Do an online search for diet plans or weight loss, and you’ll be presented with millions of options. From diets that focus on only consuming a specific set of foods to diets that have severe calorie restrictions, fad diets – or crash diets – have been popular for decades with folks who are desperate to shed extra pounds.
But choosing the wrong weight loss plan can have several far-reaching effects that go miles beyond just a number on a scale.
Certainly, a crash or fad diet may cause you actually to gain weight over time instead of losing weight. But there are also a lot of additional side effects that can occur, and that can take a toll on your body.
First Off, How Do You Know That Your Diet Is Dangerous?
There are a lot of clues that your diet may be dangerous to your health. For example, if your diet has a severe calorie restriction, only focuses on consuming certain foods, or entails lifestyle changes that are drastically different and hard to maintain, you may be on the wrong course.
Another clue is the amount of weight that you lose in a short amount of time. You may be thrilled to lose a substantial amount of weight in just a few weeks or even a few days. However, such a drastic drop is usually an indicator that your current plan cannot be maintained, and may be affecting your health in other ways.
So before you try the newest diet to lose weight and fat, consider the following, potential drawbacks that can come to light when you embrace a crash diet and put the rest of your health at risk.
You’ll Lose Lean Body Mass
When you lose a lot of weight, chances are that it’s not just body fat that is disappearing – it’s likely lean body mass too, and this is especially true if you are on a crash diet that involves a large amount of weight loss in a short amount of time.
There are a few reasons why losing muscle instead of fat is dangerous, too. For one thing, your muscles help to keep your metabolism high, so losing muscle essentially means that it will be much easier to gain that weight back and then some.
For another, loss of muscle can result in longer-term health issues that make take years to appear. Overall loss of muscle mass results in an increase in:
- A decrease in energy levels
- Poorer health across the board
The best bet to combat muscle mass loss is to partner with a physician that’s experienced in medical weight loss plans.
At the Lamkin Clinic, we have lots of resources, (including a DEXA body composition scan that measures your fat and muscle mass in detail), to ensure that your muscle mass stays intact as the excess pounds melt away.
You’ll Put Your Heart Health at Risk
Recent research has found that crash diets can have a hefty toll on your heart, and this is especially true if you have underlying medical issues such as high blood pressure.
Crash dieting has been shown to increase the risk of:
- Heart attacks
- Irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations,
- A weaker immune system
- An increase in cardiac stress
The reasons why are varied, but many researchers suggest that the correlation between losing muscle mass and its effect on your heart is key, as you lose strength across the board.
In addition, yo-yo dieting can damage your blood vessels, as the shrinking and growing of your body causes micro-tears that can set the stage for atherosclerosis and other types of heart disease.
Your Physical Appearance May Suffer
A crash diet may result in a lower number on the scale or a newfound ability to fit into smaller clothes. Still, it might not be beneficial to your overall physical appearance.
Crash diets often result in:
- Moderate to severe dehydration
- Making your skin age faster
- Hair loss
- Weakness and fatigue
- Other symptoms that can affect your youthful look
Simply put, while your waistline may approve, the rest of your appearance can suffer if your diet is too severe.
You’ll Likely Gain the Weight Back
A crash diet, as opposed to a sensible diet, can wreak havoc on your metabolism and can make it far easier for you to regain any weight you’ve lost after your diet has concluded.
The reason why is because of your body’s response to your new and drastically reduced calorie intake. Essentially, when you are on a diet that is too severe, your body goes into “starvation mode” and starts to conserve energy and calories whenever possible.
As such, even when you are regularly eating again, your body is trained to store as much fat as possible. This happens in case your body is forced into deprivation again.
What’s the Alternative?
A crash diet may seem like an easy way to shed a few pounds. But the overall health risks can make a diet dangerous.
Additional side effects from very rapid weight-loss can also include:
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Low blood sugar
- Acute gout
- Damage to your gallbladder
- Constipation and other digestive issues
And these health problems can linger years after that short crash diet is over. Your safer, better, and more effective option is to consider a medical weight loss program instead.
A medical weight loss program is highly specialized and includes formulating a plan that you can live with, so you can safely lose weight and adjust your lifestyle while keeping all areas of your health intact.
With an expert team, we can help you find a long-term solution to weight issues that won’t put your health at risk.