Weight Loss Support - Combining crash diets and "sustainable" weight loss?




kelseyvc
05-04-2012, 12:23 AM
It's common knowledge that losing weight through a combination of cutting calories (or carbs, for some of us) and adding exercise is the slower, healthier and ideal way to lose weight. For example, I've noticed that it is usually recommended that we don't create a calorie deficit much greater than 500 calories or else we'll go in to "starvation mode." The idea behind this is that we will sabotage our efforts by either dramatically slowing down our metabolisms or setting ourselves up for a binge. And since the healthy method is a more gradual process, it gives us more time to make our healthy efforts lifelong habits.

And then there's crash diets. Or not even specific diets, really--just any plan that involves eating less than 1200 calories a day. These are generally frowned upon because they are considered unhealthy and unsustainable. Note that I am not talking about anything that is near eating disorder territory, here.

I have been doing it the "healthy" way for the past few months: around 1500 calories a day, plus cardio and/or weight training 3-5 days a week. (With this past week being the exception, due to finals). However, when I lose weight this way I'm VERY lucky if I lose even a pound per week. Some weeks, I won't lose at all. It's extremely tempting to go back to my old high-school ways of only eating around 800-1,000 calories per day, because I honestly lose weight twice as quickly.

Would it be terrible to lose weight that way until I hit my goal or a plateau, and then graduate to eating more calories while exercising more? I know that the "quick" way is frowned upon, but I've already proven to myself that I can do the healthy eating and regular exercise thing on a regular basis.... I just want to speed things along a bit!


ValRock
05-04-2012, 12:29 AM
Sure, if you like it when your hair falls out, your nails get brittle, your skin dulls, and you don't have the energy to complete your daily tasks.

Your body needs nutrients to function properly. If it doesn't get them for a long time, you start to have problems. It's not worth it!!!!

You're losing weight!!! This is a lifetime journey. The weight WILL come off, it is coming off! This is not a sprint to the finish line.

Misa66
05-04-2012, 05:57 AM
I will be the first one to admit that a few years ago I lost 20lbs from "crash dieting". I was 182lbs and I definately did not feel "fat" and I did not wake up one morning and say "today I will not eat so I be skinny." it was in the course of about a month, yes I dropped 20lbs in one month and it was somewhat by accident. I was on the computer from 8am-10:30pm everyday and would forget to eat because I was so addicted to the Internet. When I went back to school from that winter break EVERYONE told me I looked skinnier, yeah I noticed my pants were way loose but didn't think much of it. Oh yeah and I never gained those pounds back or lost hair.

Bottom line, crash dieting does work for some. I would not reccomind it to everyone but I know in my case it worked and maybe I would consider doing it again, but it's hard :/ I'm not telling you you should do it, just sharing my experience with it.


kaplods
05-04-2012, 06:55 AM
In my experience "crash dieting" becomes addictive. In a very real sense I crash dieted my way to nearly 400 lbs.

It's very difficult to accept slow weight loss, and we all tend to promise ourselves that we will be ok with it at some point, but often that point never comes.

And when the weight loss slows on a crash diet, the frustration sky-rockets, and a person is likely to start thinking weight-loss killing thoughts like "it's hopless, I put all this effort in and the weight STILL is coming off slowly," what's the point, I'm NEVER going to reach my goal...."

I've also learned that the weight often comes off more slowly or at least no more quickly on crash diets than on higher calorie ones.

This doesn't seem intuitive, but it happens and in two ways. You're more fatigued so you move less. Workouts are harder, and even daily activities. You may sleep more (or less, but less deeply).

The second way is more insidious, because you have no control over it. Think of calories as dollars, and your body as a business/factory. When money gets tight, the business "cuts funding" to "unessential" business expenses. For your body the "cuts" can be to sleep, the immune system. Hair and nail growth and maintenance are the first to go - which is why hair and nail problems are so common even in sensible weight loss (stress can cause hair loss too - and for the same reason. The body diverts "funding" from the least important processes to pay for the increased needs in a more important area. The problem is they're all important).

This means you can be eating much less, but lose the same or not much more than starvation diets.

The worst effects are those you cannot see or control. The immune system isn't something you really want to "cut the funding" to, but there's no way for you to tell how well your immune system is working until it's too late.

But the worst effects of crash dieting is the psychological factors - the addictive component. Once you've had a taste of crash dieting, it becomes extremely difficult to give them up, because rapid weight loss is the "holy grail" of weight loss. And even when you know that starvation diets are counterproductive, the "high" of rapid weight loss makes it very difficult to accept less than that.

It really does become like a drug high (and the drug metaphor of chasing the dragon). The high becomes harder to capture, and each high ends up lower than the previous, so you have to use more and more extreme, crazy, and even dangerous things in order to try to capture the high. Even when you "know better" you tell yourself, "just this once more and then I'll go back to eating sensibly."

But there's always one more after the once more, because the high is so addictive.

Some people are able to escape or break the addictive crash-diet cycle, but it took me almost 40 years to do it. And it's still not a strong break. I feel the constant pull of temptation - a small voice in my head trying to convince me that "just this once wouldn't hurt," but I know it will. If I get back on the crash diet rollercoaster, I'll also get back on the lose-gain cycle, because as addictive as the cycle is, bingeing and regaining is part of the cycle.

You may be one of the lucky ones and be able to resist the self-destructive pattern, but what if you're not?

RazzleBerry
05-04-2012, 08:24 AM
I enjoy food too much to eat only 800 calories per day.

Starving myself only leads to binges, which in turn leads to weight gain. What's the appeal in that?

kelseyvc
05-04-2012, 08:45 AM
You may be one of the lucky ones and be able to resist the self-destructive pattern, but what if you're not?

I understand what you mean about it being an addictive behavior. I had never considered it as such but it makes sense (that would explain why I find it so tempting, heh).

And although I've followed a cycle similar to what you described in the past, my losses and gains never deviated outside of a 10-lb range. At least, not in a long time (my highest weight ever was 210 in 8th grade because I ate so unhealthily and was extremely sedentary, but I've been down in the 150s-160s for the past four years). I gained a significant amount of weight last fall/winter because my older sister died suddenly. The whole situation surrounding her death was extremely shocking and scandalous, and my family was devastated. I was extremely depressed, and that was the first time in my life that I started turning to food for comfort.

