Most Americans at one point or another have tried some form of crash diet. Many of the popular diets you hear about are crash diets. The yo-yo affect of drastic weight loss, followed by the weight gain that crash dieting causes, can have many negative effects that can last well beyond the diet itself.
Fad diets, starvation diets, and other crash diet plans can have long-term consequences. Here are 7 ways crash diets can negatively affect your health.
1. Vitamin and/or Mineral Deficiencies
Crash diets often lead to a lack of sodium and potassium, which both play key roles in the body’s nerve and muscle function. An extreme lack of these two electrolytes can lead to heart failure. Calcium is also often lacking in crash diets, and that can lead to bone loss. Iron deficiencies can also develop, leading to anemia.
A lack of calcium intake that often occurs as part of a crash diet can lead to bone loss or osteoporosis.
3. Pressure or Strain on Internal Organs
Crash diets can cause serious problems for your heart, kidneys, brain, and liver. Without enough energy from food intake, these organs will start getting their energy from burning muscle tissue. Often the organs will burn the muscle tissue from the area that surrounds the organ, which can lead to organ failure.
4. Depression and Irritability
The output of serotonin and dopamine are created by eating carbohydrates and proteins. When you aren’t eating enough of both, or either, you will notice a change in mood. Without the production of those two neurotransmitters, you will notice a depression develop.
5. Slowed Metabolism
When you are on a crash diet, your metabolism slows because it goes into starvation mode. You may lose weight, but when you go back to your normal caloric intake, your metabolism will still be slower. This means that it will take fewer calories to gain weight back because your metabolism won’t burn the calories as quickly as it needs to.
6. Negative Effects on Cholesterol Levels
Crash diets limit the intake of foods your body needs. Some of these foods help with the production of HDL (the good cholesterol). Lowering the levels of good cholesterol in your body can lead to heart disease.
It is likely that if you are drastically cutting your calories (under 1200 calories a day) you could experience fainting or dizziness due to lack of proper nutrient and food intake.
Crash diets seem to work in the short term, that is why they gain popularity. Unfortunately, they don’t work long-term for many reasons. Often the weight loss associated with crash diets is water weight or the loss of needed muscle mass. Most people gain back more weight than they lost after they finish their crash diet.
Crash diets are an unhealthy way to lose weight. The only thing crash diets do correctly is remind us that weight loss is about calories in versus calories out. However, crash diets require too few calories in, and are unhealthy no matter their claim.