Crash dieting is widely considered unhealthy, ineffective and simply outdated, however people still opt for these quick-fix diets which promise rapid weight loss in a small amount of time.
Crash dieting often delivers short-term results. By cutting your calories so low and making drastic changes to the type of food you eat, your body will shed weight. But there are lots of health problems with this dramatic approach to losing weight. To explain more, top Nutritional Therapist, Natalie Lamb from Lepicol Lighter (www.lepicol.com) shares a few of the common, not so desirable effects of embarking on a crash diet:
Loss of Muscle Mass – Crash dieting encourages the body to hold onto stored fat as it believes it is being starved and will need all the resources it has in order to survive. Although, those who do crash diet may notice weight loss very quickly, this weight loss is usually due to the loss of fluids and lean muscle mass.
Sluggish Digestion – A crash diet can slow down your metabolism. This can slow down the speed that your body can produce energy from the foods you eat. Often this can leave you feeling like you need to grab a quick high-energy snack to quickly raise your blood glucose levels again.
Crash dieting will often result in slowing the body’s metabolism, which often results in slower digestive function, resulting in constipation. Therefore making improvements in the microflora composition and fibre through a healthy diet and a live bacteria and high fibre supplement could help to achieve a healthier weight loss.
A high fibre supplement may help someone who wishes to lose weight, by improving stool consistency, encouraging bowel movements and helping them to feel fuller. Lepicol Lighter (£17.99 from www.lepicol.com) is a unique new high fibre food supplement, especially designed to help aid weight loss. Within its specifically selected ingredients are 7 strains of live bacteria to keep your gut healthy and balanced, chromium to balance blood sugar levels, glucomannan, which acts as a prebiotic and psyllium husk which is a gentle fibre.
Bad Breath – What’s going on in the mouth is often a good indication of what’s happening further down the intestinal tract. Many doctors used to use the tongue as a way of searching for gastrointestinal conditions and this examination is still vital in Chinese medicine. Suddenly changing the diet can have a huge impact on the gut flora in the intestines. There is some evidence that bad breath can be caused by bacteria in the intestines producing volatile sulphur compounds.1
Increased Risk of Health Complications – Heart Health/ Diabetes – A sudden crash diet can add enormous stress to the body. Research suggests that extreme dieting practises can cause electrolyte disturbances, cardiac dysrhythmias, and even sudden cardiac death. Some crash diets limit the intake of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are protective against many conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer due to their high antioxidant content, therefore limiting their consumption could lead to later long-term health conditions. Reduced calcium intake during dieting, especially in women under 30 can have a detrimental effect on peak bone mass which can leave them susceptible to developing osteoporosis later in life.3
Mood Swings – Sudden food restriction will have a huge impact on the gut microflora, by increasing harmful bacteria which may lead to damage of the intestinal tract.4 This damage could lead to an increased uptake of harmful components crossing the intestinal barrier and the blood brain barrier, causing mood disturbances.
There is increasing evidence of the strong link between what’s going on in our guts to the health of our brains. So by suddenly changing the diet and unbalancing the gut flora composition could lead to a reduction in beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful types. Certain strains of beneficial bacteria can produce neurotransmitters, which can send signals from the gut to the brain influencing brain function and behaviour and helping us to maintain wellbeing. Live bacteria supplements have shown to regulate anxiety, mood, cognition and pain, most likely through this pathway.
If food is restricted by too much, too quickly, the body will release ghrelin, our hunger hormone to encourage us to eat. Trying to ignore our hormone signals, could leave us with imbalanced hormones and lead to mood fluctuations.
Low Energy – Crash dieting may appear to show a large reduction in weight within the first weeks. However, most of this weight-loss comes from water and glycogen stores, resulting in the individual feeling fatigued. Two kilograms of weight can be lost in the first week, simply by losing glycogen and water stores. Food restriction often leads to inadequate nutritional intake. A loss of B vitamins, iron and magnesium can quickly result in the body struggling to produce enough energy leaving us feeling sluggish and less likely to participate in exercise.