Though, this might be just me justifying an addictive behavior... I know that's part of the reason it's called addictive...

But I wonder, how different is cutting calories to 800-1,000 calories a day for 2 months from choosing to do detoxes, fasting for days at a time, or a juice diet? Those seem like they would be a lot more extreme to me, but are they justifiable because their official objective is to "flush the system" instead of losing weight the quick and dirty way?

I have never done any of those programs and I am not claiming to be knowledgeable about any of them, but it seems like rapid weight loss would be at least a convenient side-effect.

I don't plan on doing any of those things and I am still with my "healthy" plan right now, but it's just some food for thought.

JossFit
05-04-2012, 09:21 AM
...But I wonder, how different is cutting calories to 800-1,000 calories a day for 2 months from choosing to do detoxes, fasting for days at a time, or a juice diet? Those seem like they would be a lot more extreme to me, but are they justifiable because their official objective is to "flush the system" instead of losing weight the quick and dirty way?

Justifiable to whom? To me, those methods are all the same thing; they're dangerously low calorie diets that may work in the short term but generally set you up for failure for all of the reasons listed by others, and more.

...I have never done any of those programs and I am not claiming to be knowledgeable about any of them, but it seems like rapid weight loss would be at least a convenient side-effect...

But what about all of the negative side effects? The method doesn't matter, it's the results.

If you aren't losing weight as quickly as you would like, you can adjust other things before deciding to drop calories. You can trade one or two of your normal workouts for something new and higher intensity. You can post a sample of your daily diet up here; perhaps you are neglecting essential fats and protein and are eating too many sugars and processed foods? Are you getting enough water? Do you keep a food journal? Do you have "Cheat meals", and if so, how often? There are about a BILLION things you can do to change things up.

Ultimately though, you ARE losing weight so the key is just to be consistent and continue to watch the pounds fall off. Don't let frustration send you to a place you don't really want to go.

Personally, I have done the "crash"/"fad" diet thing ONCE with horrible results. I tried the Velocity Diet, and ended up losing a few pounds but could only stick with it for a couple of weeks and then gained back everything I had lost PLUS about 20 pounds (which turned into 60 within a few month's time due to a cycle of calorie restriction and binge eating.) I know that if I hadn't been in a rush to lose weight faster I would not have tried that stupid diet and started in on that cycle. That's where my issues with binge eating started... I never had that problem before then.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck to you! I just hope you take the time to think about what the consequences could be. :hug:

JossFit
05-04-2012, 09:22 AM
The Dieter’s Paradox – Research Review

Chernev A. The Dieter’s Paradox. Journal of Consumer Psychology. (2001) 21: 178-183.

Abstract
Despite the vast public policy efforts to promote the consumption of healthy foods and the public’s growing concern with weight management, the proportion of overweight individuals continues to increase. An important factor contributing to this obesity trend is the misguided belief about the relationship between a meal’s healthiness and its impact on weight gain, whereby people erroneously believe that eating healthy foods in addition to unhealthy ones can decrease a meal’s calorie count. This research documents this misperception, showing that it is stronger among individuals most concerned with managing their weight—a striking result given that these individuals are more motivated to monitor their calorie intake. This finding has important public policy implications, suggesting that in addition to encouraging the adoption of a healthier lifestyle among overweight individuals, promoting the consumption of healthy foods might end up facilitating calorie overconsumption, leading to weight gain rather than weight loss.

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Background

In introducing today’s paper, I am reminded of an old joke/quip to the effect that “All that separates man from the animals is our ability to rationalize.” I’d add “And accessorize” but that’s neither here nor there. But the reality is that humans are able to do a wide variety of mental gymnastics in how they approach life. Effectively, we appear to be slave to what psychologists call cognitive biases, ways in which we think about the present, past, future or ourselves that often lead us to make some fascinatingly bad choices. This is a topic that many recent books has discussed in a variety of contexts.

And while I don’t know if I can say that it occurs to a greater degree in terms of eating and health behaviors, there is no doubt that people often engage in some exceedingly interesting mental gymnastics when it comes to those topics. Some of this is conscious but much of it can be chalked up to either unconscious behaviors, misunderstandings (or a lack of information/education) or mishearing/misinterpreting the message. And these types of things, as much as anything else, often derail many people’s attempts to eat healthy, lose weight or simply avoid weight gain.

In the realm of exercise for example, many people grossly overestimate the actual caloric expenditure from activity, as I discussed in Normal Weight Men and Women Overestimate Energy Expenditure – Research Review, and this leads them to either expect far more of an impact on weight loss than is realistic or to eat more calories than they actually need based on the assumption that they burned it off during activity.

In the arena of eating, this issue can show up in a myriad ways. A classic example of a misunderstanding/garbling of the message occurred back in the 80′s during the low-fat eating craze. While it’s hard to say where the blame lies, the general public sort of got the message that so long as they kept fat intake low, nothing else really mattered. Caloric intake and portions went out the window.

Food companies capitalized on this by rushing plenty of energy dense, high-calorie (but low-fat) foods to market and it all went wrong. Studies routinely found that people ate more food when it was labelled ‘low-fat’ compared to one that was labelled as being higher in fat. Either consciously or unconsciously, they gave themselves permission to eat more of it. And often ended up consuming more calories than they would have otherwise.

Another example deals with artificial sweeteners where you often see a pattern where artificial sweetener (or diet soda) intake is associated with weight gain (or a lack of weight loss). And while there is some speculation that artificial sweeteners do some odd things in the brain in terms of driving appetite, it’s probably more related to people rationalizing that they can eat more of something else because they are getting less calories by choosing diet soda or using artificial sweeteners. That is, they figure that since they are ‘saving so many calories’ by making one choice, they end up compensating (or more than compensating) by choosing something unhealthy. Call this the skim milk and chocolate cake or Diet Coke and cheeseburger approach to eating.

I’d note before continuing that this much of the above rationalizing tends to be more for people who are only paying somewhat ‘superficial’ attention to ‘eating well’ (or some other fairly abstract goal). That is, the type of thing I’m going to talk about doesn’t generally occur among folks who are diet obsessed and track macros or calories or what have you. Rather it’s for folks who, while they may say that they are concerned with their diet or body weight or body fat, are focusing on the wrong things (a topic I addressed in more detail in Fundamental Principles vs. Minor Details).

