You can lose a few pounds rapidly on a crash diet – but you can also put your health at risk. Is it worth it? It depends on your goal.
If you just need to lose a few pounds to fit into your wedding dress or look good in a bikini on your summer vacation, you could make that happen with one of these diets without too much risk. But a healthier alternative would be to plan ahead for such events and follow a better diet to lose the weight over time. Following one of these diets for long-term weight loss is a recipe for disaster.
What is a Crash Diet?
The definition of a crash diet is not clear-cut. Some websites give examples of these diets that I would label differently. My definition is:
- Restricts calorie intake to under 1000 per day.
- Lasts for only a few days to a couple of weeks.
- Promises rapid weight loss.
- Usually involves a gimmick like emphasizing a certain food or drink.
These diets are often fad diets, made popular by celebrities. They usually come and go but many hang around for a long time, circulating on the Internet or published from time to time in women’s magazines.
Some examples of crash diets include:
- 3 Day Tuna Diet
- HCG Diet
- Maple Syrup Diet
So What’s The Health Risk?
If you just follow it for a few days to lose a few pounds for a special event, you’ll probably be OK, although extremely hungry. If you think it’s a good way to get started losing weight for long-term goals, think again.
The problem with these diets is mostly the low calorie intake. It isn’t healthy. You will lose weight at first, but after a few days the weight loss will plateau. The reason is your body thinks you’re starving (which you actually are) and will slow down your metabolism to compensate.
A slower metabolism is actually bad for weight loss. It means you’re burning less calories than when you were eating normally. And if you continue on the diet longer than you’re supposed to, your body can actually start to cannibalize itself. You can actually lose muscle tissue when you’re in starvation mode.
The other problem is they often focus on eating one certain food or drink, thereby restricting your nutrient intake. If you’re going to be on one of these diets, you should take a vitamin and mineral supplement also.
Since these diets don’t last very long, what happens when you stop? You usually gain the weight back rapidly. You’ve already taught your body that there’s a shortage of food, so when food is available again, it’s going to start storing it away as much as possible. This can lead to you going back on the diet, or trying another one to lose the weight again. This leads to a yo-yo effect that is dangerous to your health.
If you know you need to lose weight for a certain event, start early on a good, healthy diet so you don’t have to resort to one of these at the last minute. If you must go on a crash diet, check with your doctor first, only do it for a short period and take a multivitamin supplement. If you want long-term weight loss and health, avoid these diets and try one of the many healthy diet programs like the Paleo Diet.