Lots of people try crash diets. They can work. But, are they healthy? Is a crash diet right for you? We give you the info of what you need to consider before trying a crash diet.
We’ve all heard of crash diets. Maybe you’ve even done one yourself over the years. The term does have a negative connotation. But, whether you’ve used the term disdainfully or maybe regard crash diets as a once-in-a-while necessity, you’ve likely thrown the word around without stopping to unpack what it truly means.
That stops now.
If you’ve been on social media at all in the past five years, places like Instagram can seem ridden with the next greatest diet, promising outstanding results in record speed.
How do you know their real value?
Are crash diets always bad, or even dangerous?
Do they work?
Let’s break down the term and take a look at a few things to watch out for, so you can head into the diet scene armed with what you need to know.
What Counts As A Crash Diet?
Gone are the days when people thought simply logging enough hours in the gym would get you ripped. We all know by now that to see results, your time in the kitchen is just as, if not more important than, the hours in the weight room. You just can’t outwork a bad diet or even the military diet.
Not as common knowledge, though, is just what is considered good versus bad. Enter the glut of new diets and routines. These seem to just come out of the woodwork dozens at a time in recent years. Americans spend billions of dollars each year trying out various diets, and that number continues to climb. Sadly this isn’t a sign that more and more people are getting healthier. A staggering 90 to 95% of dieters will gain back any weight they lost within one to five years.
If all simple diet plan worked as promised on social media, why is it that more than 70% of America is now either overweight or obese despite these get-ripped-quick promises?
I know we all have heard “lose 5 pounds in a week diet”
Clearly, not all diets are created equal. It’s hardly surprising that Americans continue over and over again to try to lose the weight for good, and this desperation and allure of celeb testimonies and striking before and after pictures can lead one to resort to trying a crash diet.
Technically speaking, any diet that prescribes an extremely low caloric intake can be called a crash diet. Typically the quota is in the range of 1,000, but sometimes pushing to the extreme of 500 calories a day. Other sources consider a crash diet to be when 1,000 to 1,200 calories are allowed for women. The number climbs to 1,600 to 1,800 daily calories for men.
Crash diets don’t just fit into one neat box. In fact, they can take all different forms and shapes, ranging from extreme detoxes based on teas or juice cleanses, to actual solid food like the gm diet, just restricted to very low-calorie ranges. They’re all meant to help you shed weight and fat fast and furiously, such as when prepping for an event or just wanting to look good for a party or holiday. We’ve likely all had those friends (or maybe you’ve been that person yourself) who will go to these lengths to see quick results when trying to slim down fast.
One thing all crash diets even the skinny fat diet, no matter their form, have in common is they come with an end date. In other words, they aren’t sustainable long-term and will for certain wreak havoc on your digestion, mood and metabolism if continued longer than they’re meant to be.
Crash Diets Do They Work?
About a third of your body is water weight, and that’s a good thing. That level should be maintained in a healthy, active adult, even when on a standard diet. When you go on a crash diet, though, you deny your body of the calories you’d normally eat.
The scale will drop and usually quickly. There’s a simple reason for this. Much of the weight loss you are seeing is simply your body losing water. Even lazar angelov diet agree’s with this principle.
If you’ve ever experienced the rush and satisfaction of seeing the numbers on a scale drop, you likely understand why this feeling can be so addictive and rewarding. That’s especially true if you’ve tried everything else under the sun to no avail.
It’s no surprise that crash diets are often turned to, because in our immediate-gratification world, what’s not to love about seeing progress just after a few days? However, after the dieting period ends, more likely than not, that water weight is going to come right back on once proper levels of macros and hydration are reintroduced into the diet.
Should You Do Crash Diet?
Crash diets can have striking and certainly noticeable effects when done right and done briefly, and most importantly when done infrequently. There’s no denying that. Weight can drop quickly and you’ll find yourself fitting into those jeans and looking ripped, but you still have to consider the big picture when starting any diet, even personal trainer dieters agree with this. Consider pros and cons. Measure if it’s worth it.
What’s your game plan for once the diet ends?
Do you have outlying health issues or an unhealthy past relationship with diets and foods that a crash diet might trigger?
Maybe you’ve heard it before, but it’s so true that it’s worth repeating: Your body is a delicate thing. You can’t change one factor, be it your diet or exercise routine, without expecting to start a chain reaction of results. Sometimes they’re positive. Sometimes they’re not. Here are a few things to bear in mind and keep an eye out for when considering or embarking on a crash diet or any type.
Going Into Starvation Mode
If you’re not familiar with the term, then here’s a brief recap of what it means to go into starvation mode: Anytime you drastically restrict caloric intake, your body goes into something of a shock. It becomes unsure when your next meal will be.