Finally type of behavior seems to occur more prevalently in people who tend to divide foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories (a category that many popular diets and dietary approaches tend to promote). ‘Good’ foods become equated with healthy and, altogether too often, can be eaten without consequence (i.e. weight gain). Researchers call this the ‘health halo’ by which supposed ‘healthy foods’ have a halo of invincibility around them In the same vein ‘bad’ foods are equated with being unhealthy and this categories are not only absolute but cause us to do some of those strange mental gymnastics when it comes to how we approach our food intake.

You can find examples of this all over the place where people assume that ‘healthy/good’ foods can be eaten in uncontrolled amounts whereas the tiniest amount of ‘unhealthy/bad foods’ mean that the diet has failed, the dieter is immoral and weak, and health will simply be destroyed (this is seen at the greatest extreme in a psychological condition called orthorexia whereby people see food as a moral choice judging not only themselves but others by the foods that they choose to eat). You can see some good examples of this in the comments section of Straight Talk About High-Fructose Corn Syrup: What it is and What it Ain’t. – Research Review.

Which basically segues into today’s paper which examines a behavior pattern that is often seen whereby folks tend to get fixated (or perhaps ‘blinded’ is a better word) by the concept of ‘healthy’ foods and end up missing the forest for the trees when it comes to their food and caloric intake. There is also evidence that people who are (or at least state that they are) more ‘weight conscious’ are even more prone to make these kinds of mis-estimations which was a secondary aim of the study.

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The Paper

The study recruited 934 people, of whom the majority (74.2%) were female aged anywhere from under 20 to over 50. Subjects were then shown 4 meals which either consisted of ‘unhealthy’ foods or those same unhealthy foods coupled with a healthy option. The four meals, with the healthy addition shown in parentheses, were a hamburger (three celery sticks), bacon and cheese waffle sandwich (small organic apple), chili with beef (small salad without dressing) and meatball pepperoni cheesesteak (celery/carrot side dish). So, for example, subjects were either shown a bacon and cheese waffle sandwich (which sounds amazing in so many ways) either by itself or side by side with a small organic apple.

Half the subjects were shown the unhealthy choice alone and the other half were shown the combination of the unhealthy choice with it’s healthy add-on and they were asked to estimate the caloric value of the meals. I’d mention that this design is problematic because it’s not comparing how a given individual might rank each of the two meals; rather it’s comparing the average estimate of the caloric value of the different meals between people. All subjects were also asked to rate how concerned they were with managing their weight on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being extremely concerned).

The study generated a total of 2750 total observations of the different meals and, on average, subjects estimated that the unhealthy meal alone contained 691 calories. Now, logically it’s obvious that a food consisting of an unhealthy item PLUS a healthy item would have to have more calories than the unhealthy item alone. Clearly two foods can’t have less calories than either food alone.

Yet, on average, subjects estimated the unhealthy plus healthy choice as having only 648 calories. I’d mention that as a third part of the study, a separate group was asked if they believed that the healthy foods contained negative calories and this was not the case. So it doesn’t appear to have been the case where subjects figured that the healthy addition was literally ‘reducing’ the caloric value of the food by containing negative calories. Rather, the ‘health halo’ effect caused people to systematically underestimate the caloric value of the combination of an unhealthy and healthy food.

But it gets even odder. When the estimates were ranked by how folks reported their concern with managing their weight, the values changed even more. The most ‘weight conscious’ subjects estimated the unhealthy meal as containing 711 calories while the combination of the unhealthy and healthy choice was only 615 calories. In contrast, the non-weight conscious individuals estimates were only 684 for the unhealthy choice versus 658 for the combination and there was a direct relationship between how weight conscious the subjects were and their mis-estimate of the different meals.

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My Comments

I really don’t have a ton to add to the above, the paper goes into lot of discussion that I’ll spare you here since it’s a lot of detailed examination of the possible underlying mechanisms behind these types of odd cognitive biases. One point that was made was that while one might expect more motivated/involved people to have less problems with these types of conceptual biases, this research found the opposite. To whit:


The negative calorie bias is more pronounced for more involved/motivated individuals. Thus when evaluating vice/virtue combinations, greater motivation does not necessarily result in greater accuracy but instead can lead to more biased judgments.

I would add that I think really has more to do with what I mentioned in the background above, the issue isn’t with dietary motivation per se but rather with how people often conceptualize the process. By focusing on things like good/bad foods, clean vs. unclean eating, meal frequency exclusively or organic vs. non, people lose sight of the issue of portions and calories which are what really matter when it comes down to it. They rely on estimates which are oh so often off. And which appear to be colored heavily by the cognitive biases that many humans are so prone towards.

Make no mistake, certain types of eating patterns often automatically get people to reduce their intake, often by the outright removal of a so-called ‘bad’ food. What is defined as good or bad depends on the diet in question and certainly these types of good/bad approaches to dieting can work in at least the short-term (and sometimes longer than that). The problem is when people start focusing on the goodness/badness of the foods they are eating to the exclusion of everything else. That’s when it often goes wrong; this is not helped by many dietary approaches telling folks that calories/portions don’t count and that focusing only on the aforementioned ‘good/healthy’ foods is all that matters.

In this vein, the paper’s author notes that:


In particular, the negative calorie illusion has been shown to be less pronounced when individuals pay attention to the quantity of the combined items, instead of focusing solely on the healthy/unhealthy aspects of the items.

In a related vein, the author points out that:


Another public issue raised by this research concerns the viability of promoting the very notion of stereotyping foods into vices and virtues. Despite it’s intuitive appeal as a decision heuristic to simplify choice, vice/virtue categorizations focuses consumers’ attention only on one aspect of the meal [my note: whether the food is a 'vice' or a 'virtue'] and ignores other important aspects such as its overall quantity.

And I really think that that’s the big take home message of this rather odd paper: people often get so fixated and focused on the wrong things that they end up hamstringing their own attempts to reach their goals. Because while it’s all well and good to focus on healthy/unhealthy, good/bad, clean/unclean or whatever, at the end of the day quantities always count. When people lose sight of that and focus on the wrong aspects exclusively, they often end up hurting their own progress. This paper just points out one way that this happens.

