- a nutrition plan undertaken for rapid weight loss with the aim of achieving quick results.
- a diet plan that entails foregoing one’s usual nutrition regimen and replacing it with a substantially meeker allowance of nutriment.
- the worst option for weight loss imaginable that ruins your life for the present and the future.
Crash diets occur because humans don’t want to wait for results. We are impatient and are becoming evermore so. Deep down, most people would love to win the lottery, to not work but have everything they want, to find the right life partner who comes walking round the corner without putting in the effort that comes with a relationship.
This human behaviour translates unerringly to the want for a better body. You grab the love handles in the mirror, wish they went away, try to blame something else or ask why you don’t have the natural ability to not put on fat.
Changing a habit of a lifetime
At this stage, some decide to change their ways, make a new habit, workout more, walk and be more active, refine their current eating patterns and set forth on a journey to improve their life in the way that would make them more content. I am not saying that one body image or type is perfect, right or wrong. Unless a person’s perfect body image negatively affects their general health (by promoting too much or too little stored body fat), everyone can have the body that they wish for, be it big or small, athletic or curvaceous. Thus, everyone can set upon a road like the above to achieve their desires in a very courageous, satisfying, desirable and admirable way.
Unfortunately, not everyone is like this. Many people decide that they want quick body image results now and crash dieting is the only method they see fit to work. You won’t have heard it here first, but crash dieting can negatively affect your life from the moment you start the diet to many years after you have finished it, both mentally and physically whether you ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’ to lose weight.
I am not going to try and change anyone’s mindset to crash diets with this article. If you have done them in the past and/or support them, you will know all the things I will mention and will turn a blind eye. So instead, in this article I want to congratulate everyone else who doesn’t support crash diets because they already know how bad they are for you. I will present to you why I support your choices by showcasing why and how crash dieting can damage the body and mind. By presenting you with this information, I want to pat you on the back for your courageous, satisfying, desirable and admirable way of life which, actually, crash dieters are jealous of.
Common Crash Diet thoughts
- 7-14 days long
- “I will workout on cardio machines more or work harder than usual to burn calories”
- “I will eat: rice crackers, purely vegetables that I can juice, no carbohydrates, low fat foods.”
- “I will not eat: anything I enjoy. I need to punish myself.”
- “I will go on one of those weight loss regimes! I’ll have branded diet shakes and bars. Or maybe I won’t eat at all, I’ll just have sachets that give me the bare nutrients I need to survive.”
Read it and weep. Personally, I could not do it. I could not put myself through such purgatory. You eat the most bland substances and punish yourself continually without enjoying or looking forward to any part of it apart from finishing the diet and ‘going back to normal’…which is what got you to being away from your desired body shape in the first place… Completely nonsensical.
Negatives of a crash diet
You will know this, but here are some of the negatives of a crash diet:
- Loss of mental and physical functionality. The body and brain is designed to be fuelled by carbohydrates, fats, nutrients and minerals, and repaired by proteins. All your bodily functions perform sub-optimally with malnutrition.
- Increased blood pressure and stroke likelihood through raised stress levels, heart palpitations and lack of satiation and satisfaction.
- Significantly elevated chances of heart disease through micro tears in blood vessels from rapid changes in blood plasma nutrient level.
- Reduced metabolic rate. The body goes into starvation mode and seeks to retain the body’s fat so that it can ‘pull through’ in the long haul. It also tries to store the small amounts of food that is eaten into fat body fat for this cause too. This will mean that in the long run you can gain body fat when you come off the diet as your body continues to seek fat storage.
- Immune system suppression as the body cannot protect itself adequately without the right energy sources.
- Bad skin, weak nails and thin hair. Again, an amalgamation of a lack of nutriment coupled with low mood and happiness levels.
- Loss of muscle mass. The body will eat away at the muscles for fuel. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate (the rate you burn fat and calories). The less muscle you have, the lower your ability to burn food and fat as fuel without fat storage.
- Early onset of osteoporosis and susceptibility to injury and fracture. Bones become weak, fragile and brittle. Muscles become weak and unstable.
- Water loss. Without carbohydrates, the body excretes more water as carbohydrates store water in muscles and close to the skin when consumed – this is the bloating sensation many have when eating carbohydrates. This is where the majority of the weight loss comes from – stored water loss, not stored fat loss, through a reduction in carbohydrate intake. Dehydration has the same effect as point one…but worse. Humans have been known to ‘survive’ for weeks without food but only days without water.
This is not how humans can live in the short term or the long term. It should especially not be how humans live when there is a choice in the matter.
The end justifies the means & each to their own
These are two mantras that are frequently put in front of me when I give my opinion about crash diets. If someone wants to lose a stone in two weeks to fit into a certain dress on a certain day and has succeeded in doing this, then to them ‘the end justifies the means’ – they got the desired outcome they wanted and thus, to them, the way they did it is justified.
The second mantra, ‘each to their own’, I do agree with in general. Everyone has their way that they prefer to live their life. It is this spectrum that makes the world so colourful. However, it is within my right as a professional in the industry to provide my opinion based on the facts that have been provided to me through research; it is then my duty of care to ensure that anyone under my professional supervision takes the healthiest and safest route towards their goals as possible. This includes everyone who reads my articles. Because of this, it is necessary for me to say that crash diets are not safe nor healthy and I would not take on a client who would want to use this form of nutrition planning in their future lives or with me. Off the professional record, I can even more strongly oppose crash diets based on the way that a proper and healthy fitness and nutrition regime has positively affected my life. Crash diets may create the desired outcome on one level, but not in regards to improving health, confidence, mental and muscular performance and strength.
Crash diets can ruin your life
Crash diets can seriously harm you. They can make you sad, moody and depressive during them and you may or may not succeed in your desired outcome. You may lose weight but this will mainly be water, not fat. You will not be able to maintain the rate of weight loss or the low level of sustenance without becoming ill. Thus, when you return to eating normally, or as you would have done before, you can put on weight very easily through water retention and through the slowdown of the metabolism that has occurred which promotes fat storage.
The rapid weight loss that may have occurred during the diet is then a benchmark timeframe that you judge all diets to work within. When this doesn’t happen after you decide to actually make a good long-term change in routine for health and fitness, you become demoralised and decide that ‘this doesn’t work for me’ or ‘I can never lose weight this way’. This can lead to a depressive nature and can reduce your feeling of self-worth as you believe ‘there is something wrong with you’ and that ‘you’ll always be fat’. This can then create a downward spiral leading you to eat more and then try to crash diet again at some point in the future which will lead to continued degradation of your body and a lifetime of cyclical destruction.
However, the good news is that anyone can get out of the cycle of crash dieting with the right one-to-one support. So help is at hand and ready to be given with care and attention. But it’s great to know that you, a non-crash dieter, haven’t taken that option isn’t it? Well done for taking the best road for your total health that creates a better mind and body all round for now and in the future by making a commitment to yourself by making beneficial and progressive fitness and nutrition choices! This way, the Fitness Body Pro way, you can actually have your cake and eat it and get the body and mind that you desire whilst staying happier and healthier than you were yesterday. Keep it up!
Chris James MA O.A. Dip
Director, Head of Fitness and Nutrition