Summer is prime time for low calorie, crash diets, with holidays looming or just a few too many cocktails affecting our waistlines. Stripping off and hitting the beach can be a daunting prospect for many, and it doesn’t help that you’re bombarded with media articles filled to the brim with how to “lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” & your “3-day diet plan”. The NHS states that a safe and sustainable rate of 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lbs) per week, and as much as you may get instant gratification from a successful quick fix, is it really worth it in the long run? Here’s how crash diets could impact your health:
Muscle Loss & A Slower Metabolism
In a nutshell, your metabolism is the sum of everything your body does, determining how many calories you need to consume per day to keep your body and mind working. Many factors, including age, genetics and lifestyle can influence its speed, but losing weight in a drastic way can also be a factor in having a slower metabolism. Muscle breaks down at a much higher level when you crash diet and the less muscle you have the lower your metabolic rate – and the fewer calories you burn at rest.
This might sound a little dramatic, but extreme diets are often void of essential macro and micronutrients, which can lead to a whole host of deficiencies. This can leave your body unable to produce energy, leaving you feeling exhausted, or in more severe cases could have a whole host of health implications, thanks to giving you a weakened immune system.
For those concerned about their appearance, this can also impact the quality of your hair and nails, making them brittle and lack-lustre.
Spiked Blood Sugar
Low calorie, or worse, fad diets (cabbage soup diet we’re looking at you), are unlikely to be giving you the steady supply of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre throughout the day, which is crucial for keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels steady. This is, even more, worrying for diabetics, for whom extreme drops in blood sugar levels could be extremely dangerous.
You’ll Put It All Back on & More
There are many reasons why diets don’t work: firstly, a lot of the weight lost from quick fixes is water weight, thanks to the glycogen that the body burns for energy (as the restricted diet is not bringing in enough energy). Secondly, the extreme restriction is mentally challenging, and often sends people into a restrict-binge cycle due to under-fuelling.
This is why if weight loss is something you’re aiming for, to approach it in a sustainable, gradual manner, whilst enjoying a balanced diet and a couple of treats here and there.