I’ll finish by pointing interested readers to a book by the paper’s author titled The Dieter’s Paradox: Why Dieting Makes Us Fat that addresses not only this research but a great deal of other research looking at similar issues. How humans tend to categorize foods into good and bad and how it can lead them to make a lot of really weird assumptions about what they are actually eating. It was a pretty fascinating read and shows how many different ways we can end up screwing our own progress by relying on our (often incorrect) intuition, primarily by focusing on the wrong factors that are relevant to what we are eating.

krampus
05-04-2012, 10:25 AM
You're getting to "featherweight" status - you can't expect to lose as quickly as people who are just starting out and have 100 pounds to lose!

Lift heavy weights - after a month of that and only watching what I eat M-F I've lost a pants size and my arms look awesome. There are a lot of posters around here who have gone down 2-3 pants sizes without losing many pounds through building muscle.

pixelllate
05-04-2012, 10:26 AM
I've done it before. I did it following the Rapid Fat Loss guide by Lyle McDonald-had regular periods, doctor didn't notice anything and I could go back to upping my cals just fine. I don't do it for more than a few weeks at a time, then I get close to my regular cal intake for a while, and then if I want a rapid boost, I go back on it.
But maybe I did suffer some health problems, I don't know. I have to admit-I was told that my skin never looked better and my hair was/is much more normal - but that is probably because I switched from my Nutella diet to eating more protein and veg. I do know that mentally, I felt OK when I did it the healthiest way possible (not that this is healthy or unhealthy, but the best way possible for me).

guacamole
05-04-2012, 10:38 AM
kelseyvc - thanks for starting this topic, because it really applies to me right now. I am having the same temptation that you are concerning intermittent crash dieting because the scale just isn't going down even though I am sticking to my calories and keeping things low sugar and low carb.

kaplods - your reply really spoke to me and is a great reminder why crash dieting doesn't work - because there is always the inevitable binging that comes after severe food restriction.

I suppose I expected to have reached my goal already - it's been one year that I have actively been on plan and trying to lose weight. It's frustrating that I am still 30 pounds away and I feel like my progress has stalled. I will continue to stay on my plan and hope that my persistence is more stubborn than my fat in the long run.

JossFit
05-04-2012, 12:05 PM
I suppose I expected to have reached my goal already - it's been one year that I have actively been on plan and trying to lose weight. It's frustrating that I am still 30 pounds away and I feel like my progress has stalled. I will continue to stay on my plan and hope that my persistence is more stubborn than my fat in the long run.

Just don't forget that as your weight changes, your plan also needs to change. What worked for you in terms of calories and excersise 20 pounds ago will likely not work for you now. Don't be afraid to shake things up!

guacamole
05-04-2012, 03:45 PM
JossFit - I have changed the kinds of calories I am consuming over the past few months. However, as was mentioned earlier, I think I need to go back over some basics and revise. For example, I am not thirsty when the weather is colder. It's been cold for the past few weeks. Going over my water intake, I see that I haven't been meeting my minimum goal of 8 cups of water per day. Also, I have a cheat day every week. However, in the past my cheat days were going over calories and carbs, but not eating ridiculously unhealthy foods. The past few weeks, my cheat days have been eating not only over calorie allotments, but also nutritional content (candy, cakes, breads, etc.). So, the scale goes up every weekend, and gets back down to where I began by Friday. It's a regular weekly cycle now. I know what I have to do to break it, but I don't want to give up my off-plan day.

PinkLotus
05-04-2012, 04:05 PM
Also, I have a cheat day every week. However, in the past my cheat days were going over calories and carbs, but not eating ridiculously unhealthy foods. The past few weeks, my cheat days have been eating not only over calorie allotments, but also nutritional content (candy, cakes, breads, etc.). So, the scale goes up every weekend, and gets back down to where I began by Friday. It's a regular weekly cycle now. I know what I have to do to break it, but I don't want to give up my off-plan day.

I do the exact same thing. I have a cheat day every Saturday (which sometimes spills over into Sunday :o) and then it usually takes until Thursday or Friday to lose that weight (usually just water weight). I am still losing, but it's slowed my weight loss down for sure. In past weight loss attempts, I'd lose 2-2.5lbs a week, and I'm now losing 0.5-2lbs a week. Still a good amount though, but I know if I gave up the cheat day (or had it once a month instead of once a week) I might lose a little faster...but that cheat day really helps keep me in check during the week. So without it, I think I'd be a lot less happy, and more inclined to binge.
Sorry for rambling!

Snoofie
05-04-2012, 04:07 PM
"Crash diet" and "sustainable weight loss" are not phrases that belong in the same sentence.

Crash diets do not work. Ever. They might work in the short term, sure...but they do NOT create sustainable weight loss. They just don't. They set you up for failure. That's just how it is.

You can participate in all the crash dieting you want, but if you go into it thinking you might even have a chance at sustainable weight loss over the long term, you're fooling yourself big time. And that's without even getting into the health risks that can arise through crash dieting.

Really. Crash dieting? Is stupid. Don't do it.

pixelllate
05-04-2012, 04:19 PM
Hmm reading about the crash diets here, perhaps I should rephrase what I did-I guess it can be defined more as "strict dieting" cycling with more relaxed dieting. The guide I used called it a crash diet, but it wasn't exactly a cayenne pepper and lemonade diet.
Either way OP, it depends on how strict this dieting period is and how that will affect you mentally. For instance, I know that cheat days drive me crazy so I can't do them. Calorie cycling weekly is also hard for me. But for others, this is a great method, so if you decide to go back and forth on how strict your diet is, as long as its done in a safe way and won't drive you off the wall, it might be something to consider, but if it is something that is very unhealthy and/or leaves you feeling horrible, then perhaps its not the best method.

QuarterLife88
05-04-2012, 04:34 PM
IA with the others. Crash dieting may make you lose faster, and you'll even like what you see for a short while, but then you will gain it all back and MORE. The body doesn't like starvation, you see. Most people who crash diet, diet themselves fatter than their original starting weight in the long-term. I've heard of people dieting themselves up to 400lbs over multiple attempts with this method. Many years later they are usually willing to give their right arm for the weight that they were originally dissatisfied with!

