The allure of crash diets is easy enough to see: rapid results brought on with minimal effort. Added to this already considerable allure is the fact that we are constantly bombarded with celebrities and reality TV stars testifying how their own personal favorite crash diet is the secret to their svelte figures and quick post-baby body bounce backs. With claims and testimonies such as these, who would not want to take part in these dietary miracles?
The problem lies in the fact that, despite these promising claims, quick-fix crash diets carry with them immense risks. Before you fall victim to the lies of crash diets, read on to learn the real truth.
Thought it would be impossible to list all the crash diets out there, a few of the more popular and pervasive diets to watch out for include the Lemonade Diet (also known as the Master Cleanse), the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, and the Military Diet. The nuances of each of these diets differs slightly, but the premise is largely similar: eat only the prescribed foods or drinks in severely restricted quantities with the hope of ‘cleansing’ your system and flushing out fat and toxins for a period of a few days to a few weeks at a time.
Risks of Crash Diets
Nutrient Deprivation. One of the more obvious risks of engaging in a crash diet is the nutrients your body will not receive while you are on it. The very limited nature of the foods allowed on a crash diet does not provide your body with the full range of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and protein) nor micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that it needs. Over time, these deficits add up and can result in major problems such as weakened bones, imbalances, muscle loss, malnourishment, and more.
Financial Loss. Many crash diets recommend the use of expensive supplements to go along with the diet. The supplements are not only costly, but also largely unproven and possibly risky. Unless your goal is a lighter wallet, avoid the use of risky supplements of any kind!
Lethargy. Subsisting on only a tiny fraction of the calories your body needs each day can lead to feelings of lethargy and fatigue. Healthy activities like exercise and other physical activity may fall victim to the lack of energy you experience.
Heart Damage. One of the more extreme risks of crash diets lies in the possible damage to your heart that diets can cause. Extended or repetitive use of crash diets can create electrolyte damage within your body that results in a weakening of blood vessels and cardiac stress. In the most extreme cases, this can result in heart attacks and even death.
Rebound Weight Gain. Ironically, one of the more common side effects of crash diets is often weight GAIN. This is because most of the weight loss from crash diets is typically due to simple water loss, so once you begin to eat normally again the pounds pile back on, often in amounts greater than your original weight. Additionally, the extreme nature of crash diets can cause your metabolism to slow. Your body believes itself to be in state of starvation and attempts to hang on to every calorie in a survival attempt.
The Bottom Line: As much as we may wish for it, there simply are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. Eating a healthy diet filled with plenty of vegetables and few to no processed food is the best bet to achieving a healthy body.