who follow crash diets are likely to gain weight, not lose it

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I am trying now to not worry so much about what the scale says and just try to make some healthy adjustments to my diet. My goals are to drink more water, eat more whole foods when possible and move more. I have also heard that taking periodic pictures is helpful, so with that, above is my current pic.

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10 comments:

  1. Crash diets are awful and I think you for reminding me of that before I start yet another crash diet
    www.mommysrambles.blogspot.com

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    1. I just recently fell off the wagon and have already gained back half the weight I lost. I have also learned as I've gotten older that it's getting harder to take it off and easier to put it back on.

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  2. Weight Watchers is a GREAT! Prevention Magazine has some awesome tips that include drinking a glass of water before every meal, 20 minutes of cardio before breakfast & strengthening/weighted exercises in the eve - check out their website :)

    I think 80% or more are with you :)!!

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    1. Thanks for the tips I really like the one about drinking a glass of water before each meal. Not only will it help curb your appetite, but it also help you be sure to get all your water in. :)

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  3. I couldn't agree more! I've never gone on a crash diet. I know they're not healthy and the weight loss is short lived. The word diet was never part of my vocabulary, and until I hit menopause I never had a weight issue, but now I am about 20-25 lbs over weight and despite healthy eating and regular exercise the weight is nearly impossible to take off. You obviously haven't hit menopause yet, but get ready! It's a bear!

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    1. No I haven't, getting close. I have a few more years. ;)

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  4. I know how you feel. I'm in the process of loosing weight as well. I'll be posting my progress on my website. I wish you luck on your weight loss journey!

    Susan

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  5. I'm not a crash diet type of person but I do know that once you lose the weight, you are bound to put it back on.. esp if your diet has changed.

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    1. I agree. That is the reason I am trying to make small changes that I can keep up with. Totally changing your diet is hard to maintain and once you go back to eating like you did, the weight comes right back on.

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