There's also a very sad reality that you will develop binge eating disorder/bulimia and/or anorexia, and getting rid of that is no walk in the park.

Not worth it. Be patient, be healthy.

btw, juice fasts, water fasts, all fad diets under the guise of "healthy ways to detox." All b.s. and dangerous. Our body already has a detoxifier: it's called the liver.

jayohwhy
05-04-2012, 05:14 PM
in my experience, the crash diet is always followed by the "fail" period where my will runs out and i eat more, gain back all the weight and maybe and then some.

i had the crash/fail cycle happy at least 10 or so times over the course of 3 years with fad diets before i realized that if i had done "slow and steady" with a diet that i could keep up with, i would've been at my goal five times over already.

starving your body cannot be maintained in the long term. that's why starvation is a form a torture. the body needs fuel and needs to eat.

i understand the temptation to starve oneself, and i've been there. but i echo with others that i was listless, didn't even lose very quickly, was lightheaded and weak and kept on bumping into things.

it's hard to think "oh i will get there" when it's moving so slowly, but you WILL.

p.s. as hard as losing is, maintenance is just as difficult (sorry!), so take your time and learn good eating habits now. the only thing that will make you feel bad about carrying around extra weight is to lose it quickly and gain it back just as quickly.

JohnP
05-04-2012, 05:46 PM
Crash diets do not work. Ever. They might work in the short term, sure...but they do NOT create sustainable weight loss. They just don't. They set you up for failure. That's just how it is.

I think crash diets have their place. The key thing is understanding what they're good for and what they're not good for. Someone mentioned Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss. His first chapter discusses exactly the context in which a crash diet can make sense.

As you mentioned they do not create sustainable weight loss. Could not agree more with you there.

fuct
05-04-2012, 06:07 PM
I've pretty much got to where I am by crash dieting. I've fallen off plenty of times like most do and I never gain more than 5lbs back, so to people who say you are certain to gain all the weight back and more, no, that doesn't apply to everyone. Sure a lot of people will, but not everyone does.
I guess I am addicted to crash diets because I keep coming back to them. I know it's unhealthy and I'm trying to be better, but it's just the only thing that has worked for me. I've tried eating 1200-1500 calories and exercising daily, but the weight loss is just too slow for me and I give up.
I'm not saying crash diets are a good idea, just telling my experiences with them.

Arctic Mama
05-04-2012, 06:17 PM
It really depends on the diet - some diets might be considered 'crash' by some and yet are only meant to be used in short cycles or under specific circumstances/conditions (like doctor supervision or to repair specific metabolic problems) and function differently than just a grapefruit/VLCD/fatz-are-teh-EBILS! quick dieting cycle we so often think of when fad or crash diets are mentioned.

The two I can recommend if speedy weight loss is needed both have to be done strictly to the letter of their protocols or else you're getting into trouble - ketogenic/Atkins induction and hCG. Do either of these by their original book and you can get incredible results and healing of what is arguably the cause of obesity - metabolic dysfunction (obesity being a symptom of an underlying condition, not the condition, itself). Mess with them, go rogue, or stray and you're in for extreme hunger, tiredness, muscle wasting, and nutritional deficiencies.

I aslo have to applaud Kaplods' excellent post - there is an addictive quality to fast losses, surely, and slow aren't given nearly the lauding they deserve. But either cycling your weight with quick losing and frequent maintenance breaks or losing slowly overall, tend to be more sustainable than going at it full throttle and falling hard off the wagon. I have lost and maintained weight loss both with slow, 'failing' diets and the quicker losing but long breaks cycling methods - both work equally well and the losses by the end are about the same for the time given. It comes down to what is sustainable for YOU and can be done in a health-promoting way.

kaplods
05-04-2012, 07:49 PM
VLCD (very low calorie diet) is a more precise term than "crash diet," and is generally used to describe any diet under 1,000 calories for the average person (keeping in mind that while a 1,000 calorie diet is a vlcd for most adults, it might not be a vlcd for an 80 year old adult who has physical disabilities and is 4'10").

In the short-term, and with very limited usage, a vlcd can make sense, but unfortunately the "cultural tradition" is to misuse the vlcd.

Cleanses and Detoxes are mostly myth. The body does a great job of self-cleaning and detoxifying and most of the cleansing and detoxing diets only clean out your colon (usually unnecessarily unless you happen to be constipated) and your bank account (if you use the expensive health food versions).

Researchers have searched for and have never found any evidence that cleanses and detoxes do anything positive for your body. All they do is give you unpleasant, unnecessary and sometimes very expensive diarrhea.


VLCD's are a lot like potato chips and sugar. They CAN be used healthfully, but it's often so difficult to do so, that for many people it's better to avoid them entirely than to try to use them appropriately.

At the very least, consider getting your doctor involved, because there are some specific health issues related to vlcd's that a doctor can't prevent, but can monitor to ideally diagnose before significant damage is done.

VLCD's are associated with a host of health problems including gallbladder, kidney, and heart damage, and other health risks. Sadly, there's no known "safe" exposure. One person can be on vlcd's for decades before experiencing problems, and another person with a similar seeming health-history can experience damage in only a few weeks.

Snoofie
05-04-2012, 09:26 PM
I think crash diets have their place. The key thing is understanding what they're good for and what they're not good for. Someone mentioned Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss. His first chapter discusses exactly the context in which a crash diet can make sense.

With all due respect, I don't think crash diets are good for much else than giving people a false sense of security and potentially helping set up dangerously disordered eating patterns. I've worked with far too many bulimics to ever believe that crash dieting has any beneficial effect for anyone.

I've read the book you mention. The problem, though, is that the vast majority of people who engage in crash dieting behaviours *don't* know what a crash diet is "good" for, and they wind up in unhealthy, sometimes even life-threatening situations.

In any case, on a forum like this one, I certainly don't think crash dieting is something that should be encouraged in any way, shape, or form. The key to lifelong weight loss/maintenance is smart food choices and regular exercise, not whatever crash diet is currently coming through the airwaves. (17-Day Diet, I'm looking in your direction.)

pixelllate
05-04-2012, 09:46 PM
With all due respect, I don't think crash diets are good for much else than giving people a false sense of security and potentially helping set up dangerously disordered eating patterns. I've worked with far too many bulimics to ever believe that crash dieting has any beneficial effect for anyone.

I've read the book you mention. The problem, though, is that the vast majority of people who engage in crash dieting behaviours *don't* know what a crash diet is "good" for, and they wind up in unhealthy, sometimes even life-threatening situations.

In any case, on a forum like this one, I certainly don't think crash dieting is something that should be encouraged in any way, shape, or form. The key to lifelong weight loss/maintenance is smart food choices and regular exercise, not whatever crash diet is currently coming through the airwaves. (17-Day Diet, I'm looking in your direction.)

I read and followed the book for the recommended amount of time and followed it to a T. Yes I agree that for many people, they will take the tips and try to follow them forever, just as the author predicted - but if they do follow it as recommended...I don't know I guess that I just don't like to say that it a person will follow the guidelines or just run with it - because I was always told, for example, that without having foods in moderation or without cheat days, I will eventually binge, but what helped me not binge was cutting out certain foods and eating (around) the same amount of food a day. And it can have the opposite affect on others. I just don't really want to assume what will happen because its based on the condition that the person will follow that mental route of "I will do this forever or do it in an even more extreme way." I'm not trying to push for it, I'm just saying that its not an absolute how exactly a person will follow a crash diet. I guess that I am trying to say that it may be possible for a person to follow the guidelines and go into a more moderate phase, but it is also possible that it could lead to emotional/physical problems.

Snoofie
05-04-2012, 11:01 PM
I read and followed the book for the recommended amount of time and followed it to a T. Yes I agree that for many people, they will take the tips and try to follow them forever, just as the author predicted - but if they do follow it as recommended...I don't know I guess that I just don't like to say that it a person will follow the guidelines or just run with it - because I was always told, for example, that without having foods in moderation or without cheat days, I will eventually binge, but what helped me not binge was cutting out certain foods and eating (around) the same amount of food a day. And it can have the opposite affect on others. I just don't really want to assume what will happen because its based on the condition that the person will follow that mental route of "I will do this forever or do it in an even more extreme way." I'm not trying to push for it, I'm just saying that its not an absolute how exactly a person will follow a crash diet. I guess that I am trying to say that it may be possible for a person to follow the guidelines and go into a more moderate phase, but it is also possible that it could lead to emotional/physical problems.

Eh, fair enough. I think, too, that for a lot of people (myself included) the very term "crash diet" holds certain psychological connections, and since a lot of people tend to use the term to describe any kind of restrictive, very-low-calorie diet, there's this automatic connection that goes "crash diet = bad".

For the record, I know that Atkins and other diets like it have helped many people lose weight. I agree with you, though, that the problems that often crop up after people take part in these diets is that they get into this cycle where they keep up the "extreme" phase of the diet for longer than is strictly healthy. (I'm thinking of a particular person I know, who has been following the 17-Day Diet for about three months now, has lost 90 pounds -- 35 pounds in the first 30 days -- yet doesn't exercise and still binge drinks on the weekends.) I feel safe in saying that, no, I don't think that person will ever maintain that weight loss once she enters the "maintenance" cycle of the diet (if she ever does) because...well...hello, 90 pounds in 3 months with no exercise whatsoever? I don't think so.

I guess it's like everything else, as you say -- moderation is key. It's just scary when you've seen so many instances of crash dieting gone to the extremes. It's not fun watching a fourteen-year-old girl have to be restrained in order to have a feeding tube inserted because she has gone over her 500-calorie limit for the day and she refuses to eat anything else. It affects your thinking after a while.

LockItUp
05-05-2012, 12:24 AM
Back in 2005/06 I went from 193 to 143 in under a 12 month period. I restricted calories A LOT and did tons of cardio. My thinking was that once I got to my goal weight I'd start eating "normal" and healthy and workout normal and healthy. And here I am.

That's just MY experience.

JohnP
05-05-2012, 12:41 AM
In any case, on a forum like this one, I certainly don't think crash dieting is something that should be encouraged in any way, shape, or form. The key to lifelong weight loss/maintenance is smart food choices and regular exercise, not whatever crash diet is currently coming through the airwaves.

There are many ways to achieve long term success. Controlling calories and meeting your bodies micronutrient needs does not need to fit into the Snoofie paradigm.

pixelllate
05-05-2012, 06:41 AM
Let's put it this way. I really don't mean to be rude but if anyone of us here who went on a crash diet (including me) successfully kept their weight off after the diet, then we won't be here.

It's easy peasy EASY to lose fast if you're motivated enough on a VLCD. However, for some, perhaps most people, we simply do not have the willpower to sustain the after-effects of a crash diet. In other words, we binge.

Those who CAN sustain and maintain the weight after crash dieting have the willpower to continue their strict regime despite metabolic adaptation due to the low calorie intake.

As for the Rapid Fat Loss, that's the book I read, I believe. That book is aimed at athletes and professional weightlifters who go on a crash diet mainly for competition purposes. They are the ones with the willpower to do what the book tells them to do.

Again, the bottom line is that it's still a mental game. Nothing will work, whether dieting at 500-800 calories, then increasing cals or starting off at 1500-1700 calories if you are mentally not prepared or disciplined enough to do this long term!

And lastly, I agree, we should not be promoting crash diets on this forum anyway (desipte having a very active IP section, lol!).

I guess I just can't presume that much about anyone's particular willpower, or what particular method will be too much for them mentally, because Weight Watchers drove me nuts and the Rapid Fat Loss was fine for me. Bodybuilders are human too, I can't assume my will power is different from theirs and a lot of bodybuilders for example, follow Lean Gains as do non bodybuilders. How we got here is also individual. I never crash dieted before. I did emotionally eat and go into a slow, moderate diet phase every time. Some people have never dieted before at all-and how we "got off track" isn't necessarily because crash dieting caused us to stray off of any diet. Some people were able to successfully lose weight but may have gone through something that resulted in a big gain. Plus what type of diet it was may also have an impact-VLCDs can range a lot.
As far as those who can handle a crash diet, I don't know if a few weeks of going on a VLCD will permanently damage the metabolism - or maybe it will. Personally, I think it can depend on how extreme the VLCD is and how long they go on it. But if someone knows that risk and not to do that forever, and still decides to do it, that is not promoting a crash diet. Its just giving out information of what may (or may not) happen.
The Rapid Fat Loss helped me because I incorporated a lot of the habits I maintain today. But a way of dieting that is vastly different from what I do now might have been overwhelming.