Since under normal conditions you’re likely eating and snacking at regular intervals and delivering a constant stream of nutritious calories, when that intake is halted, such as with a crash diet, your body goes into a panicked state. This means that anything and everything you eat is stored as fat cells and as little is released as possible to provide energy. The more you restrict, the more your body hangs on. And the more often you do this cycle, the more potential damage to your metabolism in the long haul.
When things get truly problematic is for repeat offenders of the crash diet. Sure, you may have pulled it off one time, but each later round of crash dieting slows your metabolism down little by little, as your body becomes used to surviving off fewer and fewer calories, as it had to during starvation mode periods. Each time, it’s going to get a little harder and harder to lose the weight and see the scale drop.
If you want what most of us want—to be able to eat more and still see results—crash diets can result in the opposite, where in order to maintain your current weight, you need fewer and fewer calories. And when the crash diet ends, you are likely to pack the fat back on since your body is used to hanging onto whatever you feed it.
Cutting Into Lean Tissue (Muscle Loss)
We all know you need gas in the tank to run a car, or to power through a gym routine. diet plans for women or men doesn’t matter.
But what about the get ripped diet?
When your body is in starvation mode, that fuel has to come from somewhere. Without enough fat or carb stores to dip into, your body will plunge into your lean issue mass (your gains) to draw energy from.
So as you lift and sweat it out in the gym or on the treadmill while under-fueling your body, you’ll have to expect to be losing muscle tissue since that energy has to come from somewhere. If you’re trying to build mass or definition, this isn’t your best bet.
Crash diets will result in not just the pounds of fat dropping off, but ultimately muscle too, even the dwayne johnson diet agrees. That’s especially true if they’re continued for long term. Bottom line, without enough blood sugar in your bloodstream, your body is forced to convert whatever it can into glucose for energy, and that’s going to mean your stores of lean muscle tissue.
Moodiness And Fatigue
A few days or even a week of extreme dieting may not wreak too much havoc on your overall mood. But, longer term crash dieting will catch up with your emotions, not just your physique.
Changes to your mood via the neural networks and activity in your brain means you are likely to be far more irritable and short-tempered than when you are eating a balanced diet. More troubling is that long-term deprivation can make it more likely for you to slip into serious spells of irritability and even depression over time.
As your sympathetic nervous system experiences fatigue, you’re going to likely notice a host of other symptoms. These symptoms could include stuff like feeling cold all the time or general tiredness that makes pumping iron and being active in any way pretty unappealing. Don’t forget also that a drop in blood pressure can even make you pass out if you’re not careful.
Missing Out On Major Nutrients
Regardless of your macros or the caloric calculations, you follow, your body demands a balance of macro and micronutrients. Since many extreme detoxes or crash diets call for hardly any or no fats, your body will miss out on vital nutrients that you’d normally get from eating a wide variety of fruits, veggies, grains, healthy fats and proteins.
Studies have found that dieting in and of itself can create stress even in the healthiest of cases.
That’s why when starting an extreme diet program it only makes sense that you might experience higher-than-normal levels of stress. Breaking down your tissue stores for fuel, as the body is forced to do under these circumstances, places some pretty serious stress on your body.
Constantly battling off hunger pains and cravings of foods you can’t have can add a layer of stress, as any veteran or novice dieter can attest to. Stress hormones will also likely be bumped up a notch, as studies on women’s bodies have shown that either a 48-hour fast or a three-week low-calorie plan triggers an increase.
At the end of the day, if dieting or exercise was totally black and white, we’d all have figured it out long ago, and the various health concerns in this country wouldn’t be nearly as widespread.
While crash diets can pose some serious threats to your long-term wellness, a few benefits are worth noting. You’re likely going to be consuming less processed foods. That is always a good thing. As well, if water or tea is a key part of your diet you may be keeping better hydrated than normal. This helps keep your digestion, energy levels and metabolism all running at top notch. Toxins might also be eliminated from your system simply from the reduction of food and the burning of fat that will inevitably occur.
Ultimately, when it comes to your long-term vitality, there is no way around the fact that nothing will ever replace a balanced diet and sustainable approach to nutrition. Study after study proves that eating a variety of foods from all the food groups to make sure you’re getting the macro and micronutrient blend you need is the best way to stay healthy and it always will be.
Take elements of the crash diet and fold them into your current lifestyle. For example, try avoiding sugars, processed snacks and white carbs. Meanwhile, continue to fuel your body with the calories it needs to build muscle and keep your metabolism revving.
Why crash and burn when you can enjoy a sustained level of good health and high energy for life?
By Emmy Schneider-Green