7 Reasons Why Crash Dieting Kills Your Metabolism
Do you need to trim down your waistline? Dieting to lose a few pounds is a healthy lifestyle choice, one that requires a technical approach. You’ll need to understand your calorie requirements for the day and then build your diet around that number.
However, people that are desperate to lose weight quickly will attempt to starve themselves using a crash diet. A crash diet involves eating at a severe calorie deficit for as long as possible. This type of dieting strategy is doomed to failure and can end up damaging your body in the long term.
Understanding the effects of a crash diet will change your mind about starving yourself and hopefully convince you to take a better approach to a fat loss diet.
What Is Your Metabolism and Why Is It Important?
Your metabolism can be defined as the biological processes that occur in your body to sustain life. Everything from your circulation, to your respiration and digestion, are metabolic functions.
The food you eat, fuels your body and metabolic processes. A balanced, nutritious diet increases metabolic function and promotes good health. Keeping your metabolism functioning at optimum levels improves your immune system response, lowers levels of body fat and improves your cognitive function. (1)
Crash diets are reckless and dangerous to your health. Here are 7 reasons why crash dieting kills your metabolism.
1. Initial weight loss from crash dieting is temporary, and may result in dehydration.
Crash diets do strange things to your body’s water weight. The body will generally hold 4 grams of water for every one gram of carbohydrates consumed. Depending on your diet and body mass, you could be carrying anywhere up to 20 pounds of water in your system.
Crash dieting limits food almost completely, with no incoming sources of energy or foods to hold water. As a result, your body begins to drop water weight. In the first week of a crash diet, it is common to hear people make claims that they have lost five or ten pounds.
In reality, this is all just water weight that will return when calories are increased and carbohydrates are reintroduced to the diet. The loss of water weight actually damages your body, reducing levels of hydration.
Being properly hydrated is essential for new cell creation and communication. Dehydration can cause loss of cognitive ability and exposure to injuries such as cramps or muscle tears. (2)
2. Crash dieting slows down your metabolism.
A crash diet is never a good diet strategy. Cutting calories to create a large calorie deficit in order to lose fat quickly simply does not work. The lack of energy forces your body into survival mode where it slows your metabolic function.
When your body is deprived of adequate nutrition, your metabolism slows and your body begins to use both muscle and fat stores for fuel. This means that you lose fat with a crash diet but you lose muscle as well. As you lose muscle, your metabolic rate slows further in an attempt to preserve what you have left.
As time progresses with a crash diet, energy levels will diminish quickly and fatigue will set in. If calories are not increased, the body will begin to shut down vital metabolic and biological processes to conserve energy. (3)
3. Crash dieting decreases insulin sensitivity.
Crash dieting is also known as ‘yo-yo dieting’. It has earned this moniker from the temporary effects that it produces. Yo-yo dieting decreases insulin sensitivity and alters the way the body stores fat. These factors add up to an increase in the risk of diabetes developing as a result of poor nutrition.
Most crash diets advocate cutting out sugar, so insulin sensitivity can improve somewhat. However, extreme calorie cutting will still counteract those effects.
4. Crash dieting will result in hormonal imbalances.
Simply put, crash diets are not sustainable. Consistently eating a calorie deficit will result in hormonal imbalances in ghrelin and leptin, the hormones responsible for managing your hunger. These hormones can create incredibly powerful food cravings that force you to binge on foods that you would not normally crave.
A crash diet is an extreme dieting strategy that is self-defeating. It is impossible to live without food for energy. Crash dieting is quite literally running your metabolism and your body into the ground for the sake of losing a few pounds. Often, after a crash diet, you may find that your hunger returns more powerful than ever and this effect can last for years.
5. Crash dieting depletes your body of energy and can affect mood.
A crash diet can play havoc with your hormones that are responsible for balancing your mood. Crash diets deplete your body of energy and your life of joy. As the calorie deficit deepens you will find yourself grumpy and unable to focus or concentrate.
This is no way to live and reduces your quality of life. Losing a few pounds of fat mass is just not worth living out your days waiting for them to end. Your fat loss diet needs to be sustainable, providing you with sufficient energy without the excess calories.
6. Crash dieting leaves your body vulnerable to illnesses due to decreased immune function.
Eating less than your calorie requirement for extended periods of time will also weaken your immune system. As your ability to resist disease weakens, you expose your body to disease and health disorders, some of which could be life-threatening. (4)
Low-calorie diets simply do not have the calorie content that will allow for a balanced intake of protein, fats and carbohydrates, hence the low-fat, low-carbohydrate, high protein diets that have become so popular. Cutting out whole macronutrient food groups leaves gaping holes in one’s nutrition, something that all dieters should be made aware of.
7. Crash dieting could mask weight loss progress with water retention.
Crash dieting is very hard on the body. As a result, the body increases its levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When cortisol is high, the body will retain water. This added layer of water retention can mask potential fat loss and can make it appear as though you’re not losing weight. Dieters who do not see any results could either give up on the diet, or push harder. Those who choose to push harder can put themselves in an even more compromising position, which could further increase cortisol levels, among many other negative effects.
In addition to the water retention, chronically high cortisol levels could also make weight loss more difficult.
The Proper Way to Diet
A crash diet has no place in an effective fat loss strategy. It does more harm than good and can potentially cause you to gain more weight back than when you started. It is a better idea to use a sustainable, sensible approach to losing that unwanted fat.
Every person responds differently to different diet strategies. If you need help structuring a diet that is right for you, then visit a nutritionist for a customized diet plan that works. If you are happy with your diet and just want to shape up a bit, try eating the same meals but in slightly smaller portions. Cutting out junk food works wonders too.
A healthy attempt at a fat loss diet can be made by reducing your daily calorie consumption to 300 calories less than required to maintain your BMR. To maintain a safe level of fat loss you should see one to two pounds of fat loss per week.
Using an effective dieting approach may take a little more time, but it will produce results that last.