Why Crash & Fad Diets Are Bad For Your Health
We all want to lose weight (well, most of us, anyway…), although few of us want to take the recommended approach of changing our dietary habits and adding exercise to our daily routine. Instead, we would prefer to try the latest crash or fad diets in hopes that it will melt the pounds away by tomorrow. Anything drastic might work but at the expense of your health.
But is this expectation reasonable, or even healthy? No, of course not, which is something we may all know, though few of us want to believe. But what is wrong with trying to lose weight fast with a crash diet, or the latest diet fad?
Remember the story of the tortise and the hare? Yup, the same fundamentals apply when losing weight. Slow and steady wins the race. Even a simple activity like walking benefits your overall health.
Well, unfortunately, these type diets are usually ineffective, and can even be detrimental to weight loss. Plus, they can be nearly as unhealthy for us as being overweight—and possibly even more so.
The Dangers of Crash Dieting
Losing weight should be a healthy thing and not something which has an adverse effect on our wellbeing.
However, trying to drop pounds using methods such as starvation, diet pills, or fad diets can lead to:
- Malnutrition—Not only are you depleting your body of calories through starvation, or use of appetite suppressants, but also crucial vitamins, minerals and fibers necessary in keeping you fit and in shape. This can lead to malnutrition and all the problems stemming from it, including low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and poor immune response to infections.
- Loss of muscle mass—Fat is not the only thing lost while crash dieting, since muscles also require caloric and nutritional intake to maintain their mass. In fact, you are likely losing more muscle than fat when you starve yourself, since your metabolism slows and does its best to hang onto emergency fuel supplies—which would be fat—while cutting down on spending the energy necessary for cell production to maintain muscle mass.
- Hormone imbalance—Not only does your body go into fat preservation mode when it is starving, it also reduces the energy it puts into producing a healthy supply of vital hormones. This can lead to problems such as insomnia, weight gain, slow metabolism and irritability.
- Easier weight gain—Yes, you read that right! In fact, around 90% of those who lose weight through a starvation diet gain back even more than they lost. And, since a full 98% of those who lose weight on a fad diet gain it back within 5-years, the odds are not in your favor for long-term success with a crash diet.
Fat is NOT Your Enemy!
One of the first things many of us look to when we need to lose weight is our fat intake. And, while it may be true that a diet high in saturated fats and low in omega 3 fatty acids can have an adverse effect on your health, avoiding all fats is not a good way to go either.
In fact, a lack of adequate fats in your diet can lead to:
- Poor brain health—Want to pay someone a compliment? Call them a “fathead!” No, this may not go over well for those unaware of their brain being made up of mostly fats (around 60%), but ample fat intake can do wonders for your mental clarity and cognitive function. In fact, a diet too low in fat can leave you with low energy levels, brain fog, mood swings, depression and other problems. So be smart, be healthy, and be a fathead!
- Hormone imbalance—Your body needs fats to produce hormones, and without enough fat in your diet, you run the risk of everything from insulin resistance, to weight gain, to early menopause—and more! Since your thyroid makes hormones from fats, your diet could be giving you the opposite effect you are looking for. And, this likely has something to do with how cranky, low energy and foggy-headed you feel while crash dieting.
- Blood sugar instability—Fat slows your digestion down, and without it, you are far more susceptible to blood sugar spikes and the high insulin levels associated with them. This is not only dangerous for your risk of diabetes but since your body stores the energy from starches which it cannot immediately burn in the form of fat, you are increasing your fat stores, not depleting them. That’s right, by avoiding fats, you are telling your body to store more fat!
A Little Something About Fat Loss Supplements
There are scores of supplements on the market claiming they can melt away the pounds while you exert no more energy than it takes to sit and enjoy watching TV. Sure, some of them may be effective—at least somewhat—although as much as we would love for their claims to be true, the real world says otherwise.
Most of the time, you either end up with jittery feelings and insomnia or nothing much at all. This is because most fat loss supplements are either laden with caffeine or other stimulants, or are herbal remedies with no clinical backing, and of questionable effectiveness.
While most of the really bad stuff has been taken off the market (anyone old enough to remember when diet pills contained good, old fashioned amphetamines?), there are still some things to watch out for.
Check out our review of Ultra Omega Burn which is a weight loss supplement made from Omega 7.
For one, many weight-loss pills contain laxatives, which only offer a temporary reduction in weight, and can also be habit-forming. You don’t want to lose weight by pooping more.
There are also fat-blockers, such as Xenical or Olistat, which have been described by Dr. David Dahlman as “…one of the worst concepts ever to come out of research labs of pharmaceutical companies.” This is because—as previously stated—fats are an essential part of our health, and reducing the body’s intake of them only leads to health problems, rather than fat-loss. They also produce gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating and gas in virtually everyone who uses them, which may be a great way to clear the room and be miserable, but hardly a good way to lose weight!
Avoid the “lose-weight-quick” mentality, set some goals, exercise and eat right, and you will be more likely to see results.