Snoofie
05-05-2012, 09:22 AM
There are many ways to achieve long term success. Controlling calories and meeting your bodies micronutrient needs does not need to fit into the Snoofie paradigm.

"The Snoofie paradigm"? Holy ****, buddy, get off your high horse. I've seen you run around here plenty, touting your own opinions as though they were gospel, so lay the **** off. I've already said in another comment that perhaps my own professional experience has given me a sort of knee-jerk reaction to the term "crash dieting", as I associate that with inherently unhealthy and non-sustainable eating patterns and that's my hang-up, but I still believe that for *most* people, VLCDs are tough as **** to maintain over the long term, and *can* potentially be harmful if the people involved end up falling into the wrong mindset.

Snoofie
05-05-2012, 09:29 AM
Let's put it this way. I really don't mean to be rude but if anyone of us here who went on a crash diet (including me) successfully kept their weight off after the diet, then we won't be here.

This is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking the entire time I've been reading this thread, especially the responses from those who've done crash dieting in the past: "Well, obviously it didn't work in the long term, or you wouldn't be here, would you?" Mean? Yep, probably. But true. I mean, backsliding (or whatever you want to call it) can happen with any diet plan, but you can't exactly claim a plan is "successful" if you can't maintain it. (Although I guess that has to do with the willpower of the particular person involved and their motivation to keep up the behaviour once the weight loss phase is over.)

As for promoting/supporting crash dieting/VLCDs on this forum...gotta say, I'm disappointed that that's even going on. I suppose everyone has their choice to make, but...like, would bulimia be encouraged here, too? There has to be a line drawn somewhere, doesn't there? And so many ED cases start with people thinking, "Well, I'll just cut down to 500-800 calories a day till I lose X pounds!" and then they just....keep on going. 500-800 calories a day is not enough to keep a person going over the long term, and the idea that there are people here who are going, "Oh, well, that depends on the PERSON!" makes me sort of ill.

pixelllate
05-05-2012, 10:26 AM
This is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking the entire time I've been reading this thread, especially the responses from those who've done crash dieting in the past: "Well, obviously it didn't work in the long term, or you wouldn't be here, would you?" Mean? Yep, probably. But true. I mean, backsliding (or whatever you want to call it) can happen with any diet plan, but you can't exactly claim a plan is "successful" if you can't maintain it. (Although I guess that has to do with the willpower of the particular person involved and their motivation to keep up the behaviour once the weight loss phase is over.)

As for promoting/supporting crash dieting/VLCDs on this forum...gotta say, I'm disappointed that that's even going on. I suppose everyone has their choice to make, but...like, would bulimia be encouraged here, too? There has to be a line drawn somewhere, doesn't there? And so many ED cases start with people thinking, "Well, I'll just cut down to 500-800 calories a day till I lose X pounds!" and then they just....keep on going. 500-800 calories a day is not enough to keep a person going over the long term, and the idea that there are people here who are going, "Oh, well, that depends on the PERSON!" makes me sort of ill.

I don't see anyone encouraging crash dieting here. Just people saying their own personal experiences with it.

bargoo
05-05-2012, 10:46 AM
I once went on a crash diet under a Doctor's supervision, stopped at his office every day on the way to work and got a shot and ate no more than 500 calories a day. OH, I lost, big time but I looked like death warmed over and gained all of it plus more when I went back to "normal" eating.

fuct
05-05-2012, 10:48 AM
This is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking the entire time I've been reading this thread, especially the responses from those who've done crash dieting in the past: "Well, obviously it didn't work in the long term, or you wouldn't be here, would you?"


Assuming everyone has been doing it long term.

Arctic Mama
05-05-2012, 11:36 AM
Let's put it this way. I really don't mean to be rude but if anyone of us here who went on a crash diet (including me) successfully kept their weight off after the diet, then we won't be here.

It's easy peasy EASY to lose fast if you're motivated enough on a VLCD. However, for some, perhaps most people, we simply do not have the willpower to sustain the after-effects of a crash diet. In other words, we binge.

Those who CAN sustain and maintain the weight after crash dieting have the willpower to continue their strict regime despite metabolic adaptation due to the low calorie intake.

As for the Rapid Fat Loss, that's the book I read, I believe. That book is aimed at athletes and professional weightlifters who go on a crash diet mainly for competition purposes. They are the ones with the willpower to do what the book tells them to do.

Again, the bottom line is that it's still a mental game. Nothing will work, whether dieting at 500-800 calories, then increasing cals or starting off at 1500-1700 calories if you are mentally not prepared or disciplined enough to do this long term!

And lastly, I agree, we should not be promoting crash diets on this forum anyway (desipte having a very active IP section, lol!).

This is a huge overstatement, honestly. The entire term 'crash diet' is a bit imprecise, but as isaid in my previous post I have lost some weight in this journey in slow fashion and some in VLCD/maintain/VLCD style and kept BOTH off. In fact, thanks to the treatment of the latter I had actually had an easier time keeping weight off post-diet than after my maintenance periods calorie counting. You just can't paint medical protocols with the same brush as snarfing cabbage until it makes you so food averse you refuse to eat. They are not the same.

Similarly, when people misuse and alter protocols (I see this SO much with the one I am currently on, or people believing the induction phase of Atkins is the sum of the diet for life :?: ) that doesn't equate to a failure of the diet, but a failure of adherence, and quite frankly the two aren't equal. There are plenty of reasons to do ketogenic, VLCD, GAPS-style elimination, or other 'extreme' diets, to deal with underlying health issues related to the symptom of obesity. Used properly and transitioned off of correctly, with lifestyle changes afterward, the weight loss is often reasonably maintainable.

But with these diets or the methods we generally recommend on 3FC, of modest energy imbalances, if someone isn't willing to alter some of the obesity-inducing habits or refuse the obesigenic foods (in my case, anyway) they will have recidivism. That doesn't mean the diet is flawed, though their difficulties at relate to the diet they are not caused *by* the diet, in many cases.

That isn't always true and some people do diet themselves fat (Kaplods has had amazing posrs relating to this) by crashing, bouncing back, crashing again, etc, but I am much more hesitant to paint these programs with a broad brush compared to how I once felt, since I have personally benefitted from them and find it health-promoting and very sustainable. Experience has given me pause, you might say ;)


ETA: I do realize I am an unusual case, having become obese after medication (I was just overweight before that!), and not done anything to fix it until I was good and ready. Then I have been working at it ever since, with slow times during pregnancy and a mental break to maintain, but really no significant regains or bouncing throughout. I have never adopted a diet plan, failed at it, quit, and regained weight. And so my only experience with diets of varying stripes is finding if they did or didn't suit my needs and adjusting accordingly. The only cycle I underwent was a maintenance/loss cycle, not the crazy-inducing regain merry-go-round. That may make me a bit unusual, but it was why I took umbrage to your comment. Not everyone on here is a serial dieter and implying such is an unnecessary overstatement.

lin43
05-05-2012, 03:28 PM
Back in 2005/06 I went from 193 to 143 in under a 12 month period.

I don't see this as "fast" weight loss. In fact, I lost about 40-45 lbs. in about 6 months calorie cycling 9800 calories per week (average of 1400 per day). I definitely wouldn't qualify what I did as a crash diet or even VLCD. I was uber moderate, moreso than I had ever been in the past. When I think of "crash dieting," I'm thinking of more like 500 - 800 calories a day with losses of 3-4 lbs. a week.

lin43
05-05-2012, 03:42 PM
. . . and the idea that there are people here who are going, "Oh, well, that depends on the PERSON!" makes me sort of ill.

Interesting reaction.

It does depend on the person. There is no one-size-fits-all. I agree that in most cases crash diets do not work for the longterm, but then again, have you seen the longterm success stats for moderate weight loss programs? They're just as dismal. In fact, I remember reading about some study that was done that suggested that whether one lost weight the "healthy" way or the "crash diet" way, neither was a good predictor of longterm success (I cannot find that article right now, but if I do, I'll edit my post to include it). Some people need the motivation of seeing the numbers drop initially; it gives them the motivation to continue losing, even with a more sensible eating plan. In fact, that's the entire reasoning behind the 17-day diet that you so eschew. That diet is cyclical, with initial weight losses being somewhat fast, but each new cycle, foods are added, so that after about a month, you're eating a healthy diet. I'm not advocating that diet, but I am saying that no one way works for everyone. Someone else mentioned that none of us would be here if crash diets worked, but that assumes that most of us have never lost the healthy way, and from posts I've read, many people here have been on moderate weight loss diets in the past and still regained. I know I have. I've done the standard 1500-calories-per-day & exercise route, and I still gained it back. I think the key to longterm weight loss success is not solely how one initially lost the weight but more about whether one is mentally ready to make the lifelong sacrifices that it will take to keep the weight off.

To the OP, I don't advocate crash dieting because it takes too much suffering, and it could have an adverse affect on one's hair, nails, etc. (essentially, putting even more stress on the body than losing weight in a more moderate way would).

Snoofie
05-05-2012, 06:19 PM
...Well, if that person had the willpower to not eat for comfort, then they would not have regained despite stressful times and if it was a medical condition which caused the regain, why did that person not self monitor and seek help before the regain? Again, I'm inclined to believe that ultimately, many people think that the effort it takes to keeping off the loss is too much and thus, they give up whether consciously or otherwise.

This paragraph makes me very uncomfortable. In my opinion, it comes dangerously close to fat-shaming (and, yes, people who struggle with their own weight issues are still capable of fat-shaming.)

Newsflash: Not everyone who has a medical condition that causes weight gain has the means to consult a doctor for said medical condition. Even if they did...okay, so let's say a person is taking a certain essential medication for a life-threatening condition. Now let's say that this medication causes weight gain. What exactly is a doctor going to do -- tell them to go off of the medication? I mean, be serious. Really.

In addition, not everyone has the means to procure healthy foods, or the access to those foods, either. I don't know what it's like where you live, but where I live, a 2-litre carton of milk is approximately $4. A 2-litre bottle of pop, on the other hand? $1.25. It's not a problem for me to spend $400 in a single grocery trip. If I spend that money on healthy foods (which I do), the amount of food I end up with will do me approximately a week. If I chose quick, easy, less healthy food, I'd probably get two or three weeks out of the amount of food I could buy. These are things that people sometimes cannot control.

I don't want to go on and end up saying something I won't be able to take back, but honestly, not everyone is in the position where they can afford the healthiest food possible. And for those people who have medical conditions, not everyone can get to a doctor at the drop of a hat (and some can't afford to go to a doctor at all.) It's all too easy to say "oh, you should just have willpower!" or "well, if you have a medical condition, you should go to a doctor before you get fat!", but in the real world that **** doesn't always fly.

Honestly, I read the above quoted paragraph and it reads to me like, "Well, it's your own fault you're fat, and if you weren't so lazy, you wouldn't be." I'm sure that's not how you meant it (or at least I certainly hope it isn't) but that's how it felt to me.

chickadee32
05-06-2012, 01:09 AM
I have been doing it the "healthy" way for the past few months: around 1500 calories a day, plus cardio and/or weight training 3-5 days a week. (With this past week being the exception, due to finals). However, when I lose weight this way I'm VERY lucky if I lose even a pound per week. Some weeks, I won't lose at all. It's extremely tempting to go back to my old high-school ways of only eating around 800-1,000 calories per day, because I honestly lose weight twice as quickly.

Would it be terrible to lose weight that way until I hit my goal or a plateau, and then graduate to eating more calories while exercising more? I know that the "quick" way is frowned upon, but I've already proven to myself that I can do the healthy eating and regular exercise thing on a regular basis.... I just want to speed things along a bit!

Though it oddly seems to now be off-topic in this thread... Does it need to be either/or for you? What about a middle ground? If you're only losing ~1 lb per week now, why not drop your calories a few hundred to 1200 or 1250 and lose ~1.5 lbs per week, instead of risking nutrient deficiency at a very low calorie intake?

I ate at an average of 1250 cals/day for most of my weight loss and didn't suffer any ill effects. I certainly have some substantial metabolic adaptation at this point, but I think it's much more due to the length of time I've been calorie restricting than my calorie intake level (that is, I don't think I'd have a lot less metabolic adaptation if I'd been eating at, say, 1400 rather than 1250).