Unfortunately, according to health experts, the simple truth is diets that work fast simply don’t work because they fail to help people keep weight off permanently. These diets can also be unhealthy, decrease muscle mass and may even be accelerating the current obesity epidemic in America.
Diets that Work Fast Don’t Work
If you’re losing and gaining over and over again and find you’re getting heavier and heavier as time goes by, following fad diets may likely be partly to blame. Studies have repeatedly shown that crash dieting disrupts the body’s metabolism and can cause “serious nutritional imbalances” that may be causing weight gain over the long run, according to Christian Jessen in the Evening Standard article “No Fad Diets at Christmas.”
These diets may be escalating instead of “solving the obesity crisis.” Jessen states, ninety-five percent of the time, dieters who follow a crash diet regain all the weight they lost as soon as they finish the diet. Most of the time they “actually end up weighing more than when they started.” Moreover, dieters who try fad diets over and over again usually find that each diet does not work as effectively than the previous one, so the total weight gained back after going off these diets increases each time.
The Cyclical Abyss of Crash Dieting
It’s no wonder fad diet junkies can’t keep the weight off permanently with fast weight loss diets. After all, how many bowls of cabbage soup can you eat? How long can you live on meal replacement shakes? How long can you flood your body with high quantities of meat, cheese and other high-protein foods? How long can you eliminate certain food groups from your meals?
Once you’ve fallen into the dark abyss of cyclical crash dieting, it becomes harder and harder to climb your way out. Your body has gained and lost so many pounds so many times, it becomes resistant to achieving permanent loss.
Extreme Dieting Affects Muscle Mass
Following a diet very low in calories can make you lose valuable muscle instead of fat. Diet addicts obsessed with getting ripped and shedding body fat often go overboard in their efforts to get in shape quickly, so they slash their caloric intake by more than half. Then they expect to transform their body in a short time, but instead find that their aggressive losses are the result of lost muscle instead of a marked loss of fat, says Jessen.
What happens is the only thing you have left to show for all your effort and starvation is a body that looks flabby instead of muscular and toned.
The best way to lose weight without losing muscle is to not lose more than two pounds a week.
Studies reveal that losing about one to two pounds every week is better for weight loss because it’s under the threshold where the body reacts to too great a deficit in calories. Losing fewer than two pounds a week usually won’t create a sluggish metabolism and won’t make the body switch to storing fat as energy.
In addition, if you lose more than two pounds a week, you’re more likely to regain the weight, says Jessen. By losing fewer than two pounds a week, your chances for successful long-term weight loss increase significantly.
Instead of slashing your calories below 1,200 a day, a better approach for weight control would be to mildly reduce your caloric deficit about 500 to 600 calories a day. Dropping weight slowly can be more effective for successful and permanent weight loss, especially if there are other reasons you’re not losing weight such as not getting enough sleep or taking medications that affect weight.
Diets that Work Quickly Affect Health
Besides making you feel deprived and tempted to binge, low calorie or fad diets can affect your health. Most of these diets lack many important nutrients, which can put you at risk of becoming malnourished. The health dangers of shedding weight too quickly (more than two pounds a week) are increasing risks for an irregular heart beat, gallstones, bowel irregularities and anemia, according to the Weight Watcher’s article “Losing Weight at Safe Rate.”
Reducing calories by too many may also weaken your bones. A study from the University of Missouri revealed that middle-aged women on a very low-calorie diet for three months had significantly lower “bone turnover” (the rate in which bone is broken down and replaced) compared to when they switched to a weight-maintenance diet. The effect of losing pounds too fast could increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis according the Shape article “Crash Diets: Ineffective and Unhealthy.”
Pam Hinton, Ph.D, lead study author and associate professor of nutritional sciences at Missouri’s College of Human Environmental Sciences says “Even after the women were in the weight-maintenance phase, turnover remained elevated.” The results suggest that people planning on losing more than five percent of their body weight should incorporate high-impact, weight strengthening activities into their exercise routines to keep bones strong and lose no more than one to two pounds a week, says Hinton.
“Crash Diets: Ineffective and Unhealthy.” Shape. January 2009, Vol. 28, Issue 5, P100.
Genge, Amanda. “Losing Weight at a Safe Rate. Weight Watchers.
Jessen, Christian. “No Fad Diets at Christmas.” Evening Standard. December 8, 2010. pg. 30.