Crash diets: more harm than good?

Crash diets often promise dramatic results and appeal to the many people who want to lose weight quickly. Although it is possible to lose a lot of weight in a very short time period, it is worth having a look at the long-term consequences. Could crash diets be harmful to your body and mind?

Body goes into defence

In a crash diet, your body can go into defence against the dramatic weight loss caused by strict dieting or detox. Various important processes in your body slow down, while others stop altogether. For example, some women who crash diet may stop menstruating.

Body uses up stores of fat

The fat stored in your body are used up when you need more energy than your food intake is providing. If your calorie intake is extremely low, your body will start burning fat and the fat cells shrink.

Hormones in your bloodstream cause a yo-yo effect

During the quick weight loss that's associated with crash diets, fat stores shrink rapidly and an additional amount of the hormone leptin is produced. This hormone causes you to feel hungry and crave more high-energy food. This way, your fat stores will build back up again and you'll regain the weight you lost. That's why crash dieting is often nicknamed "yo-yo" dieting.

Brains as the regulator

Your brain regulates all the activities in your body. Just like your fat stores, your brain is affected by rapid weight loss. The brain can stimulate the production of extra hormones that will make you hungrier and make dieting a lot harder.

Crash diets can cause depression

Besides the physical effects like the well known yo-yo effect, crash diets can have psychological consequences. You can become depressed, suffer from energy shortages, a lack of concentration and even a lowered sex drive.

A better option is a sensible programme of nutrition and exercise, with a view to long term health rather than short term weight loss.

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