It Never Works! | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 20, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:15 AM, May 20, 2016

Health

It Never Works!

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Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

Crash diets – that ever popular way to drop some extra pounds fast and a dieting fashion that seems set to remain as shrinking celebrities promote the message that ‘thin is the new black’.  But do crash diets really work? Or do they do more harm than good?

Crash diets are low calorie diets, and we lose weight when we consume fewer calories than we burn, no matter how weird or sensible might that diet seem to us. Crash diet fads shock the body, sending it into starvation mode. A crash diet is so restricted that it is nutritionally inadequate. 

Research suggests that rapid weight loss can slow down your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What's more, crash diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress. So when you cut calories, the body 'thinks' it is starving and acts to stop the weight loss. Studies show that when obese people diet, they produce higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and abnormally low level of hunger-suppressing hormones.

Very-low-calorie diets that result in rapid weight loss are often dangerously low in essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. A lack of vitamins can lead to a host of health problems, including immune system suppression and bad skin, hair and nails. 

Long-term crash dieters frequently suffer from osteoporosis; this is because fast crash diets severely limit your intake of calcium. As a result, calcium begins to leach out of the bones in your body, leaving them particularly fragile. Many crash dieters suffer broken bones, particularly hips and wrists, as a result of their osteoporosis. People who go on an extremely low calorie diet are more likely to develop gallstones than people on a moderately low calorie diet, according to a new study. Crash dieting speeds up the process of aging. Regular signs of aging, such as sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles appear early on crash dieters. Crash diets could lead to multiple side effects, problems like haggard look, dark under eyes; dull skin, sloppy posture, zero strength and less stamina are very common among such people. 

Crash diets have a tremendous impact on overall mental and emotional health. Most crash dieters go into depression once they hit the weight loss plateau and start putting on weight. They are known to develop eating disorders like untimely food cravings, anorexia, binge eating and bulimia, which may lead to the development of a number of other disorders.

Whenever we lose weight during crash diet, most of the weight lost is fat but we also lose some lean muscle tissue. Crash diets try to lure us with testimonials and anecdotal success stories.  But they lack all important scientific research.  

Crash diet may give a kick start but you must be able to make healthy lifestyle changes to keep losing and/or keep the weight off. If you're overweight, slimming down is critical for your overall health. Even moderate weight loss can lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. But it's important to lose weight safely, which usually means slowly. 

However you lose weight, you're highly likely to put it back on. And the problem is not lack of willpower, but that obesity makes it harder to shed weight. There are many reasons people regain weight after a crash diet. For example, if you lose a lot of weight quickly, it doesn't mean you're necessarily shedding fat. A lot of the lost weight could be water, and that comes back fast once you resume normal eating. Crash diets typically don't emphasise, or even mention, the need for regular physical activity.

Crash dieters find that their weight is constantly fluctuating with each diet that they go on. If you are intent on losing some weight, it is best to avoid crash diets at all costs. Instead, engage in healthy weight loss methods by following these tips: Speak with your nutritionist before beginning any weight loss plan. She can provide you with tips on how to lose weight safely; set realistic goals and aim to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds week, eat regular meals, choose a variety of healthy foods from the main food groups, develop your low fat cooking skills and eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Focus on limiting portion sizes and pair this with regular exercise to find that how your weight drops off! 

The writer is a nutritionist, and Copy Supervisor, Protoshabda Communications